Alienware M16 review: a gaming titan

 Alienware M16
Alienware M16

Alienware M16: Two-minute review

If there’s one thing the Alienware M16 can do and do well, it’s to make your desk look incredibly cool. I would like to say I got plenty of stares of awe and approval touting this thing around town, but it's heavier than a spaceship and trekking from the office back home was enough exercise for at least two weeks.

Still, it's one of the best gaming laptops around, not to mention one of the best-looking. The design of the laptop is sleek but stylish, albeit a little…large. The matte finish on the plastic chassis ties the whole thing together, ensuring the RGB of the keyboard and the funky Alienware logo power button are never too much, a trap gaming laptops often fall into.

It's almost retro-futuristic and strikes a neat balance between intuitive design and the classic gamer vibe. Because of the placement of the display and how thick the chassis is, the laptop could pass for a much older device. In fact, when the lighting on the keyboard and power button are off, it kind of looks like one of the laptops my dad used to work on back when I was a kid.

The Alienware M16 is far from being the best thin and light gaming laptops on the market. But if you’re looking for a desktop replacement laptop, this is the bad boy for you. This laptop might be one of the heaviest I’ve had to lug around for a while, but the laptop runs demanding games at impressive frame rates and is large enough to work on sat on a desk in comfort.

I would recommend the Alienware M16 to anyone who doesn’t want the hassle of a whole PC set up in their room but still wants to reap the benefits of comparable competent power.

Alienware face front
Alienware face front

Since the Alienware M16 is fitted with an AMD Ryzen 9 7845HX and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 laptop GPU, you’re pretty much guaranteed a flawless gaming experience now and in the future. The cost for this kind of future-proofing is naturally rather steep, with the laptop retailing at $2,099.99 / £2,119.00 / AU$ 3,270, so it certainly won’t be topping our best budget laptops list anytime soon.

That being said, if you are looking to put down some serious cash once and not have to worry about anything regarding your gaming set-up ever again, this might be the best laptop for your gaming needs. It’s powerful, it looks the part without looking too silly, and you’ll be gaming on it for quite a long time.

Alienware M16: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $2,099.99/ £2,119.00/ AU$ 3,270

  • When is it available? Available now

  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK and Australia

The Alienware M16 starts at around $2,099.99 / £2,119.00 / AU$ 3,270 for the configuration we’ve tested. You can definitely find other gaming laptops for a lot less, and if you’re looking specifically for a budget gaming laptop, you might as well click away from this review right now.

That being said, you’re probably not going to find a lot of gaming laptops that will offer you these kinds of specs for any cheaper, and if you want to invest in a desktop replacement that’ll take you a long and far, this is a pretty good choice for you.

  • Price score: 4 / 5

Alienware M16: Specs

The Alienware M16 comes in a few configurations, with the base model starting with the Nvidia RTX 4060 and AMD Ryzen 7 7745HX, with 1TB of storage.

Alienware M16 close up of grille
Alienware M16 close up of grille

Alienware M16: Design

  • Chunky but funky 

  • Comfortable keyboard 

  • Aesthetic design with patterned speaker plate

The Alienware M16 is charming but at the same time, it is a little lacklustre. Yes, it’s aesthetic at first glance and holds a bit of character, but when you take in mind the kind of processing power packed into it as well as the steep price tag, it is a bit of a disappointing package. If you scan our list of best gaming laptops, you’ll find a lot more aesthetically pleasing and much more portable laptops.

Take the Razer Blade 14. It has very similar specs to the Alienware M16, with an RTX 4060 GPU and running on the AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU. Its price does go a little higher than the Alienware M16 but still offers a much slimmer chassis and sleeker, more modern look.

The Alienware M16 only comes in one color: matte black. That's disappointing as the hexagonal grille and quirky LED power button could lead to a unique design that would set the device apart from the regular gamer aesthetic. Hopefully, we'll see the M16 introduced in more exciting colors in the near future.

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Alienware M16 closed
Alienware M16 closed

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Keyboard close up of Alienware M16
Keyboard close up of Alienware M16

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Alienware M16 facing forward
Alienware M16 facing forward

The display is a 16-inch screen with excellent performance that offers a refresh rate of 165HZ and 100% sRGB. As for ports you’ve got a solid selection to pick from, including an HDMI 2.1 port, plenty of USB ports and interestingly an SD card slot. The addition of the slot does lend this laptop towards photographers who want a powerful gaming device they can use towards their hobbies or passions.

Alienware keyboard close up
Alienware keyboard close up

The keyboard is probably my favourite part of the Alienware M16, as the keys are large enough to avoid any frequent mishaps when gaming and offer a softer, more quiet typing experience that I really appreciate. It may not have the uber-satisfying clicky feedback many people like to get from their keyboards, but it does minimise any annoying distractions when you’re trying to focus and works well in environments where quiet is key.

The trackpad does offer nice clicky feedback, and while I normally hate gaming laptop trackpads for being too stiff, the Alienware M16 has the nicest trackpad I’ve used on any gaming laptop.

Alienware’s design choices seem to fall in the middle between creating something unique and fun, and yet clinging to some rather boring facets of typical gaming laptop design.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Alienware M16: Performance

  • Impressive gaming performance 

  • Runs warm but not hot 

  • Fans kick in almost instantly

Alienware M16 (2023): Benchmarks

Here's how the Alienware M16 (2023) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 51,538; Fire Strike: 27,355; Time Spy: 11,730; Port Royal: 7,184
GeekBench 5: 2,000 (single-core); 9,124 (multi-core)
14,038 (multi-core)
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra):
85.5 fps; (1080p, Low): 228 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 57 fps; (1080p, Low): 125 fps
Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 84 fps; (1080p, Low): 115fps
PCMark 10 Battery Life: 3 hours and 13 minutes

Despite the massive chassis and incredible weight, the Alienware M16 performed superbly during our benchmarks and was overall a joy to work on. The testing score results boast some of the highest I’ve seen testing laptops, which is to be expected with the kind of processing power packed into the thick beast.

In terms of gaming, it glides through demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077, boasting high frame rates at all times and displaying vibrant colors. The framerates in Cyberpunk 2077 and Stray don’t drop below 70fps even under the highest settings, and thanks to the refresh rates of the display, gameplay is smooth and uninterrupted. This is definitely the laptop of choice for gamers playing AAA titles and professional players. While the portability may knock off some points on the laptop in my book, the performance definitely picks up where the design slacks off.

The laptop's ventilation is well-designed, and once the fans kick in you’re unlikely to feel the chassis very hot. However, the fans do kick in as soon as you boot up a game, regardless of how intense your gaming session might be. That being said, I’m yet to experience any freezing or stuttering.

Close up of Alienware port selection
Close up of Alienware port selection
  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

Alienware M16: Battery life

  • Quick charge

  • Poor battery life even for a gaming laptop

Gaming laptops are not famous for their superb battery life, but the Alienware M16 is a lot worse than most.  In our general battery tests, it lasts just over 3 hours, which is not what you want to hear if you’re committed to taking this thing on a long-haul commute or out and about with you. With the effort you’re putting into carrying it, around 3 hours isn’t really enough.

If you intend to game with the laptop unplugged, you might get just around an hour, maybe fifteen minutes on top before the device starts letting you know the battery is on its last leg. This might not be a big problem if you’re planning to keep the laptop at home. Though that is a common thread with gaming laptops, you don’t buy one to take it on the road with you.

  • Battery score: 3 / 5

Should you buy the Alienware M16?

Buy it if...

You want to replace your gaming computer
If you're going to be living in a smaller living space like a college dorm or a shared house, the Alienware M16 is small enough to fit snuggly in most bedrooms and powerful enough to sustain your gaming habits.

You have deep pockets
If you’ve got extra cash lying around and want to invest in a laptop crammed full of the latest processors and gamer tech, this is the laptop for you. One big splash of cash now means you won't need to upgrade your kit for a very long time.

Don't buy it if...

You need to tighten the purse strings
This is without a doubt an expensive laptop, with a price tag that’s much more than what most people would pay.

Alienware M16: Also consider

If the Alienware M16 has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...

How I tested the Alienware M16

  • Tested the laptop for about three weeks

  • Used it for work and gaming 

  • Stress-tested it using our suite of benchmarks

I tested the Alienware M16 over a few weeks, using it to game in the evenings and working on it during the day for a few weeks or so. I took it from the office and back home as much as I could to get a feel for how easy it would integrate into my daily routine.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed August 2023