First reviewed October 2013
Alienware, the sub brand of Dell devoted to gaming machines, is back with its 2013 range of laptops. Ranging from 14-inch to 18.4-inches, today we’ll be looking at the smallest of the models, though we use the term loosely: at 2.7kg and 40mm thick, it’s still pretty chunky for a modern laptop.
It's aimed squarely at the serious gaming market, and the Alienware 14 comes head-to-head with the likes of Asus’ Republic of Gamers models, like the 17.3-inch Asus G750JX we liked so much recently. Can Alienware topple the Republic?
Watch our Alienware 14 video review:
SEE ALSO: 10 Best Laptops
The Alienware range is certainly distinct to the look: all glowing lights and futuristic, angular design. It’s about as far as can be removed from parent company Dell’s standard laptops as is imaginable, and it’s not to everyone’s tastes, but people will certainly know which brand of laptop you have.
14-inch laptops are typically small and light, but the Alienware 14 has quite a girth on it: it’s 40mm thick and feels as chunky as it looks. Naturally, it feels solidly built and weighty, too. It’s clearly made of quality components as the £949 starting price suggests (this specific model is a lot more, but more on that later).
When closed, it all looks pretty minimalist - just a black casing with the alien-face logo the company is known for (this glows to your personalised colour when open).
SEE ALSO: Best Gaming Laptops
Switching the machine on changes that as the keyboard, the logo, the power button and a line all the way around the laptop is lit up in the colour of your choice. Even the touch pad lights up in your own customised colour when touched. Gaudy or stylish depends on personal taste, but there’s no denying that a lot of the cost goes on the aesthetics.
Even on the 14-inch model, Alienware manages to fit quite a lot of ports and jacks: two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, a 7-in-1 card reader, mini-DisplayPort, an Ethernet jack and then three audio ports, one microphone, one headphone and one specifically designed for gaming headsets. Finally, there’s also room for a slot loading DVD drive - great for PC games, even in these days of digital distribution.
The first thing to note about the Alienware 14’s screen is that it doesn’t have any touch functionality. Like the Asus gaming laptop we loved, this isn’t a big deal at all: it’s for the likes of Call of Duty, not Angry Birds.
Other than that, it’s a good screen. The brightness is good, scoring 276 in our tests - above average, but a way behind our leader: the 422 scored on the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. The colours are also good - not too far off the ideal of 6500k at 6928k.
A DeltaE score of 4.66 is a means colour accuracy is a little below average, but the the Alienware 14 makes up for this with its outstanding contrast. Contrast measures 1,425:1, noticeably higher than any other we've tested, and it really shows in videos where you'll enjoy deep, clean blacks. This helps games, too, though it's worth noting our Alienware 14 came with the upgrade 1,920 x 1,080 screen, not the entry-level 1,366 x 768 screen of the starting spec.
The viewing angles are excellent, and we could still read text from virtually side-on to the screen. A really nice display, suitable for gaming, watching videos and very sharp internet browsing.