Alienware’s laptops have, historically, been a mixed bag. They look great and be very fast indeed, but they can also be heavy and somewhat unstable. The new Alienware m16 R1 looks similar to its predecessors, but it features the latest-gen chips from Intel and Nvidia so thermal throttling should be mitigated. The new, 16-inch chassis also has some ventilation features that should mitigate overheating. Let’s see how it fares.
Table of Contents
|Screen||16-inch, matte, 165Hz, 2,560 x 1,660, IPS display|
|Processor||3.7-5.0GHz Intel Core i7-13700HX CPU|
|Memory||16GB DDR5-4800 RAM|
|Graphics||8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060|
|Hard drive||1TB PCIe NVMe|
2 x Thunderbolt 4
3 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x SDcard slot
1 x 2.5GbE network port
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x miniDP port
1 x 3.5mm audio
|Speakers||2 x 2 Watt|
|Extra Security||Windows Hello face recognition|
|Dimensions||369 x 290 x 25 mm|
Features, Ergonomics and Design
The Alienware m16 R1 retains the impressive styling and build quality of it predecessors. The construction feels bomb proof but this comes at the cost of being dense and heavy. Nonetheless, the “Dark Metallic Moon” grey lid is attractive and fits well with the rest of the matte-black chassis and its hexagonal vents. We’re fans of the configurable RGB details which are preset to pastel-like colours. These include the Alien Head logos on the lid and power button, the keyboard plus the “Stadium” rear light which looks like a spaceship’s backside.
While we like the look of the Scrabble-Tile keyboard, we do have a few issues with it. It’s rather firm (like its predecessors) and we wouldn’t want to type on it for extended periods. As with many other Dell keyboards, we also had issues actuating the ‘A’ key and the Space Bar. This made for a lot of text corrections unless we really hammered the keyboard when typing. We’re surprised this hasn’t been addressed by Dell after all these years. Fortunately, we’ve seen variants with mechanical keyboards and recommend choosing these where possible.
Still, the arrow keys are full sized and there are some useful media keys. Also, the large trackpad is smooth with well-weighted buttons.
Dell has amazed us with its speakers in thin-and-light laptops like the XPS 13 Plus, but the twin, two-Watt speakers here don’t have much bass, despite them getting loud.
There’s a Full HD webcam which does an impressive job of staying sharp, even in low light. It also has IR technology for Windows Hello facial recognition log-in. The dual-microphone array does a great job of cancelling out noise in a loud environment.
The bright, matte, 16-inch screen has a UHD 2,560 x 1,600 resolution and it displays a crisp and clear Windows Desktop. Multimedia looks good thanks to decent contrast (which retains details in both bright and dark areas) and vibrant colours. True blacks are somewhat washed out, but not to an offensive degree. There’s some fine banding in monochromatic and colourful gradients, but it’s both minor and common with fast gaming screens.
The 165Hz refresh rate certainly isn’t the fastest we’ve seen on a gaming laptop, but it is impressive for a UHD display. It ensures that fast-moving objects are generally rendered smoothly, but a not-so-fast pixel response time means that blur can occur in fast-and-frantic firefights. This will potentially perturb pro players.
At the end of the day, the Alienware m16 R1 looks great but isn’t the best laptop to interact with… certainly not to the degree that a premium gaming laptop should be seeking to achieve, anyway.
Inside the Alienware m16 R1 is an upper-mid-range 3.7-5.0 GHz Intel Core i7-13700HX processor which has eight Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores. It’s flanked by 16GB of ‘above-average’ DDR5-4800 RAM and has a fast, 1TB NVMe hard drive.
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These combined to score a decent 8,097 in the general-computing PCMark 10 test which is well above average, but significantly behind other flagship gaming laptops. It was a similar deal in the Cinebench processor-based rendering tests, where it scored 3,470 in the R15 drag race and 22,214 in the longer R23 test. The latter’s stability suggests that the thermal throttling we saw in its predecessors is mercifully absent here.
The Alienware m16 R1’s 3D performance comes via the mid-range Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU which has 8GB of of GDDR6 RAM. While it ran the difficult 3DMark ray-tracing tests, it only scored 2,622 (average 26.2fps) in Speed Way and 5,925 (average 25fps) in Port Royal. So, while it’s capable of playing the best-looking cinematic games, you’ll likely have to lower the resolution and/or detail settings.
In the Time Spy and Fire Strike Extreme tests, which ape AAA-gaming titles, it scored 11,157 (average 65.3fps) in the former and 12,282 (average 56.4fps) in the latter. These scores demonstrate that the Alienware m16 R1 will have few problems playing the latest and greatest games without too much trouble.
In the lesser, Night Raid test, it scored 66,746 which is an average of 616.2fps. This underscores the fact it will easily cope with casual and competitive games.
In our difficult CS:GO test, which stresses the entire system, the Alienware m16 R1 averaged 298fps throughout the whole benchmark, while registering a drop to 52fps in the slowest, one per cent of frames (the 1% Low test). As such, it won’t turn into a slideshow when smoke grenades are going off and this will be a core consideration for professional and competitive gamers.
We were pleased to see that there were no stability issues with the Alienware m16 R1 although we’ll add that this was a rather low-spec variant and more-powerful versions are available. It’s also worth noting that the 2023 model has contoured rubber feet which both lift the chassis slightly off a hard surface while channeling the hot air away.
Nonetheless, the fan can ramp up under minimal use in Balanced Mode and it naturally gets loud when max’ed out (with some dialing up and down). Most of the time it resembles a low whoosh with a minor, high-pitched whine. The upshot of all this is that it rarely gets more-than lukewarm, which is impressive for a gaming laptop.
Connectivity and Ports
Inside is Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. All in all, it’s a very impressive complement of latest-generation connectivity tech.
The Alienware m16 R1 is not light at 3KG. However, the styled power brick only adds another 810g to the mix which is low for a flagship gaming beast. It’s one of the most solid laptops we’ve seen and should easily survive a life of being lugged from LAN to LAN.
It has a sizable 86Whr battery but it only lasted 5 hours 8 minutes in our tests. We actually had to run the test several times because that seemed too low – especially for a 13th-Gen-Intel-Nvidia combo laptop, but this was the best score we saw.
Price and availability
Our Intel-based variant of the Alienware m16 R1 costs $4,299 and seems to be exclusive to JB Hi-Fi. The store offers more-powerful SKUs which range all the way to an Intel i9 and Nvidia 4090-sporting version that costs a whopping $7,799. Alternatively, you can buy cheaper, AMD processor-based models (with better, Nvidia 4080 graphics) for less money on Dell’s own site.
Alternatives to the Alienware m16 R1
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 – This has a similar price despite being faster. Its unique, bonkers looks also rival Alienware’s when it comes to looking like a gaming laptop.
MSI Pulse 17 – It’s an inch larger, has a similar processor and faster graphics. It’s also almost $2,000 cheaper although it can’t match the Alienware for looks and build quality.
MSI Raider GE77 HX – It might be a last-gen model but it’s still awesome and currently available at a giveaway price.
Acer Predator Triton 500 SE – Acer’s Triton might not look as good as the Alienware, but it’s faster, well-built and much much cheaper!
Conclusion: Should you buy the Alienware m16 R1?
As much as we want to love the Alienware m16 R1, it’s not great value in a crowded gaming laptop market. We’ll try and test a more powerful SKU to see if that can help improve the value proposition but even then, we’d like to see a different screen and keyboard provided. Unfortunately, the mediocre speakers, battery-life and noise won’t be improve across the specs.
If you love the looks, the Alienware m16 R1 is still a solid buy. But for anyone in the market for a top-tier gaming laptop, there are many better options on the market.
Poor battery life
Alienware m16 R1 Scores
The Alienware m16 R1 looks amazing and is very well built. But, this low-end SKU isn’t great value and there are quite a few functionality foibles that blight its design.