The Alienware M16 R2 pulls double-duty, satisfying the market for both fun and play

Alienware has long been a top choice in the high-powered, portable gaming rig market, often with a hefty price tag to match. As competition grows and demands for better, cheaper, and faster devices increase, Alienware’s redesigned M16 R2 is certainly a pivot. It’s a sure sign from Dell that there is an interest in expanding the consumer base by offering a flexible rig catering to both gamers and general users who want a powerful, portable system.

Utilizing this laptop while on holiday and on return to the office, I’ve had time to use it for both gaming and day-to-day use, coincidentally hitting both sides of the market, that this bit of gear wants to merge. After some unique and extensive hands-on time, I can confidently say that it largely succeeds in both arenas.

First Impressions

Coming in at just under 2.5 kg, I found the device manageable while commuting on planes, buses, and trains and the inevitable in and out of luggage, bags and airport security was rarely an inconvenience. It’s relatively heavy to grab with one hand and isn’t exactly a MacBook Air, but you know what you sign up for with a rig like this. The more rugged design also lowered my fears of being banged around, and as a result never wore any marks from any shoulder bag bumps, security x-ray trays or wayward keychain trinkets blemishing its exterior.

Throughout my travels the laptop’s battery also handled light editing and work-related tasks with around eight to nine hours of battery life, which the commuting professional will enjoy. Conversely, gaming unsurprisingly sucked the juice pretty quickly requiring charging after an honourable two hours. This was significantly less for more graphically intensive games, but that’s a fair trade-off for playing Cyberpunk 2077 on high settings at 35,000 feet, in my opinion.

While most users will likely game while plugged in, it’s neat to have new releases in the backpack if even for a short hour that would satisfy a domestic flight from say Sydney to Brisbane or the average train to work.

More to that, gaming on the M16 R2 wasn’t exactly quiet, with the fan almost replicating the jet engine beside my window in high-performance mode. The switch to stealth mode with the press of Fn + F2  quiets the fans effectively which often feels necessary and would be for anyone looking to use it in public. The “quiet” profile in the Alienware Command Centre was certainly my best friend.

Surprisingly the device never became too hot even during extended gaming sessions, with no heat on the keys or body being noticeable. Despite not having an OLED display, the screen performed well for daily and multipurpose use, though it could be brighter in some situations. I never felt that I struggled to use it in either gaming or work settings, and I didn’t think that I was missing too much without an OLED and the price is pretty reflective of that I think.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the details.

It should be noted the device under review is the higher spec option, featuring the Intel Core Ultra 9 Processor, 32 GB of RAM, 1 TB SSD storage, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 with 8 GB GDDR6. As of this writing, this model is priced at $2,968.90, or $3,069.00 with the Windows 11 Pro option. Customization options on the Dell website mean you can also opt for an Intel Core Ultra 7 and an RTX 4060 instead,  which will adjust the price accordingly.


The Alienware M16 R2 has undergone a massive redesign, with a 15% reduction in overall size and weight compared to its predecessor. With a more stealthy design that removes the big thermal shelf on the back, the device remains relatively compact compared to similar 16″ laptops.

The R2 features a more refined industrial styling with soft black elements that are understated but not uninspired. The only colour comes from the RGB-lit keys, the RGB-lit border around the touchpad, and the iconic alien logo atop the keyboard and centre of the external lid. This subdued design is a departure from the flashier, RGB-heavy designs of the past, but a welcome one.

Coated in the brand’s dark metallic moon finish and built with anodized aluminium, the R2 has a premium feel. It exhibits minimal keyboard flex and only minor screen wobble. The front groove makes it easy to open, and the smooth 180-degree hinges enhance the device’s solid feel.

One downside is that while the exterior stays relatively clean, the rubber-coated interior with its black soft finish attracts fingerprints easily. This can be remedied with a microfiber cloth, but those particular about fingerprints may find it bothersome. Fortunately, the keyboard does not suffer from the same issue oddly enough.


The per-key RGB-lit keyboard is incredibly smooth and comfortable, with 1.8mm of key travel which makes it a joy to use. The keyboard isn’t mechanical, so there are no satisfying click clacks that most gamers seek out, but the user-friendly nature of the keyboard makes this an afterthought. The non-standard layout with the mic button and volume controls on the right hand side can cause a few errors when reaching for the shift or enter buttons, though I adjusted quickly.

An odd shift, I never found these purpose-built buttons to be all that useful while gaming, and some may find the error-inducing touches a change that is only frustrating other than helpful. Otherwise, the experience of typing and more work-related uses for this device are genuinely second to none.

It is a great experience to type on the R2 minus a few unexpected presses of the volume key or mic mute button. For a rig with this level of power, it’s rather surprising how much attention to detail is paid to the keyboard. A testament to the design shift focusing on more than just gaming on the go, there is certainly a great day-to-day machine here.

The trackpad, however, is disappointing for a device in this price range, feeling less accurate and smooth than other offerings. Most buyers in this space will likely be using a mouse I suspect but it shouldn’t be required for a good experience. While largely serviceable, it’s a little disappointing, especially with the high expectations of set by the keys above it.


I had a minor issue with the speakers on this particular device. While using Youtube and online surfing the speakers were pretty quiet even at full volume, so much so that I questioned if they may be faulty. Following a bit of internet sleuthing and fumbling with the Dolby Atmos app, I had no answer. On the flip side during gaming volume was nice and full, rarely requiring more than three-quarters of the full volume and handling full volume without any distortion.

I typically opt for headphones which is likely universal, but the experience between the browser and game was certainly odd. When they were working as planned, however, the speakers were more than serviceable.


On the left side of the device, you’ll find a 2.5-gigabit ethernet port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The right side features a micro SD slot and two USB 3.2 Type-A ports. From right to left the rear features two Type-C ports, an HDMI 2.1 output, and the power input. Placing less frequently used ports on the back is a great choice that ensures docking to monitors is easier. Adding a USB-C port to the sides for general use would likely be more practical given the current standard, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

While the port selection is decent, the placement of the USB ports along the edge might make wired mouse usage a bit frustrating, or an ethernet cable running out of the side. The size of the laptop also suggests a regular-sized SD slot would have been possible, but these are all minor gripes that likely won’t affect most users.


The Alienware M16 R2 features a 16″ QHD+ display with a 2560×1600 resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate. With a brightness of 300 nits, it isn’t as bright as some similarly priced options, which regularly achieve 500+ nits. However, I rarely found the need to max out the brightness in any setting, with the matte non-reflective display easing a lot of pain. This didn’t include much outdoor use, where this difference might be more dramatic. The 240Hz refresh rate resulted in a smooth gaming experience even with fast-paced games, and it always looked great, while those daily tasks, looked and felt sharp and responsive.

What’s here may not be enough for those who consider an OLED display to be creeping towards the high-end standard amongst the premium devices, but the price point here probably negates that. I also never felt like for what’s on offer I was missing too much without an OLED display. If the trade-off is a significant price increase, what’s here is good enough.


The performance was excellent across demanding gaming titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077. In Cyberpunk 2077 in its native resolution with ray tracing off and medium crowd density, I was capable of hitting 112+ fps while combat and crowded areas averaged around 70-80 fps. With medium ray tracing enabled the game looks great and is serviceable in less demanding areas at 80fps, but car chases and combat can quickly dim that to a low 30fps.

Gaming on this device was one of the best experiences I’ve had on a laptop as portable as this one. The gameplay was silky smooth with the display’s 240 Hz refresh rate and help from the Nvidia G-Sync framerate smoothing. With quick load times, no major latency issues when playing to spec, and little to no tearing crashes or choppiness it was a great experience. However, the fans can be very loud when running graphically intensive games in Performance or Overdrive mode.

Stealth Mode is a bit of a lifesaver, otherwise, the fans can get pretty obnoxious. On the positive side, the cooling system is extremely effective. The laptop doesn’t ever feel really hot or even warm to the touch, even after hours of gaming.

The M16 R2 delivers outstanding graphics performance courtesy of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 and is capable of running modern games with ease. If you’re looking for something more powerful however this line tops out at the 4070 and you’ll need to turn to the m18 for a 4080 or 4090. When considering the target audience here, however, for the purposes of part-time gaming balanced with day-to-day tasks, there is enough under the hood here to ensure the future of both tasks for a good long while.

The Intel Core Ultra 9 Processor also handled all of my everyday tasks perfectly which isn’t too unexpected, but also the demanding video editing applications I threw at it. The smooth and efficient experience there makes the M16 R2 an excellent choice for content creation, but also gaming on the go. The 1 TB SSD storage is also ample for the purposes of part-time gaming but may fill up faster if you keep tons of games on your drive.


The battery life is solid, with the review model running anywhere from eight to nine hours of general browsing, closer to six to eight while streaming and about one to two hours while gaming. There was a massive dip when using editing software, but I assume for the most part that these will be undertaken while plugged in. Overall for the purposes of a portable workhorse that can also be your email machine, the M16 R2 certainly fits the bill.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Alienware M16 R2 stands out as a powerful, versatile laptop that caters to gamers and students or professionals alike. Its high-performance specs, combined with a sleek design and robust build quality, make it a solid investment for those seeking a reliable and capable device that can slip into the work or uni bag while getting your gaming fix at the same time.

While not the most powerful device in the Alienware lineup, it’s more than capable of supporting most hefty Steam libraries. With strong battery life and a keyboard custom-built for long days of assignments or proposals, the m16 R2 is a solid hybrid bridging the gap between work and fun.

Starting at $2427.70 and maxing out at $3,069.00 it certainly isn’t cheap, but for those seeking something that pulls double duty, it could be just the right investment.


Highlights: Solid build quality; Excellent keyboard; Great versatility between gaming and work for the price
Lowlights: Noisy fans; Gaming keys mapped strangely; Poor touchpad
Manufacturer: Dell
Price: A$2,427.70 -A$3,069.00 (Depending on specifications)
Available: Now

Review based on unit supplied by Dell and is currently available via Dell’s official website and at select retailers.