DELL ALIENWARE 14
Dell’s Alienware line has always been targeted at hardcore gamers, and the new Alienware 14 is no different, boasting impressive specifications and a rich feature set.
The first thing we noticed was the hulking dimensions and not inconsiderable weight. Measuring 40mm thick and tipping the scales at just under 2.8kg, the Alienware 14 is by far the bulkiest and heaviest notebook in our shootout, making it also significantly less portable than its competitors. You could still fit it into most notebook bags, but unless you’ve been working out regularly, this isn’t a laptop you want to lug around for extended periods.
Fortunately, the Alienware 14 makes up for that in other ways. Under the hood is Intel’s latest Core i7-4700MQ processor, 8GB of RAM as well as NVIDIA’s very capable GeForce GTX 765M discrete mobile GPU. It also has a brilliant 14-inch IPS display panel capable of Full HD resolution.
However, unlike its rivals which all utilize SSD storage, our Alienware 14 test unit is fitted instead with a 7200rpm HDD. This means it boots up and starts applications (and games) more slowly, although it should not have a direct impact on gaming frame rates.
Where the Alienware 14 really shines is in connectivity; apart from three USB 3.0 ports and a 7-in-1 memory card reader, it is also the only notebook in this shootout to feature both SuperMulti DVD combo drive and Mini DisplayPort. The optical drive makes it easier to install games, while the Mini DisplayPort will maximize the capabilities of the Alienware 14’s powerful GPU and let it easily drive external monitors with resolutions in excess of 1920 x 1080 pixels. That said, the Alienware 14 also has a HDMI port, however, a shortcoming of the HDMI interface that is commonly found on notebooks is that it cannot drive external displays beyond 1920 x 1080 pixels without sacrificing refresh rates.
While the Alienware 14 might be huge and bulky, Dell has done well to dress it up to appeal to gamers. For instance, the Alienware 14 is decorated with LED lights that are grouped into 10 separate zones and are customizable, so users can change the colors to suit their preference and mood. Also, the notebook’s surfaces are mostly soft-touch rubber, which gives it a matte look and makes it quite nice to touch. This rubber treatment extends to the keyboard, giving the entire notebook a consistent look and feel. However, there are some aspects of its design that we do not agree with, such as the unusually large display bezel, which makes it look cartoonish.
In other areas, Dell has eschewed the more popular Chiclet-style keys for a traditional keyboard, which means the keys are more closely positioned; if you’re more used to the latter style, the Alienware 14’s keyboard will take some getting used to. That said, the keyboard had good tactility, because of its deeper travel and the rubberized surface. To add, the accompanying trackpad is spacious, accurate and responsive.
14 IS BY FAR THE BULKIEST AND HEAVIEST NOTEBOOK IN THIS SHOOTOUT.”
The inclusion of a Mini DisplayPort means that it can easily drive external monitors beyond Full HD resolution. The trackpad has backlights, whose colors can be customized.