Notebookcheck

Alienware 17 R3 Notebook Review

Florian Glaser (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 02/22/2016

Marathon runner. There are many powerful gaming notebooks, but only a few provide long battery runtimes. The third revision of the Alienware 17 turns out to be surprisingly enduring.

For the original German review, see here.

Not a lot has changed when you look at the new revision of the 17-inch gaming notebook. The design of the Alienware 17 R3 is similar to the AW 17 R2, only the DisplayPort at the rear was waived and replaced by a USB 3.1 port with Thunderbolt 3 support at the right side. The changes under the hood are small as well. The manufacturer now uses DDR4 instead of DDR3-RAM and PCI/NVMe-SSDs for an additional charge. Because of the close relationship to the previous model, we waive the evaluation of the Case, the Connectivity, the Input Devices and the Speakers. The corresponding information is available here.

Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935) (17 Series)
Processor
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M - 4096 MB, Core: 1038 MHz, Memory: 2500 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 353.54, Optimus
Memory
8192 MB 
, 2x 4 GB DDR4-2133, Dual-Channel, 2 of 2 slots occupied, up to 32 GB
Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, CV69H_173WF4 (LGD0459), IPS, Full HD, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Sunrise Point HM170
Storage
Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB, 512 GB 
, SSD + HGST Travelstar 7K1000 (HTS721010A9E630), 1000 GB HDD @ 7200 rpm. Slots: 1x M.2 Type 2280 & 1x 2.5-inch
Soundcard
Creative CA0132 @ Intel Sunrise Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: 1 Headphones, 1 Microphone, Card Reader: SD, SDHC, SDXC, 1 Noble Lock, 1 Amplifier Port
Networking
Killer e2400 Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter (b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 34 x 430 x 292 ( = 1.34 x 16.93 x 11.5 in)
Battery
92 Wh Lithium-Ion, 8 cells
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 2 MP (FHD)
Additional features
Speakers: 2.1 Klipsch (Sound Blaster Recon3Di), Power adapter: 240 Watts, accessories: quick-start guide, Software: MS Office 365 Trial, McAfee LiveSafe Internet Security Trial, Killer Network Manager, several manufacturer tools, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
3.71 kg ( = 130.87 oz / 8.18 pounds), Power Supply: 810 g ( = 28.57 oz / 1.79 pounds)
Price
2000 EUR

 

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As per usual, you can configure the notebooks from Alienware comprehensively on the homepage. Not every base model can be equipped with every component, but we would still call the selection good. Depending on the budget, the AW 17 R3 is either equipped with a matte Full HD IPS panel with 1920x1080 pixels or a high-resolution 4K screen with 3840x2160 pixels. The memory starts at 8 GB all the way up to 32 GB. Small drawback: Two memory slots are not very generous for a gaming notebook and we would have liked to see four.

up to date with USB 3.1 Type-C
up to date with USB 3.1 Type-C

One M.2 slot for SSDs and one 2.5-inch slot for HDDs on the other hand are standard. The processor is based on Intel's Skylake generation and has the designation Core i7-6700HQ or Core i7-6820HK. Alienware offers the high-end graphics cards GTX 970M and GTX 980M. Particularly generous is the warranty: Up to four years including an In-Home service are rather unusual. Dell will also install Windows 8.1 instead of Windows 10 (either Home or Pro) if you want to.

The Alienware 17 R3 starts at 1,799 Euros (~$1978). Our review unit with the designation A17-9935, which was provided by the online shop cyberport.de, retails for around 2,000 Euros (~$2201). For this price, you will get a Full HD panel, a Core i7-6700HQ, a GeForce GTX 980M, 8 GB RAM, a 512 GB SSD as well as a 1 TB HDD.

Even though the 17-inch device uses the same Full HD panel that we know from the predecessor (173WF4/LGD0459), there can be small variations due to production and measuring tolerances.

328
cd/m²
329
cd/m²
325
cd/m²
344
cd/m²
360
cd/m²
323
cd/m²
334
cd/m²
351
cd/m²
326
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 360 cd/m² Average: 335.6 cd/m² Minimum: 18 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Center on Battery: 360 cd/m²
Contrast: 818:1 (Black: 0.44 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.76 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 3.69 | - Ø
84% sRGB (Argyll) 55% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.24
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
CV69H_173WF4 (LGD0459)
Asus G752VY-RH71
ID: LG Philips LGD04E8, Name: LP173WF-SPF3
Schenker XMG P706
LG LP173WF4-SPD1
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
LG Philips LP173WF4-SPF1 (LGD0469)
Asus GX700
LP173WF4-SPF3 (LGD04E8)
Schenker XMG U716
AU B173ZAN01.0 (AUO109B)
Response Times
-27%
-4%
-29%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
33 (13, 20)
42.8 (16.4, 26.4)
-30%
37 (14, 23)
-12%
45 (17, 28)
-36%
Response Time Black / White *
23 (5, 18)
28.4 (4.4, 24)
-23%
22 (4, 18)
4%
28 (6, 22)
-22%
PWM Frequency
Screen
8%
0%
14%
-6%
9%
Brightness
336
330
-2%
302
-10%
315
-6%
319
-5%
356
6%
Brightness Distribution
90
91
1%
90
0%
90
0%
93
3%
88
-2%
Black Level *
0.44
0.393
11%
0.34
23%
0.3
32%
0.34
23%
0.4
9%
Contrast
818
882
8%
900
10%
1073
31%
976
19%
935
14%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.76
3.72
22%
5.49
-15%
3.78
21%
5.35
-12%
4.23
11%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.69
2.93
21%
3.97
-8%
2.43
34%
6.45
-75%
5.48
-49%
Gamma
2.24 107%
2.23 108%
2.15 112%
2.54 94%
2.34 103%
2.35 102%
CCT
6091 107%
6525 100%
6163 105%
6706 97%
7048 92%
6686 97%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
55
56
2%
55.5
1%
56
2%
56
2%
88
60%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
84
85.2
1%
84.5
1%
85
1%
85
1%
100
19%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-10% / 1%
0% / 0%
14% / 14%
-5% / -5%
-10% / 1%

* ... smaller is better

At an average display brightness of 336 cd/m², the Alienware 17 R3 does not have to hide behind the competition. A contrast ratio of almost 820:1 and a brightness distribution of 90% are not bad, either, even though our review unit suffered from some backlight bleeding at the horizontal edges and the black value of 0.44 cd/m² could also be a bit lower.

CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale (calibrated)
CalMAN: Grayscale (calibrated)
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps (calibrated)
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps (calibrated)
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMAN: ColorChecker (calibrated)
CalMAN: ColorChecker (calibrated)
Alienware 17 R3 vs. sRGB (84 %)
Alienware 17 R3 vs. sRGB (84 %)
Alienware 17 R3 vs. AdobeRGB (55 %)
Alienware 17 R3 vs. AdobeRGB (55 %)

The third revision also leaves a good impression in the extended tests with the professional software CalMAN. DeltaE-2000 values of 3.69 (grayscale) and 4.76 (ColorChecker) are typical for an IPS screen. The results can be improved to 0.79 and 3.28 and you can remove the slight yellow cast with a calibration.

Outdoor use
Outdoor use
Subpixel array
Subpixel array
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

The reaction times of the panel are very good. 23 ms (black-white) and 33 ms (gray-to-gray) are better than the majority of IPS panels. The outdoor capabilities and the viewing angles do not cause any criticism, either.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
23 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 5 ms rise
↘ 18 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 21 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (26.9 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
33 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 13 ms rise
↘ 20 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 19 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (43.4 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 58 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 5054 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Performance

We open the Performance section with a couple of screenshots, which show the system components and the most important software features.

Processor

Even though the Core i7-6820HK is faster and has a free multiplier (Alienware overclocks it to 4.1 GHz), we still think that the Core i7-6700HQ is a reasonable choice.

Single-core rendering
Single-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
CPU & GPU load
CPU & GPU load

Besides Hyperthreading, the Skylake model also supports the automatic overclocking via Turbo Boost, which can increase the clock under load from 2.6 to 3.1 GHz (four cores), 3.3 GHz (two cores) or 3.5 GHz (one core). The maximum values were always maintained in the tests with Cinebench R15 and the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark.

Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.68 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
7.5 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
146 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
680 Points
Help

The results of the CPU benchmarks support the good first impression. The much more expensive Core i7-6820HK is not even 10% faster in many other notebooks. If the difference is bigger, it is caused by the additional CPU overclocking (compare the MSI GT72S-6QE or the Asus GX700). Notebooks with desktop chips like the Schenker XMG U716 can also be more than 10% faster. Both devices feel similarly fast in practice, especially since the GPU is usually the limiting factor in games.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
146 Points ∼84%
Asus G752VY-RH71
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
144 Points ∼83% -1%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
151 Points ∼87% +3%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Intel Core i7-6820HK
159 Points ∼92% +9%
Asus GX700
Intel Core i7-6820HK
173 Points ∼100% +18%
Schenker XMG U716
Intel Core i7-6700
171 Points ∼99% +17%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
680 Points ∼78%
Asus G752VY-RH71
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
681 Points ∼78% 0%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
709 Points ∼81% +4%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Intel Core i7-6820HK
807 Points ∼92% +19%
Asus GX700
Intel Core i7-6820HK
875 Points ∼100% +29%
Schenker XMG U716
Intel Core i7-6700
791 Points ∼90% +16%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
1.68 Points ∼86%
Asus G752VY-RH71
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
1.64 Points ∼84% -2%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
1.73 Points ∼89% +3%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Intel Core i7-6820HK
1.8 Points ∼92% +7%
Asus GX700
Intel Core i7-6820HK
1.95 Points ∼100% +16%
Schenker XMG U716
Intel Core i7-6700
1.94 Points ∼99% +15%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
7.5 Points ∼79%
Asus G752VY-RH71
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
7.51 Points ∼79% 0%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
7.78 Points ∼81% +4%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Intel Core i7-6820HK
8.88 Points ∼93% +18%
Asus GX700
Intel Core i7-6820HK
9.55 Points ∼100% +27%
Schenker XMG U716
Intel Core i7-6700
8.77 Points ∼92% +17%

System Performance

We check the system performance with PCMark 7, which evaluates many components. 5938 points are on par with many other high-end laptops like the recently reviewed MSI GS60-6QE.

PCMark 7 Score
5938 points
Help
PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
5938 Points ∼75%
Asus G752VY-RH71
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
6362 Points ∼80% +7%
Schenker XMG P706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SM951 MZHPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
6054 Points ∼76% +2%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5256GPU7
6439 Points ∼81% +8%
Asus GX700
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
7933 Points ∼100% +34%
Schenker XMG U716
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700, Samsung SM951 MZHPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
7159 Points ∼90% +21%

Storage Devices

Alienware equips the A17-9935 with a 512 GB M.2-SSD from Samsung. The NVMe version of the PM951 is much better on paper at up to 1050 MB/s compared to conventional SATA-III SSDs that are limited at around 500-550 MB/s.

There were unfortunately similar problems to our review of the AW 15 R2 since many tools still have issues with the NVMe technology. AS SSD determined unrealistically low write rates. A firmware, driver or software update might help in this case. If you exclude the unnaturally long system launches after restarts, there were subjectively no problems in respect of the performance. CrystalDiskMark determines up to 1263 MB/s (read) and 587 MB/s (write) for the PM951. Some PCIe/NVMe-SSDs surpass 1000 MB/s in both sequential tests.

Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
Sequential Read: 1263 MB/s
Sequential Write: 587.2 MB/s
512K Read: 568.7 MB/s
512K Write: 265.2 MB/s
4K Read: 42.59 MB/s
4K Write: 140.6 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 610 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 232.8 MB/s
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
Asus G752VY-RH71
Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
Schenker XMG P706
Samsung SM951 MZHPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Toshiba NVMe THNSN5256GPU7
Asus GX700
2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
Schenker XMG U716
Samsung SM951 MZHPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
62%
44%
32%
129%
47%
Write 4k
140.6
150.2
7%
112.3
-20%
162.3
15%
141
0%
119.5
-15%
Read 4k
42.59
51.62
21%
44.61
5%
44.74
5%
50.61
19%
44.95
6%
Write Seq
587.2
1536
162%
1573
168%
1062
81%
2632
348%
1577
169%
Read Seq
1263
2007
59%
1536
22%
1602
27%
3139
149%
1608
27%

GPU Performance

The GeForce GTX 980M has been available for a while now, so we just want to focus on the most important facts. Similar to its siblings from the 900 generation, the DirectX 12 model is based on the Maxwell architecture and is manufactured in a 28 nm process (14 nm @CPU). With 1536 shaders, the GTX 980M is slightly faster than the GeForce GTX 970M with 1280 shaders, which is used for many gaming notebooks. The chip cannot compete with the new top model GTX 980, which – similar to its desktop counterpart – has 2048 shaders. The clocks of the GTX 980M are 1038-1127 MHz for the core and 2500 MHz for the GDDR5 memory.

3DMark 11 Performance
10464 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
85689 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
22136 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
8099 points
Help

Speaking of VRAM: Contrary to some rivals, Alienware only includes the 4 instead of 8 GB version of the GTX 980M. Some games require a lot of memory at extremely high settings (4K resolution, ultra details...). Synthetic graphics tests on the other hand are not influenced by the amount of VRAM so far. 3DMark 11 and 3DMark 13 rank the Alienware 17 R3 slightly below the level of GTX 980M notebooks with 8 GB VRAM (Schenker XMG P706MSI GT72S-6QE), but the difference could also be caused by the driver version and the fact that some companies overclock the CPU and/or GPU.

3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics (sort by value)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
9227 Points ∼69%
Asus G752VY-RH71
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
10489 Points ∼78% +14%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
9687 Points ∼72% +5%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
9537 Points ∼71% +3%
Asus GX700
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
13382 Points ∼100% +45%
Schenker XMG U716
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
12691 Points ∼95% +38%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Score (sort by value)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8099 Points ∼71%
Asus G752VY-RH71
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8914 Points ∼78% +10%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8380 Points ∼73% +3%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8414 Points ∼74% +4%
Asus GX700
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
11440 Points ∼100% +41%
Schenker XMG U716
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
10734 Points ∼94% +33%
3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
11388 Points ∼64%
Asus G752VY-RH71
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
13581 Points ∼76% +19%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
12402 Points ∼69% +9%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
12193 Points ∼68% +7%
Asus GX700
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
17864 Points ∼100% +57%
Schenker XMG U716
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
17050 Points ∼95% +50%
1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
10464 Points ∼68%
Asus G752VY-RH71
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
12056 Points ∼78% +15%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
11514 Points ∼74% +10%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
11488 Points ∼74% +10%
Asus GX700
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
15462 Points ∼100% +48%
Schenker XMG U716
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
14477 Points ∼94% +38%

Gaming Performance

Thanks to the enormous performance, the GeForce GTX 980M does not have any major problems even with demanding titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 3. Maximum details are almost always smooth in Full HD. Only games that are not perfectly optimized require high settings (e.g. Assassin's Creed Syndicate). We would recommend a driver update for users of the Alienware 17 in general. The preloaded version 353.54 does not work perfectly with modern titles because of its age. XCOM 2 and Rainbow Six Siege, for example, only used the GeForce GTX 980M after we assigned the GPU manually in Nvidia's System Control.

low med. high ultra
Assassin's Creed Syndicate (2015) 75.471.654.323fps
Rainbow Six Siege (2015) 230.9186.2110.993.1fps
Just Cause 3 (2015) 106100.468.759.1fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 1378552.942.2fps
XCOM 2 (2016) 77.958.845.222.9fps

Emissions

System Noise

The noise development is not completely similar to the predecessor. The device is much quieter in 3DMark 06 at 38 instead of 43 dB(A) for the old version. The maximum noise is also a bit lower at 50 vs. 52 dB(A). The main reason for the improvement should be the better efficiency of the Core i7-6700HQ or the Skylake architecture, respectively. The Core i7-4980HQ of the Alienware 17 R2 was a notorious hot-head. Dell might have also changed/optimized the fan control.

The 17-inch device is always quiet while idling. The fans are usually deactivated, so you can only hear the subtle murmur of the HDD. There is no annoying pulsating we experience with many competitors. Some component of the review unit created a buzzing (certain 3D loads), which could be annoying for sensitive users.

Noise development idle
Noise development idle
Noise development load
Noise development load
Pink & White Noise (speakers)
Pink & White Noise (speakers)

Noise Level

Idle
31 / 32 / 33 dB(A)
HDD
32 dB(A)
Load
38 / 50 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1 (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 30 dB(A)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Asus G752VY-RH71
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Schenker XMG P706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Asus GX700
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK
Schenker XMG U716
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700
Noise
-2%
1%
-7%
-12%
-9%
off / environment *
30
Idle Minimum *
31
33.4
-8%
30.9
-0%
30.6
1%
33
-6%
33
-6%
Idle Average *
32
33.5
-5%
31.2
2%
31
3%
35
-9%
35
-9%
Idle Maximum *
33
33.5
-2%
31.2
5%
50.4
-53%
42
-27%
38
-15%
Load Average *
38
40.3
-6%
40.5
-7%
35
8%
46
-21%
45
-18%
Load Maximum *
50
45.1
10%
47
6%
46
8%
48
4%
48
4%

* ... smaller is better

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test

The temperature development is typical for a gaming notebook. The surfaces warm up to around 30 °C (86 °F) while idling and around 43 °C (109.4 °F) under maximum load. Up to 53 °C (127.4 °F) at the fan exhaust are not very comfortable on the lap, but the 3.7 kg (8.2 lb) chassis design is primarily for use on the desk anyway.

The palm rest never gets inconveniently hot. We could never measure more than 33 °C (91.4 °F) at the palm rest even with the tools FurMark and Prime95. The components are stressed more in the stress test. After one hour, the Core i7-6700HQ leveled off at around 90 °C (194 °F) and the GeForce GTX 980M around 80 °C (176 °F). There was only temporary throttling.

Temperature idle (top)
Temperature idle (top)
Temperature idle (bottom)
Temperature idle (bottom)
Temperature load (top)
Temperature load (top)
Temperature load (bottom)
Temperature load (bottom)
Max. Load
 49.9 °C49.4 °C51.1 °C 
 43.5 °C49.6 °C46.5 °C 
 28.8 °C32.9 °C32.4 °C 
Maximum: 51.1 °C
Average: 42.7 °C
50.8 °C53.2 °C44.2 °C
50.9 °C50.7 °C47.3 °C
29.6 °C36.4 °C29.8 °C
Maximum: 53.2 °C
Average: 43.7 °C
Power Supply (max.)  44.2 °C | Room Temperature 22 °C | Voltcraft IR-900
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Asus G752VY-RH71
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Schenker XMG P706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Asus GX700
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK
Schenker XMG U716
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700
Heat
19%
10%
2%
2%
-8%
Maximum Upper Side *
51.1
38.2
25%
44
14%
45.2
12%
48.7
5%
48.8
5%
Maximum Bottom *
53.2
40.2
24%
42.3
20%
56.9
-7%
55.8
-5%
Idle Upper Side *
31.7
29
9%
31.7
-0%
30.7
3%
32
-1%
36.7
-16%
Idle Bottom *
32.2
27
16%
29.9
7%
31.8
1%
37.3
-16%

* ... smaller is better

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Compared to our review configuration of the Alienware 17 R2, the new model is not always more frugal. 12-26 watts while idling are only possible by Nvidia's Optimus technology, which can switch dynamically between the integrated and the dedicated GPU. As soon as you stress the Nvidia chip, the consumption will rise noticeably, although 95 watts in 3DMark 06 are still acceptable (124 watts @17 R2). We measured a maximum value of 188 watts in the stress test. Unfortunate: The power adaptor is sufficient with a nominal output of 240 watts, but the battery is still drained under maximum load.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.3 / 0.8 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 12 / 18 / 26 Watt
Load midlight 95 / 188 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Asus G752VY-RH71
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Schenker XMG P706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Asus GX700
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK
Schenker XMG U716
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700
Power Consumption
2%
-38%
-120%
-106%
Idle Minimum *
12
12
-0%
21.3
-78%
40
-233%
35
-192%
Idle Average *
18
17.9
1%
26.3
-46%
45
-150%
44
-144%
Idle Maximum *
26
19.3
26%
32.9
-27%
51
-96%
51
-96%
Load Average *
95
97.7
-3%
110.2
-16%
149
-57%
134
-41%
Load Maximum *
188
213
-13%
230.8
-23%
313
-66%
298
-59%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

The battery runtimes are a big strength of the Alienware 17 R3. Up to 12.5 hours while idling (minimum display brightness) are usually reserved for office or multimedia notebooks with ULV processors. Competitors without switchable graphics (Asus GX700Schenker XMG U716...) sometimes only last 3-4 hours. Around 7.5 hours web browsing at a medium luminance also deserve respect. 3D applications will run for almost 2 hours on the 17-inch device.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
12h 38min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
7h 24min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 45min
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
92 Wh
Asus G752VY-RH71
67 Wh
Schenker XMG P706
60 Wh
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
83 Wh
Asus GX700
93 Wh
Schenker XMG U716
82 Wh
Battery Runtime
-28%
-35%
-49%
-45%
-48%
Reader / Idle
758
368
-51%
297
-61%
261
-66%
201
-73%
158
-79%
Load
105
100
-5%
97
-8%
71
-32%
88
-16%
88
-16%
H.264
220
136

Pros

+ sturdy and high-quality chassis
+ external graphics card via Amplifier
+ excellent battery runtimes
+ many illumination elements
+ USB 3.1 with Thunderbolt 3
+ bright IPS display
+ excellent performance
+ good input devices
+ decent sound
+ handy tools
+ nice design
+ NVMe-SSD

Cons

- some components are tricky to access
- occasional CPU & GPU throttling in extreme scenarios
- battery drains under maximum load (mains)
- only two memory slots
- chassis slips easily
- high weight

Verdict

In review: Alienware 17 R3. Test model courtesy of Cyberport.
In review: Alienware 17 R3. Test model courtesy of Cyberport.

The Alienware 17 R3 is a step in the right direction from the outgoing generation.

You will hardly find such a stylish and diversely illuminated chassis in the notebook segment. Thanks to USB 3.1, NVMe-SSD, Skylake processor, DDR4-RAM and GeForce GTX 980M, the other components are high-end as well. The package is rounded off by great input devices, decent speakers and a bright IPS display, which does suffer from some backlight bleeding though.

You will be happy about the massive runtimes if you often use the notebook on the road, although the 3.7 kg (8.2 lb) chassis is not ideal if you want to carry it around. The maintainability, the grip of the support feet and the amount of VRAM could also be better for a price of 2,000 Euros (~$2201).

Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935) - 02/19/2016 v5
Florian Glaser

Chassis
87 / 98 → 89%
Keyboard
88%
Pointing Device
83%
Connectivity
69 / 81 → 85%
Weight
52 / 66 → 75%
Battery
90%
Display
86%
Games Performance
91%
Application Performance
93%
Temperature
80 / 95 → 84%
Noise
77 / 90 → 86%
Audio
80%
Average
81%
87%
Gaming - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Alienware 17 R3 Notebook Review
Florian Glaser, 2016-02-22 (Update: 2016-02-24)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.