I’ve reviewed some gaming laptops this year from ASUS and MSI. The ASUS ROG G751JY-DH72X comes with the powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M graphics processor and I was quite satisfied with its performance. Unfortunately, that laptop is not suitable for many gamers due to the high price tag of nearly $3000.
In this post, we are going to review a lower-priced laptop that is using the same GTX 980M card. Let’s check out the Alienware 17 ANW17-6421SLV. How does it perform and do we make any compromise buying the laptop?
Unboxing and Initial Setup
While other manufacturers like MSI or Razer Blade are making their gaming laptops slimmer and more portable, the Alienware 17 and its smaller siblings still look like giant beasts in the laptop world. It is big, heavy and bulky, so it is not something you want to carry around on a daily basis. Specifically, it measures 1.354″ x 11.49″ x 16.93″ and weighs 8.33 lbs.
The lid cover looks like a piece of metal and it looks much better than the old-generation Alienware laptop I bought 3 years ago. The design is obviously inspired by spaceships in sci-fi movies, it even looks more awesome when you turn on the machine because the Alien face will light up then.
The connections on the right side include a RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet IPv6, two USB 3.0 Ports and 9-in-1 Media Card Reader.
On the left side, there are the power jack, Noble Lock port, two USB 3.0 Port (one comes with PowerShare Technology), a mic-in and a headphone jack.
There are also some connections on the back of the laptop, you can find a Mini-Display Port, HDMI 1.4 Output and an Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port.
Opening the lid reveals a full-size keyboard with 9 Alienware TactX programmable keys. The backlit keyboard is one of the selling point of this laptop as it comes with 4-zone multi-color RGB AlienFX lighting. If you play games in the dark, you will see how beautiful the keyboard and backlit trackpad are. You can program 4 zones of the keyboard to display any color you want with the AlienFX tool.
Display & Audio
The Alienware 17 boasts the 2.1 Speaker configuration with subwoofer powered by Klipsch and Creative SoundBlaster Pro Studio Software. It sounds promising but its audio quality is actually horrible and even worse than the speakers on my HTC One M9 smartphone. Anyway most gamers use headphones while playing games, so this is not a big issue.
The laptop uses a 17.3 inch Full-HD (1920 x 1080) IPS-Panel Anti-Glare 300-nits display. The display is sharp and accurate but it’s not really bright and I’d prefer a higher resolution for such a big screen.
This is the most important factor of a gaming laptop, how does it actually perform? I expected a lot from this Alienware 17 because it uses the most powerful GTX 980M graphics processor, which delivered an awesome experience on my ASUS ROG laptop. I tested some games, including new titles like The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt, Saints Row IV, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, LEGO MARVEL Super Heroes, The Wolf Among Us, Far Cry 3, Counter-strike – Global Offensive and FIFA 15. You can check the performance with FPS counter in the video below.
The Alienware 17 managed to run all those games smoothly. I played The Witcher 3 in highest settings and the frame rate is higher than 30 most of the time. However, the performance of the laptop is obviously not as impressive as the ASUS ROG. This might be due to some reasons, like the lower-specced i7-4710HQ processor, just 16 GB DDR3 and I installed those games to the 1TB 5400 rpm Hard Drive. The included 128GB SSD is just enough for the Windows OS and some more programs.
The laptop is equipped with an 8-cell Lithium Ion (92 wHr) battery. This is the best battery on all gaming laptops I’ve ever used. I could play games for nearly 2 hours in a single charge.
- Great build quality
- Beautiful keyboard lighting
- High-end graphics card
- Long battery life
- Mediocre screen and audio
- Low-capacity 128GB SSD
I’m pretty pleased with the balance on this system and recommend it if you want a high-end gaming machine for a lower price.