Thanks to its great looks, lovely display, strong audio and good frame rates, the Alienware 17 R5 is the 17-inch gaming rig to beat.
- Sleek new black color
- Strong graphics performance
- Alienware Command Center is revamped
- Solid audio
- Vivid display
- Comfortable keyboard
- Poorer CPU performance than competitors
Just when you thought the Alienware 17 had pulled out all of the stops, the latest version, the R5 ($1,549 to start, $3,974 as tested), pushes everything a step further. Sure, its new black color scheme is handsome, but inside, a combination of an Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU make for powerful gaming performance. Pair that with great speakers, a beautiful G-Sync display, and a revamped Alienware Command Center with overclocking options and you have a winner.
The Alienware 17 is mammoth. It’s an obsidian goliath in a new coat of paint that’s handsome and slightly refreshing. While this model retains the same basic shape as versions from previous years with aggressive angles and a spaceship theme, the laptop’s aluminum frame is all-black, giving it a serious aesthetic that means business. There’s also more RGB lighting zones than ever before, with 13 areas that can be programmed in the Alienware Command Center, including both sides of the screen, several zones on the keyboard, and two Alienware logos.
The lid is all-black and is where you’ll get the most of the spaceship motif. Alienware’s logo is there in silver, and yes, it lights up. Lifting the lid reveals the 17.3-inch display surrounded by a thick bezel. The deck surrounding the keyboard is covered in a soft-touch material that feels luxurious to lay your wrists on, though I wish the keyboard were slightly further forward. Like many Alienware models before it, the chassis has a section that juts out the back with for extra cooling and few more ports.
The whole thing feels built like a tank. While Alienware doesn’t make any drop-test claims, the aluminum is paired with steel reinforcements, and this thing feels like a luxury device when you’re gaming and when you’re just carrying it from room to room.
That, of course, results in a heavy PC. The Alienware is 9.8 pounds and has a 16.7 x 13.1 x 1.2-inch footprint. That’s heavier than the 8.1-pound Aorus X9 and 8.6-pound Origin PC Eon 17-X. MSI’s GT75 Titan, however, is even heavier at 10.1 pounds and is a chunky 2.3 inches thick.
Every port you could reasonably expect is on the Alienware 17. On the left side are USB Type-C and USB 3.0 Type-A ports and separate headphone and microphone jacks. The right side features only a single USB 3.0 port. Everything else is on the rear, including an Ethernet jack, mini DisplayPort, HDMI output, Thunderbolt 3, a port for Alienware’s proprietary graphics amp and a barrel power jack.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
The Alienware’s Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU with 8GB of VRAM makes the our high-end config of the Alienware 17 computer nothing short of a powerhouse. When I played Middle Earth on ultra settings at 1080p, the game ran at between 76 and 92 frames per second. At 2560 x 1440, it dropped to a range of 54-69 fps.
On the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (1080p, very high), the Alienware ran the game at 68 frames per second, beating the Titan (67 fps) and premium gaming average (56 fps), but below the Eon (69 fps) and Aorus (73 fps).
When it came to the Hitman benchmark (1080p, ultra), the game ran at 99 fps on the Alienware, just ahead of the both the Aorus and the Origin (96 fps) and the Titan (95 fps). The average is a lower 84 fps.
It played Grand Theft Auto V (1080p, very high) smoothly, running at 85 fps. While that’s better than the Eon (55 fps) and the average (77 fps), both the Aorus (86 fps) and Titan (110 fps) scored even higher.
To test sustained gaming performance, we ran the Metro: Last Light benchmark 10 times, which is roughly half an hour of high-stress computing. On the first run, the average frame rate was 83.4 fps, but as expected, that dropped over the next 9 runs, often between 77 and 78 fps. The average frame rate was 79.3 fps, one tenth of a frame above the final run (79.29 fps). The average CPU temperature as reported by HWInfo was 88.9 degrees Celsius, and the GPU averaged 74.8 degrees Celsius.
On the SteamVR Performance test, it earned the maximum possible score of 11. So did the Aorus and Eon, but the Titan reached 10.9 and the average was 10.2.
Armed to the teeth with an Intel Core i9-8950HK, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, a 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD, a 1TB, 7,200-RPM HDD, our review configuration of the the Alienware 17 can handle productivity tasks with ease. The 30 Chrome tabs I had open, including a Twitch stream and a 1080p episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on YouTube were a joke to this machine, which kept running without any lag at all.
On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the Alienware earned a score of 20,890, falling below the Aorus X9 (25,915, Core i9-8950HK), but within range of the Titan (22,754, Core i9-8950HK) and Eon (21,273, Intel Core i7-8700K) and still beating the premium gaming category average (17,150).
Why is it scoring lower than competing laptops with the same processor? It’s hard to know for sure, but by using both Alienware Command Center and CPU-Z and HWInfo to track performance, we noticed that, especially when overclocked, the internal temperature would spike, and that the processor often didn’t reach the 5GHz Alienware Command Center promised (even though it passed the app’s tests). It’s possible that better cooling would lead to higher performance scores.It took the Alienware 9 seconds to transfer 4.97GB of files, a rate of 565.5 MBps. That ties the Eon but is ahead of the premium gaming laptop average (505.3 MBps) and the Aorus X9 (424MBps). The Titan was even faster at a blazing 727 MBps.
On our Excel macro test, it took the Alienware 42 seconds to pair 65,000 names and addresses, two seconds ahead of the average (0:44) but falling short of the Aorus (0:31) and Titan (0:34).When it came to video editing, it took the Alienware 9 minutes and 10 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on our Handbrake test. That’s speedier than average (10:04) but and lags behind the Aorus (8:15) and Titan (7:41).
The 17.3-inch, 2560 x 1440 display on our review config is bright and beautiful. It’s far more luminous than the competition with excellent viewing angles and lots of detail. When I watched a 1080p trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp, the titular hero’s suit was the perfect shade of burgundy, and I could easily make out the webbed patterns on his and the Wasp’s costumes.
The small yellow accents on the Wasp’s suit popped more than it does on many other screens. And when I played Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the lush greenery around an orc fort looked realistic, and I could see the angular crags in boulders. And thanks to G-Sync, which synchronizes the display with the graphics card, there was no screen tearing.
Alienware’s panel covers 110 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is more vivid than the Eon (104 percent), but not as colorful as the premium gaming average (131 percent), the Aorus (122 percent) or the Titan (a whopping 175 percent).
But no one else comes close to the Alienware’s brightness. It measured an average of 352 nits on our light meter, far higher than the average (283 nits) as well as the Aorus (243 nits), Eon (252 nits) and Titan (257 nits).
|Sales Package||Laptop, Battery, Power Adaptor, User Guide, Warranty Documents|
|Suitable For||Gaming, Processing & Multitasking|
|Battery Cell||6 cell|
|MS Office Provided||Yes|
Processor And Memory Features
|Dedicated Graphic Memory Type||GDDR5|
|Dedicated Graphic Memory Capacity||8 GB|
|Processor Name||Core i9|
|Processor Generation||8th Gen|
|SSD Capacity||1 TB|
|HDD Capacity||1 TB|
|Clock Speed||2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost Upto 4.8 GHz|
|Memory Slots||2 Slots|
|RAM Frequency||2666 MHz|
|Graphic Processor||NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1080|
|Number of Cores||6|
|OS Architecture||64 bit|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|System Architecture||64 bit|
Port And Slot Features
|USB Port||2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.0 Type C, 1 x Thunderbolt 3|
|HDMI Port||1 x HDMI Port (v2.0)|
Display And Audio Features
|Screen Size||43.94 cm (17.3 inch)|
|Screen Resolution||2560 x 1440 Pixel|
|Screen Type||Quad HD LED Backlit IPS Anti-glare Display with NVIDIA G-sync Enabled|
|Internal Mic||Built-in Digital Microphone|
|Wireless LAN||IEEE 802.11ac|
|Dimensions||424 x 332 x 29.9 mm|
|Disk Drive||Not Available|
|Web Camera||Alienware Full HD Webcam|
|Lock Port||Noble Lock Port|
|Antivirus||McAfee LiveSafe 12 Months Subscription|
|Keyboard||Alienware TactX Keyboard|
|Included Software||Alienware Sound Center, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2016|
|Additional Features||Li-ion Polymer Battery|