Pros / 3D capabilities are a top gaming feature unique to this laptop series.
Cons / The Blu-ray drive is not standard, and you have to upgrade if you want to watch movies in high definition.
Verdict / The Alienware laptop series is the best gaming laptop for performance, customizable options and overall design.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
If you’re looking to upgrade to a top gaming laptop, look no further than the Alienware 17. Only the most advanced technology and hardware options are available, and you can pick and choose your upgrades for the ultimate gaming experience. Dell had gamers in mind when building the Alienware series, and gaming-caliber priorities like 3D technology and color illuminated keyboards are reflected in the feature set. The internal components pair well with the overall design of the case. The color effects of the body and touchpad are also customizable, and there are more than fifteen color options to make this powerhouse your own. This serious gaming machine allows you to immerse yourself in the ultimate gaming environment.
Graphics & Gaming
The fully customizable Alienware 17 laptop comes pre-equipped with a powerful processor, strong graphics card and cutting edge hardware. When customizing a machine, you select your screen size then your base configuration before upgrading any hardware. The base configuration of the Alienware 17 model includes an Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor, and you can upgrade to the market-leading i7-4930MX processor for lightning fast speeds and short loading times. Processor speeds reach between 3.2 and 3.8GHz depending on which model you customize. Either way, you’ll experience impressive speed and quality.
Graphics are also realistic with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650M or upgradable 780M card. The Alienware models give you the choice 8GB, 16GB and 32GB of RAM. The more RAM you have the faster your game play will be, and both 16GB and 32GBs offer fast performance.
Hard drive options are plentiful and varied, and which one you choose will depend on your storage preferences. The very top model (which is not fully customizable) offers a 1TB solid-state drive with four additional 256GB solid-state drives. The smaller model in Alienware's series has a 750GB hard disk drive as the least amount of storage space available. Other builds include one, two or three drive options in sizes ranging from 750GB to 1.5TB for hard disk drives and 512GB to 1TB for solid-state drives. The 1TB solid-state drive is the largest option we’ve seen in top gaming laptops during our research.
Freedom from outlets is another key aspect of the Alienware series laptops. Battery life lasts anywhere between four and seven hours, and the eight- or 12-cell batteries are rated between 63 and 96 watt-hours. This means you have the ability to game independently, without a cumbersome cord, for much longer than the leading competition.
Specs & Performance
The Alienware laptops have three size options, whereas most good gaming laptops series only have one or two. You can choose from a 14-, 17- or 18-inch screen, all at a 1920 x 1080 screen resolution. The 18-inch version is also the largest screen we reviewed and only weighs 11.93 pounds, which is surprisingly not the heaviest laptop on our lineup. The lightest of the bunch is the 14-inch, which weighs in at 6.11 pounds, making it the most ultraportable option of the bunch. All three sizes have a fully customizable, color illuminated keyboard for all those late-night gaming sessions.
Design & Construction
As far as cool features go, 3D capable design is the very coolest. The Alienware series laptops are the only laptops we’ve reviewed that have the complete 3D technology option. You just plug your gaming machine into a 3D TV or monitor, and your gaming experience is amplified. Other built-in features include a webcam, mic, memory card reader, HDMI port, three to four USB ports, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. All the Alienware laptops come with a standard DVD drive, but you can switch to a Blu-ray player during the customization process. The Alienware laptops all have the market’s most popular features, qualifying them as the best gaming laptop series.
Dell offers the full buffet of support options on their website. You can call customer or technical support, email various representatives, chat online and much more. Support is even offered via Facebook, and all the options are custom tailored by department so you can find specific help for your problem. You can use the FAQs section and a user forum as well if you want to search for answers. The warranty on the Alienware 17 laptop starts at one year of coverage, but you do have the option to upgrade to four years.
For extremely fast speeds as well as realistic and intense graphics, the Alienware laptop series delivers. Although the Alienware 17 is not a gaming laptop under $1,000, you do get quite a bang for your buck. The freedom to play the latest games on the highest graphics settings with lag free performance is incredibly liberating. Hard drive choices, customizable design inside and out and top-notch system performance really make this gaming laptop stand above the crowd. Overall, this top gaming laptop is fantastic, and you can expect flawless gaming no matter where you play.