Alienware X17 R2 review: It’s still out of this world

We were really impressed by Alienware’s 17-inch X17 R1, which was launched about a year ago and managed to combine impressive gaming performance with a sleek, slimline design that our reviewer declared “out of this world”.

Following on from that success, Alienware has now released a new R2 model that makes the X17 even better. It’s not a radical redesign, but it brings the X17 up to date with the latest CPU and GPU options that provide improved performance. And, like its predecessor, the X17 provides a wide range of customisation and upgrade options that allow you to build the gaming rig of your dreams (bank account permitting).

Price And Options

  • 17.3-inch display options; FHD (1920 x 1080) at 165Hz 3ms or 360Hz 1ms; 4K (3840x 2160) at 120Hz 4ms
  • CPU: Intel i7-12700H or i9-12900HK
  • GPU: up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
  • Memory: up to 64GB DDR5, 4800MHz
  • Storage: 512GB-4TB M.2, PCIe NVMe solid-state

You’ve got plenty of choice when choosing and configuring the X17. There are several ready-made options available on Dell’s website, but they all provide a wide range of customisation and upgrade options so that you can effectively design your own gaming rig.

Prices start at £2149/$2249.99 for an entry-level model with an Intel i7-12700H processor, and GeForce RTX 3060 graphics. However, our review unit stepped up to a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti with 16GB video memory, along with 32GB memory and 1TB solid-state drive for a total price of £3449.00/$3499.99. However, both models have just 1920 x 1080 resolution, which is disappointing given the size of the screen and the X17’s top-of-the-range price tag.

You do have the option of upgrading to a 2560 x 1440 display for just another £40 – and that resolution has always been the sweet spot for our ageing eyeballs, so that’s certainly an upgrade that’s worth considering. However, stepping up to a full 4K display (3840 x 2160 and 120Hz) will cost a rather hefty £300. And, if money is no object, then you can also throw in an i9-12900HK processor as well, bringing the total price to a whopping £4349.02/$4799.99.


  • ‘Legend 2.0’ design, 21mm thick – 3.0kg weight
  • Quad-fan cooling system, with Element 31 encapsulated gallium-silicone thermal interface material for cooling
  • Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C with DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 2x USB-A (3.2), microSD, headphone socket
  • Connectivity: Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1675, Killer E3100 RJ-45 2.5G Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.2

The design of the X17 – modestly referred to by Dell as ‘Legend 2.0’ – hasn’t changed much for this year’s R2 edition, but that’s no bad thing. It may weigh a rather hefty 3.0kg, but the 17.3-inch laptop measures just 21mm thick, and its wafer-thin screen panel is finished off with an eye-catching silk-finish, stain-resistant light grey paint. Also rather eye-catching is the new ‘stadium’ – a glowing border that runs all around the ports on the back panel of the laptop.

Unfortunately, this makes it almost impossible to actually see any of those ports, but at least you can turn the stadium lights off – as well as customise the keyboard lighting and other effects – using the Alienware Command Centre app.

With the stadium turned off, you’ll find that the X17 is pretty well connected, sporting one Thunderbolt 4 port, one USB-C with DisplayPort support for connecting an external display, along with both HDMI and Mini DisplayPort. Other ports include two USB-A (3.2), microSD slot and a headphone socket. The laptop also includes a 2.5G Ethernet port for a lag-free wired connection, along with Intel’s Killer Wi-Fi 6 if you prefer to go wireless.

The keyboard feels very firm and solid enough to take a pounding during long gaming sessions. The keyboard is relatively small though – apparently to make room for the cooling vents and speaker grilles that surround it – and the Shift keys and Space bar are smaller than we’re used to. The trackpad is quite small too, measuring just 110mm wide and 65mm high – the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a larger trackpad – but you’ll be using a mouse for any serious gaming, so that’s hardly a deal-breaker.

The 1920 x 1080 display is the one real let-down, especially for a laptop costing well over £3000. To be fair, it’s very bright and colourful, and the 360Hz refresh rate ensures that the image is admirably clear and sharp, even when you’re charging around a busy battlefield. The 4K display option has a lower refresh rate, though – at 120Hz – so some people may actually prefer to stick with a 1920 x 1080 display that has 360Hz refresh.

Performance and battery

  • GeForce 3080 Ti provides impressive performance
  • High-performance mode boosts fan cooling
  • Battery: 6-cell, Lithium-Ion 87Wh

The use of a 1920 x 1080 display also means that the X17 racks up some seriously high frame rates for gaming and other graphics tasks. The i7-12700H processor provides very solid performance, with GeekBench 5 scores of 1,700 for single-core performance, and 12,700 for multi-core performance. But it’s the RTX 3080 Ti GPU that steals the show, with a score of over 150 frames per second in all our gaming tests.

The demanding Unigine Valley test scores 155fps, while 3DMark Wildlife Extreme comes in at 157fps, and the built-in benchmark of Rise Of The Tomb Raider breezes to 153fps even on the game’s highest graphics settings. The X17 also has a ‘high-performance’ mode, which ramps up the cooling fans to add about another 10fps to those scores.

The only drawback is that the hyper-active cooling system sounds like a Boeing 747 taking off in your living room – although a good headset will probably help drown out the noise while you’re playing. And, just out of curiosity, we also hooked up the X17 to an external 4K display and were pleased to find that it still managed a very respectable 58fps with Tomb Raider still on its highest graphics settings.

The downside of offering such high performance is that the X17 runs out of battery life pretty darn quickly – in fact, looping through our demanding graphics tests, it barely managed to last for 90 minutes. If you’re not in gaming mode then you can switch to the Intel processor’s integrated Iris Xe graphics in order to preserve battery life. This gave us just 5 minutes short of 4 hours of streaming video, so you should be able to watch a film or two if you’re travelling on a train or plane. But, when it comes to gaming, the X17’s limited battery life will restrict it to indoor use only.

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