Processor: Intel Core i7-4710HQ (2.5GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5
Screen: 17 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Connectivity: 4 x USB 3.0, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, SD card reader, Ethernet port, audio jacks
Battery: 92 watt-hour
Value for money 3/5
Battery life 3/5
Dell's Alienware laptops are among the most powerful machines of play that the money can buy - if you can allow them.
Compared with the mammoth Alienware 18 that I tried almost two years
ago, the new Alienware 17 is a svelte and lean machine. The former was
5.5kg; the latter, 3.6kg.
Of course, the Alienware 18 had a slightly larger 18.4-inch display
compared with the 17.3-inch screen on the new model. The older one also
had an optical drive, a feature missing on the newcomer.
Crucially, the Alienware 17 is not as powerful as the Alienware 18
and its dual graphics chips. The starting configuration reviewed here
has a single Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M. It is capable enough, though not
the fastest in its class.
This also makes the Alienware 17 relatively affordable for a gaming
laptop. Prices start at $2,699. The Alienware 18 would have set you
back by $4,999.
The new one looks like its older sibling. The logo still resembles
the head of an alien, as depicted in Hollywood movies. There are still
plenty of LEDs to jazz up the machine's appearance, from the glowing
touchpad to the multi-colour keyboard backlight.
Gamers will appreciate that the keyboard has nine additional keys
which can be customised for game commands. Key travel is as good as
some desktop keyboards, though it cannot compete with mechanical
keyboards. The screen resolution - 1,920 x 1,080 pixels - is typical
for a gaming laptop. Viewing angles are good on this IPS screen. It is
bright, but not overly saturated.
As in recent Alienware laptops, the graphics performance of the
Alienware 17 can be boosted by hooking it up to the optional Alienware
Graphics Amplifier. This accessory holds a desktop-class graphics card
that, when connected to the laptop, takes over the graphics rendering
duties from the laptop's mobile graphics chip.
As the Alienware already uses a capable Nvidia chip, this accessory
is nice to have, but not essential. Performance was solid - the laptop
produced almost 60 frames per second in Crysis 3 at High setting.
Battery life was surprisingly good for a gaming laptop. In our video
playback test, the Alienware 17 lasted 4hr 48min. This figure is
probably much lower when running games.
What would be really nice is to have a solid-state drive as the
default option. What I got with this review set was a terribly slow
5,400rpm hard drive that took a while to load games or apps. Upgrading
to a solid-state drive is highly recommended, though Alienware will
charge $272 more for a 256GB drive.
The new Alienware 17 is an excellent gaming PC which is slimmer and more affordable than its predecessor.