Alienware 14 - Keyboard, Touchpad and Verdict

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Alienware 14 – Keyboard

Any fears that a 14-inch laptop

would struggle to contain a decent keyboard are unfounded. The

Alienware 14’s keys are a good size and pleasant to type upon: they

offer a good level of resistance, don’t rattle too much when tapped, and

spring back when released.

The

size does mean that there’s no gap between them, and there’s also no

room for a numberpad, but we didn’t have any problems typing quickly and

accurately. A good keyboard.

Alienware 14

Alienware 14 – Touchpad

The

14-inch size also impedes on to the room left for the touchpad, which

is a little on the small size. This makes gestures a little hard to pull

off, not helped by the fact that the common ones (scrolling, browser

back, etc.) don’t seem to be enabled by default. Those thatare

present, such as increasing the size of the browser, do work consistently

but the space makes things a bit fiddly.

When

we play tested Crysis 2, we did find that the touchpad was very

difficult for looking and turning, and not hugely responsive. This may

be an isolated incident, but in any case it’s not really a problem as

most serious gamers will plug in an external mouse for first person

shooters.
 

Alienware 14

Other things to consider

Alienware

laptops offer a number of customisation options when ordering. Although

the 14-inch model we looked at begins at £999.99, to get the full set up

we reviewed you would have to order the mid-range model (starting at

£1,148.99), bump up the graphics card from Nvidia GeForce 750GTX to the

765GTX ( £150) and throw in a 256GB SSD ( £240) meaning our review model

would set you back a pretty steep £1538.99. You can also add in a Blu-ray drive for an extra £100 and double the RAM to 16GB for £150. It’s

very easy to find an affordable gaming laptop turning into a big expense

with just a few careless clicks of the mouse.

Other

than the high end specifications, Alienware is renowned for its

distinct design style and especially the lighting effects which are

entirely customisable from a pre-installed programme. You can set the

lighting to different colours on each of the 10 different sections with

different settings for on-battery or when plugged in. It’s a nice touch,

though we found most of the colours just too gaudy to be practical, and

we imagine many users will just switch the lights off altogether.
 

Alienware 14

Should I buy the Alienware 14?

Alienware

certainly is a big brand in the gaming space, but there’s no question

that its computers come at a prohibitive price. We can’t help thinking

that a lot of the cost goes on the brand and the distinctive design:

not a bad thing necessarily, and if you like the flashy appearance

there’s not much to rival it.

On the other hand, we recently looked at the high specced Asus G750JX,

and were massively impressed by it, awarding it with a 9/10.

Although it costs £1,299 and packs a 17-inch screen, the gaming

performance was truly impressive – even if it lacked the SSD this

Alienware review model comes with.

Comparing like for like on

the Alienware site, the 17-inch version matches the Asus G750JX by

starting at £1299.99, but comes with a weaker graphics card (the 2GB

GeForce GTX765M against the 3GB GTX770M), a lower resolution (1600×900

vs 1920×1080) and a DVD-RW drive instead of a Blu-ray. Matching the

first two adds £300 to the pricetag, and there’s no option to upgrade to

Blu-ray.
 
In short, unless you really love the design and marginally better portability of the Alienwar 14, we favour

the Asus G750JX as our gaming laptop of choice. The Alienware 14 is

certainly not without its charms, and we don’t think any buyer would be

disappointed in its performance, but only if money is no object.

Verdict

Great

performance and distinct style, but the price is just too steep compared

to its rivals for us to give a whole-hearted endorsement.

Next, read our round-up of the best Windows 8 laptops and tablets

Score in detail

  • Performance 9
  • Keyboard 8
  • Design 9
  • Screen Quality 8
  • Build Quality 9
  • Value 6
  • Touchpad 7
  • Heat & Noise 7
  • Battery Life 7

Other

Type Gaming Laptop
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