The Alienware x17 R2 gaming laptop comes in all sorts of configurations, from a design with a normal 1440p 165Hz display all the way up to a 1080p display with a refresh rate – ready for it? – 480 Hz.
That’s just ridiculous. But for the past few weeks, I’ve been using this delicate design, and while I’m confident in the fact that I’ve never used the full screen, it’s been very pleasing nonetheless.
Alienware x17 R2 – photo
Here are the Alienware x17 R2 specs I’ve been testing:
- Model: Alienware x17 R2 (P48E)
- Display: 17.3″ FHD 480Hz (1920 x 1080)
- Processor: Intel Core i7–12700H 3.5GHz (24M cache, 4.7GHz Max Turbo)
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU, 16GB GDDR6
- Memory: 32GB DDR5 4800MHz
- Operating system: Windows 11 Home
- Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- Webcam: 720p with Windows Hello IR support
- Ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 port with PowerShare, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort and Power Delivery, 1 x Thunderbolt 4 port with Power Delivery, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack, 1 x HDMI 2.1 port, 1 x mini DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x RJ45 Ethernet port, 1 x microSD card slot
- Connectivity: WiFi 6E 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2
- Dimensions: 15.72 x 11.79 x .82 in (W x D x H)
- Weight: 6.65 pounds
- price: $3,699 As configured
The test sample I received is one of the newer designs available, but you can outfit the x17 R2 to your liking from 16GB of memory all the way up to 64GB. Or SSD storage starting at 512GB and going up to a maximum of 4TB, with a GPU ranging from 3060 to 3080 Ti.
Alienware x17 R2 – Design
There’s something to be said for Alienware’s approach to design — with honeycomb-like cutouts on the laptop’s surface, or the white lunar housing with an alien’s face and the number 17 etched into the lid, highlighted by RGB LEDs that flank the back of the laptop where all the ports are. Alienware hasn’t strayed from that basic design much over the past few years, and it definitely grew on me.
There is one aspect of the x17 R2’s design that I’m a huge fan of – nearly all of the ports are on the back of the laptop. Both sides of the chassis are virtually portless, except for the charging port on the left side and the 3.5mm audio jack on the right, both of which are as far back as possible. The back of the case is home to two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports with PowerShare, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort and Power Delivery, a Thunderbolt 4 port with Power Delivery, an HDMI 2.1 port, a mini DisplayPort 1.4 port, an Ethernet port, and a microSD card slot.
There are two changes I have to make to how I set up ports on R2. First, I’d move the microSD card slot to the sides of the housing. If you frequently need to transfer files from a microSD card, having to reach into the back of your laptop will be annoying. For me, having all the ports on the back of the laptop is ideal when using the laptop in a semi-permanent arrangement.
The second thing is to do something with the LED light ring that surrounds the ports. When you try to look at the back of the laptop and find an outlet, the light is so bright that it’s blinding and you can’t see any of the ports. I had to turn off the light on a few occasions just to see where to connect an external hard drive or ethernet cable. I dig the laptop’s light design and feel, but it struggles with easy access to practically every port on the x17 R2.
As for the size and handling of the x17 R2, well, you’ll want to do a few more push-ups before tossing it in your backpack. It measures 15.72 x 11.79 x .82 inches and weighs between 6.54 and 7.05 pounds, depending on the model.
This overall size should accommodate a 17.3-inch Full HD display with an impressively fast 480Hz refresh rate. When you think about how fast that refresh rate is, you realize that it’s almost too fast. In fact, it’s so fast, you’ll be hard-pressed to take full advantage of it while you’re playing. But more on that later.
Opening the lid, you’ll find a full-size keyboard with no number pad, with chiclet keys that feature keys co-developed with Cherry and have a pleasant audible click. Above the keyboard is the honeycomb battery I mentioned earlier, along with a strange RGB-lit face power button.
Beneath the keyboard is a decently sized trackpad that’s good enough to get basic work done, but for more labor-intensive tasks you’ll need a dedicated mouse.
The screen is surrounded by relatively dense bezels, with a 720p webcam along the top of the screen housing.
Overall, the x17 R2’s design is exactly what you’d expect from Alienware. However, I wish there was at least a dark gray or matte black color option. Lunar white is bound to get dirty over time.
Alienware x17 R2 – Performance and gaming
Inside the x17 R2 are a powerhouse of components. You can tweak the configuration to your liking, but the review model I received had a 12th Gen Intel Core i7–12700H, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti with 16GB of GDDR6 memory, 4800MHz GDDR5 memory and a 1TB SSD. As a reminder, it’s all powering a 1080p display with a 480Hz refresh rate. Absurdity on paper.
With a list price and high-end parts, the performance should be impressive, right? the correct! And the x17 R2 delivers on that promise. Here’s a quick comparison chart showing how the x17 R2 fared in IGN’s benchmark gauntlet when pitted against two other RTX 3080 Ti-powered systems: the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 with an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX and the Gigabyte Aero 16 with an Intel Core i9–12900HK. Keep in mind that both laptops, as tested, start at $4,399. Not cheap.
As you can see, the x17 R2 was either within a few points or surpassing both laptops across the board. I was quite surprised by the R2’s 7209 PCMark 10, which was the lowest of the three, with the Duo 16 scoring 7311 and the Aero 16 scoring 7560, considering that the R2 performed well in all other tests.
For everyday use, the R2 was a workhorse. I basically left him on a desk and didn’t move him around the house much, but I did spend some time with him on my lap while I surfed the web and watched some YouTube videos. He’s a heavy boy. The R2 handled everything you threw at it. From normal use to multitasking between multiple tabs, installing multiple apps and games, and streaming music – all without any crashes or performance glitches.
As far as gaming goes, the x17 R2 delivers. I’ve spent quite a bit of time playing Fortnite, with and without headphones, and was blown away by the x17 R2’s performance. With all graphic settings set to Epic, I consistently saw frame rates of 200-300 seconds. It’s certainly nowhere near as fast as the 480Hz screen, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
Screen saturation and color are good, but nothing overly impressive. And I love that the screen is brighter — it often felt a little too dim for me. In fact, what I’d rather have is a screen with a higher resolution than one with a refresh rate that definitely won’t be used to its fullest. Of course, these specs are also available in other R2 configurations – either 1440p at 165Hz or 4K at 120Hz.
I really like the feel of the keyboard and the keys on the x17 R2. The keys feel crisp, if that makes any sense, when typing and gaming. The speakers are loud enough for everyday use, but once you’re running the fans during resource-intensive tasks like gaming, you’ll want to put on headphones to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
The x17 R2’s base configuration comes with 512GB of storage, which is a good starting point for a gaming laptop. I’m glad this sample had a 1TB hard drive, though. It won’t take much to fill up a 1TB drive anymore.
Alienware x17 R2 – Battery life
Alienware doesn’t provide a battery life estimate for the x17 R2, but touts the different power modes as a way to ensure you can customize performance and battery life to your needs.
In daily use, the x17 R2 gets through a few hours of work before needing to be plugged in.
Using PCMark 10’s Modern Office battery benchmark, the x17 R2’s battery went from fully charged to dead in less than three hours. More specifically, 2 hours 55 minutes. This is well in line with the battery life performance in the same benchmark for the Duo 16 and Aero 16.
Alienware x17 R2 – Software
In the past, Alienware has been praised for its lightweight approach to preinstalling software on its PCs, and that trend continues with the x17 R2. There are only a few applications installed. There’s the Alienware Command Center, along with some other Alienware utilities like the dedicated app for installing the latest BIOS and other firmware from Dell. You will not find any kind of antivirus software installed on the R2.
However, I still struggled with using the Alienware Command Center app, where you go to view system stats or change the keyboard color scheme and the rest of the R2’s RGB lighting aspects. The lunar white color of the app itself makes it difficult to see text, buttons, and other information on the screen. I have to manually switch the app to dark mode to use it.
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