Alienware 17 R3 Review: A Premium Priced Gaming Machine
The 17-inch gaming laptop takes a powerful leap over its predecessors with the latest 6th generation Intel quad-core processor that rests in its heart. Taking the gaming experience to a whole new level with the NVIDIA GeForce graphics processor, the Alienware 17 R3 is aimed to satiate the group of users that are looking for a large sized gaming machine and have the budget for it. Read our full Alienware 17 R3 review below.
Design and Build
The Alienware 17 R3 is basically a larger version of the 15 R2 and the smaller 13-inch version that was released earlier. Graced with the same “Epic Silver” color scheme and black keyboard deck, Alienware does not hold back with the 17 R3 in terms of design. Apart from the futuristic design of the R series gaming laptops, what sets them apart from the rest is the gorgeous illumination of the lid and the entire keyboard deck.
The two subtle lines that converge towards the Alienware logo, the entire keyboard and the touchpad as well, add the “wow” factor that Alienware laptops are known for. Weighing 3.78Kg, the carbon-fibre build material of the Alienware 17 R3 keeps it portable and quite durable as well. From the soft feel of the black colored keyboard deck, to the lofty feel of the bent edges – the Alienware 17 R3 plays the part of being a formidable gaming machine.
In terms of Input/Output, the laptop has seen some upgrade in comparison to the previous versions, with a new USB 3.1 Type-C port, and a Thunderbolt port that replaces the Mini DisplayPort provided before. With 3 x USB 3.0 ports, Qualcomm Killer Ethernet and WiFi adapters, HDMI port, Amplifier, and 2 x audio jacks, the Alienware 17 R3 is well-equipped for connectivity.
Equipped with a 17.3-inch screen, the Alienware 17 R3 comes with an IPS panel for Full-HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) and rich viewing experience. The base brightness of the screen advertised by Alienware is 300 nits, and the tests report back almost identical results (290 nits). While there are competing laptops with brighter screens, the anti-glare finish of the Alienware 17 R3’s display gives it some resistance against bright conditions.
In terms of colour reproduction, the display is quite satisfactory, with a colour contrast ratio of 1100:1. The black level of the display reaches to 0.28 cd/m2, which ensures that the cut scenes within the games and particularly gloomy scenes appear rich and crisp. The screen succeeds in covering 93% of the sRGB colour spectrum, which makes it good for professional videography too. The IPS display panel ensures that the viewing angles are wide and that there is no color distortion.
Keyboard and Touchpad
All of the R series gaming laptops from Alienware come with identical full-sized keyboards that have been designed for gamers. The unconventional keyboard does not come with the typical island-style design, and the keys offer a fair amount of depth in the strokes, while being comfortable to type with as well.
The numpad has been compromised to make room for configurable macro keys and full sized navigation keys, which make the Alienware 17 R3’s keyboard absolutely perfect for typing and gaming. The keyboard comes with 4-zone illumination that enables you to reproduce various colours on the keyboard with the AlienFX tool.
The touchpad added to the Alienware 17 R3 is sleek, smooth and fairly large in proportion. What makes the touchpad of this gaming laptop stand apart is that it comes with backlight illumination, which can be customised just like the keyboard and the exterior lights of the machine. With precision feedback and gesture recognition integrated as well, the touchpad provides fluid responsiveness at every swipe.
Under the Hood
Bringing the latest Skylake processor into the fold, the Alienware 17 R3 comes powered by the Intel Core i7-6700HQ quad-core processor. The 6th generation processor has a base clock speed of 2.6 GHz, which can be overclocked to 3.5 GHz with the Turbo Boost technology. The next big aspect in terms of performance comes with the 16GB DDR4 RAM that has been added to the Alienware 17 R3 to send you flying through tasks without so much as a bump. (note here: Versions with 8gb and 12gb of ram are also available from Dell Australia website)
One major upgrade that has been included by default in our review version of Alienware 17 R3 (Y5187A3AU) is the super-fast 256GB PCIe SSD that has been fitted inside the chassis. Apart from the 256GB SSD, the gaming laptop comes with 1TB 7200RPM HDD that leaves you with plenty of room for extra-large games and programs. The sequential transfer rates of about 130MB/Sec does not only boot up the system in just seconds, but improves the gaming experience significantly as well. Other models come with no ssd, smaller ssd, as well as a larger 512gb ssd.
Our Alienware 17 R3 laptop (Y5187A3AU) comes powered by one of the fastest GPUs available for mobile gaming devices – the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M. The GPU comes with 3GB of dedicated DDR5 memory, which works hand in glove with the quad-core CPU to take your gaming experience to a whole new level.
The laptop also comes with on-board Intel HD Graphics 530, which takes care of the graphic output required for simpler tasks such as video playback and streaming. The GTX 970M on the other hand, is a beast and has been regarded to be 25% more powerful than the predecessor GTX 965M. Able to play all of the latest gaming titles on high settings with a frame rate of more than 80 FPS, the GPU is enough to take on most of the games on Ulta HD resolutions as well.
The NVIDIA GTX 980M 8Gb graphics card is available with the top of the range model – Y5187A4AU (but will cost you a lot more money)
• Rock solid performance of the CPU and the GPU as well.
• Futuristic design with robust materials used in its build.
• Decent display with a high color contrast ratio.
• Stays cool under pressure with the minimum amount of noise.
• There are gaming laptops that offer better specs at a lower price.
• Only available through Dell’s Aussie website
The Final Verdict
When you select an Alienware laptop, the premium price can always deter you from buying them. However, Alienware has survived (and flourished) among dirt cheap laptops and risen to the top with its more than just premium style, out of this world design and high octane performance. The Alienware 17 R3 exhibits all of these qualities, along with a hefty price tag as well.
From the bold design elements and the outstanding illumination effects, to the powerful CPU that works well with the exorbitant amount of RAM and blazing fast storage – Alienware 17 R3 leaves very little to be desired. For those who are not too concerned about the price and rather look at the gaming laptop as a long-term investment, the Alienware 17 R3 is a great machine to pour your money into.
Review date: January 28th, 2016
Price at the time of review: $3199 from Dell’s website. Please note that JB HiFi is selling a similar model for $2998 but with 12gb of ram.
Buying advice: Dell is running a promo on this model, and offering a free upgrade to 512gb ssd + 1Tb 7200rpm SATA Drive. The promo ends today, January 28th. So be quick.