The gaming laptop space is nothing if not competitive, so it was not a shock to see Alienware fall from the top spot in our brand rankings to second place. Dell's sub-brand still delivers gobs of power and some of the most unique-looking systems in the business. However, the designs are getting a little long in the tooth, especially with competing companies turning heads with incredibly thin-and-light systems.
That's not to say Alienware doesn't have a few tricks up its sleeve; just check out its revamped Alienware Command Center software. But it’s going to take more than that for this brand to return to the top of the podium.
We reviewed two Alienware laptops during the past year: the Alienware 17 R5 and the Alienware 15 R4. Both laptops earned four stars, but only the 17-inch system got our coveted Editor's Choice award, thanks to its highly customizable RGB lights and impressive audio. As expected, both systems offered stunning displays, booming audio and comfortable keyboards, cementing Alienware's status as a top competitor in the gaming space.
Alienware maintained its laptops' tried-and-true intergalactic designs, complete with lighting options that would make the aliens from Close Encounters jealous. The company changed things up a bit for the Alienware 17 R5 and 15 R4, which now comes in a stunning Epic Black that only serves to further accentuate that alluring, customizable backlighting.
The company has also managed to make both systems slightly slimmer than their predecessors. However, as attractive as the design is, it's one we've seen many times before.
Typically, Alienware is at the top in terms of its displays, as the Alienware 17 R5’s 2560 x 1440 panel shows. This display covers 110 percent of the sRGB color gamut and emits an awesome 352 nits of brightness.
With a panel that hits 119 percent of the gamut and averages 311 nits of brightness, the Alienware 15 R4 is also a sight to behold.
Alienware took an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to gaming laptops over the past year, making some subtle but significant changes to the flagship Alienware laptops.
The new Alienware 15 and 17 now sport a total of 13 customizable lighting zones as well as tweaked designs that look slimmer, stay cooler and produce better audio.
Both the Alienware 17 and 15 include the newly revamped Command Center, which now gives you one clean interface from which to launch all of your games. And its Fusion tricks allow you to overclock performance by dragging a slider. There's even a test feature to check for stability.
Command Center also provides customization options for keyboard LED lighting, with 12 effects and a 16.8-million-color palette, as well as programmable macros and power-management adjustment. Once you've created custom themes, you can also assign them to specific games.
Similar to its predecessor, the Alienware 17 R5 includes Tobii eye tracking. Not only is this technology supported by more than 100 games, so you can aim with your eyes in select titles, but it also has a Streaming Gaze Overlay tool to record and track eye movements, so you can analyze your behaviors to see if you can get better. The Alienware 15 also supports Tobii's technology, but in a limited fashion. Used in tandem with the webcam, the 15 allows you to wake the laptop from sleep and dim the lighting effects with just a glance.
Configurations and Warranty (5/5)
With a selection of overclocked processors and graphics cards, copious amounts of RAM and even an OLED display armed with G-Sync technology, Alienware offers state-of-the-art hardware with a variety of optional upgrades at reasonable prices for every size.
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Each Alienware laptop comes with a one-year warranty with on-site hardware service after remote diagnosis. However, Alienware offers Premium Support and Premium Support Plus plans starting at $119 and $219, respectively. The former service includes 24/7 hardware and software support as well as international assistance. Support Plus sweetens the pot with automated PC optimization and virus removal, and adds accidental-damages protection.