Alienware 17in Laptop: The Alienware m17 R4 (2021)

By Laptop-Pickem March 24, 2021, 11:32 a.m.


Alienware m17 R4 (2021)

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TL;DR

17-inch laptops have always been unpopular due to their awkward balance between performance and portability. One side, a desktop can easily replace a 17-inch laptop if portability is not needed. On the other side, most of their 15-inch variants perform very similarly and are much more backpack-friendly when on the move. However, 17-inch laptops target a very niche group of people who want the best performance and thermals out of a device but is limited by space, power supply, or time.

Last year's Alienware m17 R3 (2020) has been already a very decent laptop. This year's Alienware m17 R4 (2021) is just a normal refresh from last year's model. Unlike Asus, Lenovo, and HP, whom all had turn to AMD's well-performing CPU with their high-end laptops, Dell decided to stick with Intel's chips. This isn't a bad idea considering that AMD has problem producing 7nm processors as they are competing with smartphone chip manufactures. Nevertheless, the insufficient supply of RTX 3000 series graphics cards have hamstrung the production of the latest gaming laptops, and the situation is far from being normal as cryptocurrencies are getting increasingly popular.

Despite Alienware m17 R4 (2021) being a great gaming laptop, the existence of its more compact sibling Alienware m15 R4 (2021) makes it rather unappealing at this point of time. You are able to get the exact specs with the 15-inch variant with a cheaper price and a better portability. The few reasons to lean toward the 17-inch variant is to have a bigger screen with slightly better thermals and its avaibility.

In short, if you are into gaming and you need a refresh right now, get the 15-inch variant. You should only get the Alienware m17 R4 (2021) if the 15-inch variant runs out of stock and you fall into the above-mentioned niche group of people.

Purchasing Advice

The recommended configuration is the Core i7-10870H paired with 16GB of RAM and an RTX 3070, at, as of March 2021, $2100.

Pros

  1. Premium gaming laptop
  2. Great performance
  3. Great screen options
  4. Aesthetically pleasing industrial design

Cons

  1. Heavy
  2. Expensive
  3. Has almost no advantage over the 15-inch variant.

Targets

  1. Content creators
  2. Hardcore gamers
  3. Streamers

Specs

CPU

The Alienware m17 R4 (2021) is equipped with the 10th gen core i7-10870H mobile series chips and can be configured up to a Core i9-10980HK, all having 8 cores and 16 threads but the latter has a slight improvement in terms of base/boost clock over the former. The 8-core 10th Gen Core i7/i9 should get you pretty far even in CPU-intensive workloads. Most applications would not be bottlenecked by the CPU equipped in the Alienware m17 R4 (2021)



The Core i7-10870H at 15911 points and the Core i9-10980HK at 16563 points are indeed very similar performing CPUs, with a difference of roughly 5%. Moreover, we see that Intel is trailing behind AMD even with their most powerful mobile processors. The CPU benchmark scores from Passmark shows that the these two Intel chips are 30%-40% behind AMD's high-end mobile chip, the Ryzen 7 5800H

GPU/iGPU

The Alienware m17 R4 (2021) comes with three different RTX 3000 series GPU, from the RTX 3060 to the RTX 3080, all supposedly running at 115W TDP. The RTX 3060 should be enough to handle the most demanding games running at 60FPS 1080P ultra settings with Ray-Tracing on. The laptop RTX graphics have incremental performance increase over each other due to the limitation in power.



The GPU performance benchmark scores from Passmark show that RTX 3070 and the RTX 3080 each have a 10% increase in performance over their weaker variant. Despite the power limitation, all these graphics card should be able to handle most triple-A titles with ease.

Display

The Alienware m17 R4 (2021) has one of the most bizarre screen configurations: 144Hz FHD panel with or without G-Sync, 360Hz FHD panel with G-Sync, and the 60Hz UHD panel. The best value-for-money option is the 144Hz FHD panel with G-Sync, but you might want to go for the 360Hz version if you're more into FPS games, say CS:GO. The 60Hz UHD completely ruins the purpose of this laptop's existence, unless you only play the most demanding games at 4K ultra settings with perhaps Ray-Tracing on.

Battery Life

Despite the big 86Wh battery the Alienware m17 R4 (2021) has, it would only sustain the laptop slightly over 2 hours under continuous web-surfing.

Memory

The Alienware m17 R4 (2021) can be configured to have up to 32GB of RAM. This should be well enough for most daily workloads and applications. However, the 2933MHz clock speed might hamstring the gaming performance of the laptop a little. The recommended RAM configuration would be 16GB.

Variants

The Alienware m17 R4 (2021) comes with two variants with very special names: the dark side of the moon, signifying a black variant, and the lunar light, specifying the white chassis.

Port Selections

  1. MicroSD-Card Reader |
  2. (2x) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A |

  1. HDMI 2.1b with HDCP 2.2 Output |
  2. Mini DisplayPort™ 1.4 Output |
  3. Thunderbolt™ 3 Port |
  4. Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port |
  5. Power/DC-In Port |

  1. Wedge-shaped Lock Slot (cable and lock sold separately) |
  2. Killer™ Networks E3100x Gigabit Ethernet NIC |
  3. USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A with Powershare Technology |
  4. Audio Out 1/8" Port (Compatible with inline mic headset)

The Alienware m17 R4 (2021) is very much perfect in its port selection. Both the Display port 1.4 and the HDMI 2.1b are future proof for external 8K displays. The inclusion of multiple USB-A 3.2 ports would be very convenient for gamers with external peripheral connection needs. The tiny incompleteness comes from the 10th Gen Intel mobile chips, which bottlenecked the Alienware m17 R4 (2021) to have a USB4 port, but this is not a big deal considering that Thunderbolt 3 and USB4 have very similar functionality.

Specs Details Ratings
Brand Dell


Name Alienware m17 R4 (2021)


Cpu Intel Core i7-10870H

Intel Core i9-10980HK



Gpu NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3060 Laptop GPU

NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3070 Laptop GPU

NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3080 Laptop GPU




Memory 16GB 2933MHz

32GB 2933MHz



Storage 1TB M.2 NVMe

256GB M.2 NVMe™ PCIe® 3.0 SSD

512GB M.2 NVMe™ PCIe® 3.0 SSD




Battery size 86Wh


Screen details 17.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) 144Hz 7ms 300-nits 72% NTSC color gamut 17.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) 144Hz 7ms 300-nits 72% NTSC color gamut with NVIDIA-GSYNC technology 17.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) 360Hz 5ms 300-nits 100% sRGB color gamut with NVIDIA-GSYNC technology 17.3" UHD (3840 x 2160) 60Hz 25ms 500-nits 100% Adobe RGB color gamut + Tobii Eyetracking technology


Build quality Excellent


Thickness 22mm


Weight 2.50kg


Price $1899-$4309


Genre Gaming Laptop


Year 2021



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