Alienware x17 R2 review: The absurdity of a 480Hz gaming laptop

Alienware x17 R2

MSRP $2,250.00

“The Alienware x17 R2 is one in every of the fastest gaming laptops you’ll be able to buy, but it is advisable to skip the 480Hz screen.”


  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Several thermal profiles available
  • Very thin for a 17-inch laptop
  • Incredible port selection
  • Solid CPU power


  • Runs loud and hot at full power
  • Mechanical keyboard is not for everybody
  • Grainy webcam

480Hz on a gaming laptop sounds crazy, and in fairness, it’s. But Alienware pushed ahead anyway, and we now have the Alienware x17 R2 — the primary laptop ever with a 480Hz display. It’s built with hardware worthy of our greatest gaming laptops roundup, and the screen is configured for essentially the most competitive players.

Unfortunately, the star feature of the x17 R2 isn’t the very best thing about it. That is top-of-the-line laptops available on the market straight away, and no a part of that assessment comes from the refresh rate. 480Hz is an achievement, absolutely, but Alienware’s excellent X-series design, highly capable hardware, and stellar software features are what make the x17 R2 a fantastic gaming laptop.

Alienware x17 R2 specs

  Alienware x17 R2
Dimensions (LxWxH) 11.79 inches x 15.72 inches x 0.82 inches
Weight Starting weight: 6.54 kilos / Maximum weight: 7.05 kilos
Processor Intel Core i7-12700H
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti (165W TGP)
RAM 32GB (2x16GB) DDR5-4800
Display 17.3-inch Full HD, 480Hz, 3ms
Storage 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
Touch No
Ports 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C with DisplayPort and power delivery, 1x Thunderbolt 4, 1x 3.5mm, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.4, 1x Ethernet, 1x microSD
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 720p with Windows Hello and dual-array microphones
Operating system Windows 11
Battery 87 watthour battery
Price $2,250+

The second revision of the Alienware x17 is admittedly made to accommodate Intel’s Twelfth-gen processors. You possibly can go from the 14-core Core i7-12700H as much as the 14-core Core i9-12900HK. Although I wasn’t capable of test the i9 configuration, I’d be shocked if it provided much of a profit in games, though it should provide a lift in non-gaming apps.

Otherwise, you’ll be able to go from an RTX 3060 as much as an RTX 3080 Ti, pack in as much as 64GB of DDR5-4800 memory, and install as much as 4TB of SSD storage in RAID 0. My exact configuration, which you’ll be able to see within the spec table above, clocked in at $3,550 on the time it was shipped. Prices at all times change, especially for those who’re outside of the U.S., so ensure that to envision prices with Alienware’s configuration page.

If it ain’t broke…

The Alienware x17 R2 sitting on a desk.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Alienware x17 R1 was a smash hit, so it’s no surprise that the R2 version sticks with the identical overall design. Just like other X-series laptops just like the Alienware x14, the x17 R2 focuses on portability with a thickness of 0.84 inches on the thickest point and a maximum weight of seven kilos.

Yes, it is a 17-inch gaming laptop, so portability takes on a unique definition. For a correct desktop alternative, this machine is definitely rather more portable than something just like the MSI GE76 Raider. You won’t be throwing it in a backpack often, though, on account of the scale and weight, in addition to the chunky charger.

Still, I like this design, and I’m glad Alienware stuck with it. Just like the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro, the entire ports are positioned across the back of the machine, and you’ve connections like Mini DisplayPort and an Ethernet jack that you simply don’t typically find on laptops. Alienware keeps every thing decently cool as well, sticking with the Element 31 thermal paste featured in the unique design and 4 cooling fans.

Ports on the Alienware x17 R2 laptop.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Alienware also stayed with the mechanical keyboard design it created with Cherry. The MSI GT77 Titan uses the same keyboard, and I’m not a fan of it. It’s comfortable to type on, but there’s loud pinging and spring noise that makes long typing sessions tedious. A high quality membrane keyboard just like the one offered on the Razer Blade 14 remains to be the option to go. It’s value noting that Alienware offers a membrane keyboard as an option, but I wasn’t capable of try it out.

Although the switches aren’t my favorite, the keyboard layout is great. Specifically, the Page Up and Page Down keys are additional functions on the arrow keys, and Alienware uses the additional space for full-size media keys as a substitute.

Most laptops reserve these for the function keys on top. Alienware stuck with the identical full-size keyboard design, though, resulting in a smaller trackpad and no number pad. Let’s be honest, though: Try to be using this machine with a gaming mouse.

A hand using the trackpad on the Alienware x17 R2.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I like that Alienware stuck with the identical design, however the one pain point is the webcam. It’s 720p, and even with direct sunlight pouring through my windows, it produced a dark and grainy image. The speakers could use some work, too. Although they’re very loud, the increased bass resonance sometimes causes a slight rumbling on the chassis and a little bit of distortion at full volume. In fairness, I never needed to listen at full volume, and Alienware includes some sound profiles to customize the response.

The Alienware Command Center actually comes stocked with quite a couple of features, including five thermal profiles. The Balanced and Performance profiles were essentially the most comfortable, while the Full Power preset resulted in very loud fan noise but the very best performance out of all of them.

Loads of CPU power

Alienware x17 R2 (Core i7-12700H) Razer Blade 17 (Core i7-12800H MSI GE76 Raider (Core i9-12900HK)
GeekBench (Single/Multi) 1,718 / 12,437 1,808 / 11,843 1,855 / 13,428
Cinebench R23 (Single/Multi) 1,742 / 17,262 1,697 / 13,218 1,872 / 16,388
PugetBench for Premiere Pro 908 969 1,120
Handbrake (seconds, lower is best) 66 73 72

Although the 14-core Intel Core i7-12700H should run below the dearer i9, that’s rarely the case. Unless you jump to Intel’s HX series of processors, 14 cores is the utmost you’ll be able to get straight away in a laptop, and Intel’s enthusiast-grade i7 still rips through CPU-intensive tasks.

The Core i7-12700H principally matches the 10-core M1 Pro available within the 14-inch MacBook Pro, which few processors can achieve.

It is a testament to the thermal design of the Alienware x17 R2 greater than anything, because the Core i9-12900H within the HP Envy 16 managed a lower multi-core rating (though a rather higher single-core rating). The scale helps quite a bit, too, because the x17 R2 was capable of outpace the Alienware x14 with the identical processor in each single- and multi-core tests.

For gamers, the CPU differences don’t matter an excessive amount of.

It’s not perfect, though, particularly for those who work in creative apps. The Asus ZenBook Pro 16X, for instance, was capable of outpace the Alienware x17 R2 in Pugetbench for Premiere Pro by nearly 14%, despite using the identical processor and a weaker GPU. The upper clock speeds from the Core i7-12800H contained in the Razer Blade 17 provided a lift, too, though it’s small.

For gamers, the differences don’t matter an excessive amount of. Alienware’s design is extracting as much out of the part inside as it could possibly. For those who’re a creator that’s out and in of Premiere all day, though, or you wish strong encoding capabilities, springing for the upper clock speeds of Intel’s dearer Twelfth-gen processors can provide some minor advantages.

A gaming monster

God of War running on the Alienware x17 R2 laptop.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Alienware x17 R2 is a gaming monster, even when it takes a slight backseat comared to larger laptops. You’re getting the complete power of the RTX 3080, as much as 150W with a further 25W from Dynamic Boost, but you’ll must run the machine with the loud Full Power preset to get top-tier performance. I tested with the Performance preset, because it was essentially the most comfortable by way of noise.

Alienware x17 R2 (RTX 3080 Ti) Razer Blade 17 (RTX 3080 Ti) MSI GT77 Titan (RTX 3080 Ti)
3DMark Fire Strike 26,224 26,661 29,419
3DMark Time Spy 13,131 12,634 13,361
Red Dead Redemption 2 79 fps 90 fps 95 fps
Fortnite 106 fps 104 fps 138 fps
Civilization VI 176 fps 193 fps N/A
Cyberpunk 2077 77 fps 72 fps 98 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 w/ RT 34 fps 44 fps 47 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 w/ RT + DLSS 61 fps 71 fps N/A

Even though it’s not peak performance, you’re still getting a laptop that may push above 60 fps in essentially the most demanding games available today. The entire results above are at 1080p with the best quality preset, and you’ll be able to see the outcomes for games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2 that may bring a number of desktops to their knees.

Ray tracing is feasible, too, though totally on the back of Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). You possibly can reap the benefits of DLSS with this GPU, which is an enormous boost for games which can be limited by the capabilities of laptops like Cyberpunk 2077. 

There’s a small trade-off in performance for the thinness afforded by the x17 R2. But overall, it’s still a highly capable laptop that may go toe-to-toe with essentially the most powerful mobile workstations available today.

Is a 480Hz screen value it?

Rainbow Six Siege running on the Alienware x17 R2.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The massive cope with the Alienware x17 R2 is that it’s the primary laptop to come back with a 480Hz screen. That’s what I tested, nevertheless it’s not the one option. Alienware offers five screen options, and the 1080p 480Hz model is a $300 premium over the bottom 165Hz 1080p screen. Unfortunately, most individuals won’t notice a difference with 480Hz and, frankly, don’t need it.

I desired to see what games could even reap the benefits of 480Hz without being CPU limited, and I didn’t find many. Rocket League and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive cracked the ceiling, but even the very light Rainbow Six Siege only managed 308 fps — and that was at 1080p with the bottom quality setting. Similarly, Fortnite didn’t even crack 150 fps, though it’s admittedly rather more demanding than the opposite three games.

You’re going from around 3ms for every refresh to 2ms when going from 360Hz to 480Hz. It’s beyond the purpose of diminishing returns.

I don’t want to jot down off 480Hz as nonsense. Like going from 60Hz to 144Hz, there’s an enormous difference in feel. It’s like watching a string of YouTube videos at 30 fps and suddenly stumbling upon one at 60 fps — every thing just feels impossibly smooth, but just for a moment. After you’re accustomed to the upper refresh, it doesn’t feel as vital. I used to be perfectly high quality going back to my 144Hz monitor after testing, never feeling the large difference in refresh rate even when I could spot it when the 2 screens were side-by-side.

My issue is that Alienware offers a 360Hz screen for $200 less, and that’s quite a bit closer to 480Hz than it sounds. You’re going from around 3ms for every refresh to 2ms when going from 360Hz to 480Hz. It’s beyond the purpose of diminishing returns, even for essentially the most competitive gamers on the planet. Compare that to going from 120Hz to 360Hz, where around 8.3ms per refresh shrinks all the way down to around 3ms. That’s a rather more significant difference.

Outside of the refresh rate, the panel is solid if unimpressive. I measured at peak brightness of 373 nits and a contrast ratio just over 1,000:1, firmly placing the display within the mainstream IPS category. The colour accuracy was solid out of the box, though, with a Delta E (difference from real color) of just over 1.

That’s ok for light color work, but I only measured 98% of the sRGB color space. Those colours are accurate, but an expanded color range just like the one offered on the Acer Swift 3 OLED is best for more intense color work.

Do you have to buy the Alienware x17 R2?

The Alienware x17 R2 with the lid cracked.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

For those who’re out there for a mobile desktop alternative, and you’ve the cash to spend for a high-end spec, the Alienware x17 R2 ought to be at the highest of your list of options. The design is hard to beat, and the hardware inside provides a few of the very best performance you’ll be able to get out of a laptop today.

I wouldn’t recommend going with the 480Hz screen, though. It doesn’t do much over the 360Hz option, and your money is a lot better put toward the opposite hardware within the machine.

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