Alienware x14 review: thinnest gaming laptop

The back of the alienware x14.

Alienware x14

MSRP $1,199.00

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

Advantages

  • Incredibly thin

  • Lots of ports on the back

  • Solid performance

  • Excellent build quality

  • Comfortable keyboard

The inconvenients

  • Limited to RTX 3060

  • Wrist rests are too small

  • Thick plastic frames

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

It’s clear the Alienware x14 does something no other gaming laptop can. The only problem? Fewer people would trade a few millimeters for higher frame rates than Alienware thinks.

Specifications

Alienware x14
Dimensions 12.66 inches x 10.35 inches x 0.57 inches
lester 3.96 pounds (up to 4.06)
Processor Intel Core i7-12700H
Intel Core i7-12900H
Chart Nvidia RTX 3050 4GB
Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti 4GB
Nvidia RTX 3060 6GB
RAM 16GB 4800MHz
16 GB or 4800 MHz, 5200 MHz (with RTX 3060), 32 GB 5200 MHz (with RTX 3060)
Display 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
Operating system Windows 11 Home or Pro
Battery 80 watt hour
Price $1,199+

Incredibly thin and light

The side of the alienware x14 on a table.

The Alienware x14 isn’t just lightweight. It’s tiny. The chassis is only 0.57 inches thick, which is as thin as the Surface Laptop 4. And remember: this is a gaming laptop. Considering the graphics card this thing has inside, that’s quite an achievement. Transporting it from room to room is a breeze, as is putting it in your bag. Size certainly comes with a few compromises, but that doesn’t make this cutting-edge design any less of an engineering marvel.

What are the trade-offs for such a thin gaming laptop? Well, your mind probably goes first to the performance, just like mine. The idea that the Alienware x14 could actually produce decent gaming performance seems downright impossible given its thinness. But it handled its powerful components better than I expected.

It has an RTX 3060 under the hood, as well as an Intel Core i7-12900H. This is the maximum configuration, which costs $1,750 and also includes 16GB of LPDDR5 and a 1TB SSD. Normally, I’d consider these specs decent for a gaming laptop, especially in mid-range territory. range.

The ports on the back of the alienware x14.

But the Alienware x14 is not a budget laptop. It’s still $150 cheaper than the Razer Blade 14, but the price, design, and build quality all scream “premium.” This makes the range of GPU options disappointing. Paying $1,400 for a skinny RTX 3050 seems pretty overkill.

And there’s an important reason the Alienware x14 is limited to the RTX 3060: ports. Instead of a conventional barrel charger, the Alienware x14 is powered by a single USB-C port. As far as dedicated gaming laptops go, this is a first. On the one hand, it’s convenient for those of us who love the universality of USB-C. But that means an RTX 3070 Ti or 3080 Ti isn’t on the table.

Like the rest of the ports, the USB-C port is located on the back, leaving only a few vents on the sides of the chassis. While the supply of ports is all you could possibly need, the positioning of the headphone jack on the back is inconvenient. It’s a bit cumbersome to run your wired headset out the back, especially since it can easily get caught in the hinge. I can’t complain about the sharp edges, though – it gives the device a very sleek look.

Good performance, with one caveat

The alienware x14 in front of a window.

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

That’s a good sign, but there’s a reason this laptop only comes with a 1080p display. Even at this resolution, you can only expect lighter games like Civilization VI to get over 60 frames per second (fps). Meanwhile, heavier games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Red Dead Redemption 2 land at around 60 fps. These games still look and run well, but not enough to take full advantage of the 144Hz screen.

Fortnite is an example of the type of game the Alienware x14 was designed for. It runs at an average of 72 fps with Epic settings. Want even more speed? Move the settings up and you’ll get frame rates as high as 89fps, all without losing too much graphical fidelity.

Alienware x14

(RTX 3060)

Razer Blade 14

(RTX 3070)

Triton 300 SE Predator

(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 fps 60 fps 50 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2 56 fps n / A n / A

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

And thanks to the quality of the Alienware x14’s panel, games and other media are truly crisp. It’s a very colorful display, hitting 91% of the AdobeRGB color gamut. It’s also an expertly calibrated display, with a Delta-E of just 0.6. It’s one of the best 1080p panels I’ve ever tested, so kudos to Alienware for going above and beyond.

The Alienware x14 performs well in non-gaming scenarios.

Still, playing games on a higher-resolution screen is definitely better, especially in games that emphasize rich visuals. The Razer Blade 14’s 1440p 165Hz display is the most impressive gaming experience, but it’ll set you back $2,600. It’s not a fair comparison to the Alienware x14, which costs less than $2,000, even with maximum configuration.

The Alienware x14 also performs well in non-gaming scenarios. My review unit used the Core i7-12700H, paired with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of unnecessary storage. During demanding workflows, the fans ramp up quickly, even in the default balanced thermal setting. The result is lots of fan noise, but impressive CPU performance. It is only around 8% slower than the Dell XPS 17 in tasks such as video encoding. Buy the Alienware x14 to play, but if you have side projects involving Adobe Creative Suite, this laptop’s performance won’t bother you.

Tips

The alienware x14 keyboard.

You probably want to use the Alienware x14 for more than gaming, and luckily it’s a well-made and thoughtful design to get the job done too.

There are a few things to mention about the usability of the Alienware x14. First of all, it has an excellent keyboard, both for typing and for gaming. The keys are tight and precise, and the keys don’t move. I also like that the media buttons are separated to the right of the layout. The RGB lighting is a bit lackluster though, with just single-zone backlighting on the keyboard and nothing on the ring around the vents on the back. I don’t mind, but if you want more customizable lighting, you’ll want to go with the Alienware x15 or x17.

Opting for a 16:10 format screen would have reduced the bezels.

The touchpad works well, but I had some issues with palm rejection from time to time. It’s a little small too, as are the palm rests. Moving the keyboard and touchpad away from the hinge allows for better cooling of the components underneath, but they’re 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 fantastic feature that’s still rare in gaming laptops. Speaking of webcam, the Alienware x14 has plastic bezels quite tacky that frame the outside of the screen. The lower bezel is particularly large – and it’s a bit of an eyesore. Going for a 16:10 aspect ratio screen would have solved this problem, which laptops like the Predator Triton 300 SE have.

Battery life is nothing out of the ordinary. Like many gaming laptops, it’ll last around five hours on a very light charge, and only a few if you have a more complex multitasking setup. Likely thanks to the use of its AMD processor, the Razer Blade 14 is the only competitor that will last about three hours longer than the Alienware x14 on a single charge.

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

The front of the alienware x14.

Alienware has created the best possible gaming laptop at this size. It didn’t come without compromises, of course, but as long as you buy a high-end setup, 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 quite small compared to the laptop. average gaming laptop.

The Razer Blade 14 has more to offer with its cleaner design, more GPU options and better battery life. For me, it’s worth the extra $150.

But for those who love the extreme portability the Alienware x14 offers, you’ll be impressed with what this little thing can do. Just make sure to opt for at least the RTX 3060 model.

Editors’ Recommendations






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