Alienware M17 R3 Gaming Laptop Review – Price & Specs

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9.1

Value for Money Score

9.1/10

Reliability Score

9.1/10

Performance Score

9.3/10

Specifications and Features Score

9.1/10

Design Score

9.0/10

Pros

  • Excellent display
  • Top-end specs
  • Robust performance
  • Good features overall
  • Different configurations available

Cons

  • Not always available
  • Can be expensive
  • Battery life is not very satisfying
  • Only 60 Hz refresh rate on 4K variants
  • Speaker quality needed improvements

Read Alienware M17 R3 gaming laptop review and see the price. Dell’s Alienware desktop line-up is much revered in the prebuilt PC community for its innovative design and performance.

Today, however, we would be talking about the Alienware gaming laptops, more specifically, the Alienware M17 R3.

On the first look, it may seem like the dream laptop for many, but there are a lot of things, good and bad, that have to be considered.

But if your definition of a dream gaming laptop includes things like a 4K display, and a high-end spec sheet, then you’d be impressed.

This is particularly a high-end variant and hence carries a hefty price tag as well. However, there are more affordable options, but you won’t find any fitted with AMD CPUs.

For the average person, it shouldn’t be that big of an issue, but AMD fanatics might be disappointed.

This Core i9, RTX 2080 powered gaming laptop is certainly an excellent performer, but there are other impressive things about it too.

Everything from the port selection, to the outstanding design, has been made to make sure that the laptop stands out from the crowd. And Dell certainly has done a great job, at least for the most part.

However, there are things that we don’t like, the pricing being one of them. But we won’t be judging it only based on the shortcomings, and you shouldn’t either.

If you find the Alienware M17 R3 still relevant, then an interesting review awaits you.

Alienware M17 R3 Gaming Laptop & Variants Price

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Alienware M17 R3 Gaming Laptop Review

Alienware M17 R3 Gaming Laptop

Buy for: High-end configurations │ Good design │ Wide display | 4K or Ultra High Definition

Beware of: Below average battery-life │ Expensive pricing

Best uses for: Multiple gaming, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Diablo 3, GTR Evolution and other purposes.

Verdict

The Dell Alienware M17 R3 would tick the right boxes for you if you too are looking for high-end specs and a 4K albeit 60 Hz display on your new gaming laptop. As long as you like the design, are comfortable with the price tag, and would be using it most of the time plugged to power, then it can be a great device for you.

Design and Build

The Alienware M17 R3, especially if you consider the higher variants, is different than any other average gaming laptop.

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And not just from the inside, it looks very different from the outside as well and has a distinctive look.

The “Lunar light” chassis is mostly silver, although the area surrounding the hinge is slightly extended at the back, and comes in black.

This extended area holds the vents, and some of the ports too.

There’s no shortage of lighting either, which can also be seen on the keyboard and the Alienware logo on the back of the screen lid. Most of this lighting is customizable too.

Black bezels are seen around the display, but these are thin, and with the display size being 17.3 inches, there are no problems while viewing content.

The display is quite slim, and so is the overall laptop at 15.7 x 11.6 x 0.88 inches. This design is followed by the Alienware M15 as well, the smaller sibling of the M17 R3.

This is the one with a 4K (UHD) panel, which means that the refresh rate is stuck at 60 Hz. While you won’t be able to use it for competitive gaming, the display quality is good.

With a 100% Adobe RGB, 500 nits brightness, and 1200:1 contrast ratio, casual gaming, and editing tasks are still very enjoyable though.

But Dell also offers models with lower peak resolution, but higher refresh rates that you may consider, in case those are your preferences.

The build quality is good, and though a plastic material has been used, the overall chassis feels fairly sturdy.

The laptop has a considerable maximum weight of 6.55lbs or around 2.8 Kgs, which isn’t light at all.

Now carrying it shouldn’t be a problem, but you’d still feel the weight from time to time.

Performance

The performance in the Alienware M17 R3 is one of its aspects about which there can simply be no complaints at all.

It often tops the charts when it comes to benchmark tests, and gaming performance too, when compared to some of its competitors like the Razer Blade Pro 17, the Helios 700 from Acer, and so on.

That is possible due to the configuration it has, and this is already the highest variant that one can buy.

Starting from the processor, the Intel Core i9-10980HK is a very capable one. It not only has 8 cores and 16 threads, but also a peak frequency of 5.3 GHz.

Now you wouldn’t always see the laptop working at this speed for different reasons, but make no mistake about how quick it is.

Next, there is the RTX 2080 Super GPU, which isn’t as good as some of the latest launches.

However, it is still plenty powerful and the 8 GB of video memory would often prove to be overkill for the average gamer.

Should you need a more affordable option, Dell provides several of those, starting from the GTX 1650 Ti, and some AMD GPUs as well, that you can choose.

The same goes for the processor, as there are both Core i7 and Core i5 options for those that do not need an extreme kind of performance.

As for the memory, this one has got 32 GB of RAM, and again, lower variants can be chosen.

But if we talk about the performance of this particular variant, especially gaming, there is a catch.

See this is the 4K variant, where the refresh rate is capped at 60 Hz. Therefore, even though this is one of the best 4K or Ultra High Definition Laptops, you won’t be able to enjoy competitive or high fps gaming on it.

But there are solutions to that as well. If a higher refresh rate is what matters more, you can always get one with a 1080p panel, and there are options of 144 Hz or 300 Hz to choose from here.

Or, you can use an external gaming monitor, whichever is more convenient.

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But the 4K display in the device can be used for other creative purposes, and surely the Adobe RGB spectrum, high brightness, etc. would let you enjoy any content in great detail.

And with the hardware to back it up, you can use it for high-resolution video editing as well.

And you can still play most of the games available today close to 50-60 fps at the highest settings on the laptop.

Now with all this performance there also comes heat, and the cooling system in this is quite efficient.

For example, you get different power modes to choose from, and as you opt for more performance, the cooling fans get more active and hence create more noise.

This might be annoying, but on the plus side, the thermal issues are kept at bay.

There are plenty of vents, those at the back, and at the front over the keyboard that maintains air circulation.

As for the OS, this one comes with the Windows 10 Pro version, though Dell also provides the Windows 10 Home option.

Storage and RAM

Like other parts of the configuration, you also get a high amount of storage on this variant of the Alienware M17 R3.

A total of 2.5 TB of SSD storage is already present on this and depending on the configuration inside, it can also be expanded.

The 32 GB of RAM is ample even for heavy usage, although it is soldered to the motherboard.

So, this is bad news for anyone planning to expand the RAM on this laptop.

Ports and Connectivity

The Alienware M17 R3 doesn’t lack in the connectivity department, as it has WIFI 6 and Bluetooth 5 already present.

The WIFI card is also soldered, but then you won’t have to upgrade it anytime soon either.

As for the ports, on the left side, you get a USB 3.1 port (with power share), a headphone jack, a security cable slot, and the Gigabit Ethernet port. On the right, there’s two more USB 3.1 ports and a micro-SD card slot.

At the back, there’s the AC power slot, an HDMI output port, a DisplayPort, a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support.

Additionally, you also get a proprietary graphics amplifier port here, which can be used to get even better graphics performance.

Battery Life

The Alienware M17 R3 comes with a big enough 6-cell 86Wh battery, but real-time backup is not very satisfying.

It depends on usage, but on average, the laptop doesn’t last more than 2-3 hours when streaming videos on the battery.

The screen on time when running games or other intensive stuff, thus, is even less.

The battery charges up fully in a little less than 3 hours, so clearly it is not a device meant to be used on battery power for longer durations.

With the specs like it has, the only way to use it to its full potential is by plugging it into a power source.

Additional Features

The laptop comes with two keyboard options, one in which there is fixed lighting under the keys, and the other in which each key color can be customized.

This comes with the latter, but make sure you’re getting the one you prefer at the time of purchase.

The quality of the keyboard itself is good, and it also looks good in this color variant. The keys are neither too soft, nor very tactile.

You’d be able to type comfortably for long sessions on this, but for gaming, an external mechanical keyboard would be preferred.

The trackpad is also smooth and responsive but is on the smaller side.

There’s a 720p webcam at the top of the display, which is average at best, and suitable for casual video calling only.

There is also the Tobii eye-tracking support which tracks where you’re looking when seeing the display.

It comes in use when gaming and a few other things, but the real usefulness entirely depends on the user.

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There are quad speakers on this which are loud enough but aren’t very accurate in terms of sound quality.

These too, are only suitable for casual usage, but given the laptop’s pricing, Dell could have worked more on this.

You get a standard warranty on the Alienware M17 R3, along with the option of extending it.

And it comes with preloaded software, some of which are useful, but the rest are better removed from the system.

Specs:

  • Brand: Dell
  • Screen Size: 17 inch
  • Display: 4K (3840 x 2160p)
  • Storage: 2 TB SSD + 512 GB SSD
  • RAM: 32 GB
  • Storage Type: SSD + PCIe SSD
  • RAM Type: DDR4
  • Processor: Intel Core i9-10980HK
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q
  • Processor Speed: base frequency 2.4 GHz, can be boosted to 5.3 GHz
  • Processor Brand: Intel
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 11.6 x 0.88 inches
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro

What Do Users Think About Alienware M17 R3?

It might be clear from our review that the Alienware M17 R3 is no doubt a great gaming laptop.

But for a buyer, the user feedback is also equally important, and if you’re planning to get this laptop, then this section should be relevant to you.

The one here is one of the top variants of the laptop and understandably not everyone needs such specs.

Thus many have chosen the lower iterations. Even those haven’t failed to impress the buyers. These were more affordable and yet performed as per expectations.

The laptop received a lot of praise for its looks, and the entire sci-fi design has appealed to many. Check out Alienware M17 R3 Manual.

With this was RGB lighting and the color schemes, which made it more attractive. And while it looks great, the users found the performance to be similarly alluring too.

The option of a 4K display meant that not just gamers, those that needed a brighter, high-definition display found the Alienware M17 R3 to be relevant.

And those that were more interested in gaming, chose one of the FHD display variants, and the 144 Hz or 300 Hz refresh rate.

There were certainly no complaints regarding performance, but the battery life of the laptop was something that caused trouble for some of the buyers.

With the large enough battery, they expected the laptop to last longer on battery power than it did in reality.

Among other things, the average quality of the speaker has been pointed out.

The cost of the higher variants was itself a bit of a problem for some, but even then, they did not receive the expected quality in some of these aspects.

Other Expert Views

The experts of PC Mag consider the Alienware M17 R3 to be a solid gaming device that has the performance and specs to support the argument. However, it faces tough competition in its segment, and the high price and low battery efficiency are things that worry them the most.

As per Laptop Mag, the Alienware M17 R3 is the right blend of good looks and performance. They reviewed one of the variants with a 1080p display, core i7 processor, and so on, but were very impressed by it. They too, however, consider the battery life to be a drawback.

It is the view of Tom’s Guide that this Alienware laptop looks beautiful and packs a lot of power, but it isn’t as powerful as some of the competition. Also, things like the battery backup, trackpad, etc. are some basic things that aren’t very impressive on this laptop. But overall, they had many positive views about it.

Alienware m17 R3 review - Tom's Guide

October 7, 2020 - Tom's Guide

Alienware m17 R3 review  Tom's Guide...