If there’s any gaming laptop as tangible year-to-year as Razer’s Blade line, it’s substantially Alienware’s. Following a redesign a few years back, a humbly named Alienware 17 has stayed flattering many a same ever since, during slightest on a outside.
And we know what that means: Time to strike a gym if we wish to do anything with this laptop besides set it on a table and forget about it.
The build: Bigfoot
The Alienware 17 R4 (currently labelled during $2,549 on Amazon) is still so big. Just staggeringly huge. With so many following Razer’s lead and slimming down to tangible laptop distance as against to supposed “desktop replacements” proportions, we keep awaiting Alienware to do a same.
But no. Year after year, Alienware’s laptops sojourn gigantic—the improved to sunder heat, and therefore implement a full (or fuller) intensity of all those costly tools inside.
I get it. Really, we do. You’re profitable for performance, we wish that performance, and Alienware’s 17-inch laptop will give it to you. (More on that later.) But it’s damn nearby unfit to transport anywhere, so don’t buy this appurtenance meditative you’ll use it like a laptop. Or put it on your path during all, really.
During this examination we had arise to take a Alienware 17 out of a country, and here a stupidity of a conditions unequivocally strike home. It didn’t even scrupulously fit in a 17-inch laptop box we use for my Blade Pro day-to-day, so we usually shoved a Alienware 17 in as best we could and prayed. And during usually over 9.5 pounds, carrying it by a airfield was a overwhelming effort. we left it in my hotel for 6 days, and it was good for some late-night gaming, yet phew. Never again.
Size aside, it’s utterly a flattering machine. Alienware’s customary chrome-and-black tone intrigue is still one of my favorites—straddling a line between adorned and professional. Alienware also has an eye for a tiny details, from a understated type-logo underneath a arrangement to a quarrel of macro keys unobtrusively decorated to a left of a keyboard.
And if we adore RGB LEDs, Alienware’s a foe to kick on that front. The keyboard is usually zone-lit, that is a shame, yet there are also RGB LED light strips embedded in both sides of a laptop and in a lid, as good as underneath a trackpad. That final bit is weirdly useful—I like a backlit keyboard, so of course I’d conclude a backlit trackpad. The improved to beam your fingers with, right? Again, flashy, yet in that vaguely high-tech approach usually Alienware unequivocally attempts.
The arrangement presents a tough choice for enthusiasts: The Alienware 17 comes in both 1440p and 4K models, yet a 1440p chronicle also boasts a 120Hz modernise rate and integrated G-Sync. It’s also somewhat brighter, during 400 nits to a 4K model’s 300 nits. Personally I’d go for speed over resolution, generally during 17 inches, yet everyone’s got opposite preferences, we know.
In possibly case, we can also opt for integrated Tobii eye-tracking. we spent a bit of time with this during my review, and have also spent time with a standalone desktop version. It’s kind of novel navigating your desktop with your eyes, and we suppose even some-more useful for those with disabilities, yet we don’t consider it’s must-have record for a normal user. As for a use in gaming, there are a few high-profile titles like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, yet it’s distant from pervasive.
My dual biggest complaints associate to a behind of a machine. Instead of a normal laptop setup—which is to say, hinge during a really back—the Alienware 17 instead has a hinge set in approximately 1.25 inches.
Now, there’s a reason for this: heat. The fans all opening by this territory during a behind of a chassis, definition it gets uncomfortably warm. Not something you’d wish to touch, nor something you’d wish venting right subsequent to a keyboard.
It’s ugly, though. Compared to a space-age lid, Ventilation Row looks like it was slapped on as an aftermarket part. It’s also partial and parcel with a Alienware 17’s distance problems, as a laptop isn’t usually a distance of a 17-inch screen, yet that plus this fat ol’ hinge-and-vent outcropping on a back.
It’s surprisingly loud, too. we suspicion fixation a fans behind a shade competence assuage a sound a bit—if so, it’s not by much. Even underneath a assuage bucket a Alienware 17 can get noisy, and underneath full bucket (like when gaming) it all yet requires a headset or headphones. On a certain note, a fans are reduction high-pitched and whiny than I’ve gifted in skinny laptops like a Blade Pro, yet we substantially won’t conclude a disproportion many when it’s drowning out your game.
My other large censure is that energy (as good as a exclusive Amplifier port, HDMI out, and ethernet) plugs into a behind opening area, on a behind of a laptop. Alienware is frequency alone in this, generally when it comes to these large desktop-replacement devices, yet wow it can be irritating to try to block in your laptop when we can’t even see a port.
Speaking of which: The energy adapter is also gigantic, adding another 2.5 pounds to your lift weight. Again, this isn’t an Alienware-specific issue, and is customary for a desktop replacement. It’s usually one some-more contributing cause to a Alienware 17’s indeterminate portability. Hauling around a laptop is bad enough. Hauling around a laptop and the charger? Injurious.
It’s not optional, either. Like many gaming laptops, a Alienware 17’s glorious opening (I’ll get to that) comes during a cost: common battery life. In a customary outline test, wherein we loop a 4K video record until a battery dies, a Alienware 17 lasted 3 hours and 8 mins underneath load—not bad for a laptop of this size, yet positively not adequate to final we by a day.
Performance: Battle of a 1080s
It’s value it, though. Oh integrity me, it’s value it.
The opening opening between slim Blade Pro-style laptops and these behemoth desktop replacements has narrowed in new years—and a foe will expected get even some-more extreme as Nvidia’s new Max-Q tools strike a mainstream. But there’s still zero utterly like a supposed “desktop replacement” for removing desktop-quality performance.
The Alienware 17 we reviewed came versed with an Intel Core i7-7820HK, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, and 16GB of DDR4 RAM clocked during 2,400MHz, and 500GB of SSD storage and an additional 1TB of tough expostulate space. We’ve seen some laptops some-more absolute than this one, yet it’s adult there.
(Note: One bauble is that a Alienware 17’s baseline indication comes with usually a singular 8GB hang of RAM. Don’t do that to yourself. Opt for during slightest 16GB.)
That i7-7820HK is a Alienware 17’s strongest asset. Most laptops tip out during a i7-7700HQ—a ideally important processor in a possess right. Indeed, a disproportion between a dual is usually 100MHz, with a 7700HQ clocked during 2.8GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) and a 7820HK during 2.9GHz (3.9GHz Turbo).
The advantage still goes to a 7820HK, though, and we can see it clearly in a Handbrake test. We feed a 30GB record by Handbrake to see how prolonged it takes for a complement to it describe down to an MP4, regulating a Android Tablet standard—a CPU-intensive task. Our 7820HK-toting Alienware 17? A small underneath 39 minutes. An Alienware 15 with a 7700HQ? Almost 46, for a disproportion of about 7 minutes. The same goes for other 7700HQ laptops like a Gigabyte Aero 15 and a Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501.
Then there’s a GTX 1080, a powerhouse in a possess right. Here we see some engaging function vis-a-vis Nvidia’s stand of Max-Q laptops—and a opening advantage when we buy a full-size desktop deputy like a Alienware 17.
See, in short benchmarks a Max-Q laptops compare or even overtake a Alienware 17. By “short” we meant flattering many any in-game benchmark, as these typically usually run for a notation or two. Looking during Rise of a Tomb Raider, for instance, you’ll see that a Alienware 17 ran during 102.2 frames per second, and Asus’s Max-Q 1080-sporting GX501 during 104.8.
The same matched-or-slightly-exceeded function is seen in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, where a Alienware 17 posts 154.9 fps contra a GX501’s 156.7 fps. Interesting, right? If Max-Q is that good, it seems like it would totally annul a need for an oversized laptop like a Alienware 17.
But Max-Q works usually in brief bursts. Remember, a pivotal advantage to a laptop like a Alienware 17 is feverishness government and venting—an aspect that doesn’t make many disproportion in a brief tenure yet creates a huge disproportion in a long(er) term.
Enter 3DMark, with a longer benchmarks. Here, we consistently see a Alienware 17 overtake a Max-Q competitor. In 3DMark’s latest TimeSpy benchmark, a Alienware 17 scored a 6,538 contra a GX501’s 5,489. The same opening exists in Fire Strike Ultra, where a Alienware 17 posted 4,960 to a GX501’s 4,091.
In fact, a GX501 performs some-more like a 1070 in these longer tests. The aforementioned Alienware 15, that packs a 1070 in further to a i7-7700HQ, put adult scores of 5,386 and 4,097 in TimeSpy and FireStrike Ultra, respectively. As my co-worker Gordon Ung so succinctly put it: In Alienware’s machine, a 1080 gives we full 1080 opening all a time.
I’m not here to chuck Max-Q underneath a bus. On a contrary, we consider a Max-Q laptop with a lighter-weight pattern is substantially some-more unsentimental for many people day-to-day. Pound for pound, Max-Q has a opening edge.
Alienware gives we desktop performance, though, and underneath larger duress. All that feverishness government adds pounds, yet a Alienware 17 vents like a pro, and a outcome is going to be improved graphics, and a improved and some-more consistent support rate. Of course, we could do improved if we opted for a desktop deputy with a desktop-class CPU, like a Origin EON17-X—but it’dl certain cost you.
There are severe edges. Zone backlighting is a bit outdated, a fans are loud, battery life is average, and a additional inch-plus of venting adds insult to damage in terms of a Alienware 17’s size. I’d adore to see Alienware bend out and move a singular cultured to a thin, lightweight Max-Q laptop one of these days.
But a Alienware 17 plays to a company’s strengths: performance, performance, performance. This machine’s got it in spades, handily outpacing what we’ve seen of a new Max-Q stand so distant and proof a significance of good thermals. It’s one ruin of a desktop replacement.