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Today’s Alienware M18 review looks into the company’s decision to reboot its behemoth laptop from 2013. It seems like Alienware aspires to cram the power of a desktop gaming rig into a slightly smaller, slightly more portable frame. The result is a product line of massive laptops with large screens that promise gamers a good time.
Does the company succeed in creating a powerful machine that remains cool during heavy usage? Reviewing the features and hardware configuration of the 2023 Alienware M18 may provide some answers.
Alienware M18 review: First looks
Alienware’s M-series prioritizes raw power over the sleeker, more stylish aesthetic of the X-series. The result is a large, chunky chassis and a screen that’s wide enough to function as a standalone display.
At a glance, the 2023 M18 laptop sits in a dark, inch-high cabinet with an Alienware logo on the cover. The laptop is thick enough to accommodate an array of vents and a couple of side ports. You’ll find most of the ports at the back, and this design choice has its benefits. While the ports may be hard to reach from the front, they keep cables and dongles from obstructing your arms.
Opening the laptop should have you looking at an 18-inch display that seems to sit on a large pedestal stand. Except that you’re not looking at a screen stand; you’re looking at a laptop deck that packs vast amounts of processing power.
At this point, we should note that the chassis is a nine-pound blend of aluminum and plastic. This combination promises to deliver a sturdy laptop that should give you years of service. To further ensure longevity, Alienware includes expansion slots that let users expand storage and memory. Here’s what the deck has to offer from the outside:
1. Vents and cooling
Each side of the deck has two vents, with the larger vent sitting near the back of the laptop, where the bulk of the cooling solution lies. The top of the deck also has an array of vents that form the famous honeycomb pattern that sits right above the keyboard. Lastly, we find a pair of rear vents that flank the ports at the back of the M18. The concave grill that covers these vents should boost the inflow of cool air into the laptop.
To increase airflow and heat dissipation, the 2023 Alienware M18 has rubber feet that raise the deck of the tabletop. These feet may feel uncomfortable on the lap; but then this bulky, heavy laptop isn’t meant for your lap.
The cooling solution comprises a metal alloy conductor that coats the GPU and CPU arrays. This interface conducts heat to a liquid cooling mechanism that works a lot like a fridge or AC unit. This vapor chamber sits directly under the processors. It contains a volatile liquid that absorbs heat from the processors before directing said heat toward multiple fans. An array of four fans then propels hot air towards select output vents.
You get a few side ports for convenience, with the rest of the ports sitting at the back, where they stay out of the way. One of the side ports is a 5V USB-A port that can charge the laptop battery. Here’s a full list of the connections you’re working with:
- Four USB ports
- HDMI 2.1 port
- Ethernet jack
- SD card reader
- Two Thunderbolt 4 ports
- Headphone jack
- Display port
Wireless connectivity offers the latest WiFi and Bluetooth standards for high-speed, robust connections. All you need for great WiFi is a router that can keep up with the WiFi6 standard of the adapter.
Keyboard and navigation pad
Again, we appreciate Alienware’s efforts in producing laptops that we can customize. Take the keyboard of the 2023 M18 as an example. You could make do with the default low-profile keys. You could also pay a little extra for Alienware’s membrane keyboard with the perfect amount of give. As usual, you can adjust the backlight settings of the keyboard to your liking through the laptop’s command center.
The metallic navigation pad is as responsive as you’d expect from a performance laptop. The slight texture on the touchpad surface gives just enough resistance for a pleasant user experience.
Alienware M18 review: Chipset and storage
For a premium, you get a performance laptop with a 13th-generation Intel HX CPU and NVidia’s GeForce RTX 4090 mobile graphics card. The M18 allows for a maximum of 64 GB of DDR5 RAM and a storage array that goes as high as 9TB.
Alienware offers you two options for the screen that comes with the M18. The Quad-HD screen with a refresh rate of 165Hz offers the most pixels per inch. This review recommends that you choose this panel if you plan to use the M18 for graphics and video editing.
The 1080p screen comes with a 480Hz refresh rate, which avid gamers may appreciate. Both options are IPS panels with wide viewing angles, and the only major difference between them is screen resolution.
By today’s standards, a display with a peak brightness level of 300 nits seems middling. However, this number means something different with the M18 display. Even the most detailed and demanding of game graphics look great on the 2023 Alienware M18.
Adequate contrast levels and support for Dolby Vision enhance fine detail that you would miss with a dimmer screen. It helps that the color gamut of the displays is wide enough to create rich, realistic images. The panels also come with VRR support for NVidia and AMD graphics cards.
Alienware M18 review: Command center 6.0
Let’s start by noting the vast improvements in the Alienware command center software. The application now guzzles far less resources than before, while tracking performance as you push the M18 to its limits. Performance data includes the maximum frame rates of different game titles. You can use this information to optimize the laptop to your liking.
Command Center 6.0 also lets you tie different backlight profiles to specific games, which is nice.
- User-expandable RAM and storage
- Effective cooling system
- Fast response time that ensures minimal motion blur
- High-performance hardware that can take whatever you throw at it
- The Alienware M18 has the high power consumption of a performance gaming PC
- Heavy and bulky
Alienware M18 review verdict: Cutting-edge hardware that promises peak performance
This Alienware M18 review finds a gaming machine that will make quick work of whatever you throw at it. The 18-inch screen should deliver an immersive experience and crisp graphics. Vast amounts of processing power should execute your most demanding game titles without breaking a sweat.
We expect the 2023 Alienware M18 gaming laptop to maintain a reasonable temperature, even with heavy use. How quietly the machine runs at full throttle is yet another thing we’ll find out when we put the laptop through its paces. Click here to learn more about this laptop.