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Alienware m16 R2 hands-on: A sleeker gaming laptop design for CES 2024

After only a year on the market, the m16 is getting a total revamp including a 15 percent smaller footprint.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Despite launching an all-new version of the m16 last year, Alienware has completely redesigned its mainstream 16-inch gaming laptop again for 2024 to address customer feedback while optimizing performance for the most popular configs. I got to check out the new m16 R2 ahead of CES 2024 and there’s a lot to like about Alienware’s more purpose-built revamp.

Unlike the 2023 M16, which could accommodate RTX 4090 cards, the m16 R2 tops out at an RTX 4070. In return for lowered top-end performance, you get a sleeker and lighter laptop with a larger 90 Whr battery, slimmer bezels, and a larger touchpad – all in a package with a 15 percent smaller footprint.

As before, display options will go up to a 16:10 QHD+ panel with a 240Hz refresh rate, while CPU options are getting a bump to Intel’s latest batch of Core Ultra H-series chips. Meanwhile, by eliminating the old model’s thermal shelf (which was the big protrusion that stuck out past the hinge), Alienware was able to shave off about an inch and a half in depth while also redesigning its cooling system to provide 43% more airflow. Notably, even though the new model is significantly smaller, it still offers a solid selection of ports including Ethernet, a full-size HDMI 2.1 jack, two USB Type-A 3.2 and two USB-C (one of which supports Thunderbolt 4).

There are also a handful of subtle, but much-appreciated, aesthetic changes, including a new RGB lightning loop that runs around the perimeter of the touchpad. That said, if you want to quickly hide your power level, you can instantly turn off all of the laptop’s lighting and set the system to quiet by hitting F2 and activating Alienware’s Stealth Mode. It’s a small but very handy addition that makes it easy for you to avoid drawing unwanted attention.

The removable of the thermal shelf on the new m16 R2 results in a system that's about an inch and a half less deep than last year's model.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Other small changes and features include user–upgradeable DDRR5 RAM and M.2 SSDs (two slots each), a new FHD IR webcam with support for facial recognition and Windows Hello and AI-powered noise-cancellation for improved video calling. Additionally, all new Alienware laptops for 2024 will receive upgraded far-field microphones, support for Wi-Fi 7 and the latest version (6.1) of the company’s Command Center app.

Even with a smaller footprint, the m16 R2 still has the same number of ports along with a new RGB-lit touchpad.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

But most importantly, the new Alienware m16 R2 feels like it’s better designed for gaming on the go. It’s not quite as powerful as last year’s model, but it’s almost a pound and a half lighter (5.75 pounds vs 7.17 pounds). It should have better battery life too, and it’s just easier to carry around thanks to its slimmer dimensions. You still get a premium construction with smooth matte aluminum panels on top and bottom. And if you really want a 16-inch thin-and-light gaming laptop with big graphics, there’s always the Alienware x16, which hasn’t gotten a redesign but will have updated specs for 2024 including support for up to an RTX 4090.

The biggest difference in horsepower on the m16 R2 is that it only supports up to an RTX 4070, as Alienware found that very few people opted for 4080 or 4090 GPUs on the previous model.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The new Alienware m16 R2 is scheduled to go on sale on January 11 with select configs starting at $1,650 before more options become available later this quarter.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.