The Alienware x17 R2 gaming laptop is available in all sorts of configurations, ranging from a version with a screen that has a mundane 1440p 165Hz refresh rate up to a 1080p screen with a refresh rate of – are you ready for this? – 480Hz.
It is simply absurd. But for the past few weeks I’ve been using this exact build, and while I’m sure I’ve never fully utilized the screen, it’s been a lot of fun nonetheless.
Alienware x17 R2 – Pictures
Here are the specs of the Alienware x17 R2 I tested:
- Model: Alienware x17 R2 (P48E)
- Display: 17.3-inch FHD 480Hz (1920 x 1080)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-12700H 3.5GHz (24MB Cache, 4.7GHz Max Turbo)
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU, 16GB GDDR6
- Memory: 32 GB DDR5 at 4800 Mhz
- Operating System: Windows 11 Home
- Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- Webcam: 720p with Windows Hello IR support
- Ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 with PowerShare, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort and Power Delivery, 1 x Thunderbolt 4 port with Power Delivery, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack, 1 x HDMI 2.1 port, 1 x mini DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x RJ45 Ethernet port, 1 x microSD card slot
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2
- Dimensions: 15.72 x 11.79 x 0.82 inches (WxDxH)
- Weight: 6.65 pounds
- Price: $3,699 as configured
The test sample I received is one of the high-end versions available, but you can outfit an x17 R2 however you want, ranging from 16GB of memory all the way up to 64GB. Or SSD storage that starts to 512GB and maxes out at 4TB, with a GPU ranging from a 3060 to a 3080 Ti.
Alienware x17 R2 – Design
There’s something to be said for Alienware’s approach to design – with the honeycomb cutouts on the laptop’s deck, or the moon-white casing with an alien’s face and the number 17 etched into the lid, highlighted by an RGB LED that circles the rear of the laptop where all the ports are. Alienware hasn’t deviated much from this basic design over the past few years, and it definitely grew on me.
There’s one aspect of the x17 R2’s design that I’m a big fan of – almost all the ports are on the back of the laptop. Both sides of the case are virtually portless except for the charging port on the left side and a 3.5mm audio jack on the right, both as far apart as possible. The back of the case houses two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports with PowerShare, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort and Power Delivery, one Thunderbolt 4 port with Power Delivery, one HDMI 2.1 port, one mini DisplayPort 1.4, one Ethernet port and a microSD card slot.
There are two changes I would make to the port configuration on the R2. First, I would move the microSD card slot to either side of the case. If you frequently need to move files from a microSD card, having to access the back of the laptop is going to get annoying. For me, having all the ports on the back of the laptop is ideal when using the laptop in a semi-permanent arrangement.
The second thing is to do something with the LED light ring that surrounds the ports. When you try to look at the back of the laptop and find a port, the light is so bright it’s blinding and you can’t see any of the ports. I had to turn off the light a few times just to figure out where to plug in an external hard drive or ethernet cable. I dig the laptop’s design and appearance with the light, but it struggles with easy access to pretty much every port on the x17 R2.
As for size and carrying around the x17 R2, well, you’re going to want to do a few more pushups before tossing it in your backpack. It measures a respectable 15.72 x 11.79 x 0.82 inches and weighs between 6.54 and 7.05 pounds, depending on the model.
This overall size is meant to accommodate the 17.3-inch Full High Definition display with an incredibly fast 480Hz refresh rate. When you think about how fast that refresh rate is, you realize it’s almost too fast . In fact, it is too fast and you would find it difficult to take full advantage of it while playing. But more on that later.
Opening the lid, you’ll find a full-size keyboard without a numpad, with chiclet keys featuring switches that were co-developed with Cherry and have a pleasant audible click. Above the keyboard is the honeycomb battery I mentioned earlier, along with an RGB-lit alien face power button.
Below the keyboard is a decent-sized trackpad that’s good enough to do basic work, but for more laborious tasks you’ll need a dedicated mouse.
The display is surrounded by relatively thick bezels, with a 720p webcam along the top of the display casing.
Overall, the design of the x17 R2 is exactly what you’d expect from Alienware. I do wish, however, that there was at least a dark gray or matte black color option. Lunar white is meant to get dirty over time.
Alienware x17 R2 – Performance and Gaming
Inside the x17 R2 is a component powerhouse. You can tweak the configuration to your liking, but the review sample I received featured a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti with 16GB of GDDR6 memory, 32GB of memory GDDR5 4,800 MHz and a 1 TB SSD. As a reminder, all this powers a 1080p display with a refresh rate of 480 Hz. Absurdity on paper.
With a premium price and parts list, the performance should be impressive, right? Right! And the x17 R2 delivers on that promise. Here’s a quick comparison chart showing how the x17 R2 fared in IGN’s standard benchmark gauntlet when pitted against two other RTX 3080 Ti-powered systems: the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 with an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX and the Gigabyte Aero 16 with the Intel Core i9–12900HK. Notice that both of these laptops, as tested, started at $4,399. Cheap.
As you can see, the x17 R2 was either within a few points or outright outperformed both laptops on every level. I was most surprised by the R2’s PCMark 10 score of 7,209, which was the lowest of the three, with the Duo 16 scoring 7,311 and the Aero 16 scoring 7,560, given that the R2 had such good performed in all other tests.
For everyday use, the R2 was a workhorse. I left it mostly on a desk and didn’t move it around the house much, but I did spend time with it on my lap while browsing the web and watching YouTube videos. He’s a heavy boy. The R2 handled everything I threw at it. From casual use to multitasking between multiple tabs, installing various apps and games, and streaming music, all without any hiccups or performance issues.
When it comes to gaming, the x17 R2 delivers. I spent quite a bit of time playing Fortnite, with and without a headset, and was blown away by the performance of the x17 R2. With all the graphics settings set on Epic, I consistently saw frame rates between 200 and 300. Granted, that’s nowhere near the screen’s 480Hz speed, but it’s still impressive.
Screen saturation and colors are good, but nothing too impressive. And I wish the screen was brighter – it often felt a bit too dark for my taste. In fact, what I would prefer is a higher resolution display than a screen with a refresh rate that certainly won’t be used to its full extent. Of course, this specification is also available on other R2 configurations – either 1440p at 165Hz or 4K at 120Hz.
I really like the feel of the x17 R2’s keyboard and switches. The keys are crisp, if that makes sense, both when typing and gaming. The speakers are loud enough for everyday use, but once the fans kick in during resource-intensive tasks like gaming , you’ll want to put on headphones to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
The base configuration of the x17 R2 comes with 512GB of storage, and that’s a good starting point for a gaming laptop. I’m glad this sample has a 1TB hard drive, though. It doesn’t take much to fill even a 1TB drive.
Alienware x17 R2 – Battery Life
Alienware doesn’t provide a battery life estimate for the x17 R2, but touts the different power modes as a way to ensure you can tailor performance and battery life to your needs. needs.
In everyday use, the x17 R2 would run for a few hours before needing to be plugged in.
Using PCMark 10’s Modern Office battery benchmark, the x17 R2’s battery went from fully charged to depleted in just under three hours. Specifically, 2 hours and 55 minutes. This perfectly matches the battery life performance in the same benchmark for the Duo 16 and Aero 16.
Alienware x17 R2 – Software
In the past, I’ve applauded Alienware for its lightweight approach to pre-installing software on its computers, and that trend continues with the x17 R2. There are only a small handful of apps that are installed. There’s the Alienware Command Center, along with a few other Alienware utilities like a dedicated app for installing the latest BIOS and other firmware from Dell. You won’t find any sort of antivirus software installed on the R2.
That said, I still have trouble using the Alienware Command Center app, which lets you view your system stats or change the keyboard color scheme and the rest of the R2’s RGB lighting aspects. The moon white color of the app itself makes it difficult to read text, buttons, and other information on the screen. I have to manually switch the app to dark mode to be able to use it.
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