An ambiguous Approach / Laptops and PCs

Among our 17-inch Alienware, our experimental is the top-end gaming notebook of the year 2016, but it can carry only one discrete NVIDIA graphics card on its board. Someone will say that this is not serious, however, one GTX 1080 in Full HD- and even WQHD-resolution will suffice for several more years, so there are no reasons to spoil the SLI-garden.


Earlier we already got acquainted with the younger brother of the novelty under consideration today – 15.6-inch Alienware 15 R3, but it turned out to be a problem and, so to say, original. The hero of this review is packed with more sophisticated electronics – and we can not wait to find out how it all works together.

# Background and specifications

Here you can confirm the accuracy of the information specified in the description.Here you can confirm the accuracy of the information specified in the description.Approximate priceApproximate priceApproximate price [180,000+ rubles

The Alienware 17 R4
The processor Intel Core i7-6820HK, Skylake (Quad-Core), 2.7-3.6 GHz
Chipset Intel Sunrise Point CM236
The graphic adapter NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, 8 GB GDDR5 + Intel HD Graphics 530
Displaying the display TN + WVA (AUO B173QTN01.0), 17.3 inches, 2560 × 1440 pixels (WQHD), 120 Hz, matte, support for NVIDIA G-Sync
Operative memory 16 GB DDR4-2400 (1200 MHz), dual-channel mode, two 8 GB Micron modules
The system of the data storage 1 × HDD Hitachi TravelStar HTS721010A9E630, 1 TB, SATA3, 7200 rpm, 32 MB buffer;
The optical drive No
The connector of the flash-card No
Interfaces 2 × USB 3.0 Type-A;
1 × USB 3.0 Gen1 Type-C;
1 × USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C (Thunderbolt 3 Support);
1 × HDMI 2.0;
1 × miniDisplayPort 1.2;
1 × LAN (RJ-45);
1 × 3.5 mm Audio-In;
1 × 3.5 mm Audio-Out;
1 × Alienware Graphic Amplifier Port;
Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac (Killer Wireless-n / a / ac 1435)
Bluetooth 4.1 LE + HS
The network adapter Qualcomm / Atheros Killer e2400 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet
The sound Realtek AL298 + speaker system 2.1
Additionally 1.3 megapixel (720p) webcam + Tobii EyeX Tracking
The food The battery is non-removable, lithium-ion 99W h (7570 mAh, 13.1 V)
External power adapter 330 W (19,5V, 16,9A)
The size, mm 424 × 332 × 29.99 mm
Weight, kg 4.42 kg + power supply unit with 1.1 kg cable
Operating system Windows 10 Home x64
Warranty of the manufacturer 12-48 months

At the time of launching the Alienware 17 R4 was offered exclusively with Intel 6th generation processors, and it was this laptop that came to us for the test. However, in February 2017, updated versions of Alienware 17 R4 with the CPU of the new Kaby Lake family began to appear in the American configurator Dell, namely with the Core i7-7700HQ and i7-7820HK with the unlocked multiplier.

The choice of modifications is very wide (it’s a pity that in Russia the configurator does not work). Official prices start at $ 1,299 for the version with the GTX 1050 Ti with 2 GB of VRAM, the usual Full HD IPS screen, 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive, without an additional solid-state drive. It’s clear, those who rely on high gaming performance, this version is not interested, and therefore it is unlikely to meet it in stores.
The next level is $ 1,700-2,000. For this money, the customer can count on the same Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor (add $ 100 and get the i7-7820HK with automatic overclock to 4.4 GHz), but this modification will already be 16 Gbyte RAM, various HDD + SSD options and graphics cards higher level: GTX 1060 and GTX 1070. The installed Full HD IPS-screen will be equipped with a full (and not strangled, as in Alienware 15 R3) view management system Tobii IR Eye- Tracking – and this is one of the most important chips of the device.

In the top versions of RAM can be twice as large, the amount of SSD is twice as high, and as a video card is offered a powerful GTX 1080 with 8 GB of VRAM. But the most important difference, at least from our point of view, is different here: the manufacturer offers a 60-Hz 4K IPS-screen or a high-speed 120 Hz WQHD (2560 × 1440 pixels) with TN-matrix and support for NVIDIA G-Sync adaptive synchronization technology. That’s only against the background of competitors, this is a rather controversial decision: the same ASUS G752VSK has an IPS-type panel, but the frequency of the sweep is similar to that of Delle TN.

In terms of general stylistics, the “big brother” is the most similar to Alienware 15 R3 already studied by us: the same elements of decoration and materials used, the familiar illumination system of everything and everything, the same internal structure. If we are talking about changes, then with respect to the previous generation of the “seed”: the case has become almost 5 mm thinner, but the mass of the laptop has grown significantly – from 3.7 to 4.4-4.5 kg, depending on the modification. A low-power battery with a capacity of 68 Wh is installed only in the most affordable versions, the rest is, by default, lithium-ion by 99 W · h.

As for the modification of the laptop that came to us in the laboratory, the most significant defect is still visible on the specification plate. Well, who is the most attentive? Yes, correctly, you guessed it: it does not have a solid-state drive. The system was installed on a normal Hitachi HDD at 1 TB with a spindle speed of 7200 rpm. We were very surprised and upset: it’s very strange to get such a disk subsystem in a laptop for 180+ rubles with a GTX 1080 on board and a bunch of other powerful and interesting “hardware”. On the other hand, it’s interesting to see how hard the hard drive will reduce the comfort of working with the new Alienware 17 R4.

# Package and delivery set

The device comes with a large 330W power unit, power cable, a quick start guide, a warranty card, a safe use guide and a brand history card. Nothing superfluous – minimalism in all its glory.

# External appearance

In terms of appearance, Alienware 17 R4 underwent the same changes as the 15.6-inch version of the device. There seems to be a lot of changes, but they do not reduce the recognition of the brand. The shape of the case was slightly changed, it became slightly less complex transitions, added even more gloss – a long insert above the keyboard and in the lower area of ​​the screen where it covers the sensors of the Tobii IR Eye-Tracking.

Because of the reduced thickness (from 34.4 to 29.99 mm), the body became deeper by 4 cm – it was necessary to find a place for the placement of a productive CO, and the engineers realized it in this way. Well, in order not to change the proportions of the controls and the laptop as a whole, the screen hinges, on the contrary, were shifted from the rear to the same 4 cm to the user.

A new approach to their design allowed to increase the maximum angle of the screen tilt to almost 180 degrees … but exclusively in modifications with other types of matrices. In our case – and we recall, with the 120-Hz TN-matrix – because of the thickening in the lower part of the screen cover, the opening angle is the same as for the predecessor – about 130 degrees. The Alienware 17 R4’s hinges are metal and fairly stiff, they hold the screen position well.

In general, the new version of the 17-inch “newcomer” looks very modern and expressive. Dell decided to move two lanes of illumination from the top of the screen cover to its side faces and added a pair of the same on the edge of the case itself. It is this illumination that makes an indelible impression on the overwhelming majority.

Preinstalled software allows you to create from a dozen custom modes or select one of the installed by the manufacturer. According to the company, the total number of possible color combinations exceeds 3 trillion – there is where to clear up when setting up the appearance.

Naturally, the backlit logo with the alien aliens, the inscription “Alienware” on the bottom frame of the display and the proprietary power button are not gone anywhere. Previously, there were materials: aluminum, carbon fiber, magnesium alloy, soft touch-plastic. This combination looks and feels expensive and thoroughbred.

The set of ports in the device under study is exactly the same as that of the 15.6-inch version. At the rear, there is a special PCI Express port for connecting an external Alienware Graphics Amplifier station equipped with four USB 3.0 ports and a full-sized desktop graphics card that increases the graphics performance of Alienware 17 R4.

However, according to our assumptions, it will cost no less than the laptop itself in the minimum or medium configuration. Therefore, this opportunity is more marketing than a popular accessory, especially if we take into account the updated TX of the laptop: it should already be very productive. Next to this port are much more famous mini Display Port 1.2, modern HDMI version 2.0, power connector, network port RJ-45 and one USB 3.0 Gen1 Type-C with support for fast charging.

The right side of the laptop offers to use one of two USB 3.0 Gen1 standard type. On the opposite side there is a second USB 3.0, 3.5mm audio output and audio input, and also USB Type-C Gen2 with Thunderbolt 3 support. There is no SD / SDHC / SDXC memory card reader – this seems to be a new fashion.

Five rubber feet are used to grip the working surface, adding an additional 3-5 mm to the manufacturer’s specified 30 mm thickness and creating a slightly perceptible slope of the device to the user.

On two labels on the bottom of the case, the buyer can find out the year and place of production, the version of the laptop, the service number and the exact modification of the model.

The build quality is impeccable: to handle the elements do not carp, nothing creaks and crunches, the gaps between the parts are minimal.

The laptop is heavy, tightly knocked down, respects. With practicality, some of the materials selected by the company do not really matter (first of all it concerns the upper half-matt cover and the rubberized area around the keyboard), but what sometimes you will not do for the sake of appearance.

The acoustic system in Alienware 17 R4 is average in quality. The reduced thickness of the device, in all likelihood, negatively affected the dimensions and, accordingly, the power of the installed speakers. Perhaps it’s also because over the past year we have tested many gaming models with outstanding audio training and acoustics of class 4.1 and even 4.2.

In the case of the new Alienware, the manufacturer did not make an accent on the sound, saving two conventional speakers with a separate subwoofer and thus creating a 2.1 class system. It is loud, without wheezing at maximum volume, sound is heard in the volume, but there is not enough low frequency. To watch a movie in a small room or games (although it is better to use headphones) – a normal option, although without claims for outstanding quality.

# Input Devices

The keyboards in gaming notebooks do not look like those used in multimedia notebooks, but technically it’s practically the same thing. For example, Alienware keyboard is a classic, not an island type, but, of course, not mechanical – a standard “scissor” mechanism is used. Color – black, the surface of the keys is half-matched, all letters and symbols are white.

The keyboard is full-sized, with a separate digital unit – the dimensions of the laptop allow it. In addition there is a separate sector on the left with five customizable keys, and four more are located above the Num Pad buttons. The actions they perform can be quickly changed by switching to one of the three saved configuration blocks. In other words, a user in quick access always has up to 27 assigned buttons with different actions.

All buttons with bevelled edges. The size of the main keys is 18 × 18 mm, however, the zone for pressing is smaller – 15 × 15 mm, this is the standard indicator for the keys of many notebooks with island type keyboards. According to the manufacturer, the keyboard module itself is new, with the progress of the keys increased to 2.2 mm . It is possible, but it did not add any new sensations, besides, if we believe our own measurements, there is not more than 1.3 mm …

The buttons are pressed with a soft, deaf sound, do not stagger. They are pleasantly spring loaded, they have good tactile feedback. Long work does not cause problems, as it was in the old Alienware, because the novelty has a thinner body – the wrists lie much more comfortable and do not strain. However, one problem still remains: because of a separate block of five keys on the left side, with a blind method of printing, my fingers often went to other buttons – moved one or two keys to the side. And it seems that this is not the first such laptop, and it was possible to work for it for a very long time, but unfortunately it did not fully get used to and adapted.

The upper control keys work by default when the Fn modifier button is pressed. From the status indicators in the new version of Alienware notebooks the manufacturer refused. The backlight of the keyboard is divided into five zones, each of which can be individually configured.

The options for highlighting, as noted earlier, are insane. You can come up with the most conceivable and inconceivable combinations, adjust the color change depending on the open program, occurring on the event screen, the notification that arrived, and so on. At the same time, the backlight can smoothly change its color, quickly flash or burn in one color.

The backlight brightness changes only for all keys at once and is adjusted in a single place – right click on the AlienFX notification icon and move to the desired control slider.

The working area of ​​the notebook’s touchpad is medium in size – 100 × 55 mm, that is exactly the same as in the 15.6-inch version, but here it is shifted from the center to the left. It is also highlighted – all entirely – due to the located at the bottom of the tape RGB- LEDs and a special light-scattering surface above it. It looks very impressive and unusual.

Two physical buttons are located at the bottom. They are made of soft-touch plastic, have a soft pleasant stroke and are barely audible. The Synaptics touchpad has a wide range of settings, supports the gesture control and responds adequately to them.

The Alienware 17 R4 has a 1.3 megapixel camera, next to which are two microphones for better sound transmission and noise reduction.

Instead of the truncated Tobii EyeX Lite solution, which is familiar to us on Alienware 15 R3, its older brother uses the full-featured Tobii IR Eye-Tracking solution to track the look and turn of the head. The system consists of several infrared cameras and sensors and is installed exclusively in 17-inch Alienware R4. By the end of 2017, the number of games supporting this technology should be closer to a hundred.

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