Alien­ware 18

Australian T3 - - RATED - From $2,999, dell.com/au

The undis­puted heavy­weight king of the gam­ing lap­top world

Porta­bil­ity is de­sir­able, which is why we ad­mire the MSI Ghost’s abil­ity to fit a de­cent gam­ing spec into a slim­line chas­sis, but if all you’re in­ter­ested in is win­ning, you’ll need a weight­ier ma­chine. The Alien­ware 18 is just that; weigh­ing in at 5.5kg and as thick as three stan­dard-sized lap­tops stacked on top of one an­other, it will re­quire its own back­pack.

What’s tak­ing up all that space? Well, there’s the same 2.4GHz quad­core In­tel Core i7 pro­ces­sor, al­though here it can be over­clocked to 3.5GHz, a choice of 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and dou­ble the graph­i­cal force. It’s those dual Nvidia GeForce 880M graph­ics cards that re­ally pro­vide the kind of killer per­for­mance that many desk­top PCs would strug­gle to em­u­late. Need­less to say, all of the games we tested ran silky smooth and looked stun­ning on the 18-inch, 1920x1080 screen.

It may be big, but it’s cer­tainly not slow. Thanks to a hy­brid drive that com­bines a hard disk with light­ning-fast solid-state stor­age – you can up­grade it from 500GB to 1TB if you so choose – this Alien­ware 18 can boot up in a trice and load games at pace.

That im­pos­ing frame also al­lows for en­gag­ing speak­ers. The Klip­sch-cer­ti­fied noise­mak­ers’ rich, deep sound puts most lap­tops’ tinny au­dio to shame.

The one let down here is bat­tery life. De­spite hav­ing the space to pack in a hulk­ing cell, the in­cred­i­ble power de­mands of that dual-GPU setup mean juice is guz­zled at an alarm­ing rate. You’ll get two or three hours of game­play max­i­mum be­fore you need to hunt out a plug socket. How­ever, that’s the price you pay for such a for­mi­da­ble sys­tem.

Yes, it’s bulky and ex­pen­sive, and if you want a reg­u­lar work-ap­pro­pri­ate lap­top that can do a spot of gam­ing on the side, this is not for you. If you want to de­stroy gam­ing op­po­nents, though, there’s lit­tle bet­ter. Love Dual GPU setup for top per­for­mance. Boots in sec­onds. Pow­er­ful and punchy stereo speak­ers Hate Large, heavy and ex­pen­sive – es­pe­cially if you max out the spec. Bat­tery life is dis­ap­point­ing T3 Says The most pow­er­ful gam­ing lap­top you can get. Non-gamers need not ap­ply

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