Alienware 17 3D Laptop Hands-On

Alienware recently refreshed their gaming laptop lineup including the new Alienware 14, Alienware 17, and Alienware 18. I’ve been looking forward to some hands-on time with these new Alienware laptops so when I had the opportunity to use an Alienware 17 laptop running Windows 8 for a day I jumped at the chance.

Alienware 17 Front Reflection 1200
Alienware 17 with blue lighting – definitely eye-catching (click to enlarge)

The first thing I noticed when powering up the Alienware 17 is the mesmerizing AlienFX lighting system. You can actually change, customize, save, and share different lighting themes for the Alienware 17 if you feel like fine tuning the appearance. This machine has a high-quality feel to it and I really like the design.

Alienware 17 Back Lid Fade 1200
Alienware 17 back/lid view (click to enlarge)

The Alienware 17 falls in the middle of the “small, medium, large” lineup of Alienware laptops and is packed with powerful features and hardware. Built around a stunning 1920×1080 17.3” screen, the Alienware 17 is designed for amazing visuals and graphics. Here are some of the specs for the machine I had on loan:

General:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-4800MQ, 2.7 GHz (Haswell, hyper threaded quad-core)
  • RAM: 12 GB 1600 MHz (2 slots used out of 4)
  • Screen: 17.3” 120 Hz WLED FHD 1920×1080 TrueLife with 3D bundle

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M

  • Cores: 960
  • Clock Frequency: 811 + Boost
  • Memory clock: 2000 MHz
  • Memory configuration: 3GB GDDR5
  • Memory interface width: 192 bit

These are very impressive specs for a laptop- and with two empty RAM slots there’s room to expand. Ports, power, and optical drive are all accessed via the left and right sides of the machine as seen below.

Starting with the left side of the machine:

Alienware 17 Left Side 1200
Left side from left to right: power jack, HDMI in/out, mini DisplayPort output, USB 3.0 (x2), auto-sensing analog audio in/out (click to enlarge)

And on the right side:

Alienware 17 Right Side 1200
Right side from left to right: Blu-ray drive (Bottom), SD card reader (top), USB 3.0 (x2), Killer E2200 Gigabit Ethernet port (click to enlarge)

The layout of these devices and ports worked well for me. I found it convenient to access power, USB ports, and the NIC from the sides of the PC. On the left-hand side of the PC you can see when the power supply is powered because it features an illuminated ring near the tip, a nice touch. Another cool feature on this laptop is the reverse illuminated touchpad which glows when you are using it. I also really like the fact that this laptop features four USB 3.0 ports (one with PowerShare for offline charging).

This is a gaming laptop right? I decided to install a DirectX 11 game that I haven’t tried yet on the Alienware 17: “Trials Evolution Gold Edition”. I plugged in a USB XBOX controller and got started riding some crazy courses. I quickly got addicted to this game as it features tons of great dirt bike riding destruction. With the graphics settings maxed out at full 1920×1080 screen resolution the Alienware 17 had no trouble holding 60 FPS during gameplay. The game looked and played great, and the Alienware 17 performed great with this game.

Trials Evolution Gold 1200
Trials Evolution Gold Edition on the Alienware 17 with settings maxed out

The display on the Alienware I used is the top of the line spec that supports screen refresh rates up to 120 Hz and stereoscopic 3D as seen here in graphics properties:

Screen Resolution Dialog
Alienware 17 screen resolution settings including stereoscopic 3D support

Display Modes Dialog
Screen refresh rate of 120 Hz is supported

3D support and a 120 Hz refresh rate is a pretty unique capability for a laptop. For extreme gaming experiences this specific display configuration would be a great way to go.

The Alienware 17 is a great laptop for anyone wanting to do some serious gaming at home or on the go. This laptop would also make a great machine for other extreme “heavy lifting” tasks like writing and compiling code, editing video, processing photos, and more. If you are looking for a great looking and highly capable laptop, take a look at the Alienware 17!

Find me on twitter here: @GavinGear