For years gaming laptops lagged behind the traditional ‘PC gaming master race.’ In the present day, things have evolved, and we now have laptops competing head-to-head with desktop setups. With the ability to house the latest GPUs and CPUs and the advantage of portability, there hasn’t been a better time to get into gaming laptops.
Keep reading below as we go into detail about two of the most popular brands right now: MSI Vs Alienware – which one is better? We'll dig into their similarities and differences and help you decide which one best suits your gaming needs.
Micro-Star International, otherwise known as MSI, is a leading technology brand that was founded in 1986.
The company’s headquarters are located in New Taipei City, Taiwan, and for the past 35 years, has made extensive efforts through China to create a trusted name in gaming, and more recently, eSports. With its goal to create the very best laptops, PCs, components, and peripherals, MSI promises “Innovation with Style.”
Although MSI first built its reputation and was renown for manufacturing high-quality motherboards and graphics cards, it took a dive into laptops as early as the 2000s with the M510C.
However, things have come a long way since then. The company started picking up momentum in 2008 when it sponsored the legendary Esports organization Fnatic. It was from this moment MSI started designing its products specifically for gamers and performance users.
While ambition and creativity go a long way, awards and results speak volumes. In 2015, MSI was ranked the fourth-best brand by Laptop Magazine. The following year, they were the largest gaming laptop supplier in the year.
Fast forward to 2018, and Laptop Mag had now dubbed them 'the Best Gaming Laptop Brand.' With the recent release of the Nvidia RTX series GPU's, paired with the highest refresh rates available, these are some of the best MSI laptops to look out for:
MSI Laptops (Pros & Cons)
What We Like:
Things We Don’t:
Alienware Gaming Laptops Overview
Alienware has been around for over 20 years and has built a reputation for being one of the best PC and laptop brands in the gaming industry. First established in 1996 as Saikai of Miami, Inc, the company was later renamed 'Alienware' in 1997.
From its name, you could probably assume that the founder's Nelson Gonzalez and Alex Aguila wanted to create something from out of this world. You're right if you were thinking along those lines; the name originated from an appreciation for the popular series 'The X-Files'.
Alienware wasn’t always the laptop juggernaut gaming brand it is today. The company actually started by building all-in-one gaming desktops before venturing into portable computers. In 2003, the release of the Alienware 51 Predator desktop took the gaming industry by storm.
With many performance enthusiasts creating a buzz online, Alienware soon caught the attention of Dell.
After many attempts to purchase Alienware, the companies finally reached an agreement in March 2006. Although Alienware now belonged to Dell, the company still continued its XPS line of gaming PC’s which boasted comparable specifications.
Related: Alienware Vs Razer Laptop Comparison
Finally, in 2008 Dell’s Gaming department took a leap and merged with Alienware, with the latter becoming the primary face of the gaming division.
With the two teams now fully consolidated, Alienware unveiled the M17 in 2009. Praised for its performance and innovative aesthetic design, the M17 single-handedly revolutionized what we call gaming laptops today.
Only seen in full desktop builds, Alienware introduced a laptop with multi-threaded CPU cores, high-performance GPU loads, and an advanced cooling system.
In the present day, the company still takes strides to keep its crown with unique features, such as its ultra-low-profile Cherry MX switches. Some of the most popular models available right now include:
Alienware Laptops (Pros & Cons)
What We Like:
Things We Don’t:
MSI Vs Alienware: Which Gaming Brand Is Better And Why?
Build Quality (Winner = Alienware)
Both MSI and Alienware are premium laptop brands with a reputation for boasting excellent specs under their chassis. However, how long will they keep running, and who has the best overall quality for longevity. Although MSI provides a 1-year warranty on all laptops, Alienware is just a tiny notch above them in terms of durability.
Alienware often has a 2-year warranty for their premium laptop models, and they’re backed by Dell. If you’ve ever bought a Dell monitor or laptop, you’ll know that they have some of the best customer services out there.
How does customer service translate to build quality, you may ask? Well, it's a good indication of a brand that expects their products to last so long that if any defects were to occur, they'd immediately send you a repair or exchange.
Of course, alongside a possible extended lifespan compared to its competitors, Alienware also tends to offer the very best GPUs, CPUs, and keyboards currently available for laptops, but more on that below.
Related: Alienware Vs Asus Laptop Comparison
Processors (Winner = Alienware)
There’s usually a rule that you should opt for the best CPU possible because you can always upgrade your GPU in the future. Those with desktops will know that once the CPU bottlenecks, you’ll likely have to replace the motherboard too.
MSI and Alienware currently both have the latest 11th Gen Intel Core i9 processors that should handle any task thrown at them for the next couple of years. If you’re a gamer looking at content creation and video editing, this is a big deal. No longer will you need a full desktop to render videos for your YouTube channel.
Although a good CPU does make a difference in multi-tasking through applications, how does it factor in actual gaming? Newer AAA title releases will be more GPU demanding, while competitive high FPS games will draw power from the CPU.
For example, you can have a 9th Gen Intel Core i5 processor paired with an RTX 2060 Super and can expect 250-350 fps in popular FPS shooters like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. However, with an 11th Gen Intel Core i9 processor, and an RTX 1660 super, you can expect frames of upwards of 400-600 fps. The point is if you're into Esports, go for a better CPU.
It isn't easy to decide whether Alienware or MSI are the better brands in terms of processors because they both offer the very best Intel options. However, Alienware recently announced the Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition. These new laptops will include the acclaimed AMD Ryzen 5000 Series, which has knocked Intel off its feet in terms of value for money.
Since Alienware is the first to take a leap at the new Ryzen 5000 series, it might be a winner for those looking to save a few dollars. (Keep in mind MSI will likely release their Ryzen CPU variants later this year.)
Graphics (Winner = MSI):
Some may argue the most important component of a gaming laptop is the GPU. You can have high-speed RAM, lots of storage, and the latest CPU, but a good GPU makes all the difference in demanding graphically intensive games. Since Nvidia released their RTX 3000 series, it has been challenging to secure the highly demanded RTX 3080.
The good news is both Alienware and MSI have made gaming laptops that include the 3080. The reason behind all this hype might be futureproofing. At the moment, the RTX 3080 can handle every game and still output insane frames even at maxed settings.
What is the kicker to the Nvidia 3080? Like anything high in demand, the price is quite high, and stocks are low. Alienware and MSI are likely on equal footing in graphic performance when they're both kitted with a 3080, but what about their other models.
It is true, not all of us can afford the 3080s king's ransom, and for this reason, budget models need to be made available. Both companies have since released Nvidia 1660, 3050, 3060, and 3070 GPU variants. These GPUs offer a bit less power, but they still get the job done in most games.
MSI, however, has gained the upper hand here by including the new AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics range. AMD GPUs offer better value for money in their low-to-mid-range GPUs and will probably give you a few extra frames when compared to something like a 3050 Alienware laptop at the same price.
Therefore, if you can’t afford the RTX 3080, or it’s out of stock, then perhaps the MSI RX 6700 laptops may be a reasonable alternative.
RAM and Storage (Winner = MSI):
RAM is an essential part of your laptop as it stores the information your computer is actively using so that you can quickly access it. Therefore, the more applications and programs you use, the more RAM you will need.
If you run low on RAM, your PC will eventually start slowing down and possibly crashing. Most gamers know that a good amount of RAM is 16GB and up. More importantly, the speeds should be 2666Mhz and above to ensure peak performance while gaming.
Alienware and MSI offer 8, 16, and 32GB RAM options at various speeds. At the top end of the spectrum, the speeds are around 3200Mhz. 32GB’s of RAM is more than enough for most people, but if you want to take things to the next level, then laptops like the MSI GS76 Stealth can take up to 64GB of RAM.
This makes MSI the winner in terms of RAM quantity. Taking a quick look at storage, both brands offer capacities ranging between 256GB and 2TB. Games are getting quite big these days, with titles such as Call of Duty reaching 100GB once installed. Therefore, bigger is definitely better.
One thing to note here is that Alienware generally tends to sell their higher-end models with 1TB of storage, and you’ll need to pay a bit more for the 2TB upgrade. MSI, on the other hand, includes the 2TB SSD within their retail price. So if you're on a budget, you'll likely lean towards MSI.
Keyboards (Winner = Alienware)
The type of keyboard you have can determine the sound, responsiveness, and resistance. Most of us who have owned laptops previously will know that our keyboards have a tiny actuation distance.
This means that there isn't much room to travel once you've clicked the key, and strokes should come through quite easily. The only downside is accidental clicks, and while playing video games, this can be somewhat detrimental.
The new MSI series of laptops uses ‘Per-Key RGB By SteelSeries.' The key travel distance is a minimal 1.9mm, and each key can be customized with various color patterns. Alienware has pretty much the same thing with their mSeries 4-Zone AlienFX RGB keyboards.
Both brands’ standard keyboards will get the job done, but they’ll never replace the feeling of a true mechanical keyboard.
That’s why Alienware has also made a select few ultra-low-profile mechanical switch variations. These keys offer better precision for gaming and can be customized, so their sound is reduced while typing, or more resistance is applied to reduce accidental clicks.
Be aware that Alienware ultra-low mechanical switches are not optical switches that can be customized. During checkout, you'll be able to choose between 'blue, brown, and red' switches, which all have different attributes.
Displays and Refresh Rate (Winner = Alienware)
The best internal components should result in the best visual performance, right? Well, although your laptop might be able to output 400 frames per second, will you be able to see it? If you're a gamer, you know that the refresh rate of your monitor (Hz) shows how many frames you’ll be able to see on screen per second.
A 60Hz monitor will show 60 frames per second. The more frames your display can refresh, the smoother the image. This is with some consideration, of course, a stunning 4K game @60Hz will look incredible, while a 1080p gaming running at @144Hz will look buttery smooth (think FPS titles). The trick is to get a laptop that balances what you need.
MSI’s GS76 Stealth 11UH laptop has a resolution of 3840 x 2160. It’s capable of running 4K @120Hz, and 8K @60Hz. If you’re all about the visuals, then that's a great choice to consider.
Alternatively, there is also a GS76 FHD 1080p variant that offers 300Hz for those Esports enthusiasts. It will not have as crisp details as the 4K version, but games will be incredibly smooth at high frames. If you're stuck in the middle and want great visuals and a high refresh rate, there is also the MSI GS66 1440p QHD laptop that runs at 165Hz.
The point being here, find out what games you most commonly play, what frames you’re estimated to get, and then decide if you’re going for detail, smoothness, or a combination.
Although MSI has a lot of options to choose from, Alienware really steps it up in terms of detail and performance. They’ve somehow managed to get high refresh rates in combination with various resolutions.
For starters, their 1080p Alienware M17 R4 can reach up to 360Hz. Even more impressive is their Alienware M15 R6 1440p QHD that exceeds expectations with a 240Hz refresh rate. Finally, their “thinnest 17-inch” laptop, the Alienware X17 is available in 4K UHD @120Hz.
Therefore from the above, we can see that Alienware just beats out MSI within the 1080p to 1440p spectrum. The choice is yours as to whether you want to spend that little extra money to get it!
For Business Use (Winner = MSI)
Alienware laptops have a rather distinct futuristic aesthetic that stands out from the crowd. If you’re at a coffee shop doing your work, you may be attracting the attention of all the teenage boys around you.
Alienware also tends to cater towards high-performance gaming laptops only, so for someone wanting to complete basic tasks; it might just be a bit too much power and not worth the money. The build quality is brilliant, and the components are incredible, but if you're using the laptop solely for business, then we would advise going for an MSI laptop.
The reason we choose MSI is affordability and reasonableness while working. You can select a laptop with enough RAM and a fast CPU but isn’t breaking the bank with a GPU that you’re not going to use. Additionally, MSI laptops can also tend to look a bit more sleek and professional in the workplace.
You can select a model that doesn’t have RGB everywhere and unnecessary accessories. Therefore, do yourself a favor and save a few hundred dollars. MSI’s accidental damage coverage is also godsent when your laptop decides to take a little tumble down the workplace stairs.
Related: Alienware Vs MacBook Pro Comparison
For Passionate Gamers (Winner = Alienware)
If you’re a passionate gamer, you’re probably going to spend as much as you can on your gaming laptop. Performance, build quality, and components are everything, so for that reason, we choose Alienware as the best gaming laptop brand for passionate gamers.
Utilizing the newest and best CPU and GPU releases, you’ll be able to enjoy as many frames as possible using a portable device. The 4K resolution options cater toward graphic-intensive visual fans for beautiful single-player experiences, while the 360Hz refresh rates square up to the fastest freestanding gaming monitors available right now.
A good gaming laptop should also have a respectable cooling system. When you're about to venture into extended hours of play, you can rest assured the Cryo-Tech Technology and HyperEfficient Voltage Regulation will maintain stable temperatures.
With the possibility to also add additional M.2 NVMe storage units for more games, and mechanical switches to provide precision typing and gameplay, there’s so much on offer. With all this power at hand, the cherry on top (besides the MX Cherry Switches) is the Alienware 2-year warranty. As a gamer, you’ll be more than satisfied with an Alienware laptop.
MSI GS65 Stealth Vs Alienware M15
MSI GS65 Stealth
15.6” Full HD 1920x1080 @240Hz
15.6” Full HD 1920x1080 @165Hz – 360Hz
9th Gen Intel Core i9-9980H
AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX / 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H
Nvidia RTX 2080
Nvidia RTX 3080
Cherry MX ultra-low-profile mechanical switches with AlienFX lighting
Battery Life (Hours)
32GB DDR4 2666Mhz
32GB DDR4 3200Mhz
MSI GS75 Stealth Vs Alienware M17
MSI GS75 Stealth
17.3” Full HD 1920x1080 @300Hz
17.3” Full HD 1920x1080 @360Hz
10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK
10th Gen Intel Core i7-10870H
Nvidia RTX 2080 Super
Nvidia RTX 3070
SteelSeries Per Key RGB
Cherry MX ultra-low-profile mechanical switches with AlienFX lighting
Battery Life (Hours)
32GB DDR4 2666Mhz
32GB DDR4 2933Mhz
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How long do MSI gaming laptops last?
MSI laptops are covered by a 1-year limited warranty and accidental damage protection. In terms of how long an MSI laptop will last you after that, that depends on how you continue to treat the laptop. Most users report a minimum of 2 years, but others have stated their devices have lasted up to 6 years with proper care and maintenance.
How long do Alienware laptops last?
Alienware laptops are known for their sturdy construction and durability. Like most electronics, there isn’t a set time for how long an Alienware laptop will last, but if you manage to look after it correctly, there is no reason you shouldn't get at least 3 years of use. Alienware also offers a one/two-year limited warranty which covers material and workmanship defects.
Does MSI have a 2 in 1 laptop?
Yes, MSI has recently announced the Summit E13 Flip. The E13 can convert from a standard laptop setup to a touch screen tablet. Built for portability at work or school, the Summit E13 will be able to easily store away in your backpack or briefcase. The specs will be somewhat limited, though, so gamers looking for performance should stay clear.
Do Alienware laptops overheat?
Not often, but temperatures can fluctuate under certain conditions. If you’re pushing your laptop or enabling the turbo boost features, then overheating can take place if you're already in a warm room. In order to keep your gaming laptop cool, use it on a flat surface, keep the vents clear of dust, and make sure your room is well-ventilated.
Alienware and MSI are both great gaming laptop brands. Each has its advantages, and there isn’t a wrong choice when deciding. You, therefore, have to weigh your options and decide how much gaming you plan to do, the amount of money you’re prepared to spend, and where you plan to use the laptop.
For an all-purpose gaming/work-related laptop, we would advise MSI, whereas if you're looking for the very best performance inside and outside a gaming laptop (granted you're willing to spend), we side with Alienware!
Jake Redman is a UK-born-digital nomad & founder of Ultimate Quality Content, a collective of high-end copywriters formed to provide detailed insight into everything technology-related. Jake is the definition of a man-nerd. He gets excited over things like processor architecture, ray-tracing, & is an avid E-Sports fan, specifically League of Legends. When he isn’t writing detailed tech-related articles, Jake can be found performing fire-breathing shows & wields a dragon staff, or on the sofa playing Mario Kart.