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Alienware X17 review

Alienware X17 gets slim without skimping on the power or price tag

Alienware X17 review
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

The Alienware X17 gathers a plethora of high-powered goodies including an Nvidia RTX 3080 and Cherry MX keys into a sleek, slim package that’s worth the splurge.

For

  • Gorgeous, slim design
  • Great overall and gaming performance
  • Extra comfortable keyboard
  • Solid battery life

Against

  • Expensive
  • Runs a bit warm

“You are so beautiful to me/ Can't you see/ You're everything I hoped for/ You're everything I need” Joe Cocker, “You Are So Beautiful”

Alienware continues to raise the bar of what a gaming laptop can and should be. The latest addition to the family is the X17, a beautiful bruiser of a desktop replacement that’s only 0.8-inches thick. The ultra-premium system comes with all the fixings including an Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU and dual SSDs. Need more? How’s a 17.3-inch, 4K display, powerful speakers and a Cherry MX keyboard sound?

Of course, something this pretty and powerful is also seriously expensive at $3,679 ($2,199 starting), so it’s not for the faint of heart or small of bank account. But if you can afford it, the Alienware X17 is a hell of a powerhouse that easily makes its way onto our Best Gaming Laptop and Best Alienware laptop pages. 

Alienware X17 pricing and configurations

Something this pretty and badass is going to cost a pretty penny. I spent my time blasting enraged cultists and entitled Visionaries on the $3,679 model of the Alienware X17 which has a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-11800H processor with 32GB of RAM, dual 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration, an Intel UHD Graphics GPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 with 16GB of VRAM and a 17.3-inch, 4K, 120Hz 4-millisecond display. 

The $2,199 base model drops you down to 16GB of RAM, a 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, an RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM and a 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080, 165Hz, 3ms panel. Folks looking to go middle-of-the-road will want to check out the $2,579 iteration which gets you a 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and an RTX 3070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM.

Alienware X17 design

As the song lyric in the intro intimates, I did my best Joe Cocker impression as I unboxed the Alienware X17. It really is a beautiful piece of tech. Hell, even the box is pretty. Honestly, I wouldn’t be mad if Alienware started using the embossed patterns of the system’s interior on the lid similar to how the company did with the box. But I digress.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The X17 is an intergalactic dream in Alienware’s Lunar Light finish. The unique white finish on the magnesium alloy chassis has a slight pearlescence that I just can’t get enough of. However, I would absolutely love to see this in the charcoal Dark Side of the Moon finish. Following Alienware’s Legend design, you’ll find a backlit alien head centered at the top of the lid with a large 17 embossed in bone white in the lower left corner. Take a gander in the back and you find an ovular customizable LED strip outlining the honeycomb-pattern vents which house many ports (more on that later). 

While I was expecting more Lunar Light when I opened the X17’s lid, I was surprised to see a black keyboard deck. Not exactly Dark Side of the Moon, but still nice. And while I was expecting the alien head posing as a power button and the Chiclet keys glowing in turquoise, just waiting for me to change their color, I got an unexpected, but welcomed surprise. The touchpad also glowed knowingly, bringing back a vaunted favorite. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

For a 17-inch desktop replacement packing oodles of power, the X17 is super slim. How slim? At 15.7 x 11.8 x 0.8 inches, this 6.7-pound beauty is giving the Razer Blade Pro 17 (6.1 pounds, 15.6 x 10.2 x 0.8 inches) a run for its money. Both systems are much lighter and slimmer than the MSI GE76 Raider UH10 (6.4 pounds, 15.6 x 10.6 x 1.1 inches) and Origin Eon17-X (15.7 x 12.5 x 1.7 inches) which weighs a whopping 8.3 pounds. 

Alienware X17 security

Gaming laptops aren’t really known for their security features, but the Alienware X17 has a couple of measures to keep things safe. The webcam is Windows Hello compatible for face recognition logins. The system also has TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module), a chip that is a secure cryptoprocessor that utilizes a cryptographic key to keep your system safe from all manners of malware and hackers.

Alienware X17 ports

Even though the Alienware X17 is mighty slim, it still has a healthy amount of ports –– all of which are located in the rear of the device. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

There are two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, a Thunderbolt 4 port, an HDMI 2.1 port, a mini DisplayPort 1.4, Gigabit Ethernet, a headset and the power input. 

Alienware X17 display

Just try to look away from the Alienware X17. You’ll be hard pressed to pull your attention from the 17.3-inch, 3840 x 2160 pixel display. Despite the matte anti-glare panel, the X17 is by no means dim or dull. Watching the trailer for the On These Grounds documentary, I was impressed at how well it captured different skin tones. In a scene with two Black girls, applauding a speech, I took time to admire their clear, fresh-faced complexions. One young lady’s ebony skin absolutely glowed as did another who possessed a pecan tone. Details were clear enough that I could see the individual plaits in their hair and the sparkle in their freshly manicured nails. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I played through Deathloop and my oh my, it looked absolutely stunning. Sneaking through the dark alleys of Updaam, I had time to notice the intricate details of the random junk lining the street like a balding tire lying on a cobblestone street with sprigs of grass peeking through. Infiltrating the library, I took in the plush cherry red carpeting as I grabbed an unsuspecting guard and snapped their neck leaving them sprawled out in an unnatural position. 

I wasn’t too surprised at the X17’s 116.8% color reproduction on the DCI-P3 color gamut as it was much more vivid than the 86.9% premium gaming laptop average. The result also stood head and shoulders over the competition as the Blade Pro, Eon17-X and Raider only managed 83.9%, 78% and 53.9%, respectively. 

When we measured for brightness, the X17 averaged 438 nits, outshining the 330-nit average as well as the Blade Pro (277 nits), Raider (276 nits) and Eon17-X (251 nits).

Alienware X17 audio

The Alienware X17’s outfitted with a pair of front-firing speakers, clearly nestled along the bottom lip of the laptop. The 4-way speakers did a great job of filling my downstairs office with loud, relatively clean audio. Not only did it fill the office, it managed to float up to the top floor to my kitchen thanks to my spiral staircase. Out of the six presets (Alienware, Com, Movie, Racing, Role Play and Shooter), I prefer Alienware as it gives the most balanced performance.

Listening to Kevin Ross’ “Looking For Love,” I swooned over the singer’s smooth tenor as it grooved along a bed of strings with a snappy drum machine in the background. However, as I listened to Chlöe’s “Have Mercy,” I was disappointed by the lack of bass, which made me want to reach for a pair of wireless headphones or a gaming headset.

Taut strings and delicate cymbals were a constant companion as I made my way through Deathloop. Colt, the protagonist’s voice, was like a spiked hot chocolate on a cold winter day –– warm and inviting with just a little bit of bite. Gunfire had a nice weighty sound to it as did explosions. However, hearing the meaty thunk of the machete being buried in an unsuspecting enemy gave me a visceral satisfaction every single time. 

Alienware X17 keyboard and touchpad

It’s just a clickety clacking good time on the Alienware X17’s keyboard. Similar to the Alienware 17 m4, you can configure the X17 with Cherry MX’s ultra-low profile keys. Sure, it’s $50 extra, but that click-clack sound is so worth the additional scratch. 

But the keys not only sound good, they feel good. Whether I was gaming or typing up this review, my fingers felt like they were jumping on tiny, colorful trampolines. The feedback was firm and my fingers never bottomed out. I hit an easy 75 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test, which is faster than my usual 70 wpm average. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

And it just wouldn’t be a gaming laptop, nor an Alienware, if there wasn’t a mini light show to be configured. Although the default turquoise backlighting is nice, I couldn’t wait to jump into Alienware Command Center and fiddle with the lighting. I ultimately settled for the Rainbow Wave effect for the keys with the multicolor spectrum for the touchpad and lid alien head. 

Speaking of the touchpad, the light-up touchpad is the prodigal component. The input module once again emits light when touched. It’s a cool effect that I really missed. Flashing lights aside, the touchpad provided accurate, rapid performance when I performed Windows 10 gestures such as pinch-zoom and three-finger flick.

Alienware X17 graphics and gaming

The Alienware X17 is just as powerful as it is beautiful, thanks to it’s Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. The laptop absolutely shredded through everything I threw at it. I stealthily made my way through the Updaam district in Deathloop, or at least I was until I got spotted. Next thing I know, I’m running and gunning through several Blackreef residents, taking a running slide into a safe position with the frame rate maintaining a steady 43 frames per second at 4K on Ultra. Switching the settings to Very High raised the output to 48 fps. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

When we ran the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (1080p) benchmark, the Alienware dominated out the box with 83 fps. The laptop matched the Eon17-X (RTX 3080 GPU), trounced the 65 fps premium gaming laptop average as well as the Raider (73 fps, RTX 3080 GPU) and the Blade Pro (68 fps, RTX 3070 GPU). Switching over to 4K, the X17’s frame rate dropped to 50 fps. 

The X17 hit a stumbling block on the Shadow of the Tomb Raider test, only notching 77 fps, just missing the 81 fps category average. The Blade Pro had slightly higher results at 87 fps while the Raider and Eon17-X knocked it out the park with 117 fps and 100 fps, respectively. At 4K, it matched the 38-fps average. 

On the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark, the X17 pulled down 129 fps, shoving its way past the 97-fps category average, the Blade Pro (102 fps) and Raider (120 fps). However, the Eon17-X got the most frames at 131 fps. Switching to 4K, the X17 reached 41 fps, sidling past the 40-fps average. 

During the Metro: Exodus DirectX 11 test, the X17 registered 81 fps, beating the 69 fps category average and the Blade Pro’s 71 fps. However, it couldn’t overcome neither the Raider (85 fps) nor the Eon17-X (93 fps). On 4K, the X17 pulled 43 fps. 

We saw the X17 achieve 94 fps on the Far Cry New Dawn benchmark. That was enough to surpass the average, Blade Pro and Raider, which got 88, 89, 90 fps, respectively. The Eon17-X continued to rule the roost with an impressive 126 fps. Transitioning to 4K, saw the X17’s frame rate fall to 60 fps. 

For the Borderlands 3 test, the X17 notched 94 fps, dusting the 76 premium gaming laptop average and the Blade Pro’s 79 fps. Unfortunately, both the Raider and the Eon17-X hit higher at 100 fps and 108 fps. At 4K, the X17 produced 38 fps.

Running the Red Dead Redemption 2 benchmark, the X17 had a result of 81 fps, topping the 64-fps average and the Blade Pro’s 70 fps. Both the Raider and the Eon17-X performed better with frame rates of 82 and 88 fps. Ramping up to 4K, the X17 notched 33 fps, which is above our 30-fps playability rate. 

When you’re not gaming or performing some other GPU-taxing task, the X17 switches over to its integrated Intel UHD Graphics via Nvidia’s Optimus technology. 

Alienware X17 performance

Now it wouldn’t make much sense to skimp on the processing power with that RTX 3080 GPU. So the Alienware X17 comes out swinging with a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-11800H processor with 32GB of RAM and a pair of 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration. All that means, is that the X17 is a multitasking beast. I launched 50 tabs in Google Chrome, some of which were running YouTube and Twitch while others ran a mix of Tweetdeck, Google Docs, Google Sheets, news and shopping sites. The notebook showed no signs of slowing, even when I started playing Deathloop. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The gaming laptop also showed its mettle on our synthetic tests, starting with Geekbench 5.4, an overall performance test. The X17 scored 9,024, crushing the 6,783 premium gaming laptop average. However, it wasn’t a match for the Eon17-X with its desktop Intel Core i9-11900K processor, which notched 10,575.

When we ran the Handbrake test, the X17 took 5 minutes and 51 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. That’s second only to the Eon17-X, which had a time of 5:27. As for everything else, the X17 demolished the 7:33 category average as well as the 7:24 put up by the Raider (Core i7-10870H CPU) and the 10:10 from the Blade Pro (Core i7-10875H CPU).

Those dual SSDs came in handy during our file transfer test, allowing the X17 to reach a transfer rate of 1,226.7 megabytes per second. It scorched the 894.8 MBps average as well. The Raider (1,076.8 MBps, 1TB NVMe SSD) and Blade Pro (547.2 MBps, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD) didn’t stand a chance. However, the Eon17-X continued to be a thorn in the Alienware’s side with its 1TB SSD obtaining 1,288.5 MBps.

Alienware X17 battery life

Let’s face it, a Core i7 processor, paired with an Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU and a 4K display? The Alienware X17’s battery life wasn’t going to be anywhere near what we’ve seen on some of the AMD-powered gaming laptops we’ve reviewed as of late, such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus. 

Still for all those power-consuming components, I was pleased to see the Alienware X17 lasted 4 hours and 31 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness). It outlasted the 4:07 premium gaming laptop average as well as the Eon17-X (2:07). Both systems were outdone by the Blade Pro (5:58) and the Raider (6:06). 

We also ran a gaming test, which involved running a PCMark10 script until the laptop died. The X17 had a time of 1:19, edging out the Eon17-X’s 1:16.

Alienware X17 heat

While it’s always good to see a gaming laptop skim a few tenths of an inch off its chassis, it comes at the cost of the thermals. In the interest of keeping all those powerful components cool, Alienware has retooled its proprietary Cryo-Tech system. X17 systems configured with an RTX 3070 or 3080 GPU, get the Element 31 thermal interface material comprised of a Gallium-Silicone matrix that according to the company, delivers a 25% improvement in thermal resistance over its predecessor. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

You also have Alienware’s new Quad Fan design, which creates dedicated airflow using a system of evacuative fans and dual opposite outlet fans. Lastly, you have the Smart Fan control technology where each fan can independently adjust its speed according to embedded system sensors.

So how did the X17 hold up? Well, it still managed to surpass our 95-degree Fahrenheit comfort threshold in certain spots on our 15-minute gaming test. Particularly, in the middle of the keyboard (110 degrees) and the undercarriage (120 degrees). Still, I used the X17 pretty comfortably on my lap for over an hour with no ill effects.  The colorful touchpad managed to stay under the threshold at 90 degrees. 

After letting the system cool, we ran a 15-minute, fullscreen video and remeasured. The touchpad, center keyboard and bottom registered 79, 87 and 92 degrees, respectively.

Alienware X17 webcam

The Alienware X17 720p webcam is a little bit of a letdown, considering all the powerful specs it’s packing. It’s not a bad shooter. In fact, it’s par for the course. I just wish that it could match the Dell UltraSharp Webcam’s quality or one of the other cams on our Best Webcams page. As it stands for my test shots, the webcam successfully captured my pink tank top, but washed out the blue and purple in my locs. And although there’s quite a bit of visual noise, I could make out a little of the lace detail along the top of my shirt. 

Alienware X17 software and warranty

Alienware outfitted the notebook with its usual suite of branded software. However, there are some notable tweaks, particularly in Alienware Command Center. Yes, you can still toggle between audio and power presets here. You can also overclock, create macros and make your own personal light show. However, Alienware now lets you control your thermals with five new presets (Full Speed (max power), Performance mode (graphics priority), Balanced mode (balanced CPU/GPU), battery save mode, and Quiet mode (acoustics priority)).

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Similar to other Alienware systems, the X17 also has Alienware Mobile Connect, which lets you access your smartphone from the notebook’s 17.3-inch screen. Alienware Update keeps your BIOS, drivers and firmware up-to-date while Digital Delivery keeps your Alienware and Windows 10 software updated. There’s also My Alienware, which has Alienware Support, a tool that puts you in touch with a tech support representative in case you need troubleshooting assistance. 

Third-party gamer-centric apps Killer Control Center and Nvidia GeForce Experience round out the experience and let you prioritize network bandwidth and optimize your games' settings for gameplay.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

There are, of course, a few pieces of bloatware, including TikTok, Roblox, Dolby Access, Hidden City: Hidden Object Adventure and Adobe Photoshop Express.

The Alienware X17 comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how Alienware fared on Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands, our annual special reports. 

Bottom line

Every time I think that Alienware has finally hit the wall on its stunning gaming laptops, I’m happily proven wrong. The Alienware X17 is the pinnacle of what a desktop replacement can be. Thanks to its Core i7 processor, Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU and dual SSDs, the latest addition to the Alienware family is a serious force to be reckoned with – and I haven’t even mentioned the head-turning 4K panel, Cherry MX keyboard and powerful sound. The company managed to squeeze all of that ridiculous awesome into a chassis that’s only 0.8-inches thick. 

Still, if you’re looking for something even more powerful, the Origin Eon17-X is the way to go. But all that power doesn’t come cheap at $4,215, especially when we’re talking about desktop processors. Plus, you’re losing out on battery life. Overall, if you want power, endurance and aesthetics, the Alienware is the obvious choice.

Sherri L. Smith
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.