Making the best gaming laptops thinner and lighter is a massive trend of late, but laptops like the Alienware m17 are proving that less mobile powerhouses are going nowhere anytime soon. The Alienware m17 R4 uses the exact same chassis as the R3, only with faster internals, and who can complain about that?

We're talking about the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 GPUs built into Nvidia's new Ampere architecture, specifically the Nvidia Geforce RTX 3070 and RTX 3080. Combine it with a new 360Hz display and the most powerful processors on the market for a gaming laptop experience that it can handle the latest games with high frame rate.

However, it comes at a high cost. The template reviewed here will set you back a whopping $ 3,359 (roughly £ 2,460 or $ 4,360). This makes it one of the most expensive gaming laptops on the market, even if you consider the high specs on offer. However, a portion of that price goes to the Alienware branding and design. And for a laptop in this category, which is totally focused on powerful performance, the Alienware m17 R4 is a great laptop, and you will only have to pay for the privilege of displaying it on your desk.

This isn't exactly a laptop that you'll take with you either. It weighs 6.55 pounds and comes with a 330-watt adapter that weighs almost as much as the laptop. And when you think about the paltry two and a half hours of battery life, the Alienware m17 R4 is a laptop with which you can only switch from one LAN to another, rather than carrying it around in your bag day after day.

[caption id="attachment_365" align="aligncenter" width="464"]Best Alienware m17 R4 review 2021 (Image credit: Future)[/caption]

Price and availability


The Alienware m17 is available to order from January 26, 2021, with a starting price of $ 2,149 (approximately £ 1,570, AU $ 1,769). This will get you an Intel Core i7-10870H processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD storage, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070.

If you want the model we're reviewing here, with an RTX 3080, 2TB SSD, and a Core i9 processor, you're looking for $ 3,359 (about £ 2,460, AU $ 4,360). And if you want a 4K OLED panel with the same specs, then you're looking for $ 3,579 (about £ 2,620, AU $ 4,640), although this configuration only comes with 1TB of SSD space.

However, we don't recommend using a 4K OLED screen unless you plan to use this laptop for serious photo or video work. The RTX 3080 here is solid, but still close to the strength of the desktop version of the card. You'll have a much better gaming experience with the 1080p screen option, whether you choose the 144Hz panel or the 360Hz panel that the laptop we're reviewing comes with.

Either way, this is a great gaming laptop at a luxury price. You can probably find the same components in a cheaper gaming laptop somewhere. But you won't be able to find one that combines performance and design in exactly the same way. Whether it's worth the extra expense is up to you, but we can see it either way.

 

Design


Alienware has been using their new "Legend" design for a few years now and it is clear why it is discontinued. The Alienware m17 R4 is a great laptop, and while this design isn't new, it still feels like a revolt against the exciting gaming aesthetic that has dominated the gaming laptop space for so long.

The model we have to review is the beautiful Lunar Light color, which is white, with a black stripe around the back where the vent is located. Along the rear hatch is a strip of RGB light, which is a distinct look at this point. Between the two giant holes on the back of the laptop, you have several ports: HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, Power, and an Alienware graphics amplifier for an external GPU.

There are also more ports along the side. On the right side of the laptop, you have two USB-A ports and a microSD card reader near the front of the laptop. On the left is another USB-A port, along with Ethernet and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Having all the display and expansion ports on the back of the laptop is one of the best things about the Alienware m17. This means that when you're online to play (which you probably will be all the time), you don't have to fight cable clutter to get the job done.

All-white laptop sleeve with the number "17" and the Alienware RGB logo. This theme repeats on the keyboard surface, which is all white and just plain awesome. Alienware RGB power button, along with full-size keyboard.

That's right, Dell took advantage of the extra space inherent in its 17-inch gaming laptop and included a number pad on the right side of the laptop. Numeric keyboards aren't as easy to use as they used to be, but they're nice to have, especially if you only work outside of games, and let's face it, our computers these days are more important than ever.

Fortunately, the keyboard is nice and comfortable to type on. The journey isn't as deep as it could be, considering this is a gaming laptop. This doesn't have the mechanical keyboard like the MSI GE75 Raider, but it sure is still good enough for some gaming. Still, professional esports gamers may want to invest in one of the best gaming keyboards.

Typing on this keyboard is great, but this is a laptop that weighs around 7 pounds, so it's not something you use on your lap all the time to write papers.

However, the trackpad is probably one of the best we've used on any gaming laptop. It doesn't seem that big, mainly because the laptop itself is very bulky, but it is larger than large enough to take a few gestures, and clicking down has a satisfying movie that only Razer laptops can rival.

Coinciding with the theme the Alienware m17 is looking for, the display is out of this world. 17.3-inch FHD panel with a fast 360Hz refresh rate and G-Sync, we promise to find a game that goes this far. It also gets a lot of brightness at 300 nits and hits 100% of the sRGB color spectrum.

So while the screen is fast, this speed doesn't come at the cost of image quality. Your games will look sharp, colorful, and bright, even when you hit frame rates that keep you at the top of the leaderboards.

Speakers are where things get a little tricky. To say that the Alienware m17 R4 has room for its top-mounted tweeters is an understatement, but it still shoots up on the surface you're playing on. It looks good, but not good enough to ditch your gaming headphones anytime soon.

However, it doesn't really matter. Given the level of hardware shown here, the Alienware m17 R4 gets louder when pressed. You will definitely want to wear headphones while gaming here, because while testing or gaming this laptop can look like a jet engine.

Performance


Now, the Alienware m17 R4 is equipped with an Intel Core i9-10980HK processor, 32 GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080; runs fast.

This is the sheer force of a gaming laptop, pushing the on-screen silicon to its absolute limit, which is probably why this fan is so loud. In terms of initial specs, the portable version of the Nvidia RTX 3080 should be close to what the desktop version of the RTX 3070 can do. Practically speaking, that's exactly what we've seen with this laptop.

No matter what game we launch, ray traced or no ray traced, we can get extremely powerful performance everywhere. Even Watch Dogs: Legion, which has trouble running a large number of full gaming desktops, can hit 75 frames per second with ray tracing on Ultra and DLSS on the "Performance" settings.

Then on Metro Exodus, you are watching 78fps with RTX and DLSS on, and 90fps with RTX off. More than enough performance to play these visually delightful games with all the eye-catching features enabled.

In fact, every game we throw to the Alienware m17 R4 is capable of hitting over 70 frames per second with all settings maxed out, something we've never seen on a gaming laptop before, especially when ray tracing kicks in. equation.

Alienware laptops are quite expensive as they are something of a luxury item among gaming laptops. However, with this laptop, you can be sure that you are getting the best possible performance in a gaming laptop right now, even if it makes a bit of noise while doing it.

[caption id="attachment_366" align="aligncenter" width="556"]Best Alienware m17 R4 review 2021 (Image credit: Future)[/caption]

Alienware m17 R4

Battery duration


The Alienware m17 R4 doesn't last long on battery power, and that can't be helped. This is a high-octane gaming laptop that doesn't compromise on performance, so expecting the battery to last all day is just a recipe for disappointment.

However, we expect at least a small improvement compared to the last generation. In PCMark 10, which simulates a variety of realistic workloads, the laptop is only 2 hours and 21 minutes long.

Then for media playback, the Alienware m17 R4 only lasts 2 hours 28 minutes, mirroring locally stored 1080p videos. Watching a movie or two YouTube videos may be enough, but it's not exactly a laptop where you can stream videos for hours on end.

programs and characteristics
Since this is a premium product, there isn't a lot of bloatware installed on this laptop when you take it out of the box.

Basically, you will only see Dell Support Apps, which are used to update drivers and create backups, and two programs: My Alienware and Alienware Command Center.

The former is basically a hub that connects you to resources to better understand your laptop. It's basically like an FAQ with a glamorous user interface. On the other hand, Alienware Command Center will be more useful for a longer period of time.

This is the application that you will use to customize your Alienware m17 R4 from the inside out. Everything from RGB lighting to performance is controlled here, and you can run your games from this app.

It all comes down to that, it's super simple and lightweight, and that's exactly what we want to see in a laptop that costs thousands of dollars.