When less power makes for a better laptop

When less power makes for a better laptop

The Alienware m16 R2 is a rarity among modern laptops. That’s because normally after a major revamp, gadget makers like to keep new models on the market for as long as possible to minimize manufacturing costs. However, after its predecessor launched last year sporting a fresh design, the company reengineered the entire system again for 2024 while also limiting how big of a GPU can fit inside. So what gives? The trick is that by looking at the configurations people actually bought, Alienware was able to rework the m16 into a gaming laptop with a sleeker design, better battery life and a more approachable starting price, which is a great recipe for a well-balanced notebook.

There are so many changes on the m16 R2’s chassis it’s hard to believe it’s from the same line. Not only has Alienware gotten rid of the big bezels and chin from the R1, but the machine is also way more portable now. Weight is down more than 20 percent to 5.75 pounds (from 7.28 pounds) and it’s also significantly more compact with a depth of 9.8 inches (versus 11.4 inches before). For some style points, Alienware added RGB lighting around the perimeter of the touchpad. This result is a major upgrade for anyone who wants to take the laptop on the go. It fundamentally changes the system from something more like a desktop replacement to a portable all-rounder.


The Alienware m16 R2 is a great example of a laptop designed to suit its customers, because while it’s not as powerful as its predecessor, it’s more compact, has longer battery life and a more affordable starting price than before.


  • Speedy 240Hz screen
  • Better than expected battery life
  • Unique design
  • Good port selection
  • Solid value

  • No HDR support
  • Display could be brighter
  • Toasty vents

$1,499 at Dell

Critically, despite being smaller, the m16 R2 still has a great array of connectivity options. On its sides are two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, a microSD card reader, an Ethernet jack and a 3.5mm audio socket. Around back, there are two USB-C slots (one supports Thunderbolt 4 while the other has DisplayPort 1.4), a full-size HDMI 2.1 connector and a proprietary barrel plug for power. Generally, I like this arrangement as moving some ports to the rear of the laptop helps keep clutter down. That said, I wish Alienware had switched the placement of the Ethernet jack and one of the USB-C ports, as I find myself reaching for the latter much more often.

While it doesn't have support for HDR, the 16-inch display on the Alienware m16 R2 does have a speedy 240Hz refresh rate. While it doesn't have support for HDR, the 16-inch display on the Alienware m16 R2 does have a speedy 240Hz refresh rate.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The m16 R2 has a single display option: a 16-inch 240Hz panel with a QHD+ resolution (2,560 x 1,600). It’s totally serviceable and for competitive gamers, that high refresh rate could be valuable during matches where potential advantage matters. But you don’t get any support for HDR, so colors don’t pop as much as they would on a system with an OLED screen. Furthermore, brightness is just OK at around 300 nits, which might not be a big deal if you prefer gaming at night or in darker environments. But if you plan on lugging this around to a place with big windows or a lot of sunlight, games and movies may look a bit subdued. That said, it’s not a deal breaker, I just wish this model had some other display options like the previous one.