The Alienware m15 R3 was one of our favorite gaming laptops of 2020, standing out with unique styling and also the muscle to back it up. The m15 R4 (starts at $2,149.99; $2,499 as tested) may be a component-level revamp that uses the identical chassis but adds Nvidia's GeForce RTX 30 Series "Ampere" GPUs, newly announced for laptops at CES 2021 earlier this month.
Our test unit packs an RTX 3070, which delivers demonstrable frame-rate gains over its previous-generation counterparts, especially at higher resolutions, and makes 60-frame-per-second (fps) ray tracing a prospect on laptops.
The m15 R4 may be a promising first to examine what should become commonplace in high-end machines by year's end, whether or not it isn't the maximum amount of a leap over the GeForce RTX 20 Series because it was on the desktop. Our particular m15 configuration adds some cost with 1TB of solid-state storage and a 4K OLED display. (Alienware's lower-resolution, higher-refresh-rate screen options are better picks for avid gamers.) But the core takeaway? one of our favorite laptops is now even faster, because of Nvidia's latest silicon. It retains our Editors' Choice award for high-end gaming laptops.
More Sci-Fi Style: Internal Changes Only
The first thing you'll notice about our review unit is its striking green color, officially called Gaia Green. It's joined by Dreamy White, Indie Black, and Resolute Red because of the color options, but regardless of which you like, it's clear the fun palette is a component of this laptop's identity. Asus is aiming the S15 squarely at younger users (the marketing specifically mentions Gen Z multiple times), matching the color options with what the corporate sees as an inspired, expressive generation.
In terms of design and size, this edition of the m15 is a twin of the last. The updates are entirely internal, with the new GPU the star. Since this is not an improved build, I won't spend an excessive amount of time on the planning, but here are the basics.
The chassis measures 0.8 by 14.19 by 10.86 inches (HWD) and tips the scale at 4.65 pounds. That makes for a moderate-size laptop but perfectly acceptable for a powerful gaming machine. In a sense, it's also impressive that the body hasn't changed, considering greater GPU power is being added internally.
It's a nice-looking display, no doubt, with the extra-vibrant colors you expect from OLED, and also the very crisp text and fine details you decide on a 4K panel for.
The plasticky bezels around the display diminish the sleekness of the laptop somewhat, but they don't seem to be thick enough to be distracting. The Windows desktop and web content look great, as do videos, but the screen really makes games pop.
New GeForce RTX 3070 GPU is capable of 60fps ray tracing
Long battery life for its laptop class
Attractive 4K OLED display in our review configuration
1TB of SSD storage
Plenty of useful ports
Customizable keyboard (per-key) and chassis lighting
The Asus VivoBook S15 isn't only a superb value for the value but a wonderful laptop all around. We found lots to like about this sleek, affordable notebook for everyday users.