Alienware x14

The thinnest gaming laptop on the market.

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There was a time not too long ago when gaming laptops were a very specific size. They were heavy, lasted an hour on a full charge, were often relatively poorly constructed and, perhaps most importantly, came in two key sizes; 15 or 17 inches.

But all that has changed, making it harder to be a consumer in the first place, because any kind of laptop can now be a gaming laptop. For example, you can buy a relatively space-saving, small Alienware x14 that tries to balance your hobby with the life you have to live on the side. Dell claims it's "the world's thinnest gaming laptop."

There are several SKUs to choose from, but the test version really doesn't skimp on the horsepower, considering the rather small chassis. We're talking a 14-core, 12-threaded i7-12700H, an RTX 3060 6GB graphics card, and 16B of LPDDR5 5200MHz RAM, which is single-channel (you have to buy 32GB for it to be dual-channel, oddly enough).

Alienware x14

The tested version should set you back around £1500. You can upgrade further to the 32GB RAM and a 1TB NVMe SSD for just over £2000. That puts the Alienware x14 in a surprisingly solid place on the price ladder, because it's not exactly unreasonable.

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What you get as well as the rather fine specifications is an immensely well constructed laptop, as we've come to expect from Alienware. They have turned down the charm a bit, and even though there is still a glowing alien head on the lid, it is something that looks like a decidedly tasteful design, and can relatively easily fit in a lecture or in a classroom. It's thin, too. Just 14.5 millimeters thick, and it really appears MacBook Air-like in its profile.

At first glance, it's really hard to see where you're paying this price. Alienware has managed to squeeze in an 80Whr battery, the largest in any 14-inch laptop. That's roughly 28% bigger than what you'll find in a Razer Blade 14. That doesn't mean you'll get through a full day's work unfortunately, because that CPU, that GPU - all of it - is thirsty for power. We did, however, manage something like six hours with power saving settings turned on, which is... yeah, that's passable. Plus, it charges with an included USB-C 130-watt charger - also approved.

The keyboard and trackpad are more of a mixed bag, however, and the simple beauty you find on the outside isn't quite the same on the inside. The two hinges aren't exactly fancy, the keys are light and soft, and the trackpad is downright microscopic. While there's a huge amount of space for cooling, the perforations don't make for great speakers either. And yes, the 720p webcam is bad.

Thankfully, the display is pretty solid. Sure, it's 1080p, but it's an IPS LCD running at 144Hz with Dolby Vision HDR support, hitting 100% sRGB and 99.6% DCI-P3 - it's dangerously close to working fine as a semi-professional editing tool.

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So far so good, so it's both slim, has a surprisingly large battery, and is flanked by solid specs and a good display. There are obvious bottlenecks due to the slim profile, though. And whether it was games like Hitman 3, Borderlands 3, CS:GO or in synthetic tests like 3DMark FireStrike or Blender, it lags slightly behind competing models like the ROG G14 or G15. That said, it's relatively easy to get up to 144fps in relatively demanding titles, precisely because the display is "only" a 1080p display, so there seems to be a pretty good balance between the various components.

Alienware x14

There's just one key problem: noise. No, we didn't actually see any thermal throttling at all, across the board, which in itself is something of a marvel, but holy sh*t is it loud. There are two individual fans for the CPU and GPU, and another vapor chamber for the CPU, which solves the problem they are designed to solve, namely to keep the components below the crucial threshold, but the x14 is noisy. It's very noisy, and furthermore, it's also very loud during normal operation, i.e. with battery saving settings turned on, and when you're just editing documents in Docs.

But besides the noise, the x14 is a bit of an engineering genius, because you look at it and think; "it lasts an hour on the battery", and "it thermal throttles like crazy", and neither of those two statements turn out to be true. Yes, it's noisy, so a good headset is recommended, but as an all-rounder it's impressive.

Alienware x14
08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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