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 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 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 1920x1080 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:
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
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:
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:
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 1920x1080 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 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:
Alienware 17 screen resolution settings including stereoscopic 3D support
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
Great review! I particularly love your pictures.
I can also comment on the M17x R4 (the last body design) as being an excellent piece of hardware...I thought I'd share some info here as I purchased one in September specifically to do a variety of experiments.
1) If you have Windows 8 Enterprise, the Windows To Go feature works extremely well. I have a USB 3.0 WD 1TB external drive that I have configured to boot the M17xR4 and use it to run a variety of VMs with 64-bit Hyper-V.
2) I've also used Windows 8 To Go on a Patriot Magnum 128GB USB Thumb Drive, just to see if I could get SSD levels of performance booting Windows 8 from it. It hasn't really performed any better than the WD drive (both WEI at 5.9), but it works...it does take some effort to properly format the thumb drive to prep it for Windows To Go.
3) Gaming is amazing. My specs may be higher or lower than Gavin's (32GB RAM, GeForce 680M), but that screen does run 120HZ very nicely in non-3D mode (3D mode maxes out at 60HZ due to the way 3D works).
There was an issue with the USB 3.0 Drivers in Windows 8, and my understanding from Dell's forums is that Intel was not writing Windows 8-specific drivers while the Windows 8 default drivers were not running the USB ports as a USB 3.0 device but instead had downgraded it to 2.0. Gavin, if you happen to have any information (or still have the M17x with the new body style handy), I'd very much appreciate hearing from you as to whether this is still an issue.
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