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Alienware x14

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An aesthetically pleasing laptop computer with strong 1080p gaming efficiency that falters solely within the face of its extra aggressively-priced rivals. Nonetheless, in case you’ve acquired the money, this can be a respectable alternative of {hardware}.

For

  • Compact however trendy design
  • Usually good gaming efficiency
  • Shiny 144Hz show

In opposition to

  • Unimpressive battery life
  • Costly contemplating the parts
  • Rear ports are awkward

Dell’s Alienware line of gaming laptops has at all times been a divisive matter; it is tough to dispute that they have some highly effective parts below the hood, however the sci-fi aesthetic is not to everybody’s style and also you’re definitely resigning your self to paying a steep premium in case you purchase one. I wish to name this the ‘Alienware Tax’—and with Dell’s new Alienware x14, that is truly a tax I would be completely happy to pay. The bigger, heavier 17-inch fashions are a bit tougher to like, however this compact powerhouse instantly looks like a laptop computer for the discerning gamer.

Let’s take a fast second to take a look at what we’re working with right here. The Alienware x14 might be configured on Dell’s web sites with a number of completely different specs, with the most cost effective mannequin (which sports activities a Twelfth-gen Intel Core i5 processor and an RTX 3050) costing $1,499 (£1,549). The mannequin I am for assessment has an Intel Core i7 12700H and an RTX 3060, joined by 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. This mannequin prices $1,949 (£1,929).

You’ll be able to pay further to improve the reminiscence and the drive (as much as 32GB and 4TB respectively) however in any other case, that is the height of the x14’s configurations. That is completely superb, to be clear: squeezing an RTX 3070 or an i9 CPU into this little laptop computer would most likely result in vital compromises when it got here to the chassis or thermal efficiency, and no person desires that.

Connect these parts to a vivid and vibrant 1080p show with a 144Hz refresh fee, and you have got a reliable FHD gaming system. The Alienware x14 averaged over 60 fps within the majority of video games, solely dipping down into the 50-60 fps vary within the extra intensive recreation benchmarks like Metro: Exodus and Cyberpunk 2077. It will not be capable of run Extremely settings cleanly in each single recreation, nevertheless it’s the dependable 1080p efficiency that I’ve come to anticipate from the RTX 3060.

The laptop computer typically performs nicely throughout the board, with respectable scores in most artificial benchmarks due to its Core i7 12700H processor and speedy DDR5 reminiscence. It is undeniably a strong machine, however the price ticket nonetheless does not fairly add up—contemplating you may get an RTX 3060-equipped Asus TUF Sprint F15 (opens in new tab) for $800 much less, and even the RTX 3070-powered Sprint we reviewed is cheaper than this. The Alienware x14 is sitting proper on the premium finish of FHD gaming laptops.

Alieware x14 specs

Processor: Intel Core i7 12700H

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 6GB

Reminiscence: 16GB LPDDR5-5200

Show: 14-inch non-touch, 144Hz, 3ms

Decision: 1920 x 1080

Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD

Battery: 80Wh

Connectivity: 1x USB Sort-A 3.2 Gen 1, 2x USB Sort-C with Thunderbolt 4, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x microSD card reader, 1x 3.5mm Combo Jack, inbuilt mic

Dimensions: 15 x 322 x 263mm

Weight: 1.84kg (4.06lbs)

Value: $1,949 | £1,929 (opens in new tab)

So, what’s that hefty asking worth getting you? Properly, for starters that is an impressively compact gaming laptop computer, weighing in at simply 4lbs (1.8kg) and simply over half an inch thick with the lid closed. The inset hinge that has turn out to be synonymous with Alienware laptops is current, enlarging the general footprint on the rear by about an inch. The chassis is generally plastic, nevertheless it feels sturdy and does not choose up fingerprints simply.

The bodily design is clear and efficient; the inside is all-black, with a protracted perforated grille for the followers and audio system that extends down both aspect of the keyboard. The display screen bezel is sort of skinny, with a bar throughout the highest that accommodates the webcam, microphone array, and IR digicam for facial recognition logins. Shut the lid, and the outside of the chassis is sort of totally white, printed faintly with a quantity 14 and adorned with Dell’s little alien-face brand.

That brand lights up with RGB LEDs, however there isn’t any signal of the chunky rear lightbar discovered on bigger Alienware laptops right here. The keyboard can also be restricted to single-zone solid-color RGB, so do not anticipate any flashy lighting results. It is not an enormous loss, however does really feel a bit of harsh given the excessive worth.

Alienware x14 on a white desk

(Picture credit score: Future)

Thankfully, that keyboard is definitely good to make use of. It is nothing mind-blowing—chiclet-style keys with butterfly switches beneath—however the person key sizing is nice, which makes it comfy to make use of for each typing and gaming. Operating down the right-hand aspect is a set of devoted quantity and mute keys, with their very own lights to point whether or not your mic or audio system are muted.

The trackpad is much less spectacular. I do not say that as a result of it is disagreeable to make use of; the press is satisfying, and there is not one of the sponginess present in cheaper gaming laptops. It is merely a bit of on the small aspect, particularly in comparison with the big trackpad of the Razer Blade 14 (opens in new tab)—which is arguably the Alienware x14’s speedy competitor within the premium compact gaming laptop computer house, and carries its personal ‘Razer Tax’.

The one vital frown I made when analyzing the x14’s chassis got here from discovering that each single one in every of this laptop computer’s ports are situated on the rear edge. That is one thing that may not hassle some customers, however having to succeed in all the best way across the again to plug in a thumb drive or the facility cable swiftly grew to become annoying. There may be, no less than, a wide selection of bodily ports: a traditional USB Sort-A is joined by two Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI 2.1, a headset jack, and a microSD card slot. The one factor lacking is an Ethernet connection.

Alienware x14 gaming and CPU benchmarks

(Picture credit score: Future)

I want I might say that the Alienware x14’s digital aspect solely gave me one concern, however naturally, this laptop computer got here loaded with Dell’s almost-bloatware Alienware software program suite. Except for not likely doing a lot on this laptop computer—you possibly can swap between efficiency profiles with a button press with no need to ever open the software program—it is simply not a very well-designed piece of software program.

The Alienware x14 additionally makes use of Nvidia’s mode-switching tech to preserve battery life, which in observe is extra annoying than it’s helpful. It primarily swaps robotically between utilizing the built-in CPU graphics and the devoted GPU relying on the duty at hand, which might be nice if it did not additionally freeze for a number of seconds each single time it did that. I ended up turning it off and sticking to the GPU graphics.

Alienware x14 performance benchmarks

(Picture credit score: Future)

I discovered that the CPU ran fairly sizzling too—maxing out at 100°C shortly into the benchmarking course of, however that did not seem to trigger any noticeable quantity of slowdown. The outer casing solely felt mildly heat, which is a far cry from the thigh-roastings I’ve had from different laptops. The followers have been a bit noisy whereas working intensive duties, nonetheless.

Lastly, there’s the battery life. To place it quick: it isn’t nice. I’ve seen worse, however these have been largely larger, extra highly effective machines. Certain, gaming laptops are considerably universally poor on this space, largely as a result of working video games is a power-intensive exercise—anybody who has tried to play Genshin Affect on a cellphone will testify to this. However nonetheless, the Alienware x14’s battery life fell simply in need of ‘dismal’ in our checks.

The straightforward fact of the Alienware x14’s existence is that it is not a gaming laptop computer for everybody. You could possibly get related efficiency from a a lot cheaper laptop computer, however the target market right here is individuals who do not desire a finances gadget. The x14 appears and looks like a premium product, with efficiency that’s ok to justify shopping for it within the first place. 

Alienware x14

An aesthetically pleasing laptop computer with strong 1080p gaming efficiency that falters solely within the face of its extra aggressively-priced rivals. Nonetheless, in case you’ve acquired the money, this can be a respectable alternative of {hardware}.

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