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Alienware m18 R2: Review and Compared with AUSU Scar 18 & MSI Titan 18

Design and Build Quality:

The Alienware m18 R2 is simply a fantastic piece of engineering. Its dark metallic moon finishes with an anodized aluminum build exude a premium feel. The interior features a black soft-touch finish, which attracts more fingerprints than the lid, but both surfaces are easy to clean with a microfiber cloth. Despite its large size, the m18 R2 exhibits only minor flex in the lid and keyboard, showcasing its robust construction.

Size and Weight:

Laptop Specifications:

On the m18 R2, the most advanced configuration here includes the Intel Core i9-14900HX CPU, the NVIDIA RTX 4090 graphics card, 64GB of RAM, and an 18-inch screen. Nevertheless, the m18 R2 could be bought in multiple different types depending on the price and performance requirements.

Alienware m18 R2

Mechanical Keyboard:

One of the standout features of the m18 R2 is its mechanical keyboard. All keys, except for the top function row, are mechanical, providing a satisfying and clicky typing experience.

The keys offer 1. Key travel is 8mm which is less noisy relative to MSI Titan 18 keyboard. Besides this, there is a keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting which can be customized by the users as a way to give their setup a personal look and feel.

RGB Lighting and Touchpad:

Besides the RGB lights on the keyboard, the m18 R2 is also provided with a backlight ring and logo illumination on the cover which can be upgraded through the AlienFX software. The large, centered touchpad functions very well and has a straightforward navigational experience that is smooth.

Ports and Display Output:

The m18 R2 port selection is great: a 5Gbps Ethernet port and two USB 3 were placed on the left side of the PlayStation. 2xUSB 1. Type-A ports, and 3. 5mm audio combo jack.

The left side has one USB 3. 2 Gen 1 Type-C port, which is closer to the cable in the front or on the right side, which could be a problem for right-handed mouse users.

The other ports are situated on the back of the laptop and they include two Thunderbolt 4 Type C ports, a USB 3 connection. 2 Gen1, a Type-A port, HDMI 2. 1 for output, mini DisplayPort 1.

Among them are an SD card slot, a companion micro USB port, and a power input. This leads to the inconvenience that not having port icons makes it very hard to tell the right connection with the turning of the laptop.

Internal Components and Upgradability:

Accessing the internal components of the m18 R2 is straightforward, requiring the removal of eight Phillips head screws. The two screws in the front corners do not come out but instead lift the panel slightly, making the process easier.

Inside, you’ll find the battery, two memory slots, a 2280 M.2 SSD, a second 2280 M.2 slot, and two 2230 M.2 slots, allowing for up to four SSD drives. The Wi-Fi 7 card is located between the RAM and the installed SSD, and the speeds we tested were excellent.

The upgradeability of the m18 R2 is above average, with the additional M.2 slots and the ability to potentially fit longer 2280 drives by modifying the standoffs.

Alienware m18 R2

Speakers and Battery Life:

M18 R2 speakers are located on the left and right sides, the speakers are in front of the laptop. It is a shame that they are not able to offer a fulfilling audio experience that has intense bass sounds and high-fidelity of the audio. The performance is a bit of a setback compared to the speakers found in the MSI Titan 18 and ASUS Scar 18.

Despite the large 97Wh battery, the m18 R2’s battery life is not exceptional, lasting less than 5 hours at stock settings. However, manually lowering the screen’s refresh rate to 60Hz when unplugged can extend the runtime by an additional 45 minutes, which is a feature that should be included by default.

Thermal Performance and Cooling:

The m18 R2 features a sophisticated cooling system with four fans and a hidden vapor chamber cooler, which is only available on the RTX 4080 and 4090 configurations. The system utilizes Alienware’s heatsink design and liquid metal cooling on both the CPU and GPU.

Command Center software from Alienware allows us to switch quickly between different modes, for instance, Quiet, Balanced, Performance, and Overdrive.

These modes impact the fan speeds and power limits, with Overdrive and High-Performance modes providing the best cooling and performance at the cost of increased noise levels.

We witnessed through the thermal testing that the m18 R2 might face CPU throttling in the Overdrive mode, but a surprising outcome was that closing the lid somewhat reduced the CPU temperatures.

The “cooling pad” function was very helpful in preventing the CPU from braking due to thermal throttling, allowing it to operate at higher clock speeds.

Gaming and Performance:

The m18 R2 we tested was also pretty good, showing the level of performance that the RTX 4090-equipped laptops did have. Though the 4090 laptops might not show the absolute best option in some titles, the gap in the top of the best-performing laptops is rather slight and does not come into notice most of the time during real gameplay.

Another feature worth mentioning is the fast CPU performance of the m18 R2, the 14th gen Intel Core i9-14900HX having a good stand among the best ones. But I noticed that when running on battery, the m18 R2 doesn‟t perform as well and was slower in comparison to the MSI Titan 18 and ASUS Scar 18 laptops.

Alienware m18 R2

Display and Peripherals:

The m18 R2 offers two display options: a 165Hz 2560×1600 panel or a 480Hz 1920×1200. Though the 480Hz version might be preferable, the size displays of 18 resolve 1080p undesirable because the pixels will have less density as compared to smaller 17 in laptops.

The responsiveness that I saw on my review unit was just fine, but the 165Hz display on my review unit does not measure up to the ASUS Scar 18’s Mini LED screen in terms of brightness and contrast.

The total system latency, which records the time taken from a mouse click to the occurrence of the corresponding action on the screen, is the fastest we have ever tested so far, making it the ideal pick for professional gamers.

The laptop’s webcam and microphones perform well enough to provide decent image and audio quality for video calls and streaming applications.

Pricing and Value:

The Alienware m18 R2 is not a budget deal, beginning at USD 1,900 for the RTX 4060 setup to beat the baseline. Yet, amongst its rivals, the m18 R2 provides a better value-for-money option than some others in the 18-inch class.

The ASUS Scar 18 costs $400 more than the m18 R2 for a configuration with half the memory, while the MSI Titan 18 is a staggering $1,900 more expensive. Acer’s Helios 18 is $500 less but with half the RAM. Examining the comparable specs and capabilities of the m18 R2, it would be a fitting choice in the list of 18-inch gaming notebooks.


Though it might not be the best on each one of the metrics, the m18 R2 is a decent option that should fulfill the requirements of most hardcore gamers very well.

The premium quality, mechanical keyboard, and tons of customization options turn the m18 R2 from other competitors into a must-have for anyone who is dreaming about excellent 18-inch gaming. Nevertheless, the moderate battery life and speaker quality may also be an issue for some consumers.

In the end, the m18 R2 stands on its own in the 18-inch gaming laptops competition and is worthy of inclusion in your shopping list if on the market for a powerful and versatile device.

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