Alienware x14 R2, x16 hands-on review: XPS gaming laptops?

Alienware and XPS are premium brands in the Dell lineup, but in the past they couldn’t have been more aesthetically different. However, in 2023, Dell introduced a redesign of the Alienware x14 and x16 that connects the two brands more than ever.

The Alienware x14 R2 and the new x16 now have a level of refinement and class not normally seen in the world of gaming laptops. After spending some time with these redesigned devices, I’ve come to think they may be the closest thing to XPS gaming laptops we’ll ever get.

Alienware x14 R2 and x16 Specifications

Alienware x14 R2 Alienware x16
Dimensions (LxWxH) 10.25 x 12.64 x 0.57 inches 11.41 x 14.36 x 0.73 inches
Weight 4.6 pounds 6.0 pounds
  • Core i5-13420H
  • Core i7-13620H
  • Core i7-13620H
  • Core i7-13700H
  • Core i9-13900HK
  • RTX 3050 6GB (50W)
  • RTX 4050 6GB (85W)
  • RTX 4060 8GB (85W)
  • RTX 4050 6GB (140W)
  • RTX 4070 8GB (140W)
  • RTX 4080 12GB (175W)
  • RTX 4090 16GB (175W)
  • 16GB LP-DDR5 6200
  • 32GB LP-DDR5 6200
  • 16GB LP-DDR5-5200
  • 16GB LP-DDR5 6000
  • 32GB LP-DDR5 6000
Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB
Screen 14-inch, 2560 x 1600, 165Hz
  • 16-inch, 2560 x 1600, 165Hz
  • 16-inch, 1920 x 1200, 480Hz
  • 16-inch, 2560×1600, 240Hz
Additional screen details 3ms, G-Sync, Optimus Advanced, ComfortView Plus 3ms, G-Sync, Optimus Advanced, ComfortView Plus
Drums 80.5 watt-hour battery 90 watt-hour battery
Webcam 1080p webcam, Windows Hello infrared camera 1080p webcam, Windows Hello infrared camera
wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
ports 1 headphone jack, 1 USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 2 USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 1 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1 HDMI 2.1, 1 MicroSD card slot 1x headset, 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x MicroSD card slot, 1x mini-DisplayPort 1.4
OS windows 11 windows 11


The right side of the Alienware x14 R2 keyboard.

I to love the look of these new laptops. Both the Alienware x14 R2 and x16 come in a single color option, Lunar Silver. You may think silver is a boring color choice, especially since it’s so commonplace in the world of laptops. But for a gaming laptop, it’s practically unheard of. Razer is the only company lately to offer a silver gaming laptop, but the Mercury white sheet 15 it was only a limited color variant. Alienware goes for this new color scheme, and it looks really crisp and clean.

However, it is more than a new color. The edges curve inward, and even the rubberized kickstand on the bottom of the laptop looks cleaner. Everything has been classified and simplified.

The company calls it Legend 3, and that feels fitting, since they’re both based on the Alienware’s recent brand legacy and take it to a new place. One of the stylish touches is an embossed “X” logo on the lid, replacing the racing stripe-inspired branding on other Alienware laptops. It feels tactile under the fingers and is a good example of subtle branding.

The Alienware x14 R2 is still the thinnest 14-inch gaming laptop you can buy.

Don’t get me wrong though, they still look like gaming laptops. The white section on the back still houses all the ports and plays nicely with the silver lid. Both laptops also get an update thunder-like light loop around the ports with 100 microLEDs. This number of lighting zones makes for very fluid lighting, all controlled by the AlienFX software system. It’s been a while since I’ve been wowed by RGB lighting, but this looks great.

Appearances beyond, the addition of the silver lid also means that you now have an all-metal casing, giving the entire chassis a much more rigid and premium feel.

The side profile of the Alienware x14 R2 on a table.

Of course, the main draw of the Alienware x14 R2, in particular, is how compact it is. It’s still the thinnest 14-inch gaming laptop you can buy, even though it’s virtually unchanged in size from last year’s model. That means it’s smaller than options like the razor blade 14ROG Zephyrus G14 and Predator Triton 300 SE. It’s still pretty remarkable to me that a gaming laptop with a discrete GPU can only be 0.57 inches thick.

The larger Alienware x16, which replaces the x17, has a smaller screen, but takes up a similar footprint. It’s slightly smaller in every dimension, including thickness, and weighs more than a pound lighter. Making it smaller and thinner feels like a smart move for a gaming laptop that’s supposed to emphasize portability over raw power.

To show

Once you have them open, both the Alienware x14 R2 and x16 look more like their predecessors. Black palm rests, a similar-looking keyboard, and the tall hinge that features on both laptops. That hinge means these laptops appear to have a larger chin than the average modern gaming laptop. Fortunately, this time they changed the screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio to a 16:10 one. It’s definitely a welcome change, especially on the smaller Alienware x14.

Speaking of the Alienware x14, it gets a significant screen bump this time around. The Alienware R1 x14 it only had a 1080p 144hz display. While I thought it was adequate for the amount of performance the laptop could muster, that’s a low spec for a laptop at this price point. Now, at 2560 x 1600, it’s exactly the same resolution as a MacBook Pro, and even if you probably won’t be playing most games at native resolution (especially if you’re hoping to max out the 165Hz refresh rate), the screen Sure sharper is useful for other activities.

And that’s important because Alienware intends these two laptops to be hybrid machines that work for both work and play. I wish Alienware would still offer a 1200p model though, as the Alienware x14 R2 starts at $300 more than the R1.

The Alienware x16 offers similar display options to the x17, now with up to a 1200p 480Hz display. However, the 2560 x 1600 options at 165Hz or 240Hz are probably the settings most gamers will choose between.

All display configurations include both Nvidia G-Sync and Advanced Optimus, allowing the system to automatically switch between integrated and discrete GPUs.

The webcam on both models has been upgraded to 1080p, which is great to see. Both models now also include an IR camera for Windows Hello secure facial authentication, which was missing from the original models.

Keyboard and touchpad

The Alienware x14 R2 keyboard.

The Alienware R2 x14 and x16 feature larger touchpads than their predecessors. The palm rests are still a bit small on these, to allow more space above the keyboard for ventilation. However, they have a new party trick. Touchpads now glow with RGB, which of course can be customized to glow in whatever pattern your heart desires.

On the Alienware x14, you still get just 1.2mm of key travel, though this year, Alienware says it’s using its new “X-series slim keyboard,” which has N-Key rollover and anti-ghosting. The x14 also has per-key RGB backlighting compared to the single-zone backlighting of the R1 Alienware x14. It otherwise feels similar to last year’s R1 model when written to.

The Alienware x16 has a more comfortable keyboard with 1.8mm key travel and the same new features as the slimline X-series keyboard. On this model, you also have the option of the CherryMX ultra-low profile mechanical keyboard for a thicker feel. tactile.

Ports and performance

Ports have not changed with Alienware x14 R2 or x16. They’re all located on the back, including the headphone jack, which is still an awkward situation. It also means that, yes, the Alienware x14 is still fully powered by USB-C Thunderbolt 4 and is therefore limited to the same 85 watts of peak graphics power as the R1. With Nvidia’s RTX 40-series GPUs, that means you have the options of either the RTX 4050 6GB or the RTX 4060 8GB. Alienware will also apparently be selling an RTX 3050 model.

As for cooling, the Alienware x14 R2 continues to use the same Thermal 31 thermal compound, but now applies it to both the CPU and GPU. In addition to the vapor chamber, the Alienware x14 R2 uses Smart Fan, a new exclusive technology from Dell that allows each fan to spin up or down independently. The Alienware x16 also applies Thermal 31 to both the CPU and GPU, but only a select few settings that have yet to be specified.

The Alienware x16 can be configured up to an RTX 4090, with a maximum of 175 watts of graphics power.

Meanwhile, the Alienware x16 has a much bigger envelope for graphics power. It can be configured up to the new RTX 4090, with a maximum of 175 watts of graphics power. You can also configure it with the RTX 4050, 4060, 4070 or 4080.

The Alienware x16 makes some port placement changes from the 17-inch model. The headphone jack and power adapter are now placed at the rear, just like the x14. It also removes the Ethernet connector.

Of course, I won’t know exactly how well these systems work until I’ve tested them myself closer to the release date.

Price and availability

The Alienware x14 R2 lid on a wooden table.

Both the Alienware x14 and x16 will be available for purchase sometime in the first quarter of 2023. The Alienware x14 will first launch with entry-level configurations starting at $1,800, with higher-end options later.

The Alienware x16, on the other hand, will launch first in the higher-end configurations, starting at $3,100. Entry-level models will arrive later in the year, starting at $2,150.

Lastly, Dell says that AMD-powered Alienware x16 builds are in the works, but won’t be available until Q2 2023.

Editors’ Recommendations

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