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Maximize Your Gaming Experience with the Alienware m16 R2: The Ultimate 1440p Gaming Laptop


  • Decent performance for its class
  • Dual-refresh display
  • Not as much of a performance drop on battery compared to older CPU generations


  • Display has just-OK image quality
  • Keyboard feels a little stiff
  • Side vents can get quite hot
  • Comparatively heavy
  • Has a little trouble with weak wireless signals

For its second-gen midrange gaming laptop, Alienware rejiggered its midrange 16-inch m16 to fit more comfortably into its place in the company’s gaming laptop universe. That meant lowering its configurations and redesigning it to meet the lower price target buyer. That puts the m16 R2 in competition with Dell’s own G series, which is a lot cheaper for configurations with similar power, but also clunkier with last-generation components.

There’s a good set of options available for the m16 R2 line — you can run the price up to $3,795. I wouldn’t recommend that, though, since that’s a lot to pay to get stuck with the meh display, unless you typically plan to use it connected to an external monitor. 

The line starts at $1,499 with the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, GeForce RTX 4050, 16GB DDR5-5600, 1TB SSD and the basic single-zone RGB keyboard. The only display available is the sRGB 16-inch, 2,560×1,600, 120Hz/240Hz dynamically switchable model. Bumping to an RTX 4060 costs $100 and to the RTX 4070 another $200. 32GB of RAM adds $150, or $250 over that for 64GB.   

Alienware m16 R2

Price as reviewed $1,850, £1,899, AU$2,999
Display 16-inch 2,560×1,600 120Hz/240Hz IPS sRGB
PC CPU 1.4GHz Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
PC Memory 16GB DDR5-5600
Graphics 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 mobile, 140w max
Storage 1TB SSD, micro SD slot
Ports 2 x USB-C (1 x Thunderbolt 4, both with DP 1.4), 2 x USB-A 3.2, 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x combo audio
Networking Intel Intel Wi-Fi 7 BE202, Killer E3100G 2.5Gb Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.4
Operating system Windows 10 Home 23H2
Weight 5.8 lbs/2.6 kg

You can opt for 2TB through 8TB of storage, all of which are also available in a RAID 0 configuration for the same prices: 2TB for an additional $200, 4TB $350 over that and 8TB for yet another $500. Upgrading from the single-zone RGB keyboard to the per key RGB runs $50. Models with an Intel Core Ultra 9 185H start at $1,750, the base model equipped with the GeForce RTX 4060. Upgrading from Windows 11 Home to Pro costs $145.

There are a lot of competitors across the range of prices covered by the m16 configurations, but this is the first gaming system we’ve tested with an Intel Core Ultra H-series processor, so it’s not clear yet how performance generally lines up against models with 13th- or 14th-gen Core H-series processors. Potential competitors on the lower end that we’ve tested recently include the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16. Even at the base configuration, the m16 R2 has a faster, higher-resolution screen than most of them, but the more closely configured version may be cheaper, depending upon how you catch them.

The configuration we tested, with the Core Ultra 7, 16GB RAM, RTX 4070 and 1TB SSD, nominally costs $1,850, though at the moment it’s $1,650 on Dell’s site — a much more agreeable price that we’re likely to see again, and cheaper than some similarly equipped competitors like those from HP (both Omen 16 and Victus 16) or more than others, like the $1,475 Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Gen 8; we don’t have a price for the Asus’ as-yet unshipped TUF A16). Keep in mind that systems using the Intel HX-series processors won’t have nearly as good battery life as either the Core Ultra or Core HS processors, and might be bigger, but they’ll also likely outperform all the others.

Design and features

R2 has a significantly different design from the first generation. It’s lighter, with a more compact footprint thanks to the elimination of the forward hinge in favor of a more conventional clamshell. It’s got a different set of ports, exchanging the mini DisplayPort and SD card slot in favor of a Thunderbolt 4 and mini SD slot. The USB-A and card slot are on the right side, with the HDMI and USB-C connections on the back, as is the power connector. Overall, it’s a functional arrangement.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

The new design also means Alienware was able to put in a hinge that allows the laptop to open flat. That ability can make a big difference in some circumstances, like using it propped against your knees sitting up in bed or on a couch.

Lighter doesn’t mean lightweight, though. At 5.8 pounds (2.6 kilograms) it’s still fairly heavy, though the power adapter isn’t as large as is typical for comparable systems. And the laptop is thick at 0.9 inches (24mm). That’s not unusual for a mainstream gaming laptop, but worth knowing if that’s important to you.

Lori Grunin/CNET

The membrane keyboard has a little more travel than many laptops, 1.8mm, and the combination of the membrane switches and deeper travel give it a stiffer feel than you may be used to and depending upon what and how you play it may not be responsive enough for fast actuation. 

Alienware Command Center lets you rebind F3 through F6 to keystrokes and custom macros as well as easily customize the per-key RGB lighting. Volume and mic mute keys sit in a column down the right side, there’s a preset key for Stealth Mode, which drops the system to quieter operation and turns off all the lighting. You can also set the touchpad with an RGB outline, a still-uncommon feature which I like because I work in the dark. 

alienware-m16-r2-5597 alienware-m16-r2-5597

Lori Grunin/CNET

Performance and screen

This is one of the first laptops to ship incorporating Wi-Fi 7. I’ve learned from experience with other first-time implementations of new tech that there may be some bugs to iron out. There were no issues connecting to Wi-Fi 6E 5 or 6GHz

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