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This is a first for Alienware gaming laptops

Three Alienware gaming laptops on a table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The Alienware m16 is only on its second generation, but the company is already hitting the reset button on the design. The m16 R2, announced at CES 2024, has both a redesigned chassis and reengineered thermals, plus one very notable feature never seen in an Alienware gaming laptop.

Most Alienware laptops have proudly featured a “thermal shelf” on the back, which purportedly helped with air ventilation and positioned the ports out of the way. The problem with the thermal shelf is the extra size it adds to the footprint of the laptop. It also adds a rather large bottom chin and hinge under the screen — and sometimes results in a small palm rest and touchpad.

The back of the Alienware m16 R2 on a table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The m16 R2 does away with this, however, reducing the overall footprint by 14%, according to Dell. It now has a 180-degree hinge that allows it to fold all the way back. The palm rest and touchpad are bigger too, with a new outline of RGB surrounding the touchpad.

The result is a laptop that looks a lot more like every other laptop that exists. But if Alienware wants the m16 R2 to compete with the Razer Blades of the world, it’s a move in the right direction.

The point here is to create a laptop that better fits into non-gaming environments, like school, work, or a coffee shop. Alienware has even included a “Stealth Mode” that turns off RGB lighting and switches the fans to Quiet mode — all triggered by an F2 shortcut. Now, that’s not going to turn this into a MacBook, but it’s a fun trick.

Without the thermal shelf, the Alienware m16 R2 needed a redesigned cooling system, which Dell says it accomplished. The details aren’t available, but Dell says the result is that the device is 43% more efficient at moving hot air through the system than the previous generation.

The Alienware m16 R2 open on a table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

As for performance, the Alienware m16 R2 runs on either the Core Ultra 7 155H or Core Ultra 9 185H. On the graphics front, the starting configuration comes with the RTX 4050, but you can opt for the RTX 4060 or RTX 4070. RAM starts at 16GB, but can go up to 64GB, while storage can ramp up to 8TB.

The screen is a 16-inch QHD display (2560 x 1600) with a 240Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. Dell says it maxes out at 300 nits and has with a 1000:1 contrast ratio.

The Alienware m16 R2 will launch on January 11, starting at $1,650.

The Alienware x16 R2 and m18 R2

The Alienware x16 and m18 open on a table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Alienware has also brought a smaller update to its larger and more premium gaming laptops in the lineup. The Alienware x16, which was initially launched last year and has the premium aluminum chassis, is getting updated with Intel’s Core Ultra chips, in either the Core Ultra 7 155H or Core Ultra 9 185H.

Lastly, the Alienware m18 R2 is being launched with Intel’s 14th-gen Raptor Lake Refresh chips, ranging up to the Core i9-14900HX.

The Alienware x16 R2 doesn’t have a release date yet, but it will be “coming soon” and start at $2,100. The Alienware m18 R2 will launch on January 11, starting at $1,900.

Alienware Pro Wireless mouse and keyboard

Alienware has also announced a new pair of gaming accessories, the Pro Wireless Mouse and Pro Wireless Keyboard. Both look great, coming in either white or black. The Alienware Pro Wireless Keyboard is a 75% keyboard with hot-swappable switches. In the box, though, they come with Alienware’s own linear switches. It can connect via a 2.4GHz dongle, Bluetooth 5.1, or USB-C.

The Alienware Pro Wireless Mouse is a super-lightweight ambidextrous mouse that weighs just 59 grams. It uses an optical sensor and six programmable buttons, and can run at 4KHz polling wireless or 8KHz wired.

The Alienware Pro Wireless Mouse on a wooden table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Both accessories are Alienware’s first attempt at making some premium, “pro”-level peripherals and represent a significant jump up from the previous options.

The Alienware Pro Wireless Keyboard will cost $200, and the Pro Wireless Mouse will be $150. They’ll both be available in North America starting on January 11.

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Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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