That is a small step for gamers, a big leap for Alienware. Okay, maybe the Alienware m17 is not as monumental as the moon landing, but decked out in the company’s new Legend design, the latest iteration seems downright intergalactic. However, this system is more than just an elegant appearance; an overclockable Intel Core i9 CPU and Nvidia RTX GPU make the m17 a certified powerhouse. Just be prepared to spend a lot to get the best gaming performance. Here is our Alienware M17 R2 Review.
Alienware M17 R2 Review – Design
Covered in the company’s Lunar Light, the m17 is tempting, yet mysterious in a way that is the truth. The light pearl of the white paint is only a few steps away from giving off a light fluorescence. It’s intriguing – so intriguing even that I am willing to risk potential face hugs and other hostile extraterrestrial life. Just to let my fingers cross the painted aluminum lid and let my fingers hang around on the glowing alien head and raised lines that form the number 17. The hinge and the rear part of the laptop are made of a simple black, the latter having a honeycomb pattern with an adjustable LED strip.
You can find more of that hexagonal pattern in the Lunar Light undercarriage of the laptop. And while it is fun to watch, its real function is to act as a ventilation outlet for the m17’s huge fans. If white is not your cup of tea, you can always opt for the Dark Side of the Moon, which is very attractive in itself. Opening the m17 gives you more of that beautiful Lunar White because the entire deck is covered with stuff. And even better, it has a subtle soft finish that felt great against my palms.
The keyboard is located in a small recess between more honeycomb openings and the touchpad. Although nowhere is as slim as the InfinityEdge edges of the Dell XPS 15, the m17s are very slim for a gaming laptop. The hinge accommodates a rather sophisticated look at Tobii eye-tracker, using a slender, elongated oval instead of the large rectangle from earlier iterations. The front lip of the system is made of glossy black plastic with room for a pair of speakers.
The m17 is a battle station with many ports. On the right, you have two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, on the left another, as well as an expandable Gigabit Ethernet connection and a headset connection. At the back, there is a Thunderbolt 3 port, HDMI 2.0, a mini DisplayPort 1.4, the power connection, and the own port for the Alienware graphics amplifier.
At 5.7 pounds, the 15.7 x 11.6 x 0.7 ~ 0.8 inch Alienware m17 is one of the lighter 17-inch gaming laptops on the market. It weighs less than the Razer Blade Pro 17 (6.1 pounds, 15.6 x 10.2 x 0.8 inches) and the Lenovo Legion Y740 (6.6 pounds, 16.2 x 12 x 0.9 inches) ). The MSI GS75 Stealth (15.6 x 10.2 x 0.7 inch), however, keeps the crown at just 5 pounds.
Keyboard and TouchPad
The Chiclet-style keyboard of the Alienware m17 is huge, with generous space between the keys and plenty of room for a numeric keypad with about an inch of space on the sides. The white keys significantly improve the color background illumination of the LED-lit keys and make it easier to see when typing in a dim setting. Speaking of those colorful keys, you can adjust them to the Alienware Command Center under the FX hub.
Although you still have 16.8 million colors to play with, you only have six zones that do not count the two extraterrestrial heads and the rear opening. I hope you can adjust individual keys with the next iteration of the software. The keys have a 1.4 millimeters stroke, which is just below our preference of 1.5 mm. But the 79-gram operating force (we prefer a minimum of 60 g) that was needed to press the keys certainly made up for it. The result was a somewhat mushy, yet comfortable, key feeling.
The 3.1 x 4.1-inch glass-precision touchpad felt and worked great. The lower corners were nice and clicky, while the rest of the path performed Windows 10 gestures – such as pinching to zoom in, launching Action Center, and browsing recent apps – with unbridled ease.
Alienware M17 R2 Review – Display
Despite the matte, anti-glare coating, the 17.3-inch screen of 1920 x 1080 offers bright, dramatic colors with sharp details. While watching the trailer for Queen & Slim, I was surprised by the visibility of the various bumps and ridges in the painted brick wall that served as a backdrop for a photo of the titular characters. In terms of color, the brown skin of actors Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya shone against their clothing – her a faux tiger-stripe slip dress and his cranberry velour jumpsuit.
I took a minute to stop and smell the post-apocalyptic verbenas during my Far Cry New Dawn play-through. That is a kind of super bloom; the world is covered with this bright pink flower that immediately caught my attention as I crept my way through a river and tried not to alert the hostile Highwaymen to my position. Every step in the clear water gave a realistic ripple that broke the sun’s rays at different angles.
The liveliness of the panel was not a surprise, as it reproduced 140% of the sRGB range. That is much better than the 122% and 109% that the Lenovo Legion Y740 and the Razer Blade Pro 17 have delivered, respectively. The result of the m17, however, lagged behind the average of 146% premium gaming laptop and the 161% of the MSI GS75 Stealth. But when it comes to displaying brightness, the m17 is the king of the castle, with an average of 395 nits. The GS75 Stealth was a distant second, with 339 nits, with the category average (289 nits), Blade Pro 17 (267 nits), and Legion Y740 (247 nits) bringing the back.
Alienware M17 R2 Review – Graphics and Gaming
Let go of the beast! The Alienware m17 uses the power of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU with 8 GB VRAM. It also has an integrated Intel UHD 630 graphical GPU if you don’t save or rebuild the world. After paving a saw gun in Far Cry New Dawn, I set off for a Highwaymen nest. I launched my first saw in an explosive barrel and sent various enemies flying in different directions, with a fast 94 frames per second on Ultra at 1920 x 1080.
The laptop also held out on our synthetic benchmarks and reached 102 fps in the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark, thus beating the average of 64 fps for a premium gaming laptop. Equipped with their own 2080 Max-Q GPUs, the Lenovo Legion Y740, MSI GS75 Stealth, and Razer Blade Pro 17 achieved 64, 65, and 72 fps, respectively.
During the Hitman test, the m17 achieved 111 fps, but the Blade Pro was not too far away, with 110 fps. Both scores were sufficient to surpass the average of the 105 fps category, just as the Legion Y740 did. The GS75 Stealth, however, fell short with 96 fps. When we performed the Grand Theft Auto V test, the m17 achieved 82 fps, which was sufficient to prevent the Stealth (77 fps) as well as the Y740 and the average (78 fps). The Blade Pro, however, was the winner of this dustup, with 92 fps.
The m17 delivered 100 fps on the Middle-earth: Shadow of War test, beating the 91-fps average and the 65 fps of the Y740. But the Blade Pro managed to reach 106 fps. During the Far Cry New Day test, the m17 produced 94 fps, exceeding the 81 fps of the Blade Pro and the 88 fps average.
Alienware M17 R2 Review – Performance
Yes, the Alienware m17 is a gaming beast, but that doesn’t mean it is one-dimensional. Thanks to the overclockable 2.4 GHz Intel Core i9-9980HK processor with 16 GB RAM, this bad boy can crack songs, stream videos, and multitask with the best of them. The laptop barely broke a sweat when I opened 40 Google Chrome tabs with Far Cry New Dawn in the background.
The laptop remained just as good on synthetic tests such as Geekbench 4.3, where the m17 scored 30,267, comfortably higher than the average of 20,571 premium gaming laptops. The MSI GS75 Stealth and the Lenovo Legion Y740, with their respective Intel Core i7-7850H CPUs, recorded 20,843 and 22,287. The Razer Blade Pro 17, with its Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, obtained 19,217.
The m17 only took 6 minutes and 55 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, which is faster than the 9:45 average. The Y740 clocked 9.30, while the Blade Pro and Stealth set times of 10:39 and 11:00, respectively.
During the file transfer test, the pair of 512 GB M12 PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configurations duplicated 4.97 GB of multimedia files in 5 seconds. That is a transfer rate of 1017.9 MBps, which is more than enough to beat the average of 750.3 MBps. The Stealth (512 GB NVMe SSD) and the Y740 (256 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD) recorded 848 MBps and 363 MBps respectively. The Blade Pro and its double 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSDs produced an impressive 1272.3 MBps.
Heat is a constant battle with laptop makers. How do you keep those powerful components cool enough for optimum performance? Alienware’s solution is Cryo-Tech 3.0 technology, with larger, more powerful fans. They are a bit loud, but man, they keep this baby cool. I typed most of this review with the notebook comfortably on my lap, and the fans even made my knees cold.
After 15 minutes of playing a YouTube video, the touchpad, center, and bottom measured 82, 90, and 94 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. The bottom left ventilation was the hottest point on the system, with a temperature of 98 degrees, which is only a few degrees above our comfort threshold.
During my 15-minute Far Cry New Dawn play-through, it was noticeably warmer. The touchpad hit 91 degrees, and the center of the keyboard and frame registered 119 and 114 degrees, respectively. And although the air that struck my legs was warm, it wasn’t uncomfortable, even when I started playing with the system on my lap for another hour.
Alienware M17 R2 Review – Battery Life
Gaming laptops that are so powerful don’t usually have long battery life, and the m17 is no different. However, it is one of the longest in its class. The laptop lasted 4 hours during the battery test, which consists of continuous surfing on the internet via WiFi with a brightness of 150 nits. The Razer Blade Pro 17, Lenovo Legion Y740, and MSI GS75 Stealth were all below the 3:17 premium laptop average, with times of 3:12, 2:30, and 2:29, respectively.
Alienware M17 R2 Review – Conclusion
Alienware has put a whole batch of a laptop in a relatively slim, lightweight package. The m17 comes swinging out of the box with an overclockable Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, which virtually guarantees that the system will be a powerhouse. Impressive battery life (for a gaming laptop) and a fast SSD only make the pot sweet, while the new legendary design from Alienware is an emphatic nod to the future.
However, $3,579 for our review configuration can make even the most enthusiastic game break. To get the most value for your money, we recommend choosing the $2,199 configuration, which gives you a 9th generation Core i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, and a powerful RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU.
The $2,999 MSI GS75 Stealth is a slightly cheaper option that is lighter and slimmer than the m17 and has a livelier screen and similar specifications. But if you want the very best power and performance, the Alienware m17 R2 is a clear choice.
The Alienware m17 offers serious power on the gaming and multitasking fronts in the company's sleek Legend design.
- A lightweight, captivating design
- Powerful gaming and overall performance
- Above-average battery life
- Comfortable keyboard