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Alienware 17 R4 (7820HK, QHD, GTX 1080) Laptop Review

Bigger, faster, louder. It's not often that a notebook gains weight and girth in successive generations. In this case, the new Alienware 17 R4 utilizes the extra space wisely for an overall stronger experience that more than makes up for the added mass.

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The Alienware 17 series has evolved quite a bit since we first reviewed the introductory model back in 2008. Now, Alienware notebooks have become some of our favorite gaming systems because of their very high quality builds and reliability. The latest Alienware 17 R4 has been redesigned from the outgoing 17 R3 to be even heavier, larger, and faster with core components up to the i7-7820HK and the GTX 1080. This configuration places the system squarely in the enthusiast territory alongside the MSI GT73VR, Acer Predator 17 X, Asus G701VI/G752VS, and the various Clevo barebones from resellers. The i7-7820HK in particular is an uncommon find in the gaming laptop space where the i7-7700HQ or i7-6700HQ are more typical.

Lower-end SKUs of the Alienware 17 R4 can be configured with an i7-7700HQ, GTX 1050 Ti, 8 GB of RAM, and IPS FHD screen for a reasonable price of $1300 USD considering the strong chassis. The SKU on the other end of the spectrum is loaded with the i7-7820HK CPU, GTX 1080 GPU, 4K UHD IPS display, and Tobii eye-tracking IR cameras for games that support the feature. Our test model today is this latter configuration but with a G-Sync-compatible QHD TN panel instead retailing for about $2600 USD.

We recommend checking out the official Dell product page for a clean breakdown of the available SKUs and prices.

Alienware 17 R4 (17 Series)
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop) - 8192 MB, Core: 1582 MHz, Memory: 10010 MHz, GDDR5X, 381.78
Memory
16384 MB 
, SK Hynix PC4-19200, DDR4-2400, Dual-Channel, 1300 MHz, 17-17-17-39, 2x SODIMM
Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 2560 x 1440 pixel 170 PPI, TN LED, ID: AU Optronics AUO1496, Name: B173QTN, Dell P/N: JYWWF, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel CM238
Storage
SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB, 512 GB 
, Secondary: 1 TB 7200 RPM HGST HTS721010A9E630 HDD
Soundcard
Intel Skylake PCH-H 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: 3.5 mm earphones, 3.5 mm microphone, Brightness Sensor, Graphics Amplifier
Networking
Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1435 Wireless Network Adapter (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 29.9 x 424 x 332 ( = 1.18 x 16.69 x 13.07 in)
Battery
99 Wh Lithium-Ion
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: FHDSecondary Camera: Tobii Eye Tracking
Additional features
Speakers: 2.1 + subwoofer, Keyboard: TactX, beveled, Keyboard Light: yes, Tobii Eye Tracking, Killer Control Center, Alienware Sound Center, Alienware Command Center, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
4.42 kg ( = 155.91 oz / 9.74 pounds), Power Supply: 1.45 kg ( = 51.15 oz / 3.2 pounds)
Price
3000 USD

 

Case

Alienware has gone all out in order to make the chassis feel as "premium" as possible. Like the 17 R3, the 17 R4 utilizes magnesium, steel, rubberized surfaces, and an anodized aluminum gray outer lid borrowed from the XPS series to create one of the most rigid gaming systems in its size class. This has its consequences when it comes to weight and serviceability as shown in our next few sections, but there's no denying that the notebook looks and feels meticulously designed. Brushed aluminum surfaces, glossy plastics, and overly showy accents need not apply.

The biggest difference in this new refresh is its rear "jet engine style" ventilation grilles that protrude prominently from the back. Most enthusiast gaming systems feature something similar such as the Asus G752/G701 series, MSI GT80/GT83VR series, Aorus X series, and the Acer Predator series. The advantages are at least two-fold -- manufacturers can more efficiently move waste heat away from the sensitive keyboard area and potentially provide stronger cooling simultaneously. A notable drawback is the more limited maximum display angle of just 140 degrees compared to the full 180 degrees of the MSI GT72 series.

In terms of rigidity, the base feels very thick with no warping or bending and almost no creaking when attempting to twist the unit. The lid is naturally more flexible around its front corners, but it is otherwise firm on its outer surface and comparatively stiffer than the lids of the MSI GT series and Asus ROG series. One complaint is that the lid and its hinges will always creak when opening and closing the display. It's not significant enough to be a concern, though it certainly feels out of place on a system in this price range. We can otherwise notice no unintended gaps or protruding surfaces around the unit with the small exception of its inner display bezel. As shown by our image below, some blue light bleed from the Alienware logo can be seen as the bezel does not sit completely flat against the screen, but this is nowhere near as bad as on our previous GT72VR test unit and is unnoticeable during everyday use.

The dark keyboard keys and textured palm rests tend to attract and show fingerprints rather quickly in contrast to the outer lid. Expect the base and commonly used keys to become glossy over time from the accumulation of oils.

New rear ventilation makes for a heavier and larger chassis
New rear ventilation makes for a heavier and larger chassis
Small light bleed from the Alienware logo from underneath the display bezel
Small light bleed from the Alienware logo from underneath the display bezel

The addition of "jet engine" rear ventilation grilles on the 17 R4 has bumped up both the length and weight of the notebook significantly. The 17 R4 is about 700 g heavier than the 17 R3 while being 40 mm longer and 4 mm thinner. The result is a chassis that feels much denser than before and is one of the heaviest 17-inch gaming notebooks available alongside the vapor chamber-cooled Asus G752VY. In fact, the two are nearly identical in footprint whereas competing systems from MSI are noticeably smaller in length and width. We certainly appreciate the fact that the manufacturer is willing to make a heavier and larger successor instead of going the opposite direction where performance may subsequently suffer.

Connectivity

Gaming notebooks are often packed to the brim with ports and connectivity features since they are typically larger than the average multimedia notebook and can afford the space. Thus, we're a bit disappointed to see so few integrated ports on the 17 R4. The system carries just two USB Type-A ports (compared to six on the MSI GT72), two video-out ports (compared to three on the Eurocom Sky X7E2) and just two audio ports (compared to four on the MSI GT62VR). The manufacturer has also elected to drop the SD reader from the 17 R3 to force external readers instead not unlike the Razer Blade Pro or EVGA SC17. We can, however, appreciate the fact that there are two USB Type-C ports whereas most notebooks in this category include only one. Users are encouraged to make use of Thunderbolt 3 dongles in order to expand the connectivity features of the system.

HDMI 2.0 comes standard to support native external 4K displays at up to 60 Hz. It's also worth noting that the mDP port is version 1.2 instead of 1.3, so 4K at 120 Hz is not supported.

The proprietary Graphics Amplifier port makes a return in the 17 R4. While we can see this being useful at the lower 17 R4 GTX 1050 Ti configuration levels, its practicality wanes at higher configurations where the integrated GTX 1070 or 1080 should prove more than sufficient for the next couple of years. Dell claims that its proprietary PCIe x4 Gen 3 GPU docking solution suffers from no dramatic performance hits when outputting to the internal notebook display unlike on the Razer Core.

Front: No connectivity
Front: No connectivity
Left: Noble Lock, USB Type-C Gen. 1, USB 3.0, 3.5 mm microphone, 3.5 mm headphones
Left: Noble Lock, USB Type-C Gen. 1, USB 3.0, 3.5 mm microphone, 3.5 mm headphones
Rear: Gigabit RJ-45, mDP 1.2, USB Type-C + Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, Alienware Graphics Amplifier, AC adapter
Rear: Gigabit RJ-45, mDP 1.2, USB Type-C + Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, Alienware Graphics Amplifier, AC adapter
Right: USB 3.0
Right: USB 3.0

Software

AlienFX serves as the control center for macro customization, keyboard color settings, system monitoring and recording, and performance profile options. The system makes use of nine dedicated macro keys of which five can be toggled between three different sets of functions. The system monitor portion of the software is rather poor and limited since its graphs cannot be minimized into individual widgets or smaller sizes. We hope that future revisions will add graphs for fan control and RPM monitoring.

Keyboard and lighting customization
Keyboard and lighting customization
Windows Power Settings revamped and reskinned
Windows Power Settings revamped and reskinned
TactX macro key settings
TactX macro key settings
limited performance monitoring options
limited performance monitoring options
Reskinned Alienware audio software
Reskinned Alienware audio software
Microphone settings
Microphone settings
Audio Launchpad
Audio Launchpad
"Radar" audio visualizer for games
"Radar" audio visualizer for games
Reskinned Elan trackpad settings menu
Reskinned Elan trackpad settings menu

Communication

All current configurations ship with the Killer 1435 WLAN module as standard with the option to upgrade to the Killer 1535. Besides some small differences in features, raw throughput is essentially identical to the Killer 1535 and both have integrated Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity. We were able to record a real-world average transfer rate of 606 Mbps against a theoretical maximum of 867 Mbps and experienced no notable latency issues when connected to our Linksys EA8500 test router.

The Killer Control Center software comes pre-installed for easy monitoring of throughput and for setting app priorities. See our dedicated review on the Killer 1535 for more information on performance and features.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
MSI GT62VR 7RE-223
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1435 Wireless Network Adapter
669 MBit/s ∼100% +10%
Dell XPS 15 9560 (i7-7700HQ, UHD)
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
648 MBit/s ∼97% +7%
Alienware 17 R4
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1435 Wireless Network Adapter
606 MBit/s ∼91%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Alienware 17 R4
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1435 Wireless Network Adapter
589 MBit/s ∼100%
MSI GT62VR 7RE-223
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1435 Wireless Network Adapter
579 MBit/s ∼98% -2%
Dell XPS 15 9560 (i7-7700HQ, UHD)
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
529 MBit/s ∼90% -10%

Accessories

There are no included extras in the box outside of the usual AC adapter and Quick Start guide. There is not even a cleaning cloth that many higher-end systems tend to include as standard. The manufacturer offers Alienware-branded accessories, carrying cases and, of course, the Graphics Amplifier docking station. Other Thunderbolt 3 docks and dongles such as the Dell DA200 should also be compatible with the system as well.

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Maintenance

The bottom panel can be easily removed with a Philips screwdriver and a sharp edge. Its latches are quite tight, so the process is not as painless as on most Clevo or MSI notebooks. Once removed, users will have access to all four storage bays, the WLAN module, system fans, and both DDR4 SODIMM slots. Direct access to the battery and the rest of the motherboard continues to be tricky because of the thick chassis plating protecting key internal components. While this is responsible for the very sturdy design of the Alienware, it also makes troubleshooting more laborious compared to other notebooks with "open" motherboards. It's a small trade off that may irk some users who prefer easier accessibility.

Dell offers a comprehensive service guide for users who wish to disassemble the notebook further. Note that the GPU is soldered and does not utilize an upgradeable MXM 3.0 slot.

Alienware 17 R4
Alienware 17 R4
Alienware 17 R2/R3
Alienware 17 R2/R3

Warranty

A one-year limited warranty is included in the price whereas manufacturers like Gigabyte offer two years as standard. Buyers can extend the manufacturer warranty for up to four years with accidental damage protection. Dell is well-known for its extensive consumer support across its consumer and business products and the Alienware is no exception.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The feel of the QWERTY keys remains unchanged from the outgoing 17 R3. Unlike most other gaming notebooks, Dell is sticking to a beveled layout to reduce the spacing between each key. Feedback is firm yet quiet with no unevenness between keys of different sizes. In other words, the Function keys and Arrow keys are not any spongier simply due to their smaller sizes. Clatter is minimal and keys do not wiggle in place by any large degree. Interestingly, Dell is advertising the Alienware keyboard as "the only keyboard on a laptop with 2.2 mm of key travel", but this is blatantly false as the older Gigabyte P55W V4 was also advertised as having 2.2 mm of key travel. Regardless, this is still deeper than on most Ultrabooks and gaming notebooks where 2 mm of travel or shorter is common.

The AlienFX software allows customization of the keyboard backlight in four preset zones plus the trackpad, Alienware logo, and the rim lights along the outer edges of the notebook. As a result, the system does not include individually-lit keys with 16.7 million RGB colors and is instead limited to a color wheel of just 20 colors to choose from. In comparison, the Lenovo Y900 keyboard is split into seven distinct zones and the latest Aorus systems have full individually-lit RGB keys for a much wider range of effects. Strangely enough, there is no keyboard hotkey for adjusting light intensity and users will have to right-click the AlienFX icon for the brightness slider.

Touchpad

The small (10 x 5.5 cm) trackpad on the new Alienware is also largely unchanged from the 17 R3 with its smooth glide and ease of use. The surface is firm and will not warp if applying pressure with a finger. A larger surface area would have been appreciated, but the small dimensions may have been necessary in order to preserve chassis rigidity. Synaptics software powers the trackpad with a special Alienware-themed UI for adjusting sensitivity and gestures of up to four fingers.

The dedicated mouse keys are relatively quiet when pressed with deep travel and adequate feedback. This is in stark contrast to the mouse keys on the MSI GT series where the keys are firmer, louder, and shallower in travel. The softer keys on the Alienware are still comfortable to use even if they are spongier than on most gaming notebooks, so it is more a matter of preference. For longer sessions, however, we still find it faster to simply double-tap on the trackpad surface instead.

"TactX" keyboard with n-key rollover, 20-color 4-zone lighting, and 2.2 mm of key travel
"TactX" keyboard with n-key rollover, 20-color 4-zone lighting, and 2.2 mm of key travel
The signature beveled layout is the same as on the 17 R3
The signature beveled layout is the same as on the 17 R3

Display

Display options are wider than on most other gaming notebooks. Whereas models like the MSI GT73VR or Asus G701 include FHD and UHD options, the Alienware throws in the more uncommon QHD panel for a total of three different resolutions. This becomes more even confusing as certain resolution panels can carry G-Sync or no G-Sync, 120 Hz or 60 Hz refresh, brighter or dimmer backlighting, or even compatibility with the integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU. In fact, these panels will very likely carry different contrast ratios and color gamuts between them as well, so we strongly suggest potential buyers to choose very carefully in regards to the display. Our small table below shows the different features of each of the three resolution options.

Why not offer a 4K UHD option with the best of all worlds including 120 Hz refresh, G-Sync, full sRGB coverage, and manual or automatic graphics switching? We've asked multiple manufacturers this same question and the responses are unanimous - there is not yet a supplier that can provide such a panel in sufficient quantities. Thus, the pros and cons of each resolution option available are understandable at this point in time.

Our test model is equipped with a matte QHD AU Optronics AUO1496 panel that can be found on no other laptop in our current database. Dell promises a 400-nit backlight which we can confirm with our own X-Rite spectrophotometer on the very center of the screen, but brightness drops slightly around the edges and corners for an overall average of about 370 nits. Contrast is middling at about 700:1 compared to almost twice that on the Chi Mei panel of the MSI GT73VR. Again, our measurements below reflect only the QHD SKU of the Alienware 17 R4 as the FHD and UHD SKUs are very likely to exhibit different results.

Subjectively, the QHD display is crisp and both the 120 Hz refresh rate and very fast black-white response times make for an extremely smooth experience. Simple actions like cursor movement or window dragging, for example, feel faster and more responsive. The screen suffers from a light-moderate amount of color graininess that becomes noticeable when displaying a white background such as a Word document or folder window. Such a phenomenon is common across most matte panels and is largely absent on glossy touchscreens. We can otherwise notice no major backlight bleeding issues around the edges or corners of the screen.

Minimal uneven backlight bleeding
Minimal uneven backlight bleeding
RGB subpixel array (170 PPI)
RGB subpixel array (170 PPI)
FHD Option QHD Option 4K UHD Option
IPS TN IPS
300 nits 400 nits 300 nits
No 120 Hz 120 Hz No 120 Hz
Integrated GPU No integrated GPU Integrated GPU
No G-Sync G-Sync No G-Sync
358.8
cd/m²
391.8
cd/m²
373.9
cd/m²
379.2
cd/m²
402.3
cd/m²
364.5
cd/m²
345.2
cd/m²
369.4
cd/m²
361.5
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2
Maximum: 402.3 cd/m² Average: 371.8 cd/m² Minimum: 19.19 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 86 %
Center on Battery: 402.3 cd/m²
Contrast: 649:1 (Black: 0.62 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.6 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 4.7 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
82.2% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 53.7% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.14
Alienware 17 R4
TN LED, 17.3, 2560x1440
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
CV69H_173WF4 (LGD0459), IPS, 17.3, 1920x1080
MSI GT73VR 7RF-296
N173HHE-G32 (CMN1747), TN LED, 17.3, 1920x1080
Acer Predator 17 X GX-792-76DL
LP173WF4-SPF5 (LGD056D), IPS, 17.3, 1920x1080
Aorus X7 DT v6
AUO1096, TN LED, 17.3, 2560x1440
Response Times
-45%
29%
-85%
13%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
30 (18.8, 11.2)
33 (13, 20)
-10%
26 (12, 14)
13%
45 (18, 27)
-50%
21.6 (12.4, 9.2)
28%
Response Time Black / White *
12.8 (10.8, 2)
23 (5, 18)
-80%
7 (4, 3)
45%
28 (6, 22)
-119%
13.2 (4.4, 8.8)
-3%
PWM Frequency
59.52
Screen
7%
-9%
16%
-6%
Brightness middle
402.3
360
-11%
307
-24%
380
-6%
339.5
-16%
Brightness
372
336
-10%
284
-24%
362
-3%
309
-17%
Brightness Distribution
86
90
5%
85
-1%
91
6%
80
-7%
Black Level *
0.62
0.44
29%
0.25
60%
0.37
40%
0.45
27%
Contrast
649
818
26%
1228
89%
1027
58%
754
16%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5.6
4.76
15%
9.65
-72%
4.12
26%
6.88
-23%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
9.8
10.8
-10%
16.36
-67%
8.19
16%
9.99
-2%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.7
3.69
21%
10.07
-114%
3.95
16%
6.57
-40%
Gamma
2.14 112%
2.24 107%
2.12 113%
2.47 97%
2.04 118%
CCT
7519 86%
6091 107%
12145 54%
6539 99%
8608 76%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
53.7
55
2%
75
40%
55
2%
54
1%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
82.2
84
2%
100
22%
84
2%
82
0%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-19% / -2%
10% / -3%
-35% / -1%
4% / -3%

* ... smaller is better

Color coverage is approximately 54 percent and 82 percent of the AdobeRGB and sRGB standards, respectively. This is similar to the displays on the Acer Predator 17 X and older Alienware 17 R3 and about average for a high-end gaming notebook. Certain competitors offer full sRGB coverage like the MSI GT73VR or Razer Blade Pro, though these alternatives may not have the same QHD/120 Hz/G-Sync options like our Alienware. For gaming purposes, however, response times and contrast generally take precedence over color accuracy.

vs. AdobeRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. Alienware 17 R3
vs. Alienware 17 R3

Further display measurements with an X-Rite spectrophotometer reveal generally accurate grayscale and colors out of the box. There are slight improvements after calibration as shown by our CalMan results below, but an end-user calibration is not absolutely necessary. Blue and Orange colors are represented slightly less accurately than others. All colors become increasingly inaccurate the higher the saturation level due to the imperfect sRGB coverage of the panel.

Grayscale before calibration
Grayscale before calibration
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
ColorChecker after calibration
ColorChecker after calibration

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
12.8 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 10.8 ms rise
↘ 2 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. » 9 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (25.9 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
30 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 18.8 ms rise
↘ 11.2 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. » 14 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (41.4 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: 54 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8882 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

The 17-inch Alienware is clearly not meant to be used outdoors for long periods and the base 300-bit backlight brightness is already sufficient for comfortable viewing under typical indoor conditions. Thus, we find the 400-nit display option to be at odds with what the system is attempting to offer. The brighter 400-nit panel is not nearly enough to make outdoor viewing comfortable especially for such a large display. TN panels in general also don't work so well under outdoor conditions compared to their IPS counterpart, so colors will still wash out. The limited viewing angles make glare more difficult to avoid without experiencing color degradation.

Outdoors under shade
Outdoors under shade
Outdoors under shade
Outdoors under shade
Outdoors under direct sunlight
Outdoors under direct sunlight
TN viewing angles
TN viewing angles

Performance

Few gaming notebooks ship with both the i7-7820HK and the GTX 1080 as these are some of the fastest processors currently available for the mobile space. We suspect that Nvidia will eventually bring the GTX 1080 Ti to notebooks similar to how the 980M received the 980 treatment in late 2015, but the GTX 1080 should be more than enough for now especially at the native 1440p resolution. Users who want to go even further up in specs may have to turn to Clevo SLI solutions, the Asus GX800, or the 18.4-inch MSI GT83VR Titan with the i7-7920HQ CPU.

As mentioned in our Display section, certain SKUs without G-Sync will be able to manually switch to the integrated HD Graphics 620 GPU via a hotkey on the keyboard. Since our particular configuration has the integrated GPU disabled, pressing this same hotkey will simply bring up a small error message instead. Automatic graphics switching with Optimus is supported on non-G-Sync SKUs.

Processor

The i7-7820HK is one of the fastest mobile Kaby Lake CPUs available and its performance is predictably impressive. CineBench Single-Thread and Multi-Thread scores are about 10 percent and 25 percent faster than the i7-6820HQ in the latest MacBook Pro 15 while managing to be on par with the desktop i7-6700K at stock speeds. Interestingly, the Asus G701VIK with the same i7-7820HK CPU is able to outperform the Alienware by about 8 percent in single-threaded workloads. Gamers are unlikely to notice the performance benefits of the i7-7820HK as the popular i7-7700HQ is already more than sufficient for gaming.

Running CineBench R15 Multi-Thread in a loop shows no performance degradation over time. The initial score of 867 points remains relatively steady even after the 40th consecutive run. In comparison, the i7-7700HQ in the super-thin MSI GS63VR can drop by as much as 10 to 15 percent after the first few loops.

See our dedicated CPU page on the Core i7-7820HK for more technical information and benchmarks.

CineBench R10 32-bit
CineBench R10 32-bit
CineBench R11.5 64-bit
CineBench R11.5 64-bit
CineBench R15
CineBench R15
0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360370380390400410420430440450460470480490500510520530540550560570580590600610620630640650660670680690700710720730740750760770780790800810820830840850860870880Tooltip
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64 Bit
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Eurocom Tornado F5
Intel Core i7-7700K
190 Points ∼92% +11%
Asus G701VIK-BA049T
Intel Core i7-7820HK
184 Points ∼89% +8%
Alienware 17 R4
Intel Core i7-7820HK
171 Points ∼83%
Eurocom Sky X7E2
Intel Core i7-6700K
160 Points ∼77% -6%
Samsung Odyssey NP800G5M-X01US
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
155 Points ∼75% -9%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
154 Points ∼74% -10%
EVGA SC17 GTX 1070
Intel Core i7-6820HK
152 Points ∼73% -11%
MSI GT80 Titan SLI
Intel Core i7-5700HQ
143 Points ∼69% -16%
MSI GE72VR-6RF16H21
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
140 Points ∼68% -18%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Asus G701VIK-BA049T
Intel Core i7-7820HK
899 Points ∼31% +4%
Eurocom Tornado F5
Intel Core i7-7700K
897 Points ∼30% +3%
Eurocom Sky X7E2
Intel Core i7-6700K
874 Points ∼30% +1%
Alienware 17 R4
Intel Core i7-7820HK
867 Points ∼29%
Samsung Odyssey NP800G5M-X01US
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
738 Points ∼25% -15%
MSI GT80 Titan SLI
Intel Core i7-5700HQ
724 Points ∼25% -16%
EVGA SC17 GTX 1070
Intel Core i7-6820HK
706 Points ∼24% -19%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
704 Points ∼24% -19%
MSI GE72VR-6RF16H21
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
676 Points ∼23% -22%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit
Eurocom Tornado F5
Intel Core i7-7700K
2.19 Points ∼94% +30%
Asus G701VIK-BA049T
Intel Core i7-7820HK
2.08 Points ∼89% +23%
Samsung Odyssey NP800G5M-X01US
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
1.83 Points ∼78% +8%
Eurocom Sky X7E2
Intel Core i7-6700K
1.72 Points ∼74% +2%
Alienware 17 R4
Intel Core i7-7820HK
1.69 Points ∼72%
EVGA SC17 GTX 1070
Intel Core i7-6820HK
1.68 Points ∼72% -1%
MSI GT80 Titan SLI
Intel Core i7-5700HQ
1.67 Points ∼71% -1%
MSI GE72VR-6RF16H21
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
1.55 Points ∼66% -8%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Asus G701VIK-BA049T
Intel Core i7-7820HK
9.91 Points ∼41% +4%
Eurocom Tornado F5
Intel Core i7-7700K
9.78 Points ∼41% +3%
Alienware 17 R4
Intel Core i7-7820HK
9.53 Points ∼40%
Eurocom Sky X7E2
Intel Core i7-6700K
8.55 Points ∼36% -10%
Samsung Odyssey NP800G5M-X01US
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
8.17 Points ∼34% -14%
MSI GT80 Titan SLI
Intel Core i7-5700HQ
7.94 Points ∼33% -17%
EVGA SC17 GTX 1070
Intel Core i7-6820HK
7.75 Points ∼32% -19%
MSI GE72VR-6RF16H21
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
7.39 Points ∼31% -22%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single 32Bit
Eurocom Tornado F5
Intel Core i7-7700K
7222 Points ∼67% +10%
Alienware 17 R4
Intel Core i7-7820HK
6566 Points ∼61%
Eurocom Sky X7E2
Intel Core i7-6700K
6434 Points ∼59% -2%
Samsung Odyssey NP800G5M-X01US
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
5954 Points ∼55% -9%
EVGA SC17 GTX 1070
Intel Core i7-6820HK
5632 Points ∼52% -14%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
5580 Points ∼51% -15%
MSI GT80 Titan SLI
Intel Core i7-5700HQ
5550 Points ∼51% -15%
MSI GE72VR-6RF16H21
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
4720 Points ∼44% -28%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
Eurocom Tornado F5
Intel Core i7-7700K
28189 Points ∼57% +8%
Alienware 17 R4
Intel Core i7-7820HK
26081 Points ∼52%
Eurocom Sky X7E2
Intel Core i7-6700K
23815 Points ∼48% -9%
Samsung Odyssey NP800G5M-X01US
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
22512 Points ∼45% -14%
MSI GT80 Titan SLI
Intel Core i7-5700HQ
21755 Points ∼44% -17%
EVGA SC17 GTX 1070
Intel Core i7-6820HK
21313 Points ∼43% -18%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
21079 Points ∼42% -19%
MSI GE72VR-6RF16H21
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
19720 Points ∼40% -24%
wPrime 2.0x - 1024m
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
241 s * ∼3% -34%
EVGA SC17 GTX 1070
Intel Core i7-6820HK
224.726 s * ∼3% -25%
Samsung Odyssey NP800G5M-X01US
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
211.321 s * ∼2% -18%
Eurocom Sky X7E2
Intel Core i7-6700K
205.867 s * ∼2% -15%
Alienware 17 R4
Intel Core i7-7820HK
179.449 s * ∼2%
Eurocom Tornado F5
Intel Core i7-7700K
176.329 s * ∼2% +2%
Super Pi Mod 1.5 XS 32M - ---
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
581 Seconds * ∼3% -18%
EVGA SC17 GTX 1070
Intel Core i7-6820HK
572.296 Seconds * ∼3% -17%
MSI GT80 Titan SLI
Intel Core i7-5700HQ
565.334 Seconds * ∼3% -15%
Samsung Odyssey NP800G5M-X01US
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
519.371 Seconds * ∼2% -6%
Alienware 17 R4
Intel Core i7-7820HK
490.548 Seconds * ∼2%
Eurocom Sky X7E2
Intel Core i7-6700K
484.635 Seconds * ∼2% +1%
Eurocom Tornado F5
Intel Core i7-7700K
440.036 Seconds * ∼2% +10%

* ... smaller is better

Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
13027
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
26081
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
6566
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
79.86 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
9.53 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.69 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.6 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
140.8 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
867 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
171 Points
Help

System Performance

PCMark benchmarks rank the Alienware 17 R4 in the same ballpark as competing notebooks with comparable specifications. Subjectively, system boot up and applications launch almost instantaneously with no notable software or hardware issues during our time with the test unit.

PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 8 Creative Accelerated
PCMark 8 Creative Accelerated
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Aorus X7 DT v6
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 6820HK, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
5353 Points ∼82% +5%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
5088 Points ∼78%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
4831 Points ∼74% -5%
Creative Score Accelerated v2
Aorus X7 DT v6
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 6820HK, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
8478 Points ∼89% +2%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
8420 Points ∼88% +2%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
8272 Points ∼87%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Aorus X7 DT v6
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 6820HK, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
5096 Points ∼84% +1%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
5064 Points ∼83%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
4821 Points ∼79% -5%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
5064 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
8272 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
5088 points
Help

Storage Devices

A total of four storage bays are available on the 17 R4 - down from five on last year's 17 R3. Users have easy access to 2x NVMe M.2 2280 slots, 1x 2.5-inch SATA III bay, and the uncommon 1x 2242 M.2 slot. Our test unit is configured with a primary 512 GB SK Hynix PC300 NVMe SSD and a secondary 1 TB Hitachi HGST HDD. The 2.5-inch bay is spacious enough to accept both 7 mm and 9.5 mm HDDs and RAID 0/1 setups are supported through the Intel CM238 chipset.

Sequential read and write rates are fast as expected from a primary SSD, but they are disappointingly average when compared to most other NVMe SSDs. In particular, the Toshiba THNSN5512GPU7 in the Acer Predator 17 X and the Samsung SM951 in the Aorus X7 DT v6 each have sequential write speeds about twice as fast as our Sk Hynix PC300. This is still a slight improvement from the Samsung PM951 in the older Alienware 17 R3, but this seems like a missed opportunity for Dell to source faster SSD solutions instead of the PC300. Meanwhile, transfer rates from the secondary HDD average about 111 MB/s according to HD Tune, which is where we expect a proper 7200 RPM HDD to perform.

See our growing list of HDDs and SSDs for more benchmark comparisons.

AS SSD
AS SSD
CDM (Primary SSD)
CDM (Primary SSD)
CDM (Secondary HDD)
CDM (Secondary HDD)
HD Tune (Secondary HDD)
HD Tune (Secondary HDD)
PCMark 8 Storage
PCMark 8 Storage
 
Alienware 17 R4
SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
MSI GT73VR 7RF-296
2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV256HDGL (RAID 0)
Acer Predator 17 X GX-792-76DL
Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7
Aorus X7 DT v6
Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
-20%
100%
30%
43%
Write 4k QD32
531.3
232.8
-56%
553.5
4%
552.2
4%
419.1
-21%
Read 4k QD32
628.3
610
-3%
657.8
5%
668.6
6%
676.4
8%
Write 4k
128.5
140.6
9%
141.3
10%
161.6
26%
161.1
25%
Read 4k
38.11
42.59
12%
51.06
34%
43.82
15%
52.86
39%
Write 512
659.3
265.2
-60%
2445
271%
1273
93%
1507
129%
Read 512
894
568.7
-36%
1776
99%
898.3
0%
1064
19%
Write Seq
785.5
587.2
-25%
2572
227%
1371
75%
1588
102%
Read Seq
1277
1263
-1%
3219
152%
1494
17%
1829
43%
SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
Sequential Read: 1277 MB/s
Sequential Write: 785.5 MB/s
512K Read: 894 MB/s
512K Write: 659.3 MB/s
4K Read: 38.11 MB/s
4K Write: 128.5 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 628.3 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 531.3 MB/s

GPU Performance

3DMark Fire Strike scores are roughly 30 percent higher than both the GTX 1070 in the Asus GL702VS and our reference desktop with a GTX 980 Ti. The Alienware is also consistently ahead of our Eurocom Tornado F5 with the same GTX 1080 GPU, though this may be due to the higher resolution 4K UHD panel on the Eurocom. Our reference desktop GTX 1080 outperforms the Alienware by just a few percentage points while our desktop GTX 1080 Ti is even faster by about 30 percent.

See our dedicated review on the GTX 1080 for more technical information on the Pascal series.

3DMark 11
3DMark 11
Ice Storm Unlimited
Ice Storm Unlimited
Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate
Fire Strike
Fire Strike
Fire Strike Extreme
Fire Strike Extreme
Fire Strike Ultra
Fire Strike Ultra
3DMark
3840x2160 Fire Strike Ultra Graphics
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop), 4790K
6722 Points ∼66% +32%
Alienware 17 R4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK
5101 Points ∼50%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K
4851 Points ∼48% -5%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K
3918 Points ∼39% -23%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK
3009 Points ∼30% -41%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ
2549 Points ∼25% -50%
Fire Strike Extreme Graphics
Alienware 17 R4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK
10344 Points ∼52%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K
9927 Points ∼50% -4%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ
8223 Points ∼41% -21%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K
7817 Points ∼39% -24%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK
6123 Points ∼31% -41%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ
5348 Points ∼27% -48%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop), 4790K
28366 Points ∼70% +30%
MSI Gaming X GeForce GTX 1080 Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K
22555 Points ∼56% +3%
Alienware 17 R4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK
21846 Points ∼54%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K
20532 Points ∼51% -6%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ
17131 Points ∼42% -22%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K
16961 Points ∼42% -22%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK
13018 Points ∼32% -40%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ
11261 Points ∼28% -48%
3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance Combined
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop), 4790K
11584 Points ∼66% +12%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K
11511 Points ∼65% +11%
MSI Gaming X GeForce GTX 1080 Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K
11498 Points ∼65% +11%
Alienware 17 R4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK
10349 Points ∼59%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK
9017 Points ∼51% -13%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ
8873 Points ∼50% -14%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K
8513 Points ∼48% -18%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ
7516 Points ∼43% -27%
1280x720 Performance GPU
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop), 4790K
38959 Points ∼76% +47%
MSI Gaming X GeForce GTX 1080 Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K
32126 Points ∼63% +22%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K
26874 Points ∼53% +2%
Alienware 17 R4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK
26438 Points ∼52%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K
23057 Points ∼45% -13%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ
22825 Points ∼45% -14%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK
16946 Points ∼33% -36%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ
14450 Points ∼28% -45%

Gaming Performance

3DMark results translate well into real-world gaming performance. The GTX 1080 in the Alienware essentially matches our reference GTX 1080 Founders Edition card in 1080p Ultra settings on tested titles. The notebook outperforms the GTX 980 Ti and the more common GTX 1060 by about 30 percent and 80 percent, respectively, depending on the title. Many older or less demanding titles are able to sustain average frame rates above 120 FPS on maximum settings to take full advantage of the 120 Hz refresh rate.

Performance results in 1440p Ultra are provided in a separate table below as our database does not officially benchmark or record in QHD. Most titles take significant hits in average frame rates when moving up from 1080p including Fallout 4 (120.7 FPS to 81.6 FPS) and Rise of the Tomb Raider (118.3 FPS to 81.6 FPS). Nonetheless, this is still well above 60 FPS and G-Sync is available to reduce tearing for those few demanding titles that fall into the 50 FPS to 60 FPS range.

See our dedicated page on the GTX 1080 GPU for more benchmark comparisons.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FX AF:16x
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
161 (min: 148, max: 173) fps ∼100% +36%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
118.3 fps ∼73%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
112.2 fps ∼70% -5%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
112 (min: 105, max: 124) fps ∼70% -5%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
112 (min: 105) fps ∼70% -5%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
112 fps ∼70% -5%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
92 fps ∼57% -22%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
88 (min: 81, max: 95) fps ∼55% -26%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
64.1 fps ∼40% -46%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
60.4 fps ∼38% -49%
BioShock Infinite - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
215 fps ∼100% +32%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
181 fps ∼84% +11%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
162.9 fps ∼76%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
160 fps ∼74% -2%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
152.3 fps ∼71% -7%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
121 fps ∼56% -26%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
106.2 fps ∼49% -35%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
100.6 fps ∼47% -38%
Metro: Last Light - 1920x1080 Very High (DX11) AF:16x
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
149 (min: 38, max: 254) fps ∼100% +13%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
140 fps ∼94% +6%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
132.2 fps ∼89%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
119 fps ∼80% -10%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
110.2 fps ∼74% -17%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
89 fps ∼60% -33%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
88.3 fps ∼59% -33%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
78.1 fps ∼52% -41%
Thief - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FXAA & High SS AF:8x
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
115 fps ∼100% +7%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
107.2 fps ∼93%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
80 fps ∼70% -25%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
74.9 fps ∼65% -30%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
67.9 fps ∼59% -37%
The Witcher 3 - 1920x1080 Ultra Graphics & Postprocessing (HBAO+)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
98 (min: 83, max: 112) fps ∼100% +25%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
78.1 fps ∼80%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
76.4 (min: 64, max: 85) fps ∼78% -2%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
74.2 fps ∼76% -5%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
59.3 (min: 51, max: 67) fps ∼61% -24%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
58 fps ∼59% -26%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
39.4 fps ∼40% -50%
Batman: Arkham Knight - 1920x1080 High / On AA:SM AF:16x
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
93 fps ∼100%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
92 fps ∼99% -1%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
63 fps ∼68% -32%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
58 fps ∼62% -38%
Fallout 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:T AF:16x
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
149 (min: 121, max: 211) fps ∼100% +23%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
129 (min: 104, max: 176) fps ∼87% +7%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
120.7 fps ∼81%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
106 (min: 86, max: 132) fps ∼71% -12%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
105 fps ∼70% -13%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
79.3 fps ∼53% -34%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
64 fps ∼43% -47%
Ashes of the Singularity - 1920x1080 high
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
87.5 fps ∼100% +32%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
74 fps ∼85% +11%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
66.5 fps ∼76%
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
65.9 fps ∼75% -1%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
49 fps ∼56% -26%
Doom - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:SM
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
200 fps ∼100% +43%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
162 fps ∼81% +16%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
140.1 fps ∼70%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
137 (min: 112, max: 191) fps ∼69% -2%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
127 (min: 107, max: 163) fps ∼64% -9%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
110 fps ∼55% -21%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
92.3 fps ∼46% -34%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
84.3 fps ∼42% -40%
Overwatch - 1920x1080 Epic (Render Scale 100 %) AA:SM AF:16x
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
263 (min: 210, max: 302) fps ∼100% +40%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
196 (min: 164, max: 231) fps ∼75% +4%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
188 fps ∼71%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
154 (min: 129, max: 183) fps ∼59% -18%
Asus G701VO-CS74K
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL (RAID 0)
118.2 fps ∼45% -37%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
104.6 fps ∼40% -44%
Mafia 3 - 1920x1080 High Preset
Eurocom Tornado F5 Killer Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7600K, Samsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
95.1 fps ∼100% +31%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
91 (min: 73, max: 112) fps ∼96% +26%
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
72.5 fps ∼76%
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop), 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
63 (min: 55, max: 71) fps ∼66% -13%
Asus Strix GL702VSK
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
58 fps ∼61% -20%
Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 4790K, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
47.1 (min: 43, max: 52) fps ∼50% -35%
MSI GS63VR 7RF-228US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
43.6 fps ∼46% -40%
3DMark 11 Performance
19125 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
171837 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
32871 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
16931 points
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme Score
9422 points
Help
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 162.9fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 132.2fps
Thief (2014) 107.2fps
The Witcher 3 (2015) 78.1fps
Batman: Arkham Knight (2015) 93fps
Metal Gear Solid V (2015) 60fps
Dota 2 Reborn (2015) 119.9fps
Fallout 4 (2015) 120.7fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 118.3fps
Ashes of the Singularity (2016) 66.5fps
Doom (2016) 140.1fps
Overwatch (2016) 188fps
Mafia 3 (2016) 72.5fps
Ultra Graphics Settings on 2560 x 1440 Resolution
Title FPS>
BioShock Infinite 123.3
Metro: Last Light 95.5
Thief 91
The Witcher 3 57.3
Batman: Arkham Knight 73
Metal Gear Solid V 60
Dota 2 Reborn 114.4
Fallout 4 81.6
Rise of the Tomb Raider 81.6
Ashes of the Singularity 63.2
Doom 108
Overwatch 133
Mafia 3 54.5

Stress Test

We stress the notebook to unrealistically high loads in order to identify for any potential throttling or stability issues. When under Prime95 load, the CPU is able to maintain a Turbo Boost clock rate of 4.0 GHz or a full 1.1 GHz above its base clock rate. While definitely impressive, core temperature is quite high at 83 C. Switching over to FurMark will put the GPU clock rate to a steady 1519 MHz or slightly below its base frequency of 1582 MHz. Running both Prime95 and FurMark simultaneously will strip away all Turbo Boost potential from the CPU to a steady base clock rate of 2.9 GHz and a core temperature of just under 90 C. In comparison, the MSI GT73VR under similar conditions stabilizes at both higher clock rates (3.5 GHz) and a lower core temperature (86 C) than our Alienware.

Running on batteries will limit CPU and GPU power. A 3DMark Fire Strike run on batteries returns Physics and Graphics scores of 9105 and 6902, respectively, compared to 12592 points and 21846 points when connected to mains. Note that frame rates are automatically limited to 30 FPS when on batteries to reduce power consumption.

Prime95 stress
Prime95 stress
FurMark stress
FurMark stress
Prime95+FurMark stress
Prime95+FurMark stress
Witcher 3 stress
Witcher 3 stress

Witcher 3 load is a better representation of real-world gaming stress than both Unigine Valley and our extreme conditions above. Running the title for nearly an hour shows notable dips in frame rates over time from ~79 FPS to ~72 FPS as represented by our graph below, so the GPU is unable to sustain maximum Boost clock rates over extended periods. GPU clock rates can be seen slowly decreasing from 1848+ MHz down to a steady ~1771 MHz towards the end of the Witcher 3 stress test according to GPU-Z.

Both the CPU and GPU become alarmingly warm in the 100 C and 88 C ranges, respectively, so the variable clock rates are likely necessary to keep temperatures in check. Nonetheless, users can be assured that the CPU and GPU will not throttle and will in fact remain above their base respective clock rates of 2.9 GHz and 1582 MHz when gaming at the cost of some very warm silicon. We suspect that the lower-end SKUs of the 17 R4 will run cooler than our topped off configuration on hand.

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The Witcher 3 ultra
CPU Clock (GHz) GPU Clock (MHz) Average CPU Temperature (°C) Average GPU Temperature (°C)
Prime95 Stress 4.0 -- 83 46
FurMark Stress -- 1519 97 82
Prime95 + FurMark Stress 2.9 1519 89 86
Witcher 3 Stress 2.9+ ~1771 101 88

Emissions

System Noise

The cooling solution consists of twin 60 mm fans and just three heat pipes compared to seven on the Eurocom Sky DLX7 or at least eight on the GT73VR. We were hoping that the size increase when moving from the 17 R3 to the 17 R4 would also result in quieter fans, but this is unfortunately not the case. The fans in the new Alienware are still always active and audible no matter the workload. Thankfully, the fans are insensitive to low-medium processing loads like web browsing or video playback, so users need not worry about constantly pulsing fans and varying fan noise levels.

Running 3DMark 06 or Witcher 3 will slowly increase fan noise until it flattens at a steady 50.2 dB(A). This is significantly louder than what we recorded on the GT73VR and Predator 17 X under similar testing conditions and is actually quite close to the similarly equipped Aorus X7 DT. Of course, this latter model is one of the thinnest gaming notebooks available with the GTX 1080 GPU, so this comparison doesn't do the heavier and larger Alienware 17 any favors. The 40 dB(A) range is generally expected from a high-power gaming notebook and anything in the 50 dB(A) range can begin to interfere with gameplay. This becomes particularly problematic on titles where sound awareness is crucial such as MGS V. We recommend a pair of headphones if possible.

Lastly, the system fans take a bit of time to fall back down to their minimum speeds even after a short gaming session. For example, exiting Witcher 3 after half an hour of play will still have the fans running at higher speeds in the 40 dB(A) noise range lasting about 5 minutes. Beyond this, we can notice no annoying coil whine or electronic noise emanating from the system during use.

Fans are always active with no pre-installed manual fan control settings
Fans are always active with no pre-installed manual fan control settings
Easier access to fans than on the 17 R3 for cleaning if necessary
Easier access to fans than on the 17 R3 for cleaning if necessary
Alienware 17 R4 (White: Background, Red: System idle, Blue: 3DMark06, Orange: Witcher 3, Green: Prime95+FurMark)
Alienware 17 R4 (White: Background, Red: System idle, Blue: 3DMark06, Orange: Witcher 3, Green: Prime95+FurMark)
MSI GS73VR 6RF
MSI GS73VR 6RF
MSI GT72VR 6RE
MSI GT72VR 6RE
Dell XPS 15 9560
Dell XPS 15 9560

Noise Level

Idle
35.6 / 35.6 / 35.7 dB(A)
HDD
35.7 dB(A)
Load
50.2 / 50.2 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   BK Precision 732A (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 28.2 dB(A)
Alienware 17 R4
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
MSI GT72VR 7RE-433
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 7700HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG5
MSI GT73VR 7RF-296
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV256HDGL (RAID 0)
Acer Predator 17 X GX-792-76DL
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 7820HK, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7
Aorus X7 DT v6
GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 6820HK, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
Noise
8%
5%
1%
3%
-1%
off / environment *
28.2
30
-6%
31
-10%
30
-6%
30
-6%
28.6
-1%
Idle Minimum *
35.6
31
13%
34
4%
34
4%
33
7%
32.2
10%
Idle Average *
35.6
32
10%
35
2%
35
2%
35
2%
35.2
1%
Idle Maximum *
35.7
33
8%
37
-4%
37
-4%
37
-4%
35.2
1%
Load Average *
50.2
38
24%
37
26%
39
22%
40
20%
51.7
-3%
Witcher 3 ultra *
50.2
Load Maximum *
50.2
50
-0%
44
12%
56
-12%
50
-0%
55.7
-11%

* ... smaller is better

Temperature

Surface temperatures remain relatively warm and flat in the 27 C range when simply idling on desktop with no running applications. Maximum load with Prime95 and FurMark will bump temperatures up to the 50 C range, but this hot spot is thankfully concentrated on the surface above the first row of keyboard keys where fingers are less likely to touch. The WASD keys, NumPad, and palm rests never become uncomfortable no matter the system load, which is something we can't say for all gaming notebooks. Core motherboard components are closer to the back of the system while the cooler battery is located upfront where temperature changes are less severe. Waste heat exits via ventilation grilles on the rear corners of the notebook away from external mice and keyboards.

Prime95+FurMark stress (top)
Prime95+FurMark stress (top)
Prime95+FurMark stress (bottom)
Prime95+FurMark stress (bottom)
Witcher 3 stress (top)
Witcher 3 stress (top)
Witcher 3 stress (bottom)
Witcher 3 stress (bottom)
Max. Load
 44.2 °C
112 F
49.6 °C
121 F
43.2 °C
110 F
 
 33 °C
91 F
45.8 °C
114 F
32.8 °C
91 F
 
 26.4 °C
80 F
22.2 °C
72 F
24.2 °C
76 F
 
Maximum: 49.6 °C = 121 F
Average: 35.7 °C = 96 F
56 °C
133 F
50.2 °C
122 F
52.2 °C
126 F
28.7 °C
84 F
46.4 °C
116 F
31 °C
88 F
24.4 °C
76 F
28.6 °C
83 F
26 °C
79 F
Maximum: 56 °C = 133 F
Average: 38.2 °C = 101 F
Power Supply (max.)  44 °C = 111 F | Room Temperature 20 °C = 68 F | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer

Speakers

Dedicated subwoofer near front right corner
Dedicated subwoofer near front right corner

Dell claims an upgraded 2.1 sound system from the new chassis design. Sound quality is very good as bass is better reproduced and much more noticeable than on most mainstream or thinner laptops. Since the speakers and subwoofer are on the front edge of the notebook, however, the palm rests will reverberate even if on the 50 percent volume setting. The maximum volume setting is very loud and introduces no static or significant imbalances. Despite this, it's rather unfortunate that the loud fan noise when gaming will make it more difficult to really appreciate the sound quality of the system. We recommend launching the Alienware sound menu and setting sample rate to its 192 kHz maximum and then boosting the bass to get the most out of the internal speakers.

Users must rely on the HDMI port for outputting to external 7.1 sound systems since there is no dedicated 3.5 mm S/PDIF.

Alienware 17 R4 (Red: System idle, Pink: Pink noise)
Alienware 17 R4 (Red: System idle, Pink: Pink noise)
MSI GS73VR 6RF
MSI GS73VR 6RF
dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2038.4382534.534.23135.135.24031.833.2503334.46331.733.28031.234.710031.341.112530.248.41602853.120027.551.425027.851.53152753.540027.455.850027.166.963026.67180026.672100026.671.8125026.473.1160025.569.7200024.865.6250023.868315022.772.3400022.475500022.172.5630021.865.1800021.763.61000021.658.11250021.659.51600021.754.9SPL36.782.6N2.753.7median 26.4Alienware 17 R4median 65.1Delta2.58.935.335.132.931.831.83236.535.132.428.93328.936.328.848.32761.52752.924.860.92462.822.763.32269.521.267.82174.82075.919.472.718.97117.770.117.86917.671.817.668.117.671.417.673.717.670.417.571.617.671.617.669.617.459.717.583.630.662.51.5median 69.6Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHzmedian 17.84.62.4hearing rangehide median Pink Noise
Alienware 17 R4 audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (74.99 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 15.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (9.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 5.5% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (8.9% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 5.1% higher than median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (9.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (21% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 72% of all tested devices in this class were better, 6% similar, 22% worse
» The best had a delta of 6%, average was 17%, worst was 37%
Compared to all devices tested
» 47% of all tested devices were better, 8% similar, 44% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (83.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (14.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 2% of all tested devices in this class were better, 1% similar, 97% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 19%, worst was 47%
Compared to all devices tested
» 2% of all tested devices were better, 0% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Frequency Comparison (Checkbox selectable!)
Graph 1: Pink Noise 100% Vol.; Graph 2: Audio off

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The Alienware consumes more power than many of its competitors under all tested conditions from idling to maximum load. At its minimum Power Saver settings (with AlienFX lighting active), we can measure a consumption of about 37 W compared to 12 W on the older Alienware 17 R3 or 29 W on the MSI GT73VR. Average loads (i.e., 3DMark06) will demand 122 W while running Witcher 3 will draw as much as 180 W.

Maximum load with both Prime95 and FurMark running simultaneously will draw 277 W from the large power adapter (20 x 10 x 4.5 cm) rated for up to 330 W. Dell has kept a healthy power overhead to reduce the chances of throttling from limitations of the AC adapter. In comparison, the Aorus X7 DT ships with a significantly less capable and smaller 230 W AC adapter.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.23 / 1.46 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 37.5 / 37.6 / 37.6 Watt
Load midlight 122.4 / 277.4 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Alienware 17 R4
7820HK, GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), SK Hynix PC300 NVMe 512 GB, TN LED, 2560x1440, 17.3
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 980M, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB, IPS, 1920x1080, 17.3
MSI GT73VR 7RF-296
7820HK, GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV256HDGL (RAID 0), TN LED, 1920x1080, 17.3
Acer Predator 17 X GX-792-76DL
7820HK, GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7, IPS, 1920x1080, 17.3
Aorus X7 DT v6
6820HK, GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e, TN LED, 2560x1440, 17.3
Power Consumption
41%
7%
12%
-5%
Idle Minimum *
37.5
12
68%
29
23%
27
28%
31.5
16%
Idle Average *
37.6
18
52%
35
7%
32
15%
33.9
10%
Idle Maximum *
37.6
26
31%
40
-6%
41
-9%
34.6
8%
Load Average *
122.4
95
22%
94
23%
102
17%
205.6
-68%
Load Maximum *
277.4
188
32%
315
-14%
248
11%
250.8
10%
Witcher 3 ultra *
180.3

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Two battery capacities are available at 4-cell 67 Wh or 6-cell 99 Wh. Our test unit is equipped with the latter and is slightly higher in capacity than the 91 Wh battery in the Alienware 17 R3. As we understand it, there is no consumer notebook with an integrated Li-Ion battery larger than 99 Wh due to imposed safely limits aboard consumer airlines. The Razer Blade Pro and Aorus X7 DT, for example, are equipped with 99 Wh and 94 Wh batteries, respectively.

Despite the dense battery, runtimes on the Alienware 17 R4 are below average even for a gaming notebook. Users can expect just 3 hours of real-world WLAN use on the Balanced profile setting or about 4.5 hours if idling on desktop on the Power Saver profile. The unlocked i7-7820HK, higher resolution display, more demanding GTX 1080 GPU, and lack of Optimus compared to the Maxwell-powered Alienware 17 R3 all contribute to the short runtimes. Our last Alienware 17 R3 unit was able to last for over 7 hours under similar WLAN conditions and even the new Acer Predator 17 X can last for a little over an hour longer than our 17 R4 configuration. It's likely that the 17 R4 SKUs with integrated GPU support can run for significantly longer than what we've recorded here.

Charging from empty to full capacity is quite fast at under 2 hours considering the high capacity of the battery.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
4h 36min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
3h 01min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 9min
Alienware 17 R4
7820HK, GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 99 Wh
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 980M, 92 Wh
MSI GT73VR 7RF-296
7820HK, GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 75.2 Wh
Acer Predator 17 X GX-792-76DL
7820HK, GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 88.8 Wh
Aorus X7 DT v6
6820HK, GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop), 94 Wh
Battery Runtime
124%
-12%
27%
-6%
Reader / Idle
276
758
175%
313
13%
182
-34%
WiFi v1.3
181
444
145%
160
-12%
251
39%
144
-20%
Load
69
105
52%
90
30%
94
36%

Pros

+ Wide display options (FHD, QHD, UHD, 120 Hz, G-Sync, IPS, TN)
+ 2x USB Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, Graphics Amplifier support
+ no CPU or GPU throttling; extreme performance
+ very high quality chassis; strong base and lid
+ very fast display response times
+ intuitive AlienFX software
+ bright display backlight
+ dedicated Macro keys

Cons

- very warm CPU and GPU temperatures when gaming
- fans are always active and very loud when gaming
- slight creaking when opening and closing the lid
- fewer internal storage bays compared to 17 R3
- fingerprints and grease accumulate quickly
- no individually-lit keys; only 20 color keys
- few USB Type-A ports, no SD reader
- non-upgradeable soldered GPU
- larger and heavier than 17 R3
- poor battery life
- small trackpad

Verdict

In review: Alienware 17 R4. Test model provided by Dell US
In review: Alienware 17 R4. Test model provided by Dell US

We revere the Alienware 17 series for its high standards in quality that thankfully remain unfazed in this latest iteration. A notebook is about much more than just the CPU and GPU configuration, but also the skeleton and design that fortify the core hardware. At this level, it becomes easier to recommend the latest Alienware over a 17-inch Aorus or older MSI GT72.

We begin to see some issues when at the very high-end configuration level. Our particular test unit is equipped with the fastest CPU and GPU available on the current 17 R4 and the chassis can just barely run these processors reliably at Boost clock rates. Yes, the CPU and GPU will not throttle even when under extreme loads, but core temperatures can reach 90 C or higher when gaming in spite of the fans working overtime at up to 50 dB(A). This is where thicker gaming systems with more developed cooling solutions like the MSI GT73VR or Acer Predator 17 X have the upper hand in temperatures and/or noise.

The findings above and the fact that a Graphics Amplifier port is present actually make for a more compelling reason to purchase a lower-end 17 R4 SKU with GTX 1050 Ti or GTX 1060 graphics. There is a good chance that the significantly lower TDP requirements of these GPUs will lead to quieter fans, lower temperatures, longer runtimes, or possibly all three. Then, users who may demand faster graphics power down the line can simply use the Graphics Amplifier port for future titles. This is the one trick that the Alienware series has up its sleeve against most competitors and these lower-end SKUs are definitely deserving of our full performance rundown to get a bigger picture of the 17 R4 series.

Beyond these red flags in performance, there is little to complain about the rest of the notebook. A wider range of features wouldn't hurt such as individually-lit RGB keys, more USB Type-A ports, and an integrated SD reader, though their omissions aren't necessarily the end of the world. Gamers who are interested in the Graphics Amplifier port and strong chassis design will find the entry-level SKUs to be worth considering. Otherwise, there are quieter (and thicker) systems out there for users who want to configure with the GTX 1080 GPU.

The new chassis is incredibly well-designed and feels premium to the touch. Just note that the GTX 1080 is pushing the limit of what the notebook's cooling solution can effectively handle. 

Alienware 17 R4 - 05/03/2017 v6
Allen Ngo

Chassis
87 / 98 → 89%
Keyboard
89%
Pointing Device
83%
Connectivity
56 / 81 → 69%
Weight
45 / 10-66 → 62%
Battery
69%
Display
84%
Games Performance
99%
Application Performance
97%
Temperature
83 / 95 → 87%
Noise
61 / 90 → 68%
Audio
80%
Camera
53 / 85 → 62%
Average
76%
85%
Gaming - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Alienware 17 R4 (7820HK, QHD, GTX 1080) Laptop Review
Allen Ngo, 2017-05- 4 (Update: 2017-06- 1)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.