Alienware is known for a few things when it comes to its gaming laptops. Creating systems that are powerful and pretty with lots of configurations. Oh, and the lights. Lots of blinking, breathing, pulsating LED lights. You’re getting all of that with the latest addition to the Alienware xSeries family, the x17 R2. And you’re getting a few more bells and whistles thanks to Intel’s new 12th Gen processors, some new cooling tech and some new Nvidia components.
The original Alienware x17 was a vision in Lunar White and x17 R2 carries on that tradition. Sporting Alienware’s Legend 2.0 design, the x17 R2 is all sleek lines and rounded corners. And as pretty as the notebook is with its blink-and-you-might-miss-it pearlescence, the heart wants what it cannot have –– in this case, it’s the off-black tint that Alienware lovingly calls Dark Side of the Moon.
And while the x17 R2 maintains its predecessor’s good looks, it did undergo a bit of a makeover for the new year, shedding a few tenths of an inch to become Alienware’s thinnest 17-inch gaming laptop to date weighing 6.5 pounds and measuring 15.7 x 11.8 x 0.8-inches, which 0.04 inches slimmer than its predecessor and puts it in striking distance of the Razer Blade 17 (15.5 x 10.2 x 0.78 inches).
For ports, you have a Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB Type-C USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, a USB Type-A USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, a HDM! 2.1 port, microSD card slot and a headset jack.
And about those captivating twinkling lights. The x17 R2 is full of them, including the rear vent which is lined in ovular light show, the anti-ghosting keyboard with 100 individual mini-LEDs and the touchpad. All of which can be customized via the preinstalled Alienware Command Center software. And thanks to a team with CherryMX, the x17 R2 keyboard utilizes an ultra low-profile mechanical keyboard that delivers a nice amount of click.
The Alienware x17 R2 comes with a number of display options for the discerning gamer. You’ve got a pair of FHD (1920 x 1080) panels, one with a 165Hz refresh rate and a 3 millisecond response rate and another with a 360Hz refresh rate and 1ms response rate. Finally, you have a 4K option (3840 x 2160) with a 120Hz refresh rate and 4ms response rate. No matter which panel you choose, it will support Nvidia’s G-Sync and Advanced Optimus technologies which will ensure smooth rendering with little tearing or input lag.
Alienware rarely misses on its panels, but I’m hoping to get my hands on the 4K version as it’s brighter with 500 nits compared to the 1080p screens’ 300 nits. I’m a sucker for a super high-res, brighter-than-a-candle screen. However, all of the available panels are Dolby Vision compliant which brings dazzling HDR for extremely vivid colors. The system also has Dolby Atmos software which means big sound from relatively small speakers.
The displays aren’t the only place where you get a bevy of choice. The Alienware x17 R2 will be among a squad of gaming laptops offering Intel’s new 12th Gen processors. Consumers can choose between the Core i7 12700H or the Core i9-12800HK CPUs –– both of which I’m incredibly eager to put through their paces in real-world testing. As far as graphics, the x17 R2’s base configuration has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM. However, there are several Nvidia listings on the laptop’s spec sheet that simply say “Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Series Laptop Graphics.” It’s a safe guess that these are either Max-Q or Ti variants of current chips. Or Nvidia might throw a curveball and roll out a 3090 GPU, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
You get either 16 or 32GB for RAM options, As far as storage is concerned, single drive options start at 256GB and max out at 2TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDs. Dual solutions are in RAID 0 beginning with 512GB up to 4TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDs.
In order to keep things nice and cool, Alienware brings its proprietary Cryo-Tech cooling technology. However, the company has a few new tricks up its sleeve including a new exclusive Element 31 thermal interface material that consists of a Gallium-Silicone matrix. The system also has vapor chamber cooling technology and five unique power states designed to deliver optimal performance and efficiency. Finally, you have Smart Fan control technology that enables each fan the ability to speed up, slow down or remain steady independently according to various sensors within the system.
It all sounds cool, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in the real world after a five-hour gaming session.
Alienware is coming into the new year swinging for the fences with x17 R2. The second iteration of the svelte system brings all the things I loved about the original (style and performance) and makes slight improvements to keep it at the top of my list of gaming laptops. With new components from both Intel and Nvidia in play, I’m excited to see how the Alienware x17 R2 fares against the competition in terms of performance and pricing.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.