Given the Alienware 14’s specifications, we were keen to put it through its paces in our standard tests. We started off on PC Mark 07, where it did not disappoint with a score of 6,009 - it smashed through the previous records set by the Gigabyte U2442V (5,066) and the Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 Touch (5,056). Geekbench 3 backed this up, with an impressive score of 12,509 narrowly beating the gaming Asus G750JX (11,797) and only a little short of the 2013 27-inch iMac (14,462).
We can’t say we’re surprised as the Alienware 14 is a really pleasant performer in day to day tasks. Programs load quickly, tabs and applications switch smoothly and thanks to the 256GB Solid State Drive (alongside a 750GB SATA) boot up times are really impressive with 11 seconds for a reboot and just five from cold.
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This made the 3DMark gaming scores slightly vexing, with the early Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme tests recording disappointingly low scores of 15,088 and 14,943, a long way behind the ASUS G750JX (107,738 and 89,413).
These are pretty standard laptop scores for onboard graphics, which makes us suspect that the tests weren’t taxing enough to throw the full might of the GeForce 765M graphics chip at (everything ran perfectly smoothly on screen without, so why would it tax itself?)
The Cloudgate test began to put that right, with the Alienware 14 managing 11,197: the second best score we’ve recorded after, you guessed it, the Asus G750JX (14,779). We ran the Firestorm test aimed at gaming computers to settle this, and once again found the Alienware 14 coming a little short of the Asus model, with 2,565 on the former and 3,133 on the latter.
Benchmarks can only tell you so much, of course, and to be sure we installed Crysis 2. At 1,920 x 1,080 with ultra detail. The game was certainly playable, but not quite as smooth as it was on the G750JX. Still, you should have no problem running most modern games - Crysis 2 remains an intensive title, especially at the Alienware 14’s native resolution.
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When browsing the internet and word processing, the Alienware 14 is pretty much silent. It does get warm, however, with fans on the underside and on the back, so your lap will get warm.
In our gaming tests, however, things changed dramatically. The fans can get extremely loud, similar to first generation Xbox 360s, which were known amongst gamers for their ‘jet engine’ fans. On the plus side, it gets slightly hotter, but not uncomfortably so.
If you were looking for something to tear the Alienware 14 apart from the Asus G750JX, it won’t be battery life. Alienware managed a minute longer than the ASUS at three hours and 21 minutes in our standard tests at 40% screen brightness.
Impressively, the software noticed the plug was taken out and suggested battery-aiding settings (requiring a restart) to switch off the GeForce graphics and fall back on the on board Intel graphics. Unfortunately, this did nothing for us, in fact losing 10 minutes on a repeat test.
We assume that if our battery test was more gaming based, we’d have seen markedly different results, but don’t expect any improvements in standard web browsing and word processing. Of course you could get better results by turning off wireless communications, lowering the screen brightness further and turning off the Alienware chassis lighting effects.
In any case, a quick 30-minute charge brought back 17% of the battery life. This is pretty poor - it equates to 34 minutes of charger-free usage - barely any more than the time spent building the charge in the first place.