Alienware Area51mSource: Dell

Best Alienware Laptop Windows Central 2021

Alienware is Dell's dedicated gaming brand, and it's been around about as long as gaming laptops have been a thing. It's also a brand that arguably makes some of the best Windows laptops for gamers. Over the years, the company has put out some wild portable gaming PCs, and that's no different in 2020. If you're looking to get yourself an Alienware laptop, though, the m15 R3 is what we recommend.

Best overall: Alienware m15 R3

Alienware M15 LedeSource: Dell

The mid-size Alienware laptop is the best one to get if you're interested in the company's gaming notebooks. The latest refresh retains the same design as the past few years, which, while still quite outrageous, is at least pretty slim. But now you get access to the latest and greatest from both Intel and NVIDIA, which makes for quite the package.

At the entry-level, though, you've got a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 paired with an AMD RX 5500M GPU, which in turn means a really attractive price while still delivering strong performance for 1080p gaming. As you go up through the range, the NVIDIA wagon rolls in with both the RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 Super options, along with an 8-core Intel Core i9-10980HK.

The Alienware m15 R3 also comes loaded with ports and some pretty great displays for gamers. You can have an OLED 4K display if you wish, but this is limited to just 60Hz, albeit paired with Tobii eye-tracking. Better for gaming are the choice of 1080p displays on offer, with either 144Hz or 300Hz refresh rates available.

Toss in up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM and up to a whopping 4TB of NVMe SSD storage, and the m15 R3 is capable of basically anything you might want to throw at it while remaining just compact enough to carry every day.

Reasons to buy

  • High-refresh rate displays
  • Slim for a gaming laptop
  • Lots of spec and price point options
  • Core i9 and RTX 2080 Super available

Reasons not to buy

  • OLED display not great for gaming
  • Larger than the m15

Best Overall

Alienware m15 R3

Alienware m15 R3

Smaller size but big internals

The Alienware m15 R3 has something for all gamers, including a more wallet-friendly entry-level model to the screaming performance of the higher-end versions.

Runner-up: Alienware m17 R3

Alienware m17 R3Source: Dell

The m17 is the thinnest Alienware 17-inch laptop ever, and despite this, it's still packing an incredible amount of hardware. A laptop this may be but inside beats the heart of a desktop rig.

But part of the m17's strength is its broad range of specs and prices. At the entry point, you can get a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 and an AMD RX 5500M for a very attractive price, while still getting a 144Hz display, fast storage and 16GB of RAM.

But if you have a larger budget or loftier aspirations for your gaming, you can get up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i9 processor and RTX 2080 Super, paired with up to 32GB of RAM, up to 4TB of storage, a 4K display, and even Tobii eye-tracking technology. All wrapped up into a package you can carry around without getting backache.

The m17 R3 range is almost identical to the m15 R3, from styling to internals. What makes or breaks it is the size. If you want the biggest screen possible and are happy to live with the added bulk, then this is the one to get.

Reasons to buy

  • 17-inch display
  • Slim for a gaming laptop
  • Lots of spec and price point options
  • Core i9 and RTX 2080 Super available

Reasons not to buy

  • OLED display not great for gaming
  • Larger than the m15

Best for Gaming

Alienware m17 R3

Alienware m17

Gaming performance and a large display

10th Gen processors and either AMD or NVIDIA RTX graphics add up to a large, powerful gaming experience.

Ultimate Performance: Alienware Area 51m R2

Area 51mSource: Dell

The Area 51 is Alienware's mad desktop PC that's known for wild styling and quite insane performance. So then, the Area 51m R2 is a smaller, portable version of this madness, right? Absolutely!

Alienware calls this the world's most powerful laptop and, well, for once, it's not the marketing department getting liberal. Inside, you find an Intel Core i9 10900K. Which if you're not familiar is a fully unlocked, overclockable, desktop i9 processor. GPU wise, you're getting the latest top of the line NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super.

That's paired with masses of SSD storage, up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 17-inch display that now includes a 300Hz 1080p option or a 4K panel. Throw in ports galore, Wi-Fi 6, Thunderbolt 3, this laptop can do it all.

What's even more amazing is that this laptop is upgradeable in the future. And not just the storage or RAM. Both the CPU and GPU can be upgraded. That's pretty much unheard of in a laptop. It's big, heavy, and wildly expensive, but it's also a machine you could easily keep for many, many years.

Reasons to buy

  • 17-inch display
  • Desktop-class unlocked Intel Core i9 processor
  • Upgradeable
  • RTX 2080 Super

Reasons not to buy

  • Wildly expensive
  • Large and heavy

Ultimate Performance

Alienware Area51m

Alienware Area 51m

Big, expensive, incredible

The Area 51m is not for most gaming laptop buyers, but it's one of the most extreme machines we've ever seen.

The bottom line

Alienware makes strong gaming laptops, but the Alienware m15 R3 gets the edge for being more affordable and more portable than its larger sibling while offering almost identical hardware specs.

Alienware design has always been pretty out-there. But this has evolved over the years, and importantly, the days of thick, super-heavy gaming laptops are now behind us. The m15 R3 is sleek, sophisticated, and incredibly powerful.

Gaming is its bread and butter, but the OLED display option makes this a viable choice for creators, too. And the entry-level model represents excellent value, with high performance at a wallet-friendly price.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide


Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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