The Alienware m15 r2 is a thinner gaming laptop that is still able to pack in some powerful hardware, but how well does it actually perform in games? I’ve tested 20 different games at all setting levels and compared it with other laptops to help you decide if it’s worth it. My m15 R2 has the Intel i7-9750H processor, Nvidia RTX 2080 max-Q graphics, 16gb of memory in dual channel, and there’s a 15.6” 1080p 240Hz screen, but you can also get 60Hz, or even OLED as there are different specs available. The 10th gen model is probably about to come out, it took me a long time to get this one.
The Alienware command center software lets you select between different performance modes, I’ve done all testing with the overclock 2 profile applied, which overclocks the GPU as listed here, and the full speed thermal mode which increases fan speed for best performance.
We’ll only be covering gaming performance. Let’s start out by going through all games at all setting levels, then afterwards we’ll see how the m15 R2 compares with some other laptops. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested using the game’s built in benchmark tool, and this test is tough on pretty much any laptop regardless of specs with max settings, however at high we’re still able to reach above 60 FPS which is a good result here. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode, I’ve got the results with RTX enabled, shown by the green bars, and RTX off, shown by the purple bars. RTX off was still doing fairly well at higher settings, other lower specced 2060 machines generally struggle at 40 FPS maxed out, however high settings was close to 60, granted for this game it makes sense to preference frame rate by not using ray tracing. Control was also tested with and without RTX enabled, however as the game also supports DLSS 2.0 I’ve tested this in the red bars. DLSS runs it at 720p and upscales it, and it looked pretty decent while also still performing quite well at high settings, very similar to with RTX completely off while looking better in my opinion. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built-in benchmark, and the results were alright at the higher more GPU bound settings, but lower than expected at lower setting levels, but we’ll compare the results in this game and others against other laptops soon. Apex Legends was tested with either all settings at maximum, or all settings on the lowest possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined setting presets. I’ve disabled the frame cap, so even maxed out we’re getting pretty nice results, it played smoothly without issue. Call of Duty Modern Warfare was tested in campaign mode, and I’ve also tested it with the settings either maxed out or at minimum. Max settings was just under a 100 FPS average and was also playing well. Borderlands 3 was tested using the game’s built in benchmark, and it was still possible to surpass 60 FPS with the highest setting preset in this test owing to our higher end GPU. Ghost Recon Breakpoint was also tested with the benchmark tool, and despite being another resource heavy game hitting 70 FPS at ultimate settings is a pretty good result for it, though like other games, the lower results where we’re more CPU bound are lower than more recent laptops tested like the GS66. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and medium settings was enough to push the frame rate above the refresh rate of the 240Hz panel, however even maxed out it’s still playing smoothly at around 150 FPS. Overwatch is another less demanding game and was tested in the practice range. Again, even with the epic setting preset the frame rates are very high, stepping down just one setting would boost average FPS above the refresh rate of the display. CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and although the results at max settings are above the refresh rate of the screen, the fps is significantly less when compared to a laptop that would allow us to disable optimus, which cannot be done with the m15. Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane, and the results aren’t that far off many other laptops tested. With over 200 FPS at low settings, it’s another candidate for a smooth experience with the 240Hz display. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built-in benchmark using Vulkan, low settings was once more around the refresh rate of the screen, though even maxed out performance is still very good with this hardware. Metro Exodus was tested using the built-in benchmark, most parts of the game perform a fair bit better than this, so don’t take these results as a good indication of what to expect throughout the entire game, it’s more of a worst case. The Division 2 was also tested with the built-in benchmark, and compared to the GS66 I recently tested, the low results are almost half the FPS. This could be due to the optimus bottleneck, or the m15 may have some other limitations to the processor which affects lower setting levels. PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and ultra settings was still playing without any issues during my test through the erengel map. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark, and as a CPU heavy test the results are down a fair bit at lower settings, for quick comparison, the GS66 with 10th gen i9 hit 105 FPS at low, but then at ultra high where the GPU factors in more the difference is minor. Far Cry New Dawn was also tested with the games benchmark, and as a CPU sensitive test there was a similar result here, for reference that previously tested GS66 was at almost 123 FPS at low and 94 at ultra, that said these frame rates aren’t going to be an issue for playing. The Witcher 3 was playing without problems at maximum settings, I don’t often see above 100 FPS with ultra settings, but it’s possible with the 2080 Max-Q. F1 2019 was tested using the game’s benchmark tool, and again excellent performance was still possible at maximum settings with not too much additional FPS to be gained from lower settings.
Let’s also take a look at how this config of the Alienware m15 R2 gaming laptop compares with other laptops, use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different drivers.
In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the m15 R2 highlighted in red, and due to request I’ve started sorting this graph by average FPS. Out of this selection of laptops tested with similar specs, the m15 is performing quite well, with one of the highest average frame rates in this game, however the 1% low performance is on the lower side out of these machines which may indicate weaker CPU performance.
These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. This time the average frame rate was more around the middle of the pack and the 1% low was more in line with many other laptops. This test seems to be more CPU heavy than GPU though, which would explain why the undervolted Helios 300 is only just below it despite having a 1660 Ti.
These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings. As this is a more GPU demanding test the m15 is back towards the top of the bunch, and was able to beat a few 115 watt 2070 machines, granted the GS75 with lower 80 watt power limit 2080 Max-Q was a couple of frames ahead here.
Overall the gaming performance was good with the m15 R2, at least at these higher setting levels where the GPU can actually get put to work, as you’d expect. At lower settings in many titles tested there was notably lower performance compared to other laptops I’ve looked at. Some of this will be due to the inability of disabling optimus, and it’s unfortunate that we’re not given this option to further boost performance or gain the benefits of G-Sync. This would have given a nice performance boost, particularly in esports titles like CS:GO, however 5 of these games were still able to utilize the 240Hz screen at lower setting levels. The lower performance at lower setting levels could also be an indication of other issues like CPU throttling, however I’m yet to test that.