chasing perfection.

Alienware X17 REVIEW

Alienware did it. Its latest 17.3-inch X17 gaming laptop is a bomb.

The last time I checked in on how laptops were faring with 4K gaming in 2019, things weren’t looking so hot. Nvidia’s last-gen RTX 20-series mobile chips couldn’t work hard enough to smoothly run demanding games at 4K without several compromises to visual fidelity. Fortunately, things have changed for the better this year with the RTX 3080 — specifically, for the X17’s high-powered 16GB VRAM variant.

The X17’s 3080 has a maximum graphics power level of 165W and a boost clock speed of 1,545MHz. That’s really powerful for a mobile GPU and close to the highest amount of power that Nvidia allows for its mobile graphics chips. It’s certainly the most graphically capable laptop that I’ve tested yet. 

I’ll get to the performance numbers in a sec, but it’s important to note near the top that this is one of Alienware’s best gaming laptops yet, and not only because it whips at gaming. Its X-series design is new for 2021, resulting in a slimmer and sleeker look that balances form and function better than most other models that have similar power levels without foregoing ports (more on that later). For gaming and other intensive tasks, its cooling system is efficient, keeping this 17.3-inch 4K beast both cool and surprisingly quiet.

OUR REVIEW OF

ALIENWARE X17 R1 SPECS (AS TESTED)

  • Intel Core i7-11800H (octa-core, 2.3GHz base clock, up to 4.6GHz boost clock)
  • 32GB DDR4 XMP 3466MHz (user-replaceable, two SO-DIMM slots)
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU with 16GB GDDR6 VRAM (1,545MHz boost clock speed, 165W maximum power)
  • 2TB NVMe SSD (user-replaceable with support for two 2230 or 2280-sized M.2 drives)
  • 17.3-inch UHD 3840 x 2160 display, 120Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time, 500-nit
  • Windows Hello IR 720p webcam
  • 15.71 x 11.79 x 0.84 inches, 7.05 pounds
  • Six-cell, 87Wh battery
  • 330W power brick
  • Two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports with PD charging (5V/3A), one supports Thunderbolt 4. Two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a 2.5-gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.1 port, a micro SD slot, and a mini DisplayPort 1.4. A headphone jack, and a a plug for the power cable.
  • Per-key RGB keyboard with Cherry MX ultra-low mechanical switches
  • Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2

VERGE SCORE 8 OUT OF 10

GOOD STUFF

  • It’s so powerful (yet surprisingly quiet and thin)
  • Plenty of ports
  • Improved design over M-series

BAD STUFF

  • The 4K config is very expensive
  • It’s heavy
  • 1440p is sharp enough for laptop form factor
  • Trackpad is too small

Despite these glowing remarks, if you were to ask me if you should buy this specific gaming laptop, I would advise against it unless you’re dead-set on getting a powerful 17.3-inch gaming laptop. It’s pretty expensive $3680(N1.5million), as configured. (I will note that this similar MSI GS76 Stealth configuration costs hundreds more than the X17, but has twice the amount of RAM. Razer’s latest B 17 costs $3,699 and has a 4K/120Hz touchscreen and a more capable processor, but has less storage, as configured, and its GPU isn’t as powerful.) Also, since I received this unit for review, Alienware has paused on accepting new orders because it needs to catch up with its supply chain backlog. A spokesperson said Alienware intends to offer it for sale again at some point in the near future.