Since Nvidia’s latest generation of Pascal graphics came to laptops, we’ve been seeing a ton of upgraded gaming notebooks come out of the wood work. But while hardware refreshes are great, we still have yet to see something truly new.
That is until now.
The new Alienware 17 is the first portable rig designed specifically to unleash the true potential of Nvidia’s new 10 series GPUs. Alienware pulled all the stops to completely revamp its flagship 17-inch gaming laptops including a new chassis design, reengineered cooling and newly added Tobii eye-tracking too.
Alienware’s laptops have steadily been moving towards thinner designs and the new series takes a dramatic step towards slimness. To get here the company completely redesigned the internal cooling system. While heatsinks normally reside underneath the keyboard, what Alienware has done now is shifted them to the rear of the machine and behind the hinge.
Adding to the Alienware 17’s new found thinness is a much flatter and sharper design. Every curved edge first started by the 2013 Alienware design has been traded out for edgier angles.
The top lid of the new 17-inch model feels razor-thin compared to older models, as it only consists of a sheet of metal and a thin optical stack for the display. Likewise, the sides of the machine are only thick enough to accommodate the high-end gaming internals.
Unfortunately, the thinner design has also resulted in a gaming laptop that’s a bit longer from the front to backend. As a result, this squarer machine might not fit in your backpack designed for traditional 17-inch notebooks.
Alienware FX customizable lighting makes a return, but certain parts have been moved recently. For starters, the lid now only features light strips along the sides rather than on the back of the screen lid. The LEDs on the base of the notebook also no longer wrap around to the front, opting for a much more modern aesthetic filled with straight lines.
Likewise, the Alienware logo has been redrawn to be more sinister and even the font is sharper for the modern take over.
Rebuilding the icon
Aside from the skin-deep beauty, Alienware claims the new aesthetic has helped make the 17-inch gaming laptop 20% thinner. This is largely thanks to the new heatsink placement while the system itself is cooled with copper heat pipes that share the world of having to cool the GPU and CPU at the same time.
Alienware also carefully when back to the drawing board to redesign the layout and built it out of a mix of aluminum, carbon fiber composite and magnesium. A giant steel plate helps reinforce the keyboard and help prevent it from being mushy in the center.
Spec-wise, the Alienware 17 is just as new on the inside with all new components including the Nvidia GTX 1060 and 1070 – 1080 GPUs come in November. Users will also be able to get a fully loaded rig with up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, 1TB SSD and an optional 120Hz Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display.
Plus upgrading is easier than ever. Simply take off the bottom panel and you’ll have access to three PCI-e SSD slots and a 2.5-inch drive plus the two memory dim slots.
Alienware has stuck to its guns with using 6th generation Intel Skylake processors for now, but only because there aren’t 7th generation Kaby Lake processors designed for gaming just yet. However, the Intel core i7 processors will still come with dynamic overclocking packed in.
The 17 gaming laptop also has a few unique upgrades including an optionally larger 99WHr battery designed to last seven hours long in case the standard 68WHr battery isn’t enough juice for you. Alienware has also teamed up with Tobii to bring eye tracking to its 15- and 17-inch laptops.
The sensor’s integrating much smaller and subtler than the MSI GT72S Tobii we reviewed a little while ago. Beyond the sleeker look, this eye-tracker also has expanded features that will not only turn off the screen when you’re turning away, but also bump up the keyboard illumination when it knows you’re looking down at the keys.
Alienware has made some bold claims that it’s 17-inch gaming laptop will be able to tap into the full 150W power of the Nvidia GTX 1080 while other companies have only achieved 120W performance. In our short hands on time we didn’t get to play with the top-spec model, but given the Nvidia GTX 1070-powered models we got to go hands on with for a few minutes, the Alienware 17 is already primed to take care of virtual reality gaming.
The Alienware 17 is also a top to bottom redesign, leaving nothing but the trackpad to be the same. It’s great step forward and we can’t wait to give this monster the full review treatment.