The Dell Alienware m18 (2023) is a high-end 18-inch gaming laptop. The 18-inch size is a new addition to Dell's Alienware gaming laptop lineup. It's available with various CPUs and GPUs, up to an AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU. There's also an AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT GPU option. You can get up to 64GB of memory and 8.5TB of storage. Display options include a 480Hz FHD+ and a 165Hz QHD+ IPS display; both support variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing. There are two keyboard options, one with scissor switches and the other with ultra-low-profile (clicky) CherryMX mechanical switches. It has RGB backlighting, Wi-Fi 6E, a 1080p webcam, and a 97Wh battery.
This laptop is also available with Intel 13th Gen CPUs. Most of our results (build, display, keyboard, touchpad, speakers, webcam) apply to the Intel version except for the performance benchmarks, thermals, and battery life. The Intel models have Thunderbolt 4 support and are only available with NVIDIA GPUs.
You can see our unit's specifications and the available configuration options in the Differences Between Variants section.
The Dell m18 is mediocre for school use. It provides a good user experience with its large, bright display, tactile keyboard, and responsive touchpad. It also has plenty of processing power to handle nearly anything, making it suitable for students in fields like programming and 3D graphics. Unfortunately, it's a big, bulky, and heavy laptop that's hard to carry around, and its battery only lasts around three hours of light use, so you'll have to bring the charger, too. Additionally, the fans get pretty loud under load, which isn't ideal for quiet classrooms and libraries.
The Dell m18 is an outstanding gaming laptop. Its high-performance AMD Ryzen CPUs and NVIDIA RTX 40-series/AMD Radeon GPUs can push high, consistent frame rates in demanding games at 1080p or 1440p, resulting in a smooth and responsive gaming experience. You can choose between a 480Hz FHD+ or a 165Hz QHD+ display; both have a fast response time to deliver a clear image and variable refresh rate support to reduce screen tearing. There are plenty of ports, including an Ethernet port to ensure a reliable internet connection when gaming online. RAM and storage are user-upgradeable, so you can add more later. There's no thermal throttling on the CPU or GPU, so you won't experience any performance loss when gaming for an extended period. However, the fans get pretty loud.
The Dell m18 is okay for media consumption. You can get this laptop with an FHD+ or QHD+ display; both look colorful and get bright enough for use in most indoor settings. The speakers get pretty loud with minimal compression artifacts, and they sound clear but a tad boxy and hollow. They have a decent amount of bass, though, more than most Windows laptops. Portability and battery life are the main downsides; it's bulky and heavy, and its battery lasts less than three hours of video playback.
The Dell m18 is outstanding for use as a workstation. It's available with high-performance CPUs and GPUs that can easily handle demanding tasks like video editing and 3D graphics. You get a large display for multitasking, and both the FHD+ and QHD+ panels have full DCI P3 coverage, making them suitable for color-critical work. The SSD is fast, and like the RAM, it's user-replaceable. Its wide port selection includes an HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, and plenty of USB ports, so you likely won't need a dock; however, the USB-C ports lack support for Thunderbolt 4 and USB4. Unfortunately, the fans get pretty loud under load.
The Dell m18 is good for business use. It feels well-built, and it provides a good user experience with its large display, tactile keyboard, responsive touchpad, and great 1080p webcam. Its AMD Ryzen CPU and discrete GPU can easily handle productivity tasks like web browsing, text formatting, and spreadsheets. You can even edit videos for your business. It has a wide port selection for peripherals and external displays, as well as a facial recognition IR camera for quick logins. The downside is that it's hard to carry around because it's bulky and heavy. Also, its battery only lasts around three hours of light use.
We tested the Dell Alienware m18 R1 AMD with a FHD+ 480Hz IPS display, an AMD Ryzen 7845HX CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. The display, CPU, GPU, memory, and storage are configurable; the available options are in the table below. This laptop is also available with Intel 13th Gen CPUs. Most of our results (build, display, keyboard, touchpad, speakers, webcam) apply to the Intel version except for the performance benchmarks, thermals, and battery life. The Intel models have Thunderbolt 4 support and are only available with NVIDIA GPUs.
You can see our unit's label here.
The Dell m18 is an outstanding gaming laptop. It stands out for its sturdy build, fast display, tactile keyboard, and excellent performance. However, it's among the bulkiest laptops on the market, and its battery life is disappointing, to say the least. It also gets very loud under load.
The Dell Alienware m18 (2023) is better than the Lenovo Legion Pro 5 Gen 8 16 (2023) for gaming and other demanding productivity workloads, as it's available with faster NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 and 4090 Laptop GPUs. It also has a sturdier build, a better keyboard, and a wider port selection. However, the Lenovo is lighter and more compact, making it easier to carry around.
The Dell Alienware m18 (2023) is better for gaming than the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022). The Dell is available with faster CPUs and GPUs, so it can push higher frame rates with less compromise in the graphical settings. It's also available with higher refresh displays for better responsiveness. However, the ASUS is much more compact, and its battery lasts significantly longer, making it a better option for school, work, and general media consumption.
The Dell Alienware m18 (2023) and the Dell Alienware m15 R3 (2020) provide a relatively similar user experience overall. The m18 is better for gaming and demanding productivity workloads because it's available with faster CPUs and GPUs. However, the m15 is better for on-the-go use because it's lighter and more compact.
The Dell Alienware m16 R1 (2023) and the Dell Alienware m18 (2023) are similar overall. The m18 has more USB ports to connect peripherals, and its display gets brighter to combat glare. It also has a bigger and more responsive touchpad. On the other hand, the m16 is a more compact device, making it easier to carry around.
The Dell Alienware m18 has a gamer-oriented design. It has a dark gray chassis, relatively thin bezels, a power button shaped like the Alienware logo, and an RGB backlit keyboard. There's also RGB lighting on the lid and the back of the laptop. The grills above the keyboard are air vents; the speakers are on the bottom near the front. You can find additional air vents on the laptop's sides, back, and bottom. It's only available in this Dark Metallic Moon color.
The Dell m18's build quality is outstanding. Its metal and plastic construction feels very sturdy and hefty. There's some flex on the lid with the laptop closed; however, the display and keyboard deck are solid and exhibit almost no flex. The feet feel solid and stick firmly to the bottom. The finish doesn't scratch easily but picks up some fingerprints.
The hinge is outstanding. It feels smooth when opening and closing the lid, and it's stable, so there's very little wobbling when touching the screen or typing aggressively. The hinge has a fair amount of resistance, but you can still open the lid with one hand, as the laptop's base is heavy enough to keep it in place.
The Dell m18 is a large, bulky, and heavy laptop intended more as a desktop replacement than for on-the-go use. Its power adapter is also bulky and heavy. If you want a more compact gaming laptop, check out its smaller sibling, the Dell Alienware m16 R1 (2023).
The Dell m18's serviceability is outstanding. Accessing the internals is straightforward; you only need to remove eight Philips screws and undo a few clips holding the bottom panel. The two front corner screws are captive; the rest come out fully. All the replaceable parts are easily accessible once you remove the panel. There are three SSD slots: two M.2 2280 and one M.2 2230. The latter is only on models with an NVIDIA Geforce RTX 4080, 4090, or AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT GPU.
You can see the service manual here.
The Dell m18 is available with the following displays:
The choice of the display depends on your usage. The sharper QHD+ (2560 x 1600) is a better option if you play a lot of games in which you have the time to appreciate the graphics, like atmospheric games and RPGs. Its increased sharpness (167 PPI) also makes it better for productivity tasks and media consumption. The FHD+ (1920 x 1200) panel's sharpness is acceptable. Its pixel density may seem low if you're used to higher-resolution screens like the Retina displays on Apple MacBooks; however, it's still better than a 27-inch 1440p desktop monitor. The FHD+ display is better suited for fast-moving games like FPS and racing games due to its high refresh rate.
You can get the Dell m18 with a 165Hz or 480Hz display. The latter has a fast response time, resulting in a clear image with minimal ghosting in fast-moving scenes. The 165Hz display will likely perform similarly. Both displays support G-SYNC and FreeSync. To use VRR, you must set the display mode to 'NVIDIA GPU only' in the NVIDIA Control Panel application.
The FHD+ display's contrast ratio is decent and within the typical range of most IPS panels. However, it's still relatively low compared to other display technologies like VA and OLED. This contrast level makes blacks look gray in dim settings. The QHD+ display likely has the same contrast ratio.
The FHD+ display gets bright enough for use in most indoor environments but not outdoors in broad daylight. It's very dim at the lowest brightness setting, which is great for dark room viewing, as it causes less eye strain. The QHD+ display has the same advertised brightness and likely performs similarly.
The display's reflection handling is decent. Reflections are only a problem when viewing dark-color content. Although its matte coating does a good job of diffusing and reducing the intensity of bright light sources, it causes a halo effect around the reflections, making other areas of the screen harder to see.
The FHD+ display's black uniformity is okay. There's some clouding here and there, as well as some backlight bleed along the edges of the screen. However, these uniformity issues are relatively minor and only visible when viewing dark-color content in a dim setting.
The display's horizontal viewing angle is okay. The image dims and washes out relatively quickly as you move to the side, so you need to be more or less directly in front of the screen to get the best accuracy.
The display's vertical viewing angle is okay. Like the horizontal viewing angle, the image dims and washes when viewing from above and below, so you need to look at the screen more or less straight on to see an accurate image. This can be challenging in tight places where you don't have much room to tilt the screen, like on a bus or airplane.
The FHD+ display's out-of-the-box accuracy is decent. The white balance is good; the inaccuracies are minor and hard to spot. The colors aren't as accurate, though that's mainly because the color profile is in DCI P3, resulting in oversaturated greens, yellows, reds, and cyan. The color temperature is very close to the standard 6500K target. The gamma does somewhat follow the curve, but everything looks too dark.
The FHD+ display's color gamut is outstanding. It has full sRGB and DCI P3 coverage, as well as near-full Adobe RGB coverage, making it suitable for SDR and HDR content creation and print photography. The QHD+ display has the same advertised color gamut.
The display is entirely flicker-free, which helps reduce eye strain.
You can configure the Dell m18 with a scissor switch-based or a mechanical keyboard with ultra low-profile CherryMX switches. Our unit has a scissor-switch keyboard. It feels spacious and is easy to get used to. The plastic used for the keycaps feels okay in quality; it isn't particularly premium nor overly cheap. Key stability is good but a little inconsistent, as some keys wobble more than others. The scissor switches have a good amount of travel and provide satisfying tactile and audio feedback. They require a fair amount of force to actuate, which might cause fatigue if you aren't used to it. Due to the laptop's size and the keyboard's position, you may need to stretch your arms out further to type, which can also be tiring over time. You can customize the RGB backlighting via the Alienware Command Center app. The backlighting isn't very bright, and consistency is again an issue, as some keys look dimmer than the rest.
The mechanical keyboard uses clicky switches, which will provide more distinct tactile and audio feedback. It has the same RGB backlighting.
The Dell m18 has a great touchpad. The surface feels smooth, and tracking works well, even around the edges. There's no issue with palm rejection or accidental triggers. It's reasonably large but could be bigger, considering the amount of space available on the deck. Unfortunately, the buttons don't feel particularly tactile, and you can only click in the bottom half of the touchpad.
The Dell m18's speakers get very loud with minimal compression at max volume. They sound clear and natural, albeit slightly boxy and hollow. They have a decent amount of bass, not as much as something like an Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021), but more than most Windows laptops.
The webcam's video quality is great. The image looks relatively sharp and well-exposed; however, some colors look slightly unnatural, and there's a bit of noise here and there, causing a loss of finer details. Voices sound pretty clear but a tad over-processed.
The Dell m18 has an outstanding port selection. All three USB-A ports support USB 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer speed of up to 5Gbps. The USB-A closest to the Ethernet port supports PowerShare. This feature lets you set how much of the battery's charge a connected device can draw when charging. For example, if you set it to 25%, charging will stop when you've used 25% of the laptop battery's total charge. You can also turn off charging completely. The USB-C on the right supports USB 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer speed, while the two USB-Cs on the back support USB 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps data transfer speed) and DisplayPort. Models with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 or 4070 GPU only have one USB-C on the back (two total). The Ethernet port supports up to 2.5Gbps data transfer speed.
The Dell Alienware m18 R1's wireless adapter is a Qualcomm WCN685x. You can also configure the laptop with a MediaTek MT7922 wireless adapter. Wi-Fi 6E has faster speeds, lower latency, and less signal interference than previous Wi-Fi standards. However, you need a router that supports Wi-Fi 6E to benefit from these features.
The Dell m18 is available with the following CPUs:
All three are high-performance CPUs designed for mobile workstations and gaming laptops. These AMD Zen 4-based chips can handle general productivity tasks like text processing and web browsing, as well as more demanding workloads like video editing, programming, and gaming. The CPU choice depends on the GPU, as there are limitations to the CPU/GPU pairing. The base Ryzen 7 7745HX is only available with an RTX 4060, while the top-end Ryzen 9 7945HX is only available with an RTX 4090. The middle option, the Ryzen 9 7845HX, is the most flexible, as you can pair it with the Radeon 7600M XT, RTX 4070, or RTX 4080. Since most games are GPU-limited, it's best to choose based on the GPU. If you're specifically looking for CPU processing power, you can simply choose based on the specs. More cores, faster clock speeds, and a larger cache will give you better performance.
The Dell m18 is available with the following GPUs:
The AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 are roughly similar in performance. They're better suited for 1080p gaming but can run most games at 1440p if you don't mind playing with low graphical settings. Choosing between the RX 7600M XT and the RTX 4060 will depend on the games you play, as some games will run better on the 7600M XT, while others will run better on the RTX 4060. The RTX 4070, 4080, and 4090 can all handle 1440p gaming; the 4080 and 4090 will simply give you more headroom to play with higher graphical settings or frame rates. The RTX 4080 runs at a TGP (Total Graphics Power) of 175W with Dynamic Boost, which is at the top end of its power spectrum. Both the AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT and the NVIDIA GPUs support ray tracing and have their respective upscaling feature (FSR and DLSS, respectively) to boost frame rates in supported games. The NVIDIA 40-series GPUs have a new feature called Frame Generation, which uses AI to insert artificially generated frames, resulting in higher frame rates and smoother gameplay in supported games. The number of games that support this feature is small for now but will likely grow quickly. The AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT doesn't have a similar feature.
This laptop has a MUX (multiplexer) switch, a feature that allows the GPU to send information directly to the display without going through the integrated GPU. This means you'll see better performance than laptops without this feature. The performance difference can be anywhere from 10% to 25%, or more in some cases.
You can configure this laptop with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of RAM. The memory is user-replaceable. This laptop supports up to 5200MHz RAM.
You can configure this laptop with 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB, or 8.5TB of storage. Except for the 512GB and 1TB storage options, the other configurations are available in a RAID 0 array, meaning the laptop will have two or three SSDs acting as a single unit. RAID 0 significantly boosts drive speeds by splitting the data evenly across multiple drives; however, the failure of one drive can cause data loss across all drives. The SSDs are user-replaceable. There are two M.2 2280 slots. Models with an RTX 4080, 4090, or Radeon RX 7600M XT GPU have an additional M.2 2230 slot.
The Dell m18 with an AMD Ryzen 9 7845HX CPU has a superb overall score in Geekbench 5. The 7845HX has no problem handling general productivity tasks and demanding workloads like programming, music production, CAD, and video editing. These are results in the default Balanced mode. You can change the performance mode in the Alienware Command Center app. Switching to the Overdrive mode, which is the maximum performance setting, only increases the single-thread score by 0.73% and the multi-thread score by 2.51%. The Ryzen 7 7745HX will be slower, while the Ryzen 9 7945HX will be faster.
For GPU-heavy workloads, all of the available discrete GPUs are suitable for demanding tasks, so it's really a matter of how smooth an experience you expect and how fast you want to complete tasks. If you work with extremely complex materials, getting a model with an RTX 4070, 4080, or 4090 is probably best.
The Dell m18 has a superb overall score in the Cinebench R23 benchmarks. The AMD Ryzen 9 7845HX has no problem handling demanding, multi-threaded applications and heavy multitasking. The Ryzen 7 7745HX is slower but still adequate for intensive tasks. The Ryzen 9 7945HX is the fastest and will give you the smoothest experience. Switching to the Overdrive mode has no impact on the performance.
The performance in Blender is outstanding. While the CPU can render images quickly, it's significantly faster to render with the GPU, thanks to NVIDIA's Optix hardware acceleration. The AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT can get the job done but is slower than the RTX 4060.
The Dell Alienware m18 R1 with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU scores superbly in the Basemark GPU benchmark. The RTX 4080 can push high frame rates in demanding games at 1440p with minimal tweaks to the graphical settings. The RTX 4090 is even faster and can handle some games at 4k (with an external monitor), while the RTX 4070 is slower, meaning you'll have to lower the settings further to get smooth gameplay at 1440p. The AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT and the RTX 4060 are best suited for 1080p gaming and can handle some games at 1440p, albeit with low graphical settings.
The 512GB SSD's performance is outstanding. Its fast read and write speeds allow the system to quickly boot up, launch apps, and transfer files. Its sequential read speed is particularly fast, which will help shorten game loading times. The larger capacity SSDs will likely perform better. You can get this laptop with two or three SSDs in a RAID 0 array, further improving performance.
The Dell m18's battery life is terrible. You'll have to use the laptop plugged in for the most part, especially when gaming.
Borderlands 3 runs well on the Dell Alienware m18 R1 with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU. The gameplay is mostly smooth at 1080p with high settings. There are some stutters, but they don't happen often. Switching to the Overdrive mode only increases the performance by about 4%. You can play this and other similarly demanding games at 1440p without problems on models with an RTX 4070 and upwards. The AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT and the RTX 4060 can handle this game at 1440p, albeit with low graphical settings.
We've run additional benchmarks in Red Dead Redemption 2 to give you a better idea of the performance on a Ryzen 9 7845HX and RTX 4080 configuration. Here are the results:
Every configuration of this laptop can provide smooth gameplay in Civilization VI and other similar titles, even at 1440p. The average turn time is good and among the best compared to other current-gen CPUs. Upgrading to the AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX will only improve the turn time slightly.
Every configuration of the Dell m18 can provide a very smooth experience in CS:GO and other similar titles. You can even play this game at 1440p and still get very high, consistent frame rates.
Every configuration of the Dell Alienware m18 R1 can handle Shadow of the Tomb Raider and other similarly demanding games at 1080p. Again, most of the CPU/GPU combo can also run this game at 1440p; however, you'll have to tweak the settings a bit or rely on features like DLSS and FSR (in supported games) to get smooth gameplay on models with an AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT or RTX 4060.
Although the keyboard gets warm under load, the hot spots are at the top of the keyboard deck, away from where most people rest their hands. Unfortunately, the fans get pretty loud under load and can be quite distracting. Switching to the Overdrive mode only increases the keyboard temperature by 1° C and the fan noise by 1 dBA.
The Dell m18's performance over time is outstanding. Neither the CPU nor the GPU noticeably throttles under load. The results are the same in the Overdrive mode.
The Dell m18 has many pre-installed applications, including:
The Dell Alienware m18 laptop has a facial recognition IR camera. You can use it to log in quickly, authorize purchases in the Windows Store, and auto-fill saved passwords on supported websites. The keyboard has per-key RGB backlighting; you can customize it via the Alienware Command Center application.