Dell Alienware 17 R4 Gaming Laptop Review :: Noobreview :: Alien Superiority

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The 2017 version dubbed the R4 of the Dell Alienware gaming laptops retains most of the visual looks of its predecessors. Its slick, but powerful looking chassis screams power even before you have opened the lid. Once you have pressed the power button however, the R4 can easily blow you away with its performance. It’s not just heavy, its hard-hitting as well.


DELL ALIENWARE 17 R4 Gaming Laptop

DETAILED REVIEW


Specifications & Pricing

The unit that I reviewed came with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB GDDR5 built into the piece. The GPU coupled with 16 GB DDR4 at 2400MHz (2x8GB) and the 7th generation Intel Core i7, makes this the entry-level model of this range.

That’s right that’s the entry-level configuration.

There is another which offer 32 GB of RAM along with the GTX 1070, while the premium version offers a rig that has 32 GB of RAM, mixed with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB GDDR5X. Those are decent configurations any way you look at it, the premium that you pay for getting them in the form of a laptop though can put you back by at least 2,13,990.00 INR, which in turn also makes it the most expensive unit ever reviewed on our website.

While the prices may seem exorbitant at first (which they are), its does come packed with some pretty cool stuff too. The 17 R4 is decked out in LEDs (12 spots that can be controlled individually to be exact), multi-colored keyboard backlighting and accent lights, backlit trackpad, FHD camera with IR and Tobii eye tracking, Windows Hello technology, built in subwoofer, and a mix of plastic and metal chassis complete a package which would get you oohss and aahhss wherever and whenever you pull it out. Hell, I spent the better half of my first 2 days with the laptops just whistling as I changed the behavior of its LEDs and played around with the Tobii Eye Tracking.

It’s the iPhone of gaming laptops.

Build Quality and Usage

First up, I understand that Dell Alienware 17 R4 has increased in weight since its last iteration. A quick search through the internet and it will also be clear that the laptop has also gained a bit more depth below the keyboard area. This is because, in the attempt to house a fully powered GPU, Dell has had to contend with more space and higher heating, a solution to which are the extra vents which have been moved away from under the keyboard to behind them so that they open on the backside of the monitor. Not only does this make laptop look even more of a bad-ass machine, it also makes it easier to house it in your lap for longer hours since the base doesn’t heat up as quickly as others. Of course this does make the laptop heavier as well, and I wouldn’t recommend it carrying it around in one arm for long, but there are some sacrifices that should for the ability to play Witcher 3 in a train.

The Keyboard is probably the part that I hate and love the most in the laptop.

I love it cause it brings a tactile but smooth feel to it. The keyboard has N-Key rollover and Dell promises that it has one of the quickest key travel in laptops, which means complex combos rarely end in disarray. I hate it because like any other laptop, the keys are too tightly packed together, which meant that I had a hard time pressing Ctrl and Forward at the same time. Looking at the empty space available, I just wish the keyboard was a little more well spaced for big fingers.

The configurations we tested had the base-model 1920 x 1080 screen and the higher-end 2560 x 1440 display, the latter of which comes with Nvidia G-Sync technology. The more expensive panel is definitely worth the premium, thanks to its superior brightness and sharpness. You might be disappointed to know that it’s a TN panel, but it’s actually a really nice quality one, with wide viewing angles. It’s also 120Hz, which makes it ideal for gaming. The Alienware 17 is available with several different 17.3-inch display panels with resolutions ranging from 1080p to 4K.

The battery can last anywhere between 2 hours and 3 hours depending on usage. While playing games however, it rarely extended beyond the 2 hour mark. I found that the battery life increased a bit if I turned off the Tobii Eye tracking, but the difference was so minimal that I turned it back on. Turning off the Alienware Alien FX also did not have a huge effect on the battery life, so I am guessing Dell did a great job of siphoning minimal power for the bells and whistles, however the battery life does leave something to be desired.

Performance

Right off the bat, let me say this, the Dell Alienware 17 R4 is the fastest booting Windows 10 machine I have ever seen. Period.

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The Dell Alienware R4 17 performed decently through every test I put it through. In the Cinebench test, the laptop scored 658 and 29.75 in the OpenGL and the CPU test respectively. Those are decent numbers, not allowing for beast mode, but smooth gameplay. In the 3D Mark TimeSpy test, the Dell Alienware 17 R4 performed decently as well scoring 4137 across 3 tests, and performing better than 42% of all machines that have used the test (this includes laptops and desktops). Turning off Alienware Alien FX did not have a serious impacts on these numbers across multiple tests.

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Finally I bench-marked the laptop using the Heaven Uni Engine, on both the Extreme and Basic settings. As expected, the laptop was able to perform decently with the average FPS maintained at 30 FPS. The maximum FPS though skyrocketed to 60 when testing on Basic. An important fact that did come out of the testing was the slight increase in performance, when I turned off the Alienware Alien FX, and Tobii Eye Tracking, while the maximum FPS was not affected, the minimum FPS did get a shot in the arm and almost doubled. So if you are looking to juice it to the max, it might be well worth to turn those options off.

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Gaming

Benchmarks are all good, but playing an actual game is where any gaming hardware needs to perform. I primarily played Gears Of War 4 on the Dell Alienware 17 R4 (one because I hadn’t finished it, and two because I loved the visual effects in the game). I tried various permutations, when trying out the game, including turning off Alienware Alien FX, Tobii Eye Tracking, Nvidia Gameworks and even the Xbox Play service which run in the background. In all these tests, the game ran with or without them without any hiccups. When locked to 60 FPS, the game did run better with all the background noise off, though the stuttering is minimal in either case.

During my time with Gears and other games, I played through multiple long sessions both on battery and connected to the charger. The bottom does not heat up at all even after 5 hours of usage, though battery life reduces significantly and you need to be careful lest you lose your progress to an automated hibernation. I did let the laptop die in the middle of the game a few times, which was surprisingly well handled by the machine, the only setback that I had to reload the game when I booted it back up.

I also tried my hand at GTA V, which ran at a smooth 30 FPS, and Witcher 3 which again ran like clockwork. I even decided to play some CS:GO and upped the numbers to extreme wherever I can, but the laptop handled those number crunching decently as well. When pushed to maintain 30 FPS in Ashes Of Singularity though, the laptop did become a little sluggish, but turning off Nvidia Gameworks helped in getting some power back.

VERDICT

Its difficult not to love the Alienware 17 R4, it has everything a gamer would ask for in a gaming laptop. It performs decently in games and looks super awesome. You might have to build up some muscles and some cash before you can start carrying it around, but once you have got that covered, you would rarely be regretful of your choice.

 

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Answers to the name of Ayush. Blogs by the name #IndianNoob. Web Developer, ardent gamer, enthusiastic cricketer, book lover, and a wrestling fan, Can be found in a forever struggle with his open shoe laces.
  • Mid-range specs and high-end price
    I wanna buy this, can I sell my kidney twice?
    🙂