Alienware m17 review: Alienware predictably delivers on style and substance

A surprising amount of power in a lightweight and perfectly portable package

Alienware m17 review
(Image credit: Dell)

T3 Verdict

The Alienware m17 features a sleek, subtle design housing the insides of veritable beast. It rivals a desktop PC gaming experience in Alienware's thinnest and lightest ever 17" laptop.

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Suble and stylish design

  • +

    Fantastic power

  • +

    Thin and lightweight

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    Gets very hot, very quickly

  • -

    Battery life is lacking

Alienware m17 key specs

(Image credit: Alienware)

Weight: 5.79 pounds (2.63kg)
Dimensions: W x D x H = 16.1 x 11.5 x 0.9 inches (41 x 29.25 x 2.3 cm)
CPU: 2.9GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q (8GB GDDR6 VRAM); Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,666MHz)
Screen: 17.3-inch, UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS, (60Hz refresh rate)
Storage: 512GB PCle M.2 SSD
Camera: Full HD webcam (1080p, 60fps)
Ports: 3 x USB 3.1 (Type-A), 1 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x mini-Display Port 1.3, 1 x Gigabit LAN, 1 x 3.5mm headset jack

As strange as it may sound, the first – and most notable – feature of the Alienware m17 that struck me was its size; a generous 17.3" screen set in a remarkably thin, silky smooth silver chassis, and delightfully lightweight. My everyday laptop is a beast and I've dragged it around enough over the years to dread taking it anywhere with me, but the m17 was positively buoyant by comparison. 

Weighing in at 2.63kgs (5.79lbs), the laptop is touted as the thinnest and lightest 17" laptop from Alienware yet, and if you're looking for a portable large screen option, this is it. 

Ultimately, if you're opting for a laptop over a desktop, portability is going to be a big factor in that decision, and if you can pack in performance and an impressive display to boot for around two grand, you're not doing badly at all. 

The official Alienware m17 announcement trailer from CES 2019 is jam packed with all of the specs and details:

Alienware m17 review: design and build

The m17 really doesn't look like a gaming laptop, but don't misinterpret the lack of bombast with a lack of style. Available in Epic Silver or Nebula Red, and sporting the telltale Alienware logo on the  lid, the satin finish carries through to the inside, where you'll find a matte black deck, honeycomb vents, and another, smaller, Alienware logo that functions as the power button. 

Refusing to completely abandon the gaming aesthetic entirely, the soft-touch keyboard and logos are illuminated with RGB lighting, which can be programmed to light up across six zones for some extra pizzazz. 

Going with a more slimline build means there's less space for vents so Alienware has utilised its Cryo-Tech 2.0 technology to keep it cool, but in spite of that, the m17 does run hot and loud. 

Alienware m17 review

Thin, light, and in keeping with Alienware's industrial design, the m17 boasts a large screen encased in two striking colours; Epic Silver and Nebula Red. 

(Image credit: Alienware)

The laptop has a premium feel throughout, bolstered by the materials; magnesium alloy and copper, offering a lightweight build, rounded out with a rather thick, glossy bezel. 

The keys are fairly shallow featuring 1.4mm travel and anti-ghosting, but they still feel satisfying to mash, and with the size of the m17, you won't feel confined to a small, cramped space when you're using it.

Ultimately, this is a subdued but stylish piece of kit that can easily transition from work to play and everything in-between. 

Alienware m17 review: specs and hardware

On the specs front, the m17 houses an RTX 2080 Max-Q design, which may not perform as well as the RTX 2080 desktop, but allows for a significant amount of power to be packed into that svelte, slinky chassis. You'll also find an Intel Core i9 8950HK  processor with 16GB of RAM, and a 4K display.

The high-end specs will guzzle up a that battery life pretty sharpish, so while it's not going to drain your stamina to lug the laptop about, it will sap up that battery life quicker than you'd think. Sure, you can transport it with relative ease, but you'll need to make sure you have a power supply on hand before you settle in for a gaming session.

Alienware m17 review: gaming and performance

Alienware m17 review

Conan Exiles runs like a dream on 4K Ultra settings on the Alienware m17

(Image credit: Conan Exiles)

Given the specs hardware on display here, the Alienware m17 put in a strong performance with some more than decent benchmark scores. which you can peruse below, although it isn't the highest scoring piece of kit we've reviewed by any means, but the scores aren't far behind the 17" Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 which typically retails for a grand more than the m17. 

Alienware m17 3DMark benchmarks

Time Spy: 6,957

Time Spy Extreme: 2,863

Fire Strike: 14,681

Fire Strike Extreme: 8,838

Fire Strike Ultra: 4,667

Sky Diver: 26,465

Night Raid: 19,563

Port Royal: 4,403

I booted up Conan Exiles, cranked up all of the settings to max, and had a good old rummage around in the foliage to see what kind of problems I might run into. Happily, there were none. The game ran buttery smooth, even when meandering through particularly lush, leafy areas. 

Alienware m17 GeekBench 4 benchmarks

CPU Single-Core: 4,088

CPU Multi-Core: 19,010

Compute: 238,654

However, the m17 was soon on the verge of taking off from the sounds of things and was far too hot to be sitting on my lap. It might not struggle with your library of games, but it's noisy to the point of being obnoxious and runs too hot to rest on any flesh you don't intend to sear and douse in BBQ sauce. 

Alienware m17 review: verdict

The Alienware m17 really impressed my with how lightweight and easy it was to carry around, while offering a generous 17.3" screen, and stellar performance – all for £2,349. 

The screen looks fantastic and you'll be able to run AAA titles at max settings without compromise. The only downside is the noise if the fans when they inevitably kick in and the too-hot-to-handle temperature, but as long as you have a pair of headphones and somewhere other than your lap to rest it, it's not too much of a problem.

If size matters - even on the go - you can't go wrong with the Alienware m17 and it won't break the bank. 

For more information about the Alienware m17, check out the maker's official website.