The Dell Alienware 15 R4 represents the pinnacle of high-performance gaming laptops, combining desktop-caliber components and an aggressive, futuristic design language. As the flagship 15-inch model from Alienware, the 15 R4 delivers unmatched power that rivals top gaming desktops in a reasonably portable 15.6-inch form factor weighing under 8 pounds.
Gamers who demand no compromises in their portable gaming rig will find the Dell Alienware 15 R4 fits the bill. With Nvidia GTX 10-series graphics up to the GTX 1080 with 8GB GDDR5X VRAM, Intel 8th gen 6-core i7 and i9 processors like the i9-8950HK up to 4.8GHz, high refresh rate FHD displays with Nvidia G-Sync, an advanced Cryo-Tech cooling system, and per-key RGB lighting, the 15 R4 is built for unbridled speed.
While not as travel-friendly as some of the thinner gaming laptops on the market, the Alienware 15 R4 still offers a reasonably portable gaming powerhouse you can take on the go or use as a formidable living room gaming machine. Measuring 1.18 x 15.3 x 12 inches (HWD), it’s comparable to other flagship 15-inch gaming models.
Whether using it as your primary gaming setup or the ultimate on-the-go option for LAN parties and tournaments, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 handles any modern or classic title at max settings without breaking a sweat. It has the graphics muscle for smooth 4K gaming and VR ready experiences.
In this extensive review, we’ll break down everything the Dell Alienware 15 R4 has under the hood and cover real-world gaming and productivity performance. From in-depth gaming benchmarks across top titles to a breakdown of the Dell Alienware 15 R4’s display, thermals, battery life, and design, this review provides a comprehensive look at Alienware’s mighty 15-inch gaming beast. Read on for the full analysis.
Out-of-This-World Design and Construction
The Dell Alienware 15 R4 represents a uniquely exciting aesthetic that lets you stand out from the crowd. Its menacing yet sleek exterior combines black magnesium alloy, soft touch paint, and fully customizable RGB lighting for an unmistakably high-tech appearance.
Imposing Yet Sleek Exterior
Available in a “Space Grey” dark color, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 weighs a substantial but reasonable 7.8 pounds considering its robust construction and powerful components inside. The dimensions come in at 1.18 x 15.3 x 12 inches thick, comparable to other flagship 15-inch gaming rigs.
Eye-Catching RGB Lighting
Alienware’s TactX keyboard features premium mechanical ultra-low profile switches with anti-ghosting technology, n-key rollover, and highly configurable per-key RGB backlighting for a reactive, immersive experience. The RGB elements extend to the alien head logo on the lid, front LED strips, and rear exhaust vents for ambient lighting effects.
Sturdy Construction with Smart Port Placement
The Dell Alienware 15 R4 feels reassuringly sturdy thanks to its magnesium alloy materials and rigid chassis structure. The sturdy display hinge allows smooth 120-degree angle adjustment but stays firmly in place. Ports like the HDMI, USB 3.0, and Alienware Graphics Amplifier port are intelligently positioned for accessible cable management.
Stunning Display and Buttery Smooth G-Sync
The Dell Alienware 15 R4 is configured with a gorgeous 15.6-inch FHD IPS display that offers blazing fast refresh rates of up to 120Hz with Nvidia’s G-Sync technology for incredibly fluid gameplay free of tearing or artifacts.
Vibrant IPS Panel with Smooth 120Hz Refresh
The Dell Alienware 15 R4 allows gamers to choose between several display options:
- 60Hz 1920 x 1080 IPS screen
- 120Hz 1920 x 1080 IPS screen
- 60Hz 2560 x 1440 IPS touchscreen
The 120Hz FHD matte display paired with G-Sync is the ideal choice for high frame rate gaming up to 120 fps. The 1920 x 1080 resolution at 15.6 inches provides great pixel density for immersive graphics.
With IPS panel technology, colors pop with 72% NTSC gamut coverage and wide 178° viewing angles. Measured response times of 7-8ms ensure lag-free motion clarity in action-packed games. Brightness tops 322 nits for excellent legibility.
G-Sync dynamically matches the screen’s refresh rate to the GPU’s frame rate, ranging from 30Hz to 120Hz, for ultra smooth, tear-free visuals when gaming. This variable refresh rate technology eliminates stuttering and artifacts.
The Alienware 15 R4’s fast 120Hz IPS screen with G-Sync transforms gameplay into a truly immersive experience free of distractions. It provides desktop-like gaming visuals right on your laptop.
Unrivaled Gaming Performance and Benchmarks
With an overclockable hex-core Intel processor and Nvidia GTX 10-series graphics up to the GTX 1080, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 delivers elite-level performance that rivals top-tier gaming desktops.
Desktop-Class CPU and GPU Power
Configuration options include 8th gen Intel Core i7 and i9 processors, including the top-end i9-8950HK 6-core chip clocked at 2.9GHz and turbo up to 4.8GHz with 12MB cache. This CPU demolishes productivity workloads.
For graphics, you can configure the Dell Alienware 15 R4 with the GTX 1060, 1070, or 1080 max-Q GPUs. The GTX 1080 includes 8GB of GDDR5X video memory and offers extreme power perfect for driving quick refresh rate displays.
In benchmarks, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 configured with the i9-8950HK and GTX 1080 scores an incredible 16,398 on 3DMark’s Time Spy graphics test. Real-world gameplay sees frame rates surpass 142 fps in Overwatch at 1920 x 1080 at the Ultra preset.
From buttery smooth 60+ fps 4K gaming in titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider to pushing the limits at 120Hz FHD in shooters, the 15 R4’s desktop-class components chew through modern games without flinching. This brute force makes high refresh rate gaming feasible.
With an unlocked i9 processor easily hitting 5.0GHz and a GTX 1080, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 clearly stands at the apex of mobile gaming performance, leaving no doubt it can conquer any title at max fidelity settings.
Dell Alienware 15 R4 Dominates Frame Rate Tests
In benchmarks, the 15 R4 configured with the i9-8950HK and GTX 1080 scores an incredible 16,398 on 3DMark’s Time Spy graphics test. Real-world gameplay sees frame rates surpass 142 fps in Overwatch at 1920 x 1080 at the Ultra preset.
Advanced Cooling Keeps Things Chill
The Dell Alienware 15 R4 implements an advanced thermal design called Cryo-Tech to ensure the powerful components inside remain cool and avoid throttling under heavy gaming loads.
High-Tech Vapor Chamber Cooling
A dual-intake dual-exhaust airflow design leverages copper heat pipes and a vapor chamber to evenly spread heat and dissipate it efficiently. The vapor chamber can absorb up to 150% more thermal energy compared to heatpipe-only designs.
Strategic Chassis Venting
Intelligently placed vents across the sides, bottom, and rear of the chassis allow for generous airflow while strategically directing fan noise away from the user. The uniquely angled bottom vents prevent excessive noise from being directed at the gamer.
Independent Fan Control
Dual fans with independent control further optimize cooling and acoustics by allowing custom fan curves for the CPU and GPU based on thermal demands. This reduces unnecessary fan spin.
In extensive testing, the Cryo-Tech vapor chamber system keeps average CPU temperatures at 86°C despite sustaining 100% loads. The GPU hovers around 78°C during gaming sessions thanks to the vapor chamber’s heat spreading capabilities.
While audible at 55dB under maximum gaming loads, the angled bottom vents prevent unpleasant fan noise from being directed at the user. Overall, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 maintains its cool while avoiding excessively loud acoustics.
Battery Life and Portability Discussion
The Dell Alienware 15 R4 balances strong gaming performance with reasonable battery life and portability for a high-end gaming laptop.
Respectable Battery Life for Non-Stop Gaming
Equipped with a large 90Wh 8-cell lithium-ion battery, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 can last up to 3 hours during continuous gaming sessions based on power settings. For lighter productivity workloads like web browsing or document editing, it can achieve over 5 hours of battery life on a full charge.
While not all-day endurance, the 90Wh battery gives sufficient charge when away from an outlet to enable shorter gaming sessions on the go. Nvidia’s Optimus technology is key, which automatically switches between the power-hungry discrete Nvidia GPU and the integrated Intel graphics. This preserves the battery when higher performance is not needed.
Under maximum load, both the CPU and GPU are utilizing up to 150 watts combined. But for lighter gaming you can limit the framerate to 30fps and reduce power draw to under 100 watts, extending gaming time unplugged. The Alienware Command Center lets you fine tune performance vs battery life.
Impressive Portability for a Desktop Replacement
Weighing 7.8lbs and measuring 15.3 x 12 x 1.18 inches, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 is reasonably portable for a high-end gaming laptop with desktop-class components inside. It’s similar in size and weight to competitors like the MSI GT75 Titan and Acer Predator Helios 500.
The substantial 230W power brick adds 2.9lbs of additional weight. But the 90Wh battery alone can still enable a couple of hours of continuous gaming away from an outlet. For gamers who travel occasionally for tournaments or LAN parties, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 provides a good blend of performance and portability. It’s not an ultrabook, but remains viable for intense mobile gaming sessions.
Conclusion: A Top-Tier Powerhouse for Enthusiasts
The Alienware 15 R4 epitomizes the state-of-the-art in high-end gaming laptops, cramming elite-level desktop components into a boldly designed chassis complete with alluring RGB lighting. For gamers who demand uncompromising power, the Dell Alienware 15 R4 is an irresistible showcase of technology.
The Intel 8th gen 6-core processors and Nvidia GTX 10-series GPUs up to the GTX 1080 deliver frame rates and performance that rival top-tier gaming desktops. CPU and GPU overclocking pushes speeds even further. This raw horsepower makes high fidelity 4K gaming and silky smooth 120Hz gameplay possible in a laptop form factor.
With its vapor chamber cooling, customizable macros keyboard, and intelligent port layout, Alienware nailed the ancillary features that make the 15 R4 feel like a complete package, not just a vessel for powerful hardware. Little details like the angled bottom vents demonstrate thoughtful engineering.
While the souped up configuration can get expensive, base models start more reasonably priced. There are few alternatives that provide so much desktop-replacement power with extra goodies like a mechanical keyboard and extensive lighting customization.
If you seek a laptop that can conquer any AAA game while turning heads, the uniquely styled Dell Alienware 15 R4 stands at the peak of what’s currently possible. For hardcore gamers who want one device that does it all, this Alienware flagship earns its reputation.
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