Alienware X17 Release Date
Announced in early June at Computex 2021, the Alienware X15 and X17 are undergoing an interior transformation. In their bowels hides a real quadriga: four fans fully harnessed to the cooling of high-end components. Dell sent us the Alienware X17 on loan, an imposing gaming laptop that we tested passionately. So do four grinders do a better job than two? Answer in our test.
We regularly complain about it: gaming laptops often suffer from breathless dissipation. It must be said that the high-performance components they carry are not the type to remain cool by nature . and the dissipation systems offered by the various manufacturers are rarely very ambitious. Because apart from the use of more advanced thermal paste, the transition to liquid metal, as for example at ASUS, or the use of more heat pipes, the cooling systems do not change drastically. They evolve rather peacefully over the years, without marking any real break.
Despite a limited leeway (due to the finesse of its machines) Alienware has yet decided to innovate without pretending. To precisely seek it, this famous rupture. And to do this, the American manufacturer has done things the American way: that is to say in a big way. Instead of the traditional couple of fans offered for ages on the vast majority of gaming laptops, Alienware has found a way to slip (with a shoehorn) four fans into the chassis of its two new flagships. We’ll see if they bear fruit, but first of all, let’s take the time to detail the Alienware X17 data sheet that Dell sent us on loan.
Datasheet Alienware X17
Intel Core i7-11800H
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
120Hz / IPS Panel
|SSD / 512 GB
With this configuration (nawx17r105) the Alienware X17 R1 is displayed at exactly 3,548 euros on Dell’s official website. The device, however, starts from 2347.99 euros. There is then a Full HD 165 Hz screen (300 nits), an Intel Core i7-11800H, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of SSD and an RTX 3060. Conversely, the most high-end version of the The device is offered at 4147.99 euros. This time it includes an Ultra HD 120 Hz screen, an Intel Core i9-11980HK processor, 32 GB of RAM (clocked at 3466 MHz), 1 TB of SSD and an RTX 3080.
Design: the change is inside
With 399.23 x 299.57 x 21.4 mm for 3.2 kilos, the Alienware X17 R1 is clearly what we call a beautiful baby. The machine is not the type to go unnoticed on a desk, already by its measurements, but also because Alienware is betting on a nice white and satin color called Lunar Light.
The latter is rather elegant. It is also found on other brand devices such as the Alienware m15 R4 ( tested by us last June ). This coating gives the chassis a silky appearance which is not unpleasant and which also has the merit of not being too messy. We also find this silky touch once the hood is open. The coating this time is immaculate black. This two-tone appearance is reminiscent of the XPS range, which at Dell has made its signature. Alienware was obviously inspired by it.
In terms of lines, the X17 cannot deny its origins. It is a pure Alienware, which finds the same stylistic and aesthetic codes as the other devices in the range. The machine is indisputably racy, with its sharp curves and its well-balanced silhouette, but above all it offers a quality of assembly and finish that is truly irreproachable. Everything is assembled with meticulousness, and it’s always a pleasure to see. Alienware does not skimp on this side, unlike many of its competitors. It must be said that the manufacturer does not hesitate to make us pay a high price either… but on this point, at least, we get what we pay for.
Webcam Alienware X17
Above the screen, however, is a 720p webcam with a really mediocre rendering, even for occasional exchanges in video. Given the health context, the resurgence of Zoom, Teams and other meetings. We regret that manufacturers are still too few to make a real effort on the webcams integrated into their laptops.
This camera is on the other hand surrounded by the various infrared sensors necessary for facial identification via Windows Hello. It will therefore be able to instantly (or almost) recognize your coil at start-up. Damage by cons: Alienware has not seen fit to add a fingerprint reader in addition.
As on other models in the range, the manufacturer deploys RGB LEDs on its X17, which shines brightly in the dark. The whole thing can be controlled from the Alienware Command Center utility (still just as badly done though…). Clearly, it’s the entire rear of the X17 that lights up, in addition to the Alienware logos. But also the keyboard and even the trackpad, which is also RGB backlit. In use, this trackpad is not a champion, its supported clicks are very imprecise, but given the available space, its surface is relatively large. It is therefore on the whole sufficient for troubleshooting.
Keyboard Alienware X17
The keyboard is chiclet type, with silky coated keys and a relatively deep stroke. Their return is firm, for a good impression when hitting. We also note that this keyboard is rather quiet and precise, including in game where it made a good impression on us. That said, note that we are still far from the delights of the mechanical keyboard offered on the Alienware m15 R4 (only available in QWERTY and as an option). Given the price of our Alienware X17, we would have liked to find a similar keyboard… we will have to go back.
Another defect, but for some users only: the absence of a numeric keypad. Despite its 17 inches, and like its distant cousin the XPS 17, our Alienware X17 is not there to help accountants. We can finally rail against an incomplete backlighting of the keys, which only makes the main characters visible… and not the symbols. It quickly becomes painful to use.
Conectivity Alienware X17
Connectivity is generous. It includes two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports; one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port; a Thunderbolt 4 port; one HDMI 2.1 port; one DisplayPort 1.4 port; an RJ45 Ethernet port and a microSD card slot. These ports are all located on the rear of the chassis. Only the power connection and a 3.5mm Jack headphone output are installed on the left and right sides of our X17, near the screen hinge.
On a daily basis, this rear grouping of the connectors is not the most practical, but it is entirely justified. The sides of the device are indeed monopolized by long ventilation grilles which run to near the wrist rests . Why ? Because unlike its competitors, the Alienware has not two, but four fans (two large, two smaller, installed one above the other and distributed in pairs on the right and left). They therefore need space and above all grids to laterally expel the hot air released by the components.
Beyond this quartet of fans, Alienware engineers have also developed an artificial intelligence technology dubbed “Smart Fan”. Which has also been the subject of a patent. It is able to control each of the fans individually to increase, slow down or simply maintain their respective rotation speeds. The idea is to optimize the cooling according to the contexts of use and the heat released by the duo CPU / GPU, explained to us the Alienware representatives during the presentation of the X15 and X17 to the press, last June.
From a more material point of view, Alienware also replaces the traditional thermal paste with what the brand calls “Element 31”. As we explained a few months ago on Clubic, it is a TIM (thermal interface material) designed in-house and composed of a mixture of encapsulated gallium-silicone. This avoids the use of “traditional” liquid metal, likely (according to the brand) to damage the components over time. We will see a little later what this heavily redesigned dissipation system is worth.
It remains to quickly discuss the disassembly of the Alienware X17. This is done by removing 8 standard Philips screws using a precision screwdriver. Then unclipping the bottom plate of the aluminum chassis. We then access the components, the opportunity to discover the four speakers of the device we were talking about above. but also to access (quite) easily the battery, the two RAM bars and the SSD. Note also the presence of a slot for M.2 SSD left vacant. Perfect for adding extra storage in minutes…and on your own.
Alienware X17 R1
If you’re lucky enough to buy it, the Alienware X17 is a formidable machine, brimming with power and benefiting from a really effective dissipation system, because it has been largely redesigned. The device is one that you look at with envy in computer stores, but its price is its main weakness.
The experience without real compromise that the American manufacturer offers us will ultimately only appeal to a handful of lucky people. Still, for almost 3550 euros, our loan unit skips an OLED screen. At this price, it would not have been stolen in our opinion.