Alienware 15 (2015)

Alienware's Rather Large 15-inch Gaming Laptop With External PC Graphics Option

Alienware 15 (2015) Gaming Laptop
Alienware 15 (2015). ©Alienware

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The Bottom Line

Jul 8 2015 - Dell continues to make some excellent performance and stylish mobile gaming laptops which the Alienware 15 is part of. Price is very reasonable and the configuration is highly customizable in terms of both components and the look thanks to the lighting. The problem is that this system is very heavy compared to most modern gaming laptops that have become lighter and thinner over the years.

It does future proof itself somewhat for gamers with the optional Graphics Amplifier but the cost is quite high.


  • Stylish Design
  • Above Average Battery Life
  • Customizable


  • Larger and Heavier Than Most Other Gaming Laptops
  • Graphics Amplifier is Costly Upgrade


  • Intel Core i5-4210H Dual Core Mobile Processor
  • 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
  • 1TB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • 15.6" WUXGA (1920x1080) Display with 720p Webcam
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 Graphics
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Four USB 3.0, Mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, Graphics Amplifier, 9-in-1 Card Reader
  • 15.10" x 10.64" x 1.34" @ 7.07 lbs.
  • Windows 8.1

Review - Alienware 15 (2015)

Jul 8 2015 - While many companies have been looking to move to slimmer and lighter systems that are still capable of gaming, Dell's Alienware continues the hefty gaming laptop traditional. The system is a mix of aluminum and carbon fiber and has a unique angular design to make it stand out from the crowd of basic black laptops.

It is fairly thick at almost one and a third inches and weighs in just under seven pounds depending on the configuration. It comes with the AlienFX lighting that lets you customize the different lighting areas to various colors that helps it stand out even more.

Now Alienware offers a wide range of options in terms of the configuration but I'm looking at the base system today which features the Core i5-4210H dual core processor.

While this is not a high end or quad core processor, it does a good enough job for most of the current games on the market. It also offers higher performance than the Core i7-5500U found in some of the smaller and slimmer gaming laptops. The processor is matched up with 8GB of DDR3 memory which provides a smooth experience in Windows.

In terms of the storage, the base system looks for storage capacity over performance. This is because it uses a one terabyte hard drive that provides it with lots of space for applications, data and media files. The drive does spin at 7200rpm which is better than a standard hard drive but much slower than more expensive versions that rely on a solid state drive for the operating systems and applications. Of course there is always the option to upgrade the system. If you need to add more storage externally, there are a total of four USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external hard drives. Even with its larger size, Dell has not elected to include an optical drive.

One area where the Alienware 15 excels is the display. Even the base system features a 15.6-inch IPS display panel. This gives it some great color, viewing angles and brightness. The anti-glare coating for it also does not mute the colors very much.

The display resolution is 1920x1080 which is typical of a gaming laptop. The graphics on the base model use the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M graphics processor. This is not a super high end model but does provide it with decent frames rates and detail levels up to the panel resolution. It may need the settings decreased though for some more demanding games. Of course if that is not fast enough there is always the optional Graphics Amplifier.

The Graphics Amplifier is an external module that can plug into the laptop that allows for a faster desktop PCI-Express graphics card to be installed. The laptop can then use that instead of the laptop graphics module to either drive the display on the laptop or an external display.

This gives the system desktop class performance when used with the non-portable unit. The downside is the cost. The Amplifier box is $300 without a graphics card installed. While it is great that it can offer desktop graphics performance, the cost when you add in even a modest graphics card greatly increases the cost of the system.

Rather than using the isolated keyboard layouts that many now use, the Alienware 15 uses a more traditional style layout without the space between keys. This can be beneficial for those using it for gaming but it can take some getting used to for those that do a lot of typing. The keyboard does not feature a numeric keypad so has a bit more space around it which could have been used to increase the keyboard size. The trackpad is a nice large size and feature dedicated buttons. It works well neough but gamers will likely use an external mouse.

Powering such a high performance gaming system requires a large battery and Dell packs in a 92WHr rated unit. This is reported by Dell to provide upwards of seven hours of running time. In digital video playback tests, the number was not that far off at six and a half hours. This is better than average for a gaming laptop but still far from the class leading eight that the Apple MacBook Pro 15 provides. Of course, this is for digital video playback. If you are looking to use it for mobile gaming away from power, expect it to be for a much shorter time.

Pricing for the Alienware 15 starts around $1200. This makes it relatively affordable but the price can climb quickly with various upgrades. In terms of competition, there is plenty. The closest in design and price are the CyberpowerPC FangBook HX6-200 and the Gigabyte P55SW. Both laptops offer a higher performance Core i7 quad core processor for better general performance. The Gigabyte offers higher gaming performance from a GTX 970M graphics processor but neither screen can match the quality of the Alienware. Both are also smaller and lighter yet offer a DVD burner but the Alienware provides longer running times. The Cyberpower is pretty much that same price while the Gigabyte is slightly more expensive at $1299.

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