Dell Alienware x14: well-balanced compromises

When it comes to power and mobility, you can't eat your cake and have it too. But you can have this.

by Justin Choo

Let’s face it, the main reason you’re looking at the Alienware x14 (P150G) is basically for that impressive, sleek design. It screams gamer no doubt, but at the same time, not too loudly. Compared to the usual choices of black and black gaming laptops, the x14 has a visual appeal that transcends the gaming metaverse; i.e. you’re less likely to get snarky comments about lugging an ostentatious-looking laptop around.

Much like how sharp lines and black facades complemented by aggressive colours evoke a futuristic, war-like faction, the off-white curves and subtle pale lighting similarly bring to mind futuristic, good-guy ship design and decor–they probably get everything off space-ikea. It’s a little harder to clean off grime than I would have liked, but if you’re the sort who steps out of the house with perpetually pristine white sneakers every time, then this should be a layup for you.

More importantly, the x14 is only 14.5mm thick, which is pretty good for its form factor. The laptop also weighs approximately 1.8kg with our current configuration (starting from 1.79 kg), and with its given size, it’s just about portable enough to be carried around every day.

Despite its sleek profile, you get a full complement of ports: three USB-Cs of which two are Thunderbolt 4s and the other is USB-C 3.2 Gen 2. It also sports one USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port and an HDMI 2.1 port, along with a microSD reader and headphones jack. It’s a decent array of high-speed ports, and more impressively, they are thoughtfully located at the back, so there aren’t any wires on the sides that might get in the way of your mouse.

The keyboard is nothing much to shout about; decent enough and backlit with the requisite tweakability associated with gaming laptops, while the trackpad is relatively small. Not ideal, but still understandable, since you’re likely going to be using a mouse for gaming anyway. Just bear that in mind if you like your trackpads big for everyday stuff on the move.

The 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display is probably the one downside, as most of us by now are more accustomed to higher resolution screens. But it’s perfectly sized and optimised for games, and has a refresh rate of 144Hz, which is generally good enough. The bezels are fairly thin here, and overall, visual proportions and aesthetics are pretty much the chef’s kiss.

In terms of visual quality and sound, the screen is just a tier below OLED, which is pretty good actually, though the audio is slightly tinny. Not to worry though, just crank up the clock speeds and once the fans kick in, you’ll find yourself reaching for headphones anyway. Nothing to see here, people.

Joking aside, there’s plenty to hear from those fans–to be fair, they’re manageable most of the time when you’re not pushing the laptop hard. But once they’ve warmed up into a whine, it’s more akin to an ‘alien where?’ raid siren. The tradeoff is that the laptop never gets stupidly hot and I didn’t notice any undue drops in frames over longer hours, so I guess they’ve adroitly addressed the more annoying problem of the two. However, it has to be noted that Dell’s Cryo-Tech cooling solution only comes with the RTX3060 version of the x14.

The x14 here features an Intel i7-12700H and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX3060 card, along with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. Benchmark scores are modest for this configuration (PCMark 10 6501, 3D Mark Time Spy 7889, Geekbench multicore 12297 and Cinebench R23 multicore 12919), which only emphasises the fact that we can’t defy physics; there’s a trade-off for a slimmer form factor. That said, you can more or less achieve decent frame rates and details for most current games, which in part is due to the low screen resolution.

Since we’re on the topic of trade-offs, the battery life is modest compared to regular laptops. There’s no way to force the laptop to use the onboard Iris Xe graphics though I doubt it makes much of a difference anyway. Though its size will tempt you to use this as a daily driver, it’s far from a portable workhorse; expect to average four hours of non-gaming productivity work and needless to say, you’ll need a power brick on hand if you want to game of the move. The x14 burns through lithium ions pretty quickly.

At the current price, the x14 is a reasonable purchase and is a decent option for those who must have a slim gaming machine and who are fine with the trade-offs, which isn’t quite as bad as I thought.

  • 7.3/10
    Dell Alienware x14 - 7.3/10

Dell Alienware x14

Price starts from $1,200 for i5 model

Value Proposition
Design & Build Quality

There’s a price to pay if you want a slim gaming laptop. The Alienware x14 makes it less painful than most.

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