Hands-on the new Dell Alienware 15 with GeForce GTX 965M
This gaming notebook is what all the gamers are drooling for Alienware 15. This is the budget version of the famous Alienware series, but somehow doesn’t feel like it. For the price of this machine, which is around €1800 (depending on your configuration), you get Intel Core i5-4210H CPU and the new GeForce GTX 965M GPU. However, the same or even better hardware, can be found in a cheaper notebooks. So what makes the Alienware 15 so special, you might ask? Well, for starters it’s a special edition gaming notebook with, what to be believed, the best cooling system. It also has an eye-pleasing futuristic design, which will appeal to most gamers out there. Who doesn’t want to go to a LAN party with a good looking beast like that?
Alienware 15 comes in a big box with the Alienware logo on top of it and you will know you’ve bought yourself something to treat your inner gamer and it’s an expensive treat too. However, the Alienware 15 looks just like what you would expect from an Alienware laptop.
Let’s start with the lid of the notebook – it has anodized aluminum finish with aggressive looking ornaments and LED lights that can be changed in color thanks to the pre-installed software on the OS. The top of the lid features the famous Alienware logo along with the LED lights and the bottom corners are a bit curved adding some distinguished style to the machine. The bottom of the chassis is mainly plastic with big vents that can be used with an external cooling pad if you are going to torture the machine with some heavy gaming. The grills are made of metal that will surely add some good cooling properties.
The sides of the machine are beefier, but this is quite common for powerful gaming notebooks and especially the ones from the Alienware family. This notebook has a profile of 34 mm (1.339″) with flat edges and all the ports needed – LAN, two USB 3.0 ports and SD card reader on the right and DC charging port, two USB 3.0 and separate 3.5 mm jacks for microphone and headphones. You also have one HDMI 1.4 port and Mini-Display port at the back at your disposal. The most interesting feature, however, is the so-called Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port, but more on that in the hardware section.
At the back of the machine are located the main grills for dispersing the heat and some LED lights at the front. The interior of the machine looks somehow old school with some futuristic design signatures. For example, the key’s design looks like something from the past, but still provide good tactile feedback with long key travel. You also can take advantage of 5 programmable macro keys on the left side of the keyboard. We were surprised with the touchpad, though, It has its own LED backlight and it looks like something from a sci-fi movie. It lights up when you touch it and it’s also quite responsive and pleasant to touch. The mouse keys are stand-alone with soft and tactile feedback. The power button is the thing we liked the most – just an Alienware logo with LED backlight that can change color. Actually, the color of almost everything can be changed separately and even the keyboard has 4 different zones of light.
The overall design seems functional and well-thought through, despite the huge chassis, but at least we can expect excellent cooling of the internals. This will be thoroughly tested and explained in our upcoming detailed review. Stay tuned.
The award winning 2015 CES Alienware 15 has been offered by Dell with several different configurations. The one we have with us has the Core i5-4210H CPU and you can either go with that or Core i7-4710HQ. The GPU can go from GTX 965M and GTX 970M and up to R9 M295X or GTX 980M. Nevertheless, if you are not willing to settle just with that, Dell is offering a bundle with the so-called Alienware Graphics Amplifier. This is practically a box with its own power supply and can support up to two GPUs in SLI or CrossFire setups. The amplifier is then connected to the notebook and can bring desktop performance to your portable gaming laptop.
Moving on to the screen options which are only two – FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel or UHD (3840×2160) IPS touch panel and in both cases – 15.6-inch diagonal. The storage options are from 1TB HDD to 128GB or 256GB M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD. The provided battery is 8-cell with 92Wh capacity, but we can’t expect much from a power-hungry hardware as this one.
How it looks on the inside
Dell Alienware 15 has a small service lid held by two screws. It’s really easy to remove and gives access to the HDD, RAM chips and you will also find two M.2 SATA slots. This is a great plus, but if you need to perform some cleaning on the fans, you might want to take the machine to a technician. The rest of the notebook is extremely difficult to disassemble. For more information, please read the following article: http://laptopmedia.com/news/inside-dell-alienware-15-disassembly-internal-photos-and-upgrade-options/
|Intel Core i5-4210H (2-core, 2.90 – 3.50 GHz, 3MB cache) / Intel Core i7-4710HQ (4-core, 2.50 – 3.50 GHz, 6MB cache)
|8GB (2x 4096MB) – DDR3, 1600MHz / 16GB (2×8192МB) DDR3 1600MHz
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M (2GB GDDR5) / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M (3GB GDDR5) / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M (4GB GDDR5) / AMD Radeon™ R9 M295X (4GB GDDR5)
|1TB HDD (5400rpm) / 128GB M.2 SSD + 1TB 5400RPM (Storage) / 256GB M.2 SSD (Boot) + 1TB 5400RPM (Storage)
|15.6-inch (39.62 cm) – 1920×1080 (Full HD), IPS matte, 15.6-inch (39.62 cm) – 3840×2169 (UHD), IPS matte
|LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11agn 2×2, Bluetooth 4.1
|8-cell Lithium Ion (92 Wh)
|34.0 mm (1.339″)
|3.207 kg (7.07 lbs)