8.8 Ace

Well engineered, a solid build with the same old design, the Alienware 17 R5 2018 is a machine is made to kill. With lots of configuration options, impressive graphics performance, good battery life, and beautiful display; you can think of Alienware 17 R5 as your next desktop replacement. The TechSeer will give it an 8.8 from a solid 10.

  • Design 8.7
  • Display 8.5
  • Performance 9.5
  • Battery Life 8.0
  • Value for Money 9.4

Alienware has once again managed to deliver a gruesome machine “Alienware 17 R5 2018” just like it did last year with its award winner Alienware 13 R3 2017. Despite sticking to the same graphics chip for two long years, it has finally decided to catch up on the latest specs. Updating its 17-inch gaming laptop by installing some of the first Intel i9 processors seen available.

The new hexacore Coffee Lake chips have made desktop processing more powerful and far better than ever witnessed before. It is safe to say that unlike these devices, the Alienware 17 R5 2018 has been specially designed to deliver exceptionally well in both performance and battery life. You can go for its cheaper variant Dell G7 7588 if you want to save hundreds of dollars.

Alienware 17 R5 2018 Review

Pros

  • Impressive graphics performance
  • Good battery life
  • Beautiful display
  • Lots of configuration options

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Tobii Eye-tracking with high-resolution display only
  • Same old design with squared proportions

Alienware 17 R5 2018: Price and Availability

Starting at a fairly reasonable price of $US1559 (£1,499/AU$2,999), it is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8750H, factory overclocked Nvidia GTX 1060 OC with 6GB DDR5, Full HD IPS display, 8GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB (+8GB SSD) Hybrid Drive. The solid-state hybrid drive may be a turn-off but it can always be replaced with an affordable SSD.

In UK and Australia, listings and availability of Alienware 17 R5 2018 is a little behind. The initial configuration of this range still comes with the last generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ, a standard Nvidia GTX 1060 and 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD paired with a 1TB HDD with a starting price of £1,348 or AU$2,298.

Considering the latest 8th generation, one would have to invest an approximately $US1759 (£1,899/AU$2,999) for an Intel Core i7-8750 powered system that also doubles the memory capacity to 16GB. For a fully loaded spec configuration, the amount may total up to around $US3809 (£3,999/AU$4,599). This seems way too out of the league but pretty normal for desktop replacement gaming laptops just like ASUS ROG G703GI. You can buy it directly from Dell website or from Amazon and eBay in USA, Canada, Europe, UK, and Australia.

Our tech guys have reviewed the maxed out Alienware 17 R5 2018 this time.

Alienware 17 R5 2018: Specs Board

Feature Specs Offered
CPU 2.9GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK (hexacore, 12MB cache, up to 4,8GHz)
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 OC (8GB GDDR5X)
RAM 32GB DDR4 (2,666MHz)
Screen 17.3 inch, QHD (2,560 x 1,440) 120Hz G-Sync
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD (7,200 rpm)
Ports 2 x USB 3.0, 1x USB-C 3.0, 1x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), HDMI, mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, headphone jack and microphone jack
Connectivity Killer 1550 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Weight 9.74 pounds (4.42 kg)
Size 16.7 x 13.1 x 1.18 inches (42.4 x 33.2 x 2.99cm)
Camera Alienware FHD camera, Tobii IR Eye-tracking with Windows Hello

 

Design

Old Design to follow: Just like always, Alienware has started with a rock solid build but surprisingly, Alienware 17 R5 2018 design remains almost unchanged despite it being two years old. Yet, the design still appears fresh and unique in the laptop design department. It’s not something we’ve grown tired of yet. Perhaps the impressive part about it is maintaining its original 17-inch display design. That too while accommodating the extra two processor core added to its system. In fact, it maintains all the same dimensions as well as the weight as its predecessor, last year’s R4 model. The same old design could be a turn off for you if you already have the older model. It is available in a combination of Black and Epic Silver.

Weight: But it was never light or petite, to begin with. Alienware 17 R5 2018 weighs a solid 10-pounds and its square-shaped proportions make it difficult to find suitable laptop bags or to carry it around easily.

Keyboard: Alienware 17 R5 2018 comes fully equipped with all the luxuries one could expect for the perfect gaming station. The Alienware TactX keyboard with 2.2 mm of key travel is perceptible and has great responsiveness. It comes with a 4-Zone, multi-color RGB. But the keyboard is not mechanical as we have seen in Gigabyte Aorus X9. The AlienFX lighting controls along the keys and the trackpad are aesthetically pleasing as well. The numeric keypad along with 9 user-programmable keys that provide up to 19 distinct functions per application or game sounds convenient. It makes one forget about a mechanical gaming keyboard. The macro keys placing is different and can require some time getting used to. The keyboard, in general, is very gamer friendly.

Speakers: The 2.1 stereo speaker includes a subwoofer. It utilizes the system’s very own Alienware Sound Center and Audio Recon Software. Audio is loud and crisp enough to overpower the system’s loud fans. It tends to give one a rich gaming experience without wanting to use any gaming headset whatsoever. In addition to this, 7.1 Digital Audio uses HDMI out the connection to complete the Alienware 17 R5 2018 sound system configuration. The speakers are well positioned and create a really good bass, unlike the one we found in MSI GS73 Stealth which were not positioned properly.

Tobii Eye-tracking: This feature was not very influential last year in the older model. This year Alienware has directly bound this upgrade to high-resolution screen options. It might require getting used to seeing (or ignoring) two eye-tracking red dots just below the screen for experiencing the 1440p display or a 4K panel. As for its use in games or utility, The TechSeer claims to have gotten the most use out of it during Assassin’s Creed Syndicate gameplay on Alienware 17 R5 2018, where it could be used as a third thumb for aiming. Otherwise, its just an add-on feature and can be plain uncomfortable to some users.

Tobii’s eye-tracking technology has been applied in some Windows-level uses including Windows Hello login or presence detection. It includes commanding our laptop to dim or brighten the light or to go to sleep when the user is not looking at it. We, however, don’t think forgoing this feature will be a loss at all.

Alienware 17 R5 2018: Display

A feature that makes this model stand out from its predecessor is the 17-inch QHD screen. The color depth and black levels of this display are almost as good as an IPS monitor. There are 2 types of screens available.

  • 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 60Hz IPS Anti-Glare 300-nits- Black Chassis
  • 17.3-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) 120Hz TN+WVA Anti-Glare 400-nits with Tobii Eye-tracking
  • QHD (2560 x 1440) 17.3″ 120Hz TN+WVA AG 400-nits NVIDIA G-SYNC, Tobii Eye-tracking
  • 17.3 inch UHD (3840 x 2160) 60Hz IPS Anti-Glare 300-nits with Tobii IR Eye-tracking
  • 17.3 in UHD (3840 x 2160) 60Hz IPS AG 300-nits NVIDIA G-SYNC w/ Tobii IR Eye-tracking

You will have the option to chose your chassis from silver or black color. The 120Hz refresh rate makes the display vivid and so satisfying as one experiences the gaming output. But we have seen laptops with better refresh rate such as MSI GS65 Stealth Thin with 144Hz. It is even more impressive to experience that the Alienware 17 R5 2018 is so overpowering that it has the ability to push your everyday games at a higher resolution of up to 1440p and still create room for more frames per second.

Performance

Alienware 17 R5 2018 could be ‘it’ when it comes to the gaming experience. An Intel core of i9 processor 8950HK (6-Core, 12MB Cache, Overclocking up to 5.0GHz) combined with a 32GB DDR4-2666MHz and factory overclocked Nvidia GTX 1080 OC with 8GB of DDRX5 is a pretty powerful combination. The Alienware 17 R5 2018 has proved that by widening the CPU bottleneck just a little, Nvidia’s Maxwell GPUs still has something good to give. It has produced one of the highest graphics scores and frame rates that a gaming laptop has been able to offer.

When put through all the 3DMark tests, Alienware 17 R5 2018 performed better than Asus ROG G703GI and RazerBlade 14. Alienware 17 R5 2018 scored slightly less than Asus ROG G703GI in both Cinebench CPU (987 points) and Geekbench 4 Single-core (5,804 points) or Multi-core (20,831 points). Asus was able to keep its core i9 running at a higher frequency. This was most probably due to ROG G703GI utilizing two power bricks whereas Alienware 17 R5 2018 only running on one.

This also enables ASUS 17-inch to run games like Total War: Warhammer II and Shadow of War at ultra settings on 1080p with average 130 frame rates. Alienware 17 R5 2018 stays one step behind ASUS ROG G703GI in this matter but overall its performance is just as good. Whats also still pretty impressive is that these laptops have managed to overpower the graphics winner, Aorus X9. Which came equipped with two Nvidia GTX 1070s in SLI. It sure has outweighed Dell’s latest G gaming series and Hp Omen 17 in performance.

It also features being specially designed for the most immersive VR experience. The Alienware 17 R5 2018 runs Vermintide II at a steady 100 fps even when compared to an AI-powered mass, as well as running the game at max settings and 1440p.

We tested following games at ultra settings 1080p and rendered following average results.

It gives the gamer equally comfortable gaming experiences with V-Sync turned on while playing State of Decay 2 and Far Cry 5, running at an average 90 fps.

Battery Life

High-performance laptops lose their appeal if they do not have just as good of a battery life. The company understood this and called for a modification. Now Alienware 17 R5 2018 has a better battery life as compared to its R4 predecessor. The Alienware 17 R5 2018 ran for a solid hour and eight minutes longer on PCMark 8. The total run time is around 3 hours and 21 minutes. As for the playtime, it was 21 minutes longer for a typical local video backtest. That’s longer than the Asus ROG G703GI which managed to run for only an hour and 29 minutes in PCMark 8. Also 1 hour 53 minutes in the video playback test.

A lithium-ion battery of 68 Wh is used in the base model but the rest of the models have 99 Wh battery. This may sound promising, however, for hours of gaming or daily usage while traveling or outside.

Alienware 17 R5 2018 is not a recommended laptop since it is more of a desktop replacement. You can still take it for your gaming competitions as it won’t disappoint you in the performance but make sure to carry your adapter along. We could not be able to find any heat on a normal use but it will sure be a bit noisy when you are going to play your high-end games on this machine. But some noise is okay given that it has a huge fan and vents to follow through.

Configuration

Alienware 17 R5 2018 series are high-end laptops, to begin with. The basic version begins at $1,549 excluding any discounts followed by myriad configuration options all the way up to our $3,099 maxed-out model. Different configurations are available with SSDs and hard drives. The maximum option available is of 1TB PCle SSD (Boot) + 1TB PCle SSD (Storage) + 1TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s (Storage).

The memory options range for Alienware 17 R5 2018 are in the following manner:

  • 8GB, DDR4, 2400MHz; up to 32GB
  • 16GB, DDR4, 2400MHz; up to 32GB
  • 16GB, DDR4, 2400MHz; up to 32GB
  • 32GB DDR4-2666MHz, 2x16GB

The basic setups do not offer a 4K display but with increasing price, it can also be set up.

The chassis on Alienware 17 R5 2018 somehow remains same as the older versions but CPU is incredible so CPU dependent applications and software performance are just as good. Nvidia GTX 1080 is the fastest one can go which is overclockable up to 5Ghz. It does not remain too stable at 5Ghz though and decreases to 4.8. Though it still is a pretty big overclock for a laptop. It also has improved Alienware cryo-tech v2.0 thermal technology which regulates the heating way better than before. Alienware 17 R5 2018 so far offers the most overpacked configurations available yet.

Verdict: Alienware 17 R5 2018 

We’re honestly impressed. With what Alienware has to offer in this model if one is willing to invest the huge sums of money it requires, this is truly an amazing machine. But from a practical point of view, one can go for cheaper options with the same specs but you won’t get the same robust machine. Alienware 17 R5 2018, however, will still be worth what it’s asking for.

The combination of Intel Core i9 power with a factory overclocked Nvidia GTX 1080 is powerful. It has a game-changing effect on the graphics levels and gaming performance for notebooks. With a surprising amount of battery to go along with, the Alienware 17 R5 2018 is so far the most balanced laptop. Especially when it comes to performance and everyday usage.

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