Dell Alienware 14: Power play

  • TECH
  • Monday, 10 Feb 2014

Gaming on the go has never been this good.

Looking at the sheer number of games headed your way this year, you’ll want the ultimate gaming experience.

Enter the Dell Alienware 14, which was unveiled at E3, and packs quite a punch in terms of hardware.

And it has the looks to match too — the design is futuristic while still leaving lots of room for users to customise the device.

About the only things that you will not like about the design is the dimension — which is 13.2 x 10.2 x 1.64in — and the staggering weight of 2.77kg.

This makes the Alienware 14 one of the heaviest gaming laptop for its size, but that’s only because it’s packed with so much ­firepower.

Gorgeous graphics

As the notebook is equipped with an nVidia GTX765M, we pushed it to the limit with high-end DirectX 11 games such as Battlefield 4 and Crysis 3. Both games ran with no frame drops at the highest setting with shading and shadows on high.

Next, we ran Tomb Raider on Ultra mode at the notebook’s native ­resolution of 1,920 x1,080-pixels, and it was simply breathtaking. The game averaged about 33fps (frames per second) which was good enough to play it smoothly.

However, performance comes at a price. This notebook quickly heats up under ­pressure and averages about 40°C when ­running games on medium but goes higher when running games at the max setting.

The notebook also shines in other ­departments. Thanks to the 4th generation quad-core 2.4GHz Intel Core i7 chip and 8GB RAM, the notebook has no problem handling apps like Adobe Photoshop and Premier Pro.

Premier Pro, for instance, rendered a five minute video in just one minute.

And did we say, the notebook starts up in four seconds?

Screen test

Dell did not cut corners with the 14in ­anti-glare screen. The display is sharp, the colours are vibrant and the viewing angle is good. You are in for a treat if you plan to watch HD movies or view photos.

Like most notebooks, it has problems with black levels but it shouldn’t bother you unless you are looking for home theatre fidelity.

Complementing the screen are a pair of powerful Klipsch speakers and this is where the size works in favour of the Alienware.

The speakers sound nothing like what we usually get from other notebooks. You can blast the music to your heart’s content and the virtual surround sound is fantastic for playing games like Crysis. We swear we could tell where the bullets were coming from by just listening to the audio.

Also, the notebook comes with Dolby Home Theatre 4 software which has an easy interface for tweaking audio.

Alienware 14 includes 3 USB ports, HDMI port, and audio jacks
ALL IN A ROW: Alienware 14 includes 3 USB ports, HDMI port, and audio jacks

Ports ahoy

Another area you won’t find the Alienware lacking is in the ­connectivity department. It comes with three USB 3.0 ports, an Ehternet jack, ­microphone/headphone jack, HDMI out, Blu-ray drive, a mini display port and a media card reader. It’s pretty safe to say you will not be needing an accessory for adding more ports.

As this is an Alienware, the keyboard and the trackpad are backlit, and you can ­customise the colours any way you want using the bundled software.

The trackpad’s left button doesn’t respond fast enough for games but any respectable gamer would use a mouse anyway.

There is also a 2-meagpixel webcam that allows users to chat and capture photos even when the lighting is not so good.

In terms of battery life, the notebook will last you about half a day if you spend most of your time gaming.

The verdict

Most gamers like to customise their machine and the Alienware is one of the easier ones to tweak in terms of lighting.

As far as pure computing power is ­concerned, you will not find the notebook lacking, and it will be able to handle almost all the popular games right out of the box.

If you plan to game while on the move, you can’t go wrong with the Alienware 14.

Pros: Play the latest games on high setting; lots of ­customisation options; plenty of handy ports.

Cons: The notebook can get hot fast; it’s rather bulky and heavy.

Alienware 14
Operating system: Windows 8.1
Processor: 2.4GHz Intel Core I7-4700MQ
Memory: 8GB RAM
Graphics: 2GB nVidia Geforce GTX765M
Hard drive: 750GB HDD, 80GB SDD
Optical drive: DVD drive
Ports: Gigabit Ethernet, 2 Superspeed USB 3.0 ports, Superspeed USB 3.0 port with power sharing capability, mini display port, HDMI port, media card reader
Battery: 6-cell Lithium-ion
Size: 13.2 x 10.2 x 1.64in
Weight: 2.77kg
Price: RM4,999
Rating: 4/5 stars
Review unit courtesy of Dell Malaysia, 1-800-88-2888


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Science & Technology , ALIENWARE 14


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