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Is Alienware really that good?

MatthewMatthew Registered User regular
Ok, just to clarify, I am at the beginning of a large save money/sell off period in order to afford a gamING laptop, hopefully by Christmas. Everything I've read says that Alienware is some of the best, but the cheapest I have seen is 1700.00$. So I got to ask, is it worth it?

Matthew on

Posts

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Why do you want a laptop?

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    If you absolutely positively must have a laptop for gaming instead of a desktop, Alienware is best in class.

    MSI and Razer are also very good.

    You can also do some light gaming on a MacBook Pro (Overwatch on Low settings, for example).

    However, all gaming laptops occupy a weird space where they aren't great laptops (they tend to be heavy, run hot, and have middling battery life) not great gaming computers.

    I have a friend who travels a lot for work, so she spends roughly 50% of her time in hotels. For her, a gaming laptop makes sense. (And she has an Alienware 13.)

    In general, you aren't going to find a gaming PC worth your time for less than $1500.

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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    There's a reasonable Alienware 13 build for $1300 (i5 / 8GB / 1050Ti / 1920 x 1080).

    At that price point though you lose out on Alienware's 2560x1440 OLED display. Their OLED display is a thing of beauty and I wouldn't bother buying an Alienware without it.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    The razer gaming laptops are where I'd put my money if I was going to do it.

    This gives you the ability to use thunderbolt with an eGPU so your home setup is nearly the equivalent power of a desktop PC.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • wunderbarwunderbar What Have I Done? Registered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    Why do you want a laptop?

    To me it comes back to this. The scenarios where a full on gaming laptop makes sense are pretty narrow.

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  • MatthewMatthew Registered User regular
    I knew that the notion of a gaming laptop might be surprising to some, but it's really my preferred option right now. I haven't had an actual "Computer" in years now. For one thing I don't have any place to put it, as all tables for computers have some that belong to my family, and, frankly, I prefer the portability of the laptop to the home computer.

  • JazzJazz Registered User regular
    I've had two Alienware laptops, and I've been very happy with both of them. I had an M17x R3 I bought second-hand and got a good couple of years out of, and now have a 17 R4 which is my daily driver. The 17" machines are behemoths, they embody every (earned) cliché about gaming laptops - big, heavy, and fairly noisy when the fans spool up. The 17 R4 has middling battery life (3.5 to 4 hours of web browsing, say), but mine has a G-sync display so it constantly has the GPU adding to the power draw. A similar machine without that would actually double those numbers since it would only run the discrete GPU when needed, but G-sync is nice to have when gaming and I'm rarely far from a power socket.

    It runs a bit hot under load, but tweaks such as undervolting can certainly help mitigate that. So can adding further cooling; actually I've found that just jacking the back end of the laptop up by about an inch significantly improves the airflow and thus reduces the temps noticeably, without needing to resort to a laptop stand or cooling pad. But even without that it can run without throttling. It can run a Kaby Lake i7 and a GTX 1080 at full tilt for hours without a hiccup, which is no mean feat whichever way you slice it.

    Have a look on the Dell Outlet store for your region, you can save a lot of money buying from there instead of the regular store, if you find a build to your liking. And remember you can upgrade RAM and storage in them easily too, but not processors*, so keep that in mind if there's an almost-ideal build on there.

    * - you can use the Alienware graphics amplifier enclosure to add/upgrade to an external desktop GPU later, if you like, similar to the Razer solution over Thunderbolt.

    FeralZilla360
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    AFAIK, you can use any Thunderbolt eGPU enclosure with either the Razer or the Alienware. You don't need to buy the manufacturer-branded eGPU boxes.

    But I have read that some people have had challenges getting off-brand eGPU boxes working with some laptops, so YMMV.

    bowenJazz
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    General guidelines when buying laptops:

    Prioritize the best screen you can afford. At the very least, avoid 1366x768 screens. That resolution is bullshit and nobody should ever buy them. 1080p is the minimum. Higher resolution screens often have better color rendering (like Alienware's OLED) at the expense of higher power consumption.

    After the screen, prioritize CPU and GPU. GPU will have more impact on your gaming experience, though it is pseudo-upgradeable with a Thunderbolt eGPU enclosure. CPUs are not upgradeable in laptops so you should try to get the best you can afford, but you can compromise a little bit (not too much) on CPU performance without it hurting your gaming experience.

    SSD and RAM are upgradeable in gaming laptops so those are areas where you can make compromises.

    (Some slim laptops these days have non-upgradeable RAM but that's not relevant to gaming laptops.)

  • SerpentSerpent Sometimes Vancouver, BC, sometimes Brisbane, QLDRegistered User regular
    Typically Dell gaming laptops provide similar hardware to alienware at a reduced price. Depends on the specific models on offer at any one time -- they are the same company.

    You're paying extra for the alienware brand + lighting.

    I have the Dell 15 7000 model (or something) from just over a year ago and it was significantly cheaper than anything alienware for the exact same internal specs.

    Bigity
  • jgeisjgeis Registered User regular
    IIRC the Dell gaming laptops only go up to a 1060 6GB GPU. If you want more than that you have to go Alienware as far as Dell brands are concerned.

    Bigity
  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    You can also do some light gaming on a MacBook Pro (Overwatch on Low settings, for example).

    Worth noting: this assumes you're comfortable with Dual Booting OS ("Boot Camp"). Which obviously lots of people are, but you might not be? You'll also need to obtain a license for Windows 10 (whereas if you bought literally any other laptop, it would come with its own), unless that's somehow changed.

    Overwatch in particular is not coming to Mac (a break from Blizzard's past tendency to offer Mac support, which in turn made them exceptional; most companies don't bother to begin with).

    Feral
  • LD50LD50 Registered User regular
    edited August 2018
    Also, Apple hardware has awful build quality, so there's that too.

    If you're going to spend that kind of money, buy an alienware or one of the high-end dell laptops.

    LD50 on
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  • JazzJazz Registered User regular
    That is another thing worth noting about (at least modern) Alienware laptops: they are built like tanks.

  • jungleroomxjungleroomx It's not a "weapon art", it's an ANIMATION Registered User regular
    edited August 2018
    Dudes looking for a gaming laptop.

    Why the hell would you mention a Mac?

    jungleroomx on
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  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited August 2018
    Matthew could buy a very high-end Surface Book 2 (though pretty much all of the GPU-equipped models are suitable for gaming). That being said, he'd be paying for a premium for the Surface line of products (though some of them are actually pretty competitively priced for what they are, the discrete GPU Surface Book 2 are not) as well as the convertible ability which...while cool...could be completely and utterly unnecessary for what you need. Also for the relative lightness (considering screen size).

    However, it would still be far more better optimized for gaming than a MacBook Pro, weighing the option of dual boot, the included OS, and the vastly improved accessory compatibility. Shit, the SB2 comes with a pair of USB A ports, which not all MacBook Pros--that automatically gives you the ability to use gaming accessories without an include dongle.

    There are still way better priced options for Dell that would let you save a stack of cash for a more "conventional" but perfectly serviceable design. But honestly, I'd still say it'd be a better alternative to a 2017 MacBook Pro at a very similar price point--even before comparing the Nvidia and AMD mobile GPUs.

    Synthesis on
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    The Surface line has a lot of quality issues as well (the camera dies frequently, drive issues, Bluetooth radio failures).

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  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    The Surface line has a lot of quality issues as well (the camera dies frequently, drive issues, Bluetooth radio failures).

    I've been lucky--I've owned three with such issues (though they're all from the Surface Pro line), but the Surface Book, especially the first models, were known to have issues--not so much cameras, but driver issues certainly. That being said, I don't think it's particularly worse (or even necessarily as bad) as the recent MacBook Pro (but if that's not good enough itself--buyer beware).

  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    Consumer Reports had to revoke their recommendation for the Surface line due to severe reliability problems in late 2017. They found that 25% of Surfaces developed hardware problems by the end of the second year.

    https://www.consumerreports.org/laptop-computers/microsoft-surface-laptops-and-tablets-not-recommended-by-consumer-reports/

    We had some pretty bad hardware issues at my company when we tried to use Surface Pro 3s in production. Specifically, we had problems with the wifi chips.

    I'd give Microsoft at least another year, if not two or three, before buying a high-end Surface.

  • wunderbarwunderbar What Have I Done? Registered User regular
    The Surface Pro 3 had some badness. the Pro 4 and the "surface pro" most recent model I think have been a lot better.

    The pro 4 did have some driver/software issues at launch that were all fixed via firmware updates.

    XBL: thewunderbar PSN: thewunderbar NNID: thewunderbar Steam: wunderbar87 Twitter: wunderbar
  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited August 2018
    Feral wrote: »
    Consumer Reports had to revoke their recommendation for the Surface line due to severe reliability problems in late 2017. They found that 25% of Surfaces developed hardware problems by the end of the second year.

    https://www.consumerreports.org/laptop-computers/microsoft-surface-laptops-and-tablets-not-recommended-by-consumer-reports/

    We had some pretty bad hardware issues at my company when we tried to use Surface Pro 3s in production. Specifically, we had problems with the wifi chips.

    I'd give Microsoft at least another year, if not two or three, before buying a high-end Surface.

    That particular Consumer Report ruling is actually pretty flawed, and even CR admitted its own methodology (which is pretty normal for how they do this sort of thing themselves) was far from perfect.

    Personally, I'd put more weight on your own company's experiences--if they seem to fit CR's warnings, more power to them. Certain hardware did have issues (if returns are any indication--and those dropped quickly), while other devices really never did, but CR was comfortable to issue a blanket ruling, because that's kind of what they do. For example, they applied their ruling to a device that wasn't in production when they came to their findings, the Surface Laptop, because it's a "Surface" device.

    I actually don't know much about Alienware or Dell's own reliability (there's a lot of hearsay, both good and bad, but I'm not comfortable to rule definitively).

    (The funny thing is that my work PC--a normal HP workstation--briefly froze twice while I was typing this. But I think that's Chrome.)

    Synthesis on
  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    edited August 2018
    I went with Xotic PC (for a laptop) and I'm a happy camper. Details when I'm on a KBAM.

    EDIT - Now that I'm on a keyboard, I can tell you I got this one from XoticPC. Its approximately $450 cheaper than when I purchased it, possibly due to a Back to School Sale.

    https://www.xoticpc.com/custom-gaming-laptops-notebooks-gaming-laptops-ct-118-96-98/advanced-laptop-series.html

    I had it customized for three hard drives, two of which are SSD and one is standard. I also asked for GPU overclocking services and better thermal paste.

    Cantido on
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  • NaphtaliNaphtali Hazy + Flow SeaRegistered User regular
    Cantido wrote: »
    I went with Xotic PC (for a laptop) and I'm a happy camper. Details when I'm on a KBAM.

    EDIT - Now that I'm on a keyboard, I can tell you I got this one from XoticPC. Its approximately $450 cheaper than when I purchased it, possibly due to a Back to School Sale.

    https://www.xoticpc.com/custom-gaming-laptops-notebooks-gaming-laptops-ct-118-96-98/advanced-laptop-series.html

    I had it customized for three hard drives, two of which are SSD and one is standard. I also asked for GPU overclocking services and better thermal paste.

    I will second Xotic, I've had two Clevo/Sagers from them and they're great.

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  • ErlkönigErlkönig Registered User regular
    edited August 2018
    Naphtali wrote: »
    Cantido wrote: »
    I went with Xotic PC (for a laptop) and I'm a happy camper. Details when I'm on a KBAM.

    EDIT - Now that I'm on a keyboard, I can tell you I got this one from XoticPC. Its approximately $450 cheaper than when I purchased it, possibly due to a Back to School Sale.

    https://www.xoticpc.com/custom-gaming-laptops-notebooks-gaming-laptops-ct-118-96-98/advanced-laptop-series.html

    I had it customized for three hard drives, two of which are SSD and one is standard. I also asked for GPU overclocking services and better thermal paste.

    I will second Xotic, I've had two Clevo/Sagers from them and they're great.

    A little over a year ago, I ordered a Sager. It wasn't a top-of-the-line model...but I made damn sure that it had a Geforce 980 chip in it. Well...it runs GTA 5 on decently respectable settings, MWO and Sims 4 on max settings, PUBG at reasonable settings, and dang near most everything I want to play on it runs smooth enough for my 60hz screen. The only complaint I have for it is that the fan is exceptionally loud when I play anything released in the past 2 years.

    It's been dang near the perfect laptop for me since I got it (aside from the touchpad that's not responsive anymore).

    EDIT - prior to getting the Sager, I was using an Alienware MX11...it was pretty decent for its size, but it wasn't long before I had enough and just needed moar power!

    Erlkönig on
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  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    don't get a razer laptop, at least not the mid-ranged one. i had one and it did not perform

    MBPs are equally bad. seriously. not even on low settings.

  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    Also keep in mind that high end gaming laptops are "portable" in the loosest sense of the word. They're heavy, large, and run hot as fuck and run through battery like mad when gaming.

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  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Also keep in mind that high end gaming laptops are "portable" in the loosest sense of the word. They're heavy, large, and run hot as fuck and run through battery like mad when gaming.

    Agreed. The Surface Book 2 is almost an exception (it's still huge, but it's generally lighter and thinner), but it's also expensive as hell. For most people, you're probably better off buying something more conventional and accepting you have a portable computer, and not an actual "laptop".

  • NaphtaliNaphtali Hazy + Flow SeaRegistered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Also keep in mind that high end gaming laptops are "portable" in the loosest sense of the word. They're heavy, large, and run hot as fuck and run through battery like mad when gaming.

    Yeah. Mine basically stays plugged in 100% of the time and sits on a lapboard that stays on the coffee table when not in use. Thankfully the one I have isn't on the extreme side of weight, loudness and heat output though.

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  • KrathoonKrathoon Registered User regular
    A few weeks ago, I snagged an Alienware desktop with a 1080 GTX and 8th gen i7 for $1300 at Best Buy.

    It is also liquid cooled.

    Donovan Puppyfucker
  • KrathoonKrathoon Registered User regular
    I did get a DELL laptop a couple years ago that was pretty nice. I will have to look up the specs.

  • BucketmanBucketman Call me SkraggRegistered User regular
    I've never owned one but I have several friends who have and I use to sell them at Best Buy. I feel like most of the Alienware laptops I've seen in action are pretty good, but have heating issues in so far as it will get very hot. Same with the Asus ones. I've heard the Razer laptops are better on this.

  • JazzJazz Registered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Also keep in mind that high end gaming laptops are "portable" in the loosest sense of the word. They're heavy, large, and run hot as fuck and run through battery like mad when gaming.

    If you're gaming on the battery, you're doing it wrong.

    Although it's super easy to use GeForce Experience to limit your gaming framerate while on the battery so it doesn't keel over quite as quickly.

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Jazz wrote: »
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Also keep in mind that high end gaming laptops are "portable" in the loosest sense of the word. They're heavy, large, and run hot as fuck and run through battery like mad when gaming.

    If you're gaming on the battery, you're doing it wrong.

    Although it's super easy to use GeForce Experience to limit your gaming framerate while on the battery so it doesn't keel over quite as quickly.

    On battery, not gaming, most of these gaming computers will default to their on board Intel graphics so you're not wrecking the battery when you don't need to.

    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
    Jazz
  • JazzJazz Registered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    Jazz wrote: »
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Also keep in mind that high end gaming laptops are "portable" in the loosest sense of the word. They're heavy, large, and run hot as fuck and run through battery like mad when gaming.

    If you're gaming on the battery, you're doing it wrong.

    Although it's super easy to use GeForce Experience to limit your gaming framerate while on the battery so it doesn't keel over quite as quickly.

    On battery, not gaming, most of these gaming computers will default to their on board Intel graphics so you're not wrecking the battery when you don't need to.

    Yup. As I said above, for normal usage (web browsing etc) my 17 R4 gets 3.5 to 4 hours, and that's with the Nvidia GPU draining power all the time courtesy of G-sync. Without that it'd get about double that time.

  • KrathoonKrathoon Registered User regular
    edited August 2018
    Wrong thread.

    Krathoon on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited August 2018
    gaming laptops universally have a crappy failure rate given their high performance parts. if you are in a financial scenario where you have to tighten the belt for four months to make a purchase between $1500 and $2000, i couldn't in good conscience recommend you any brand of gaming laptop given that it's going to last 2-3 years in a best case scenario and quite possibly put you through RMA hell. instead i suggest you budget less than $1000 and save the rest. if you are buying a PC play high-end modern action-y games i suggest getting one of the new xbox or PS4s instead because they are much more cost effective. if you like classic PC gaming get a cheaper laptop and play older games or games with less demanding hardware requirements - lots of excellent cost-effective games on GOG or that are abandonware. that way if you have a spill or a hardware failure it doesn't screw you for months and you will be in a good position to replace your machine quickly.

    kaliyama on
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  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    If you do get a gaming laptop I recommend getting a "cooling pad" for it - basically a stand with extra fans. I got an MSI gaming laptop in 2012 and it is still going strong thanks to that.

    The battery on it has been fucked for a long time, it doesn't even turn on unless it is plugged in, but the computer itself still works.

    Of course I don't really game on it anymore... but for a couple of years it was my main computer.

    NaphtaliTurambar
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