Alienware 14 Review - Performance, Heat & Noise, and Battery Life Review

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Alienware 14 – Performance

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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Alienware 14

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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Alienware 14

Alienware 14 – Heat & Noise

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.

Alienware 14

Alienware 14 – Battery Life

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.