Performance is the hallmark of gaming notebooks like the Alienware 17. This notebook has bleeding edge components including a brand new fourt-generation Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia's new flagship graphics card, the GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 dedicated memory.
The Alienware 17 is available with up to three storage drives; our review unit has a 256GB SSD and a secondary 750GB hard drive for storage. Up to 32GB of RAM is available; our review unit has 16GB. The benchmarks as we'll see highlight the Alienware 17 is up to any computing task, especially playing the latest games at maximum settings. This is a great platform for playing the latest 3D games and intensive work like Adobe Photoshop and video editing.
Our review model of the Alienware 17 has the following specifications:
The specifications are high-end as expected; our review unit includes a number of upgrades. The 1920x1080 display is a welcome upgrade over the base 1600x900 display; the GTX 780M graphics card a $200 option over the base GTX 770M. Although 8GB of RAM is standard this unit has 16GB as previously mentioned. Various storage drive options are available including RAID configurations. Regardless of the configuration you choose, we'd recommend getting at least a three-year warranty on a notebook priced at more than $2,000.
wPrime processor comparisons (lower score means better performance):
PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark and measures overall systems performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphic card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
The M17x has historically had a good cooling system; and the new Alienware 17 continues the tradition. The cooling system exhausts air out the back of the notebook; it's split into two parts, with the CPU heat going out the left and the graphics card out the right. Keeping the two most heat-producing components in the notebook separated is a good idea.
The chassis remained cool during extended periods of benchmarking and gaming. The noise level is practically non-existent at idle; under load it's noticeable but sounds mostly like a rush of air, without any annoying whine. There are large air intakes on the bottom of the chassis; be sure to keep the Alienware 17 on a solid surface while gaming.
The Alienware 17 lasted a pretty average two hours, nine minutes on the standard Powermark "Balanced" benchmark test using the Nvidia graphics. However, the notebook scored an excellent five hours, 21 minutes on our new Powermark "Productivity" benchmark, and two hours, 48 minutes in our Powermark "Entertainment" test. These are excellent times for a notebook as large and powerful as this one.
PowerMark "Balanced" battery life test results (higher scores mean better life):
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