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Alienware x14 Evaluate | PCMag

It’s protected to say gaming laptops with 14-inch screens are in vogue. A number of producers are actually providing downsized variations of the preferred 15-inch and 17-inch designs. Amongst them is the brand new Alienware x14 (begins at $1,649.99; $2,299.99 as examined), a brand new measurement for the X Sequence that takes its design cues from the bigger Alienware x15 and x17. The slim and compact design makes rather more sense at 14 inches than it did at bigger display screen sizes, although, leading to a really moveable laptop computer that has cause to be particularly trim.

The interior energy backs up the idea: The brand-new Intel Core i7 “Alder Lake” processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU in our mannequin ship a full-fledged gaming expertise, similar to or higher than competing laptops. You’ll be able to nonetheless get extra energy per greenback in a bigger laptop computer, but when you already know your gaming rig can be a frequent journey companion, the Alienware x14 is a prime choice.

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A Pure Match: X Sequence Design at 14 Inches

First, somewhat background on why this downsize is interesting. Alienware’s X Sequence spun off from the M Sequence line, taking the Alienware m15 and m17 base design, tweaking the look, and making them even thinner. The result’s the x15 and x17. The x14 is a brand new measurement in each traces—there isn’t any pre-existing 14-inch M Sequence laptop computer, as an alternative simply making use of the X Sequence design to a smaller measurement.

In apply, regardless of the x15 and x17 being marginally thinner than their counterparts, they’re truly a bit heavier, which does not make them any extra moveable. As well as, a thinner enclosure means much less room for cooling, so the facility output is diminished barely in contrast with the m15 and m17. A barely totally different fashion from the M Sequence (it’s actually subjective whether or not the white or black keyboard deck appears to be like higher) was not cause sufficient, in our view, to justify the 15-inch and 17-inch X Sequence laptops given the opposite elements.

Alienware x14 back view


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The x14, although, is the most effective deployment of this design but. The X Sequence redesign didn’t change the maths on how moveable these 15- and 17-inch laptops actually are, leaving us underwhelmed, but it surely makes rather more sense right here at 14 inches. A laptop computer with a smaller display screen will all the time be extra moveable than its bigger siblings, and while you apply the thinner design to this display screen, you get a profitable mixture.

The smaller chassis additionally appears to be like slim and slick, and it’s no phantasm: The x14 is available in at simply 0.57 by 12.7 by 10.3 inches (HWD). It additionally suggestions the scales at 3.96 kilos, which is respectable for many laptops, however particularly good for a gaming machine. It’s actually a gaming laptop computer you possibly can tuck underneath your arm or throw in a bag or backpack with no second thought. The facility adapter is compact, too—removed from a given on this class. Generally slim designs are wasted on an influence brick twice as thick and simply as heavy.

Alienware x14 angle view


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

These design chops put it proper consistent with prime 14-inch rivals just like the Razer Blade 14 and the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. The construct is extra on par with the latter than the previous—Razer’s all-metal providing stands out from the pack—however these two are nonetheless sturdy and really feel nicely definitely worth the cash. Merely put, the thin-and-light X Sequence idea plus a 14-inch chassis equals a pure match.

Though we name them 15- and 17-inch laptops, their precise show measurement (measured diagonally) is barely off these spherical numbers, at 15.6 and 17.3 inches, respectively. With 14-inch laptops, the display screen is precisely 14 inches diagonally, and in order that’s what we’ve right here. Whereas the x14 is simple to hold, there’s no getting round the truth that the show is noticeably smaller, a value you pay for the improved portability.

Alienware x14 screen


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

For some players, that measurement could also be a deal breaker, however I do discover video games a lot playable at 14 inches. Extra UI-dense or detail-oriented titles could also be a contact more durable to learn, but it surely’s a good compromise for the mobility. In the event you’re strongly contemplating a smaller laptop computer, you already know that with the ability to simply take your laptop computer on the go is a precedence for you. In the event you primarily intend to go away your gaming laptop computer in your desk or your private home, a bigger show makes extra sense.

As for the show know-how, our unit encompasses a full HD (1,920 by 1,080) decision and a 144Hz refresh charge. This can be a no-brainer mixture for me in a laptop computer this measurement. Smaller laptops are restricted of their energy output, so that they’ll have a a lot more durable time ever making good use of a QHD or 4K show with a 240Hz or 300Hz refresh charge for gaming. The complete HD and 144Hz ceiling are rather more cheap targets for the elements right here. The image high quality is crisp and vibrant, residing as much as (and as our testing will present, even past) its 400-nit ranking. The panel can also be Dolby Imaginative and prescient-certified, which improves the colour depth and high quality additional.

Alienware x14 keyboard


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The keyboard and touchpad are much less outstanding than the design as an entire, however they do the job. The keys don’t have a variety of journey, with the house bar particularly shallow. This can be a facet impact of the skinny construct, although it doesn’t must be this manner; the G14’s keys have a very good quantity of journey, and the Blade 14 is someplace between.

The condensed keyboard measurement additionally takes some getting used to (I put my fingers down within the improper place a number of instances at first), however that is simply one thing you’ll adapt to after a while. The keys are backlit as one zone with customizable RGB lighting, all managed by means of Alienware’s Command Heart software program. The touchpad may be very easy, and maybe a bit on the small facet, but it surely tracks easily and responds nicely to faucets and full presses.

Alienware x14 edge view


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

This construct sees all of its ports situated on its rear block. The x15 and x17 have most of their ports round again, too, however the energy adapter and headphone jacks stay on the left and proper edges. That’s not the case right here, a really uncommon occasion of a laptop computer not having a single left or proper facet port, little doubt an impact of the super-thin type.

You can find loads of connections again there, although. There are three USB-C ports: Two function Thunderbolt 4 assist, energy supply, and DisplayPort output, whereas the third lacks Thunderbolt assist. The latter, alone on the left, is designated because the charging port with an icon, however all of them can cost the laptop computer. You additionally get one USB-A 3.2 port, an HDMI connection, a microSD card slot, and the headphone jack.

Alienware x14 camera


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

Reaching across the show or spinning the laptop computer to see what you’re doing is somewhat inconvenient, I need to admit, however you most likely received’t assume twice about it after some time, and it’s troublesome to name a respectable grievance. Plugging in wired headphones is more likely to be the most important irritant, as a result of these jacks are very not often situated out of sight and extra typically have to be plugged again in. All collectively, the I/O providing is powerful for a smaller system, and the laptop computer additionally helps Wi-Fi 6E for cutting-edge wi-fi connections.

The webcam up prime options assist for Home windows Howdy, however its sensor is not full HD (1080p), as an alternative restricted to a 1,280-by-720-pixel decision.


Part Rundown: Welcome, Alder Lake

I discussed the elements being a very good match for the display screen measurement earlier, so now’s time to see what this laptop computer has underneath the hood. From the bottom mannequin to the utmost loadout, the x14 is extra modestly outfitted than its bigger siblings. Let’s begin with the processor, since (along with the 14-inch measurement), that is the large attraction right here.

Alienware provides two Core i7 processor choices, each from Intel’s newest twelfth Technology, often known as “Alder Lake.” This platform was a success on desktop, and the cell variations are solely simply arriving—see our preliminary testing run of a beefy Core i9 system. The x14 is the primary U.S.-retail laptop computer we’re reviewing with this new platform.

Alienware x14 underneath


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The 2 processor choices are the Core i7-12700H and the i7-12900H, each laden with 14 cores and 20 threads. You’ll be able to learn our protection of Alder Lake cell for element on how these cores function on this new era, however suffice it to say it’s now not so simple as uncooked core and thread depend; some cores are devoted to pure high-power processing, and others are efficiency-minded ones meant to avoid wasting power for mild duties.

Becoming a member of these chips are three GPU choices: the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, RTX 3050 Ti, and RTX 3060. Once more, even the best alternative stops wanting the x15 and x17’s beefier choices, but it surely’s a logical set for this measurement, and also you’ll see how our unit carried out within the testing part beneath.

As for the remaining, you possibly can max out the reminiscence at 32GB (there aren’t any enlargement slots, because the RAM is soldered down), and storage ranges from a 512GB SSD to a 2TB SSD. Alienware tells me a 256GB choice can be coming down the highway.

All of which means the present base mannequin is $1,649.99 for a Core i7-12700H CPU, 16GB of reminiscence, a 512GB SSD, and an RTX 3050 GPU. That value is honest for these components, even when we’re unable to check that actual loadout. Alienware would not provide an entry-level or lower-midrange choice, alas—as an Alienware product this tilts to the fanatic facet, and thus, fanatic pricing.

Alienware x14 edge view


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

Our assessment unit is an interesting mixture, although one which leans towards the higher-end choices. For $2,299, our mannequin contains the Core i7-12700H CPU, 32GB of reminiscence, a 2TB SSD, and the RTX 3060 GPU. Clearly the worth level isn’t as little as it may very well be, so your choices are open for a cheaper configuration, however this one ought to be capable of present what the 14-inch machine can actually do. Keep in mind that the worth is being pumped up by the expensive inclusion of a 2TB SSD, which isn’t a necessity.

Producers are capable of set Nvidia’s 30-series GPUs to an influence supply degree that fits their design targets and thermal limitations, leading to a variety of differing wattages, even for a similar GPU. In some circumstances, which means a higher-wattage RTX 3070 may outperform (or hold surprisingly near) an RTX 3080, or that two RTX 3070 GPUs in two totally different laptops can carry out very in another way. It’s a bit complicated for consumers, however implies that it’s extra essential than ever to test our per-system benchmark take a look at outcomes. The RTX 3060 within the x14 is configured with a most energy of 85 watts.


Testing the Alienware x14: Punching Above Its Weight

Between the brand new X Sequence measurement and the Alder Lake chip, it’s attractive to see what this technique can do. We’ll be operating it by means of our common suite of benchmark exams, and evaluating the outcomes towards these of the next laptops…

There’s a helpful mixture of techniques right here representing two competing 14-inch laptops, the related Alienware x15, and a funds system within the MSI Katana GF66. The latter is an fascinating inclusion because it exhibits what related elements can do if you wish to spend totally on efficiency over the trimmest attainable type issue, reducing its value with a decrease high quality, much less compact construct.

Productiveness Assessments

The primary benchmark of UL’s PCMark 10 simulates quite a lot of real-world productiveness and content-creation workflows, measuring general efficiency for office-centric duties equivalent to phrase processing, spreadsheeting, internet shopping, and videoconferencing. We additionally run PCMark 10’s Full System Drive take a look at to evaluate the load time and throughput of a laptop computer’s storage.

Three benchmarks concentrate on the CPU, utilizing all obtainable cores and threads, to charge a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 makes use of that firm’s Cinema 4D engine to render a fancy scene, whereas Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Professional simulates fashionable apps starting from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine studying. Lastly, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to transform a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p decision (decrease instances are higher).

Our ultimate productiveness take a look at is workstation maker Puget Techniques’ PugetBench for Photoshop, which makes use of the Artistic Cloud model 22 of Adobe’s well-known picture editor to charge a PC’s efficiency for content material creation and multimedia purposes. It is an automatic extension that executes quite a lot of common and GPU-accelerated Photoshop duties starting from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving a picture to making use of masks, gradient fills, and filters.

That is the place we put the brand new Alder Lake chip to the take a look at, and it handed with flying colours. The x14 was the most effective performer on each benchmark right here, topping the bigger machines and the AMD-based counterparts. AMD’s new Ryzen 6000 sequence is coming to laptops this month, so the Ryzen chips right here will technically be last-generation quickly, however are related for now. We’ll circle again on that head-to-head as soon as Ryzen 6000 laptops can be found, however contemplating the efficiency lead AMD has had within the latest previous, this enchancment is nice information for Intel.

Lengthy story quick, the x14 and i7 Alder Lake are impressively well-suited for productiveness and media duties. These choices have crept up from “ok when wanted” to legitimately helpful for enhancing and content material creation. Devoted skilled machines and workstations will nonetheless maintain a bonus as the primary system you’re employed on, however for a compact laptop computer you possibly can simply take with you for gaming {and professional} work, the x14’s outlook is rosy.

Graphics and Gaming Assessments

We take a look at Home windows PCs’ graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark: Evening Raid (extra modest, appropriate for laptops with built-in graphics) and Time Spy (extra demanding, appropriate for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs).

As well as, we run three real-world sport exams utilizing the built-in benchmarks of F1 2021, Murderer’s Creed Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Siege. These symbolize simulation, open-world action-adventure, and aggressive esports shooter video games respectively. Valhalla and Siege are run twice (Valhalla on the Medium and Extremely high quality presets, Siege at Low and Extremely high quality), whereas F1 2021 is run twice at most settings, as soon as with Nvidia’s performance-boosting DLSS anti-aliasing turned off and as soon as with it on.

The brand new Alder Lake CPU is worthy of loads of consideration, however these outcomes are the meat and potatoes for the x14. First, let’s take a look at the outcomes remoted from the opposite laptops. The scores and body charges are good, higher than common even for an RTX 3060. Focusing in on Valhalla as essentially the most strenuous title, it might probably clear a mean of 80fps by enjoying on the (nonetheless great-looking) Medium preset, and hover just below 60fps on the highest element preset. That may embody some dips which can look uneven, however decreasing a couple of settings will allow you to benefit from the title extra easily.

The less-demanding video games are an incredible expertise on the x14. Don’t let the truth that there are a number of GPUs above the RTX 3060 in Nvidia’s hierarchy dissuade you: It’s a really succesful providing. You’ll be able to obtain a race-ready 60fps on F1 2021 at most settings even with out DLSS, and make nice use of the 144Hz show in Rainbow Six Siege.

Evaluating it now to the opposite techniques, the x14 holds up nicely. It was by no means going to be extra highly effective than the x15, and the Blade 14 has an edge with its RTX 3070, however the x14 hung shut. It was even superior to the Blade 14 on Valhalla, whereas additionally markedly higher than the Zephyrus G14 and a contact forward of the MSI Katana. It posted the most effective low-settings Rainbow Six Siege outcomes as nicely, seemingly helped on by the processor on this case.

As talked about earlier with the expensive 2TB SSD, a variety of variables go into the worth of those actual configurations, so evaluating price-to-performance isn’t completely lower and dry. Typically, although, this exhibits that increased configurations of the x14 are price it, so far as thermal effectivity and its efficiency ceiling. These components carry out at or above expectations on this compact chassis, and there’s cause to assume the decrease configurations can be sound for extra budget-conscious consumers.

Warmth, Noise, and Nvidia Superior Optimus

The x14 additionally did not get uncomfortably scorching whereas gaming, notably on the keyboard. The very again of the underside was scorching (how may it not be, actually?), however in contrast to another laptops, the warmth was largely refrained from the place your arms relaxation, and there wasn’t an particularly scorching spot wherever on the deck. Between the efficiency and the warmth, Alienware’s unique “Factor 31” thermal materials (a Gallium-Silicone resolution which isn’t new to this technique) is doing its half together with a vapor cooling chamber.

Moreover, the Command Heart software program additionally opens up choices for a couple of totally different energy modes. We examined this technique on Efficiency mode, the place the fan speeds weren’t loud whereas idle and inside a suitable vary whereas gaming. Bumping as much as Full Velocity made issues a lot louder, and I would not say it is price the additional noise—this mode solely pushed three or 4 further frames per second on these video games, even when mixed with the preset overclock choice. Beneath these modes are Balanced, Cool, and Quiet choices, as nicely.

Lastly, the x14 does function Nvidia Superior Optimus, which kicks the devoted GPU (the RTX 3060) into motion while you launch a 3D or graphics-dependent program. You’ll be able to drive the GPU to be energetic always, if you want, however by default Optimus will robotically do it for you. Working the built-in graphics chip for easy duties saves energy, particularly should you’re on battery, and can scale back fan noise. The implementation is basically efficient, with some occasional hiccups with minimizing and the Optimus pop-up notification when it first kicks in. The inclusion of Optimus seemingly contributes to the system’s value, but it surely additionally helps provide a extra premium-feeling expertise.

Battery and Show Assessments

We take a look at laptops’ battery life by enjoying a domestically saved 720p video file with show brightness at 50% and audio quantity at 100% till the system quits. We be sure the battery is absolutely charged earlier than the take a look at, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off.

Excellent news for this bodily moveable machine—the battery life is lengthy! Almost 9 hours on our rundown take a look at is a superb consequence, and you may see the others fall nicely wanting that mark. The opposite two 14-inch techniques did last more on our take a look at, however all three clear a workday’s price of battery life. If the battery solely lasted 4 or 5 hours right here, it will have significantly undermined the portability, however you possibly can pack it with confidence.

The show’s colour protection is a contact fuller than the others, and the brightness exams confirmed what I see, anecdotally, in particular person. This can be a vibrant and brighter-than-average show, pushing extra nits than some other system right here.


X Sequence Has Landed

The Alienware x14 is a wonderful 14-inch gaming pocket book, an all-around stable laptop computer, and the most effective effort inside the X Sequence to this point. It retains the glossy look whereas matching or besting its competitors on efficiency, avoiding the facility dropoff we see within the x15 and x17. Going super-compact actually provides worth at this measurement, making for a genuinely road-ready gaming laptop computer.

Alienware x14 laptop


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 can also be nice, but it surely’s the Razer Blade 14 that actually trades blows with Alienware’s machine. The Blade 14 encompasses a extra premium metallic construct; its RTX 3070 configuration is cheaper than what we reviewed right here; and its show is extra superior at 1440p and 165Hz. The Blade 14 (and the G14) can be receiving AMD’s Ryzen 6000 processors early this yr, too, so the present processor benefit isn’t intrinsic to the x14, and received’t maintain perpetually.

However, a smaller SSD would put the worth benefit again to the x14; its ready-now Alder Lake CPU is blazing quick; and its RTX 3060 stacks as much as the Blade’s RTX 3070. It’s nearly a wash between these two prime machines, down largely to desire on the design and a few function variations. If you wish to make use of the Alder Lake juice now and just like the fashion of this machine, the x14 is a prime choice for cell players.

Execs

  • Impressively quick Core i7 “Alder Lake” processor

  • RTX 3060 unit delivers a constant 60fps-plus gaming expertise

  • Compact design

  • Lengthy-lasting battery

  • Wide selection of connectivity, together with three USB-C ports

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The Backside Line

The brand-new Alienware x14 joins the higher echelon of 14-inch gaming laptops, delivering a sound gaming expertise and quick general efficiency in a super-portable design.

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