Alienware 17 R4 Review – The Best Gaming Laptop

Alienware 17 R4 Review

Hey, how's it going guys. This is my Alienware 17 R4 Review.

Alienware 17 R4 is their flagship model. It's the biggest, it's the baddest, it's the most expensive Alienware  gaming Laptop.

It's got an overclockable i7, GTX 1080, kick-ass speakers, Tobii eyetracking, that's not something I would use very often, but it is there. It's got four drive bays, it's a beast.

It's expensive, but if you're in the market for a hardcore 17" gaming laptop, this should be included in your choices.

PROS

CONS

  • Tough Build Quality                                         
  • Very Good Thermal System
  • Great Color Accuracy
  • Very Good Performance
  • Limited RAM Slots
  • Limited Ports
  • No Alienware Easy Mode Soft for Overclocking
  • Big Power Supply

  

What I Disliked on the Alienware 17 R4

Alienware 17 R4

First are the RAM slots, there's only two slots, so you can get up to 32 gigs of RAM. If you do, like, tons of VM or if you run crazy CAD software, you might need more than 32 gigs. So, if you do, that's a limitation.

Second thing are the ports. It has a decent number of ports, but for a 17" laptop, I feel like there could have been more USB ports. There's a total of four, two of them being Type-C.

The third thing is the overclocking software. Like I mentioned before, it has an overclockable CPU, but there's no "Alienware easy mode software". You have to go into the BIOS or run stuff like Throttle Stop or the Intel XTU program to overclock. I wish there was something that was built by Dell. There probably will be in the very near future, but right now, there isn't.

The other thing is that the power supply is really big, it's 330 watts. If you're going to properly power a GTX 1080, you kinda need the wattage.

So, those are some things that I don't like about this laptop.

What I Liked on the Alienware 17 R4

There's obviously a bunch of things that I do like, but I'm going to focus on three things that kinda really separate this laptop from the others in this space.

First is build quality, of all the 17" laptops in this price range, Alienware does it the best. They aren't super thin or super light, but this thing is a tank. It's got steel and magnesium on the inside, carbon fiber composite for the exterior, it just feels really durable. I think this is the toughest 17" gaming laptop.

The Alienware lighting is also cool, light-up trackpads are always fun, the light strips on the side are especially cool. I don't think that this is a design for everyone, but I do think they're made really well.

The second thing I like is the performance. It's running the Kaby Lake i7 7820 HK and a GTX 1080.The performance on this machine is obviously really nice, but any laptop with these components are going to deliver something similar. What make this laptop special, is the thermal management. I don't know if I got lucky with a really good thermal paste job, but I was ready to open it up, re-paste and re-pad it, but looking at these temperatures, I'm not even going to bother.

The fan noise on this system is good. I expected it to be loud because of the video card, it's definitely not silent, and the fan often runs on idle, but under load, it's quieter than most GTX 1080 laptops I've used.

So, we're getting good performance with good thermals and good fan noise; what's not to like, right?

The last thing I really like about this laptop, and this is a big one for me, is the screen. In particular, it's a Quad HD panel. It is a TN panel, but before we say GTFO because it's a TN panel, trust me, it's really nice. Great color accuracy, 120Hz with G-Sync, this thing was built for gamers. There are gaming laptops out there with 60Hz panels. It's not that it's wasteful because these cards are capable of pushing out so much more, it's more that you're missing out on really good gaming experiences if you're just capped at 60Hz. Playing on a 120Hz panel is so much better, stuff just looks super smooth.

In terms of pricing, Dell tends to fluctuate a lot, they have, like, seasonal sales and stuff like that, but right now, you get this system, so a GTX 1080, overclockable i7, and a 120Hz G-Sync panel, for 2,400 dollars. It's expensive, but if you can afford it, you'll be playing buttery-smooth games for years.

Summary

Okay, with the Alienware 17 R4 you're getting one of the best-built 17" laptops for the money. Heavy, but it's built to last. You're getting a 17" TN panel that gives one of the best gaming experiences. You get the classic Alienware keyboard, it's not the more common chiclet style, but it's a nice typing experience and it's easy to get used to. You get a solid trackpad that lights up with RGB LEDs. And inside you get a Kaby Lake i7 and a GTX 1080 that are cooled really nicely so you can comfortably overclock. You get four drive bays and two RAM slots, all of which are easy to access and upgrade. And then you get a 99Wh battery, which is actually the legal limit for bringing this laptop onto a plane, can't go any bigger than that, and even then, you're getting four hours of battery life.

Overall, it's a really good laptop, obviously it's super powerful, obviously it's very expensive, but if you're in the market for something like this, like a really high-end, top-tier gaming laptop that you can competitively game with, take a look at this one, it's pretty awesome.

If you're hard to the CORE about games, get one with a 120Hz panel. It's a massive difference in visual performance.

chanong
 

Gamer, Metal Dude, Nurse, Entrepreneur, Blogger, Freelancer

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 20 comments
Yung - May 26, 2017

tbh alienware is not that overpriced anymore

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    Kahlil - May 26, 2017

    On their laptops = Yes
    On their desktops = No

    Reply
117 - May 26, 2017

It’s not overpriced at all. For portability and having power at the same time it is worth it for people that game and move around a lot. For you it probably is since you like cheaper gaming laptops or PCs but this is still very worth it for those that have the money. Saying it is overpriced means you are saying it isn’t worth it for the price but it IS worth it. Of course just my opinion.

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Necromac - May 26, 2017

i agree. 1080 with 1440p for 2400 is not bad plus awesome build quality. 1440p external monitors arent cheap, running anywhere from 400-800 dollars. i did a build on pc partpicker with similar specs and it runs around the same price granted i added h100i and gaming mobo. Still not bad seeing as how you can have the same specs and still be able to take it with you to your friends or school.

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Abishek - May 26, 2017

Yes, I was surprised when I saw the $2400. That is a fair price when you look at its specs.

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atnfn - May 26, 2017

You can’t compare laptop prices with desktop prices. Compared to other laptops they are not expensive when there are laptops that cost over 4000.

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Kasan - May 26, 2017

both is a no because your paying for a portable gaming machine with a 120hz monitor not bad at all. Compared to other laptop it has a cheaper price

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Monica - May 26, 2017

​ it’s basically a personal computer it’s not a different kind of machine, it can do less than many of other laptop these days, specified for office work is just a way of saying that it’s not a very powerful machine, and u pay ridiculous price for them, the age of mac and “i” is over, it used to be more advanced than anyone in the past, now it’s showing it’s age, but the price is still shocking as always. I was an apple fan too, but now it’s time to move on buddy

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Tom Stone - May 26, 2017

Good review. I really wish Alienware (and others) would please make models without the GAMER aesthetic. I am an adult, I play games. But I also want something I can carry around without feeling like a guy having a mid-life crisis. I have to imagine the average PC gamer isn’t 16 years old and wants something a little more restrained in appearance.

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Constantin - May 26, 2017

it seems like this generation of alienware laptops is plagued by high temperatures caused by the bad contact between the cooling system and the cpu/gpu, some buyers claiming hitting over 95C.
If DELL sorts out the occasional thermal problems and MAKES THOSE BEZELS SMALLER, like they did with the xps 13/15, they will have the best gaming laptops without any doubt.
The laptop I will most likely buy will be the future kabylake AW 15R4 with 120hz screen if only they can make those bezels smaller(max 1cm)

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Faith - May 26, 2017

Just got mine. I was very surprised that there are only 2 USB ports as you said. there are no room to add a third HDD and the biggest disappointment is no optical drive. Performance is good.
This will be my third and last Alienware laptop, each one had less and now it’s a bare bones high performance laptop. I think my $3000.00 could have been better spent.

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Plasma - May 26, 2017

It would be better if it had
1.Desktop i7-7700k
2.GTX 1080 SLI
3.Optical Drive(which can be converted to harddrive bay if it is not needed)
4.4 RAM slots
5.2 Harddrives
6.2 M.2 Slots.
7.Mechanical keyboard with full size arrow keys and numpad
8.Glass trackpad with no buttons.
9.Smart Card reader.
10.Fingerprint reader and face and Iris scanner.

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    Raven - May 26, 2017

    it would weigh and price as much as a used car and double your electric bill for sure 😛

    Reply
    Abubakr66 - May 26, 2017

    Does something like this even exist? I looked up that Clevo/Segar BEAST someone linked, but it doesn’t seem to have an optical drive (I might be wrong?) and it definitely doesn’t have a mechanical keyboard. There’s MSI’s Titan 83 but that has terrible 60 Hz 1080p screen. I’m not trying to argue with you here, but I honestly don’t think the machine you described exists.

    Reply
TMP - May 26, 2017

I’m not sure why people keep saying shit about Alienware being overpriced. Saying their specs are comparable to a $1000 laptop. I argued with this retard who said Alienware and Razer are fanboys and that all their laptops are shit and overpriced. I also argued with a 10 year old who said he bought a $2000 Alienware aurora laptop that can’t even run GTA V 15fps lowest settings. The Alienware Aurora is a desktop not a laptop, he argued with me that it was a fucking laptop.

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ApplieFTW - May 26, 2017

Design is a shame
Rgb bloat is a shame
TN is a shame at that price

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Aron Temple - May 26, 2017

I got the Full HD 60hz model and I’m not happy with the IPS display. Its not the 60hz as much as it is the color depth. My question is the QHD 120hz TN display just as bad or is it better in color depth? Because I assume TNs are terrible in this regard.

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KomodoT - May 26, 2017

am i the only one who love the design of Alienware’s laptops? I honestly don’t care if other people like it or not because of the elite gamer design. I love the space ship looking top with all of the rgb lighting I think it looks really cool.

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Alejandro Gomez - May 26, 2017

I opted for the 4k IPS display which I am assuming is 60 Hz.
I do have a 120 Hz 4k TV, does anyone think that if I wanted a more fluid gaming experience I could just plug in the laptop into my TV?
I’m starting to feel as though I’m regretting my decision for going with the IPS. I do plan on playing DOOM, but other than that I’m more of a Starcraft, or Diablo III kind of guy.

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Stanley Chen - May 26, 2017

I have one of the original Kaby lake refreshes for this system (came with the older vbios) and I agree with Dave. The build quality is like none other in this segment. I had tried out the Acer Predator 17 and it’s just a lot of plastic, and the screen hinge was kind of weak. Plus, the lighting on the AW is quite elegant for a gaming laptop. The lid is very clean and lighting is almost more ambient than “HEY LOOK I AM A GAMING LAPTOP”. Price is also very good for a system with a Geforce 1080. I’ve considered the Aorus and Clevo systems but price and bulk turned me away. As for the mention about the temperatures, from the original 17 R4 (with Skylake) I had one of those units and the earlier models did run really hot. Dell listened to feedback and made some tweaks which is how the temps in stock now are very usable without requiring you to repaste. I did repaste my Kaby system with Conductonaut and did see CPU temps drop more than 10C. The GPU side has always been quite solid even without a repaste. So yea, if you want a lot of power without skyrocketing close to or beyond 3 grand, this is the system to get. I don’t think there’s a thinner laptop with a 1080 aside from the massively expensive Razer Blade Pro or the Aorus if you can find that for sale. Oh yea, in case anybody is thinking “that AC adapter is stupid big” I’d just like to point out when playing super intensive games, my GPU alone is reported to be pulling up to 190ish watts. Don’t forget the other components need power too especially if you overclock the CPU.

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