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Alienware 14 Review - Keyboard, Touchpad and Verdict Review

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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

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Used as our main laptop for the review period

Tested for at least a week

Used consistent benchmarks for fair comparisons with other laptops

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks and real world use

Trusted Score

rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star

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

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