Alienware x14 review: The thinnest gaming laptop

The back of the Alienware x14.

Alienware x14

MSRP $1199.00

“The Alienware x14 takes the compact laptop concept further than ever before.”

Positives

  • Incredibly skinny

  • Lots of ports in the back

  • strong performance

  • Excellent build quality

  • Comfortable keyboard

Negatives

  • Limited to RTX 3060

  • The wrist rests are too small

  • thick plastic places

Competition for the lightest and The slimmest gaming laptop It has never been more compact. But Alienware took the crown with the Alienware x14, which defies anything that came before it in size, including options like Razer Blade 14 or ROG Zephyrus G14.

The Alienware x14 clearly does something that no other gaming laptop can do. The only problem? The number of people trading a few millimeters for higher frame rates may be less than Alienware thinks.

Specifications

Alienware x14
Dimensions 12.66″ x 10.35″ x 0.57″
Weight 3.96 pounds (up to 4.06)
Healer Intel Core i7-12700H
Intel Core i7-12900H
Graphics NVIDIA RTX 3050 4GB
NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti 4GB
NVIDIA RTX 3060 6GB
RAM 16GB 4800MHz
16GB or 4800MHz, 5200MHz (with RTX 3060), 32GB 5200MHz (with RTX 3060)
Show 14.0 inch FHD (1920 x 1080), 144Hz 7ms, G-Sync, Advanced Optimus
storage 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 720p, Windows Hello IR . Webcam
The operating system Windows 11 Home or Pro
battery 80 watt hour
price $1199 or more

Insanely thin and light

Alienware x14 side on a table.

The Alienware x14 isn’t just light. It’s too small. The body is only 0.57 inches thick, which is as thin as Surface Laptop 4. And remember: this is gaming laptop. Considering the graphics card this thing has, that’s quite a feat. Moving it from room to room is a breeze, as is throwing it in your bag. Size certainly comes with some compromise, but that doesn’t make this high-end design anything less than an engineering marvel.

What are the compromises for a gaming laptop this thin? Well, maybe your brain goes to performance first, as did my brain. The idea that the Alienware x14 could actually produce some decent gaming performance seems totally impossible considering how thin it is. But it handled its powerful ingredients better than I thought.

It has an RTX 3060 under the hood, as well as an Intel Core i7-12900H. This is the maximum configuration, which comes in at $1750 and also includes 16GB of LPDDR5 and a 1TB SSD. I usually think of these as decent specs for a gaming laptop, especially in the mid-range area.

The ports are on the back of the Alienware x14.

But the Alienware x14 isn’t a budget laptop. It still comes in at $150 cheaper than the Razer Blade 14, but the price, design, and build quality all scream “excellent.” This makes for a disappointing set of GPU options. Paying $1,400 for an RTX 3050 feels like a huge stretch.

And there’s an important reason the Alienware x14 is limited to the RTX 3060 only: the ports. Instead of the traditional cylinder charger, the Alienware x14 is powered by just one USB-C port. When it comes to gaming laptops, this is the first. On the one hand, it is suitable for those who like the universality of USB-C. But that means the RTX 3070 Ti or 3080 Ti is off the table.

Like the rest of the ports, the USB-C port is on the back, leaving only a few slots along the sides of the chassis. While the width of the ports is all you could need, placing the headphone jack in the back feels inconvenient. Operating wired headphones in the back is a bit cumbersome, especially since they can easily get stuck in the hinge. I can’t complain about the clean edges, although they do give the device a very neat look.

Good performance with a caveat

Alienware x14 in front of the window.

If you get the RTX 3060, you’ll get enough gaming performance to make it worth the money. In 3DMark Time Spy, the Alienware x14 is actually the best-score laptop with the RTX 3060 we tested, including HP Victus 16And the Dell XPS 17And the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4.

That’s a good sign, but there’s a reason this laptop only comes with a 1080p screen. Even at this resolution, you can only expect lighter games like Civilization VI For more than 60 frames per second (fps). Meanwhile, like heavy games Assassin’s Creed Valhalla And the Red Dead Redemption 2 Earth right around 60 fps. These games still look and play well, keep in mind that it’s not enough to take full advantage of the 144Hz screen.

fortnite An example of the type of game the Alienware x14 was built for. It runs at 72 frames per second in Epic settings. Do you want more speed? Move the settings to ‘high’ and you’ll get high frame rates of up to 89fps – all without losing much graphical fidelity.

Alienware x14

(RTX 3060)

Razer Blade 14

(RTX 3070)

Predator Triton 300SE

(RTX 3060)

3DMark Time Spy 7662 8605 6038
Civilization VI 117 fps 111 fps 84 fps
fortnite 72 fps 96 fps 78 fps
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 60 frames per second 60 frames per second 50 frames per second
Red Dead Redemption 2 56 fps not available not available

We don’t have another gaming laptop with such exact specifications as the Alienware x14. The Triton 300 SE is a similar laptop, but the last one we tested was an Intel 11th-gen model, which explains some of the lower performance in CPU-based games like Civilization VI And the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Compared to non-gaming laptops like Dell XPS 17 or Asus Zenbook Pro 16X With the same graphics, the Alienware x14 is the best in gaming.

And thanks to the quality of the Alienware x14 board, games and other media look really sharp. It’s a very color screen, up to 91% of the AdobeRGB color gamut. It’s also an expertly calibrated screen, with a Delta-E value of just 0.6. This is one of the best 1080p panels I’ve ever tested, so thank Alienware for going further.

The Alienware x14 performs well in non-gaming scenarios.

However, playing games on a high-resolution screen is definitely better, especially in games that focus on the richness of visual elements. The 1440p 165Hz display on the Razer Blade 14 is a more impressive gaming experience, but it will cost you $2600. That’s not a fair comparison to the Alienware x14, which comes in at under $2,000, even with the max configuration.

The Alienware x14 performs well in non-gaming scenarios, too. My review unit used a Core i7-12700H, paired with 32GB of unnecessary RAM and 1TB of storage. As the workflow is taxing, fans ramp up quickly, even at the default Balanced Thermal setting. The result is a lot of fan noise, but amazing CPU performance. It’s only 8% slower than the Dell XPS 17 at tasks like video encoding. Buy an Alienware x14 to play the game, but if you have a few side projects that include Adobe Creative Suite, it won’t hamper the performance of this laptop.

Possibilities and endings

Alienware x14 keyboard.

You’ll likely want to use the Alienware x14 for more than just gaming, and luckily, it’s a well-designed and thoughtful build to get the work done too.

There are a few usability little things to mention about the Alienware x14. First, it has an excellent keyboard, both for typing and gaming. Keystrokes feel tight and precise, and keycaps don’t wobble. I also appreciate the seperation of the media buttons to the right of the layout as well. RGB lighting is a bit dim throughout, with only single-area backlighting on the keyboard and nothing on the ring around the slots in the back. That doesn’t bother me, but if you want more customizable lighting, you’ll want to choose the Alienware x15 or x17.

Choosing a screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10 will shrink the edges.

The touchpad works fine, but I have some issues with the palm rejecting from time to time. It’s also small, like a palm. Moving the keyboard and touchpad away from the hinge allows for better cooling of the components underneath, but provides an uncomfortable place to rest your wrist.

The 720p webcam isn’t the best, but the inclusion of a Windows Hello IR camera is a nice feature that’s still not uncommon on gaming laptops. Speaking of the webcam, the Alienware x14 has some rather tacky plastic bezels that frame the outside of the display. The bottom edge is particularly large – and it’s a bit unsightly. Choosing a screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10 will solve this problem, which is what laptops like Predator Triton 300SE You have.

Battery life is nothing to write home about. Like many gaming laptops, it’ll last about five hours on a very light load, and only a few if you have a more involved multitasking setup. Most likely thanks to the use of its own AMD processor, the Razer Blade 14 is the only competitor that will last about three hours more than the Alienware x14 on a single charge.

It’s impressive, but it’s not for everyone

Alienware x14 front.

Alienware made the best gaming laptop this size can be. It didn’t come without some compromises of course, but as long as you buy a high-quality configuration, you’ll still get decent gaming performance. If you care more about higher frame rates than size, you’ll find a better balance in laptops like the ROG Zephyrus G14 or the Razer Blade 14 – both of which are still pretty small compared to a regular gaming laptop.

The Razer Blade 14 offers a lot more with its cleaner design, more extensive GPU options, and better battery life. For me, that equals an extra $150.

But for those who will love the extreme portability that the Alienware x14 offers, you’ll be amazed at what this little thing can do. Just be sure to choose at least the RTX 3060 model.

Editors’ Recommendations






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