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Technology Alienware m17 R4 review: All of the gaming power, none of the bulk

14:41  18 june  2021
14:41  18 june  2021 Source:   cnet.com

Dell has discontinued the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, its external GPU

  Dell has discontinued the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, its external GPU It’s not clear when the Amp left, but it’s dead nowThe Alienware Graphics Amp was first introduced in 2014 for $299 and designed to be a companion to the company’s midrange Alienware 13, giving it the vast majority of the power of a desktop graphics card plus four extra full-size USB ports when docked. I liked the combo well enough. But over the years, Alienware added the port to practically every laptop (and some of its more compact desktops, like the Alienware X51 mini-tower and Alienware Alpha R2 console-sized PC) it released, including the company’s flagship Area-51M which was designed to have built-in upgrades of its own.

Recommending the Alienware m17 R4 is both easy and difficult for me. As much as I love the idea of having all this gaming performance in a portable and relatively small package, its price veers into "you can get more with a desktop" territory. That feeling is intensified by the laptop's short battery life, which limits its usefulness as a mobile device. I mean, if you're going to be tethered to a power cord anyway, it's just one more reason to get a desktop.

calendar: The m17 is definitely not your average gaming laptop. Josh Goldman/CNET © Provided by CNET The m17 is definitely not your average gaming laptop. Josh Goldman/CNET a laptop computer © Josh Goldman/CNET

On the other hand, the m17 R4 is a complete package -- right down to its clicky Cherry MX mechanical keyboard. It's slim, it looks fantastic and the components will keep your frame rates high for years. If you're looking for something for travel but not to necessarily use between points A and B, it's a fantastic choice. And if you've got no room for a desktop in your life, the choice is even easier.

Alienware X Series x15, x17 super-slim gaming laptops available now, starting at $1,999

  Alienware X Series x15, x17 super-slim gaming laptops available now, starting at $1,999 You can thank a crazy cooling system for making it possible to have the thinnest Alienware gaming laptops ever.The Alienware x15 starts at $2,000 and the x17 at $2,100. Pricing for the UK and Australia weren't immediately available but those prices convert to roughly £1,410 and £1,480 and AU$2,585 and AU$2,715. Alienware says all configurations will be available in the US on June 15, but limited configurations and quantity are available right now through Dell's website, as well as Best Buy, both online and in select retail locations.

A lot of options, none of them cheap

Anyone who's shopped for a gaming laptop knows these aren't cheap machines, especially if you're looking for top gaming performance now and for several years into the future. You can certainly get a decent gaming laptop for $1,000 or less. But it won't have the build quality, features and components found in the Alienware m17 R4, which starts at just under $2,000 (AU$2,774, £2,899).

Sadly, the m17 R4 I tested with the GeForce RTX 3080 and Core i9-10980HK is in limited supply. However, if you're not able to get the m17 in this configuration, the recently released Alienware x17 offers similar performance (if not better with 11th-gen Intel processors), the same displays and the option of a Cherry MX mechanical keyboard. Also, models with the RTX 3060 and RTX 3070 are available.

Alienware's new x15, x17 are its thinnest gaming laptops to date

  Alienware's new x15, x17 are its thinnest gaming laptops to date In addition to slimmer dimensions, the new notebooks support up to 11th-generation Intel Core i9 processors and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics and feature a new thermal material to help keep things cool as system performance revs up.The 15.6-inch x15 manages to be just a bit over 0.6 inches thick and ranges in weight from 5 to 5.2 pounds, depending on the configuration (compared to the Alienware m15's 5.3- to 5.9-pound range). The 17.3-inch x17 is obviously bigger, but still is a shade over 0.8 inches thick and tips the scales at 6.7 to 7.1 pounds.

a laptop computer sitting on top of a table: The m17 has the first Cherry MX Ultra-Low Profile mechanical keyboard. Josh Goldman/CNET © Provided by CNET The m17 has the first Cherry MX Ultra-Low Profile mechanical keyboard. Josh Goldman/CNET

So no, the m17 R4 isn't a bargain, but I wouldn't call it overpriced. The build quality is better than you're going to get from some of its less-expensive competitors. It feels good in your hands and looks amazing on your desk.

This is also the first Alienware to offer a mechanical keyboard designed in collaboration with key switch-maker Cherry. The clicky switch is made from stainless-steel components with 1.8mm of travel and has a self-cleaning mechanism to keep them dust-free. If you've always wanted a tactile keyboard on your laptop for typing and gaming, this is your dream come true: It's a great laptop keyboard. It also adds $150 to the configuration, which is irritating, but very Alienware.

Among the various configurations, you'll find multiple 17.3-inch display options, including a UHD panel with 100% AdobeRGB gamut coverage and the FHD panel on my review laptop that covers 100% sRGB color gamut and an esports-caliber 360Hz refresh rate. Plus, with an HDMI 2.1 out, a Mini DisplayPort out and a Thunderbolt 3 port, you have multiple connections for external displays.

Alienware previews svelte new X series alongside Intel, Nvidia Dell refreshes

  Alienware previews svelte new X series alongside Intel, Nvidia Dell refreshes Another entrant in the thinner-than-though gaming laptop competition.The X series, slated for official unveiling June 1 on Twitch, looks a lot like Alienware's m series, so it's not clear where it stands relative to the already pretty thin m17 and m15; Alienware launched its 11th-gen Tiger Lake-H models of the m15 and Dell G5 15 today, as well, following design updates kicked off with the m15 Ryzen Edition and Dell G15 in early April.

Thin and (not so) light

It's amazing that Alienware and other gaming laptop makers are now able to make models like the m17 R4 so thin. It's thicker than your average midrange productivity laptop, but not by much. Although the back requires a little more room than a typical 17-inch laptop, you can still easily fit this in a regular backpack. Don't let the thinness fool you, though: At 6.6 pounds, the m17 R4 is heavy if you're planning to regularly carry it on your back.

That weight doesn't include the laptop's power supply either, which brings the carry weight up over 10 pounds. And you're going to need the power supply. On our streaming video battery test, I was only able to eke out 2 hours, 6 minutes of battery life. While gaming laptops aren't designed to be power-sipping, this is still surprisingly short.

an open laptop computer sitting on top of a window: Josh Goldman/CNET © Provided by CNET Josh Goldman/CNET

No surprises with performance

Put in high-end components and get high-end performance. This m17 R4 is a screamer and, again, it's amazing that it has such good performance in a body so thin. For however good the configuration is, though, the 10th-gen Intel i9 CPU can't keep up with the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX in the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 we recently tested. The m17's performance is by no means disappointing, although it does make me wish an AMD CPU was an option on the m17 like it is on the m15 R5.

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  Here’s Every Razer Product That’s Discounted for Amazon Prime Day Razer is bringing the goods to Amazon Prime Day with deals on its premium gaming peripherals, including mice, keyboards, headsets, and even a Razer Blade gaming laptop. This year, Amazon Prime Day is from 6/21 to 6/22. The lineup of discounts spans a wide selection of both high-end and budget-friendly products, so you’ll find significant …Advertiser Disclosure: At Slickdeals, we work hard to find the best deals. Some products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation, but this doesn’t change our opinions.

Keeping the m17 cool is Alienware's Cryo-Tech cooling system. Under load, there is of course the constant whir of fans. They're loud but there's no high-pitched whine. With so many vents, though, hot air seemingly pours from all around. And still, the keyboard can get uncomfortably warm. Directly under the WASD keys isn't too bad, but I occasionally rest my fingers on the sides, and both left and right sides of the keyboard can get toasty.

an open laptop computer sitting on top of a desk: All the gaming performance in less space. Josh Goldman/CNET © Provided by CNET All the gaming performance in less space. Josh Goldman/CNET

Regardless of what's in it, the Alienware m17 R4 is a strong pick if you're looking for an attractive, big-screen gaming experience, portable workstation or both. It offers desktop-like gaming performance in an all-in-one package that fits in a backpack -- and that's something you can't easily do with a desktop, monitor, mechanical keyboard and mouse. You'll just have to keep telling yourself that when you pay for it.

Asus tunes up TUF series gaming laptops with new Nvidia, Intel processors .
Fast displays and military-grade durability are also part of the package.Asus will offer the updated TUF series with up to an eight-core 11th-gen Intel processor and up to a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. They'll also have faster 3,200MHz memory and room for two PCIe SSDs for plenty of game storage. The 15-inch F15 will be offered with an FHD display (1,920x1,080 pixels) with up to a 240Hz gaming panel and a 100% sRGB color gamut, while its larger 17-inch linemate, the F17, will come with a 144Hz panel at the same resolution.

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