The Alienware 17 R5 is huge, what with its massive 17-inch screen and roughly 10-pound frame. It’s robust, substantial, and thick. A laptop of this size is usually not very practical for regular usage unless it is loaded down with the most powerful hardware available.
Outwardly, the Alienware 17 R5 isn’t much different from its forerunners. It has a metallic exterior (top and bottom) and a styled grille (front edge), while the inside has a soft touch that yet collects fingerprints. The massive block of metal and plastic at the device’s rear is home to two vents for dissipating the massive amounts of heat produced by its potent circuitry.
Though not particularly innovative, the design serves its purpose. There are still obvious Alienware design cues, such as sharp angles, RGB lighting, and an inlaid pattern on the rear of the screen. It’s obvious that this is a gaming laptop, and it has more resemblance to the Acer Predator Helios 500 than to the reserved Razer Blade Pro. While the Alienware’s metallic surface is darker than before, the overall look is unchanged from what you’re used to seeing. It functions and has a decent aesthetic, however the display bezels are showing their age.
The 17-inch screen is excellent, but we won’t get to that until we finish discussing the bezels. Bezels on both sides measure almost an inch, and the top bezel measures even more so due to the sloped front edge of the chassis. It’s just a lot of unnecessary material that makes the product seem bulky and old fashioned in comparison to more modern alternatives. Even though the Razer Blade Pro’s large bezels are part of the glass display, they are less visible in practise. When looking for a 17-inch laptop, large bezels unfortunately seem to be the norm.
Alienware 17 R5’s abundance of ports is a testament to the company’s ability to make good use of the device’s big design. There are many ports on the chassis’s rear, including an Ethernet jack, a USB Type-C connector that supports Thunderbolt 3, an HDMI port, and a mini-DisplayPort, as well as a power adaptor. A single USB-A port is located on the right side, while a USB-C port, USB-A port, and earphone/microphone jacks are located on the left.
Though the Alienware 17’s connection assortment is quite standard—including some welcome additions like mini-DisplayPort—it is the location of these ports that truly sets this laptop distinct. Important ports have been moved to the rear of the Alienware 17, where they will remain out of the way when the laptop is resting on a desk, where it will spend the vast majority of its time. The Acer Helios 500 used a similar strategy for several of its ports, and we like. These devices are only laptops in name, so it’s a good idea to put the ports in a place where they won’t get in the way.
Alienware’s fingerprints can be found all over the design, from the sharp angles to the pervasive use of RGB lighting.
The keyboard has a good amount of travel and the keys are nice and responsive, but it never feels too much like a laptop keyboard. It lacks the mushiness common to membrane keyboards, a feature shared by “true” gaming laptops like as the Helio 500 and the Razer Blade Pro. The touchpad also functions perfectly, a testament to Windows’s Precision Touchpad support. Smooth to the touch, although in a world when giant touchpads are the norm, it might occasionally feel undersized.
The Alienware 17’s Tobii Eye Tracker is an innovative input method, rarely seen even in PC gaming desktops. The eye tracker serves a dual purpose and is located just below the screen: For one, it unlocks a few cool features in select games, but not many. And secondly, it works with Windows Hello, Microsoft’s face recognition login technology. Opening your laptop with Windows Hello on and staring at the eye tracker is all it takes to log in, which is a pleasant improvement over having to enter a password every time.
However, the Tobii Eye Tracker’s effectiveness as a gaming accessory is far more hit-or-miss. While it is supported by certain games, this feature is still very uncommon. The Tobii software does have a cool feature where you can explode balloons by by staring at them.
Certainly not the brightest star
The bad news is that the display bezels of the Alienware 17 R5 are uncomfortable, but the screen itself is acceptable. Colors look rich and alive, without being oversaturated or dull, to the naked eye. Even the most routine mouse clicks become fascinating on the 120Hz G-Sync display. The mouse’s action is so silky smooth that it’s a pleasure to use on its own. You won’t be able to go back to a regular 60Hz display after seeing this panel in action, running your favourite games at high or ultra-high settings without a hitch.
Worth highlighting as well is the conclusion reached in this case. The 17-inch screen has an unusually fast refresh rate for a display resolution of 1440p. High resolution and refresh rate go together like chocolate and peanut butter; they’re a great combination. Incredibly seamless gameplay and incredibly sharp visuals thanks to the high resolution. The Helios 500 has a little quicker display with a 144Hz refresh rate, however this comes at the expense of greater resolution (1080p).
Although the figures here offer a somewhat more mundane image, the aforementioned features more than make up for the display’s deficiencies. Examining the Alienware 17 R5’s display in terms of colour gamut, you’ll find that it covers 93% of the sRGB colour space, the one you’ll most frequently encounter. The Alienware’s screen only manages 73% coverage of the more demanding AdobeRGB colour palette, which is about what we’d expect from a non-professional laptop display and is, predictably, on par with the Helios 500.
The fast refresh rate makes even cursor movement a pleasure, and the fluidity of all animations makes gaming a pleasure.
Afterwards, we saw that the Alienware 17 R5’s screen could achieve a maximum contrast ratio of 560:1. Compared to the Helios 500 and the Asus ROG Zephyrus, that’s not terrible, but it’s also not fantastic. All in all, the 120Hz display only means that colours won’t jump as much as they might. Alienware employs a TN display panel, which is often not as vivid as more prevalent IPS displays, in order to achieve that high refresh rate.
Take the Razer Blade Pro 17 as an example. The test unit’s 4K IPS screen refreshed at 60 hertz. The Blade Pro 17’s IPS display is brighter, and it can show 980:1 contrast, 98% of the AdobeRGB colour palette, and has a lower average colour inaccuracy. The Alienware 17 uses a 120Hz TN panel, whereas IPS displays are brighter but run at a slower 60Hz.
Top speed in the entire Milky Way
For typical tasks, the Alienware 17’s CPU may be excessive. A Core i9 processor from Intel, not a Core i5 or i7. The Core i9, in case you didn’t know, is the most powerful consumer-grade CPU that Intel currently offers. Even though it’s advertised as a gaming processor, it’s worth noting that most games don’t require a powerful CPU to run smoothly. Even while the graphics processing unit (GPU) is more vital for gaming, having a monster CPU like the Intel Core i9 does help.
Let’s start with how it performs on Geekbench. It’s evident that the Core i9 is quite strong when compared to standard 8th-Generation Core i7 processors, but it’s difficult to put it in context with just a handful ratings. For this reason, we conducted a few practical benchmarks to demonstrate the true potential of this six-core CPU.
To put Adobe Premiere through its paces, we exported a benchmark project file that combines many 8K films using an absurd number of adjustment layers. While the same render would take a fully-loaded MacBook Pro 15 roughly 25 minutes to complete, it only took our Alienware 17 here 98 seconds, or just over a minute and a half. The same benchmark was completed in just 19 seconds on a desktop system equipped with a Core i9, such as Alienware’s Area 51 R5.
Using Handrake, we were able to compress a 420 MB movie to H.265 in just 184 seconds on the Alienware. However, the Dell XPS 15 (designed more for work than play) performed the test in a faster 150 seconds using its Core i7-8570H processor. The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580, with its built-in Core i9 processor, achieved the best time in this benchmark at 139 seconds.
No one expects the Alienware 17 to compete with a desktop PC, but the comparison is instructive. The 17-inch Alienware laptop, equipped with a Core i9, can breeze through professional-level workloads, coming in at a close second to its desktop-based sibling.
The Alienware 17 makes effective use of the enormous amount of space available within its chassis by including not one but two storage devices—a 512GB solid-state drive and a 1TB traditional hard disc. These are typical selections, and the speed is roughly average. The 512GB SSD performed admirably, with read speeds of 1,912 MB/s and write speeds of 1,313 MB/s. The SSD performed admirably even while moving large files around.
It’s about as fast as you’d expect from a laptop SSD, and it’s certainly fast enough that you won’t feel any lag time even when working with really large files (like, say, a backup of your Steam library).
The Alienware 17 R5 outperforms comparably equipped rivals because to the substantial processing power packed into its bulky chassis. So, what does it actually entail? The good news is that you won’t have any issues, at least for a time, playing games at 1440p with all settings on high. As can be seen from our 3DMark results, the Alienware 17 has a setup optimised for gaming.
Not as sleek or fashionable as the Razer Blade Pro or Asus ROG Zephyrus, but the Alienware 17 R5 gets the job done. The Alienware 17 R5, which has the same graphics chipset as the Blade Pro and Zephyrus, easily outperforms its thinner rivals. That’s because of this one thing.
This laptop is tangible evidence that Alienware deserves its stellar reputation for superior craftsmanship. The Alienware 17 R5 has the power to outperform its rivals thanks to its overclocked Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 and Intel Core i9 processor.
The Alienware 17 R5’s minor overclock of its GTX 1080 graphics card allowed it to continue to outperform its rivals even in real-world results, where the margins had shrunk.
For example, the Alienware managed an average of 139 frames per second (FPS) in Battlefield 1 at ultra-high settings and 1080p resolution, and about 130 FPS (FPS) at 1440p resolution. In second place was the Razer Blade Pro, which averaged 134 frames per second at extreme settings in 1080p and 126 at 1440p.
This should serve as evidence of the Alienware’s dependable hardware. Moving up to 1440p scarcely slows things down, and in the case of Battlefield 1, it’s still far above 120 FPS, meaning your gaming will be silky smooth thanks to the 120Hz display panel we talked about before.
Even if the Alienware 17 R5’s performance isn’t quite up to snuff to take use of the high-refresh-rate display panel, it still provides great performance in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which is a good indicator of how a more demanding game would appear on this hardware.
However, the Alienware 17’s battery life isn’t great when it’s not plugged in, so all that power does come at a price. The Alienware 17’s battery life is significantly less than that of a workhorse like the Dell XPS 13, because of the laptop’s extremely powerful technology. Many things are working against the Alienware 17, but let’s take a look at the data first.
Keep the charger close by since, as you can see, none of these gaming laptops has particularly good battery life. However, the Alienware 17 has the battery life we’d anticipate from a device with these specifications. The ultra-high definition (UHD) display with its rapid refresh rate doesn’t help things much, nor do the six-core processor and overclocked graphics processing unit (GPU).
Although the Alienware 17’s battery life isn’t great, it lasted long enough for us to perform some light office work for a couple of hours without worrying about running out of charge. A gaming laptop is not what you want if you need something that can go through much of the workday without being charged.
The aliens’ handiwork
The Alienware 17 R5 has the most recent iteration of the Alienware Command Center, a software package that allows users to adjust the R5’s brightness, performance, and energy use. The Command Center is feature-rich and intuitive, just like the one included with Alienware’s newest desktops like the Area-51 R5. You’ll never have to sift through obfuscated menus or search fruitlessly for complex options thanks to the UI’s appealing and functional design. Everything is blank and ready for your personal touch.
The Way We See It
All things considered, the Alienware 17 R5 lives up to its billing as a gaming powerhouse with an astounding amount of processing speed and a stunning display. It’s not perfect, but if you need a gaming laptop that’s still portable (kind of), go no farther than this one.
Do you know of a more suitable replacement?
There is no alternative to the Alienware 17 R5 when it comes to sheer performance. The Alienware 17 is the best laptop for gaming if you require serious processing power on the road. You should seek elsewhere if you need a laptop for both gaming and daily use in the form of a commuter model that can be taken to and from work or school.
Another gaming laptop worth mentioning is the Acer Predator Helios 500, which also has a 17-inch screen. It’s a blatantly flashy gaming laptop that doesn’t try to fit in, and it has some really powerful hardware (albeit, not quite as fast as the Alienware).
As an alternative, you may check out the Razer Blade or Razer Blade Pro. These are more convenient for regular use because of their thinner design and comparable cost and hardware.
Just how long will this go on for?
The Alienware 17 R5 is, as we said, really sturdy. Alienware’s 17 R5 maintains the brand’s established tradition of solid construction. This laptop’s chassis is built to survive far longer than its internal components and to withstand the test of time.
The hardware is also robust enough to support several years of gaming at the highest conceivable settings. The one-year manufacturer’s warranty covers hardware failures, which is par for the course for laptops of this type.
In other words, should you purchase it?
You should get the Alienware 17 R5 if you’re in the market for a gaming laptop about $3,000. It offers the best overall performance of any laptop in this price range. However, if you want to save money or get a laptop that can serve a variety of purposes and isn’t as large and flashy, you should search elsewhere.