Alienware's m15 and m17 laptops level up with GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs

The 4th-gen Alienware laptops get big GPU upgrades and better webcams too

Credit: Alienware

Alienware’s newly upgraded m15 R4 and m17 R4 gaming laptops will trade in their existing GPUs for shiny new—and likely much faster—Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 GPUs this year, the company announced at CES 2021.

While much of the m15 R4 and m17 R4’s design is carried over from previous R3 versions in terms of ports, weight, and size, the most important upgrade for gamers is in graphics.

Alienware m15 R4

The 15.6-inch Alienware m15 R4 still weighs about 4.65 lbs to 5.5 lbs (depending on the options) and comes with up to 32GB of RAM. Alienware also offers 300Hz 1080p and 4K OLED screen options, and the laptops still come in either Lunar Light (white) or Dark Side of the Moon (black). 

But the visuals are now handled by “Next generation Nvidia graphics.” Alienware didn’t say which particular GPUs would be offered due to Nvidia’s information lock down when we wrote this, but from the laptop’s 240 watt power brick, we think it might support up to a GeForce RTX 3080 Max-Q. We’ll update this story as more information comes in, but the RTX 30-series chips are based on Nvidia’s new 8nm Ampere architecture, which offers a very significant boost over previous generation GPUs.

One area that doesn’t change is the CPU. The Alienware m15 and m17 continue to deploy Intel’s 10th-gen Core processors. There is a slight change though with options now including a Core i7-10870H or Core i7-10980HK. Both are 8-core chips, but the Core i7-10870H shaves 100MHz off the previous model’s Core i7-10875H.

If you’re let down there’s no AMD Ryzen 5000 mobile chip in the upgraded Alienware notebooks the company offers a salve that might be just as important: A new 1920x1080 resolution webcam instead of the older 720x480 webcam. For gamers who need to use a laptop for work Zoom calls or Twitch streaming, the higher-resolution camera is a welcome upgrade.

For ports, there’s still a wedge-shaped lock port, three USB-A 5Gbps ports, an analog audio port, a UHS-II microSD reader, Thunderbolt 3, miniDisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1. Alienware continues to offer its own Amplifier port for external graphics too. We should also mention that the ethernet port is now backed by a Killer E3100X, which supports up to 2.5GbE but now features a mode that improves game performance by “reshaping” the network traffic during game sessions.

Alienware m17 R4

alienware m17 r4 white with tobii faced right Alienware

The 4th generation Alienware m17 R4 gets a serious GPU upgrade with Nvidia’s new GeForce RTX 30-series.

If a 15.6-inch panel is just too tiny for you, Alienware’s m17 R4 expands to a 17.3-inch screen with options for 1080P at 144Hz or 360Hz, both with Nvidia’s G-Sync technology included. There’s also a 4K, 60Hz option that pumps out a blazing 500 nits. If you opt for the 4K screen, you can also opt for a model with Tobii Eyetracking.

The larger laptop once again features “Next generation Nvidia graphics,” which we’re going to assume means up to a GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. One spec that Alienware didn’t detail was whether it was the Max-Q version of the 3080, which sacrifices some performance for improved thermals, but we’re going to guess there might just be the full-fat version inside since the laptop’s options include 240 watt to 330 watt power bricks.

The Alienware m17 R4’s ports, CPU, 1080p camera, and network controller look to match the smaller model’s loadout. The weight of the new Alienware m17 R4 is 5.4 lbs. to 6.5 lbs.

Both laptops are expected to be available on Jan. 26 with prices for each starting at $2,149.

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Gordon Mah Ung

Gordon Mah Ung

PC World (US online)
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