Alienware is on an absolute roll. After the launch of the groundbreaking Area 51-m, the company launched the new Alienware m17 laptop. This laptop costs $3999 and is for gamers who want slim, lightweight dimensions without sacrificing too much power. Underneath the unmistakable hood of the laptop are an overclockable Intel Core i9 processor, an Nvidia RTX GPU, fast SSDs and a stunning 4K screen. These are just a few of the reasons why the Alienware m17 has made our best game laptops page. Here is our Alienware m17 Review.
Alienware m17 Review – Design
When I look at the navel red lid of the m17, I imagine that I am in an Aston Martin Valkyrie, pushing the boundaries between man and machine, while inexorably reaching a bend on the Autobahn. The silky feel of the soft touch matte finish begs to be touched. Unfortunately, my naturally greasy hands left a few unsightly spots on an otherwise stunning lid. The alien head with LED backlight seemed to be staring at the mess I left behind, allegedly, knowingly.
The rest of the laptop is made of matte, anodized aluminum, including the ventilation openings on the back and on the side that further enhance the futuristic supercar atmosphere. If you are looking for more of that luxurious soft touch, just open the laptop and let your hands indulge in the abundance that the palm is. And while you are there, take a look at the honeycomb pattern in the glossy black panel with the on / off button posing as an alien head. And reserve a glance at the glowing turquoise island-like keyboard in its sunken panel, awaiting your touch.
Alienware laptops are never lacking for ports and the m17 is no exception. You’ll find a few USB 3.0 ports on the right side of the laptop and another on the left, in addition to an expandable Ethernet port and a headset jack. At the back, there is a Thunderbolt 3 port, HDMI 2.0 and a mini DisplayPort. And if you need even more power, you have your own port for the external graphics card housing from Alienware, the graphics amplifier.
With a weight of 6.2 pounds, the size of the 16.1 x 11.5 x 0.7 ~ 0.9-inch m17 comes between the MSI GS75 Stealth (5 pounds, 15.6 x 10.2 x 0.7 inch) and the Aorus X9 ( 8.1 pounds, 16.9 x 12.4 x 1.2 inches). Yet the m17 is seriously slim and lightweight for a desktop replacement; it is almost light enough to store in a backpack with minimal discomfort.
Alienware m17 Review – Keyboard and TouchPad
When I saw on the benchmarking sheet that the keys of the Alienware m17 had only 1.1 millimeters of key movement (1.5 mm is our minimum), I wasn’t looking forward to the next days with this thing, fully numpad or not, by to bring. But thanks to the 70-gram activation power (60 gram is acceptable), the keys are jumpy and – I dare say – clicky? I never felt that my fingers hit the bottom of the key well. I easily reached a speed of 70 words per minute on the 10fastfingers type test.
Glittering LED lighting is a key component of the Alienware brand and nowhere does it shine better than on the keyboard. Alienware’s customization program, Alien FX, is integrated into the Alienware Command Center. You still have access to 16.8 million colors with six effects, and the well-conceived keyboard still looks hypnotic. But because competing companies give gamers the ability to get to the heart of the matter and give color to each individual key, I want Alienware to participate in the party it started with.
After years of letting the touchpad light up with every touch, I was surprised that Alienware opted for a simple, black touchpad. Enlightenment or not, the 4.1 x 2.5-inch touchpad was fast and responsive, allowing me to fire with aplomb movements such as two-finger scrolling, three-fingered tap, and swipe.
Alienware m17 Review – Display
I really can’t believe this is not an OLED screen. The enormous colorfulness is breathtaking, whether you’re gaming or watching a movie on the 17.3-inch 3840 x 2160 (4K) IPS panel of the m17. Watching the 4K trailer for Samsara, I was blown away by how clearly I could see the fine hairs and defined fingernails of an utero child. Decorated in a golden headdress, with beautiful fuschia and purple eye shadow and sparkling jewels, a young Balinese dancer seemed anything but a goddess.
From deep pink to lush greens, “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” was an endless cavalcade of lush colors and details. The details were so clear at one point that I could see the pores of a friendly witch while she was bathing and giving a rather indecent show. When she was done, her crimson and royal blue dress appeared in a rain of golden sparks.
The liveliness of the Alienware m17 is largely due to the ability of the laptop to reproduce 195% of the sRGB range, crushing the 140% premium gaming laptop average. The color far exceeds the Stealth (161%) and X9 (122%). When we measured for brightness, the m17 hit 310 nits, beat the 281-nit category average. That’s more than enough to beat the 249 nits of the X9, but not the Stealth’s 339 nits.
Alienware m17 Review – Audio
Small speakers, large sound. At full volume, the speakers on the lower front edge of the m17 filled my living room with a large, clear sound. Solange’s playful soprano blends nicely with her alto, supported by a clear triangle, deep lows, and playful digital instruments. While the raw fighting music with its whipping blows, screams and fever violin was great, the star of this audio show was in the details. I heard the realistic pitter-patter of rain, the alien screams of attacking Nekkers and the signal of fire ignition, all as clear as a bell.
Alienware offers eight different audio presets (Com, Movie, Music, Strategy, Racing, Shooter, Role Play and Alienware) that are now housed in the updated Alienware Command Center. I prefer the Alienware standard; it creates a surround sound effect that adds depth to what I was listening to. Instead of flat audio experience, it sounded more like I was in my own personal concert hall. However, be careful with this setting, because some of the more delicate track elements can be lost in the shuffle.
The notebook also has the Audio Recon function, which adds a visual overlay to your game that shows ambient noise in relation to your position; it’s great during first-person shooters because it makes it hard to get the drop.
Alienware m17 Review – Graphics and Gaming
Out with the old, with the new. Able to create more realistic animations – including reflections, one of the holy grails of rendering – Nvidia’s new RTX graphics cards provide nicer games. And all that beauty does not come at the expense of framerate. I fought a furious Foglet in “Witcher 3”, weaned furious swipes and mean clouds of poisonous gas. When I wrapped the monster in a fireball, it wound around 38 frames per second in 4K on Ultra settings. Switching to 1080p increased the frame rate to 58 fps on Ultra and 65 fps on High.
The Alienware m17 is responsible for the second most powerful mobile GPU, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU and 8 GB VRAM. The notebook also has an integrated Intel HD 630 graphics GPU that allows the system to switch when you are not gaming or photo or video editing.
When we performed the “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” benchmark, the m17 produced 52 fps, which is a shortage of the premium gaming laptop average of 62 fps. The laptop could not handle the Stealth’s (GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU) 65 fps nor the X9’s (Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU) 73 fps. By increasing the settings by 4K on the m17, the frame rate dropped to 22 fps.
The m17 claimed its dominance on the Hitman test, scored 110 fps and rode past the average of 97 fps, as well as the Stealth and X9 scores, both of which reached 96 fps. Hitman is one of the few games where the m17 delivers a playable frame rate of 55 fps at 4K.
During the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark, the m17 (78 fps) eliminated the Stealth (77 fps). The Alienware sailed past the average of the 75-fps category but fell short of the 86 fps of the X9.
Alienware m17 Review – Performance
What is better than Core i7? Core i9, of course! Armed with a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK processor with 16 GB RAM, the m17 had no problem running 25 tabs in Google Chrome, some running Twitch streams, while others Tweetdeck, YouTube and some GDocs turned.
The m17 came goodbye and scored 23,404 on the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test. The laptop passed the 22,093 premium gaming laptop average and the Stealth Intel Core i7-8750H CPU score of (20,843).
When we performed the File Transfer Test, the double 512 GB PCIe m.2 SSDs of the m17 took 10 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia files. That translates into a speed of 508.9 megabytes per second, which surpassed the 424 MBps average and the X9s (1TB PCIe M.2 SSD) 424 MBps. The Stealth and its 512 GB NVMe SSD completed the m17 with a fantastic result of 848 MBps.
During the hand brake test, the m17 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 9 minutes and 33 seconds, beyond the average of 9:57 and 11:00 of the Stealth, but not the 8:15 of the X9.
Alienware m17 Review – Heat
I spent 15 minutes in “Witcher 3” and navigated through a dark cave on the trail of the Wild Hunt; when I was done, I measured the touchpad, the center of the keyboard, and the m17’s chassis. The touchpad reached 93 degrees Fahrenheit, just within our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center and the undercarriage, however, were much hotter at 123F and 131F degrees, respectively. After the laptop had cooled down, we performed the test again with the touchpad, the middle and the bottom, which measured 83, 93 and 92 degrees respectively.
Alienware m17 Review – Battery Life
Alienware laptops usually have a fixed battery life, but the m17 lacks the mark and only lasts 2 hours and 50 minutes during our battery test. It is not enough to catch up with the 3:13 average, but enough to keep the Stealth (2:29) and X9 (2:20) at bay. However, if you are talking about power and performance, then you have to compromise with battery life.
Alienware m17 Review – Conclusion
With the Alienware m17, the company has fully embraced the thin and light movement. But unlike other gaming laptops in the genre, Alienware has made little or no sacrifice to reach the mountain top.
For $3,999 you get a semi-portable system with Nvidia’s powerful RTX GPU and an overclockable Intel Core i9 processor, making it a beast whether you’re gaming or creating complex spreadsheets. But Alienware was not satisfied with stopping there; it also added a drop-dead beautiful 4K screen, a seriously fast pair of SSDs and a surprisingly comfortable keyboard – all in an absolutely show-stopping chassis.
But gamers who want to save some money can get the MSI GS75 Stealth for $1,000 less and still get a lighter machine with a brighter display and faster SSD. However, you will lose the powerful CPU and the 4K screen. Ultimately, the Alienware m17 is a great choice for gamers who want serious power in a fairly slim chassis.
That’s all for our Alienware m17 Review.
Alienware m17 Review Rating – 8.8/10
The Alienware m17 combines powerful components and a beautiful, show-stopping screen in a slim, semi-portable chassis.
- Stunning, slim design
- Strong graphics and overall performance
- Gorgeous 4K display
- Great audio
- Runs hot while gaming
- Below-average battery life