The Alienware x14 is the world’s slimmest gaming laptop, and it impresses elsewhere with good gaming performance, a fantastic processor and a great design, screen and keyboard. That said, more gaming grunt is available from other 14-inch machines, and the speakers and battery both struggle to perform.
- Thin, sturdy and good-looking exterior
- Great 1080p gaming power
- Huge processing ability
- Impressive screen, keyboard and connectivity
- Rivals faster in games
- Tiny touchpad
- Mediocre speakers
- No display upgrades
- The world’s slimmest gaming laptopAt only 14.5mm thin, the x14 is the world’s slimmest gaming notebook, offering superb design and build quality, too
- Nvidia and Intel internalsThe Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 is a great gaming chip, and the Intel Core i7-12700H is an impressively fast processor in every situation
- A 14in screen with Nvidia G-SyncThe 14in panel has a 1080p resolution and Nvidia G-Sync at 144Hz, so it has the specs to handle mainstream gaming and eSports titles
The Alienware x14 is the gaming brand’s first compact laptop, with the designers at Dell managing to cram an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 and Intel Alder Lake processor inside this pint-sized portable.
The machine I’ve reviewed is the priciest x14 available, before memory and storage upgrades, setting you back $1899 /£1849 / €2049. That compares well to the Razer Blade 14 which costs $1999 / £2199 / €2199 for a model offering the same GPU and screen and an AMD processor.
At the other end of the scale you’ll find the all-AMD update of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, which undercuts the Alienware with equivalent specs with a price of $1649 / £1699.
Those prices place the Alienware x14 right at the centre of the market, and that’s impressive considering the hardware – but how does it perform in the real world?
Design and Keyboard
- A slim, sturdy and good-looking exterior that won’t weigh you down
- A crisp, satisfying keyboard with extra media buttons
- Plenty of ports and sockets
The Alienware x14 is not only smaller than its stablemates, but looks superb too thanks to an eye-catching monochrome design, proving bolder than the black Razer and mature Asus.
Alienware’s rig pairs great design with impressive build quality. This is a reassuringly robust laptop, and it’s only 14.5mm thick – slimmer than both rivals and any 15.6in notebook. I’d happily throw the Alienware in my bag; it wouldn’t weigh me down, nor would I be concerned about causing damage.
The Alienware x14 design isn’t flawless, though. This laptop may be slimmer than both of its competitors, but its 1.79kg makes it heavier and the 263mm depth means it’s deeper, too. So while the x14 is robust and slim, the Razer and Asus laptops are arguably more compact.
As with other current Alienware models, the x14’s ports sit along the laptop’s back edge. There are two Thunderbolt 4 ports with power delivery and DisplayPort, a future-proofed HDMI 2.1 socket, and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C socket alongside a full-size USB 3.2 Gen 1 port and microSD slot. On the inside you’ll find dual-band Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.
The x14 doesn’t feature wired internet or a fingerprint reader, but it does include a webcam that supports Windows Hello. The x14’s speakers are loud, but quality is lacking as a result of muddy output. I’d factor a headset into your laptop budget.
The x14’s keyboard offers 1.2mm of travel, extra media keys and a fast, crisp action that makes up for the shallow buttons. It’s got n-key rollover, but only single-zone RGB LEDs. The extra buttons and the snappier typing action mean a more satisfying experience than the Razer, and this keyboard is just as good as the Asus’ typing unit.
The trackpad is small and a bit stiff, and the wrist-rest is narrow. Anyone who wants to play games – no matter what genre – should use a USB mouse, and check out our Best Gaming Mice guide.
- 14in-inch screen with 1080p resolution and 144Hz refresh rate
- Bright and punchy panel, with accurate colours
- More ambitious upgrades aren’t available
The Alienware x14’s display pairs its 1920 x 1080 resolution with Nvidia G-Sync, which tops out at 144Hz alongside a 3ms response time. That’s a solid specification, and it matches the entry-level Razer Blade.
A peak brightness of 446 nits means that the x14’s panel works well for both indoor or outdoor use, and the contrast ratio of 1312:1 delivers great depth and nuance.
That’s a bright, bold start, and the x14’s display rendered 99.9% of the sRGB gamut and 97.7% of the DCI-P3 colour space – so it can produce any shade needed by any game. The Delta E of 2.42 could be a bit more accurate, but that result isn’t wayward enough to cause issues.
This screen is brighter and more accurate than that of the Blade, and it outpaces Asus’ panel in benchmarks. However, the refresh rate isn’t fast enough to sate demanding eSports gamers, and the x14 isn’t sold with any alternative options.
In contrast, the Razer is sold with a 2560 x 1440 panel at 165Hz, albeit for $2599 / £2699 / €2899. And while the Asus doesn’t offer swifter refresh rates, its 2022 model offers a 16:10 aspect ratio that delivers extra pixels, and it’s also built in a 2560 x 1600 variant.
- Sufficient gaming power for virtually any mainstream game
- Super-fast CPU for content creation and multi-tasking
- It’s good, but the x14 is outpaced by its rivals in games
The Alienware x14’s Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 offers 6GB of memory and 3840 stream processors, and in this laptop it has a power range that runs between 60W and 75W. That’s modest considering the GPU can peak at 115W, but it’s no surprise given the size of the notebook.
The Core i7-12700H has six Hyper-Threaded performance cores with a peak boost speed of 4.7GHz, rounding out the internals with 16GB of DDR5 memory and a 512GB PCIE 4.0 SSD, delivering top-notch read and write speeds of 6766MB/sec and 4810MB/sec to ensure loading screens don’t outstay their welcome.
The Alienware x14 zipped through Horizon Zero Dawn’s Ultimate settings at 77fps, and it played Borderlands 3 at 63fps. You’ll have to make graphical compromises only in the toughest ray-traced titles, and most games will run at a smooth 60fps. The x14’s 262fps result in Rainbow Six Siege goes far beyond the display’s 144Hz refresh rate, so it will be able to handle any eSports title.
In the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, the x14 scored 7760, which easily outpaced the RTX 3060 in the older Zephyrus G14. Now, though, the updated Asus uses an AMD Radeon RX 6700S. And while that GPU doesn’t support ray-tracing, it has a 100W TDP and scores around 8400 points in Time Spy – so it has greater graphical power. The Blade will be a bit quicker, too, thanks to a 90W-100W TDP range on its own RTX 3060.
Switching to the x14’s overclocked mode didn’t improve performance, and the Alienware’s modest RTX 3060 means you don’t really have the power to output to the 8K/120Hz displays supported by HDMI 2.1, unless you want to run undemanding games.
This sounds negative, but the x14 still delivers ample power for mainstream gaming, happily tackling any big-name title. The Alienware’s slower GPU highlights how this machine diverges from rivals – alongside the RTX 3060, the x14 is available with cheaper RTX 3050 and RTX 3050 Ti cores and Core i5 processors, while the Razer scales upwards with the RTX 3070 Ti and RTX 3080 Ti, and the Asus deploys the Radeon RX 6800S.
|Alienware x14||Razer Blade 14 (2021)||Asus Zephyrus G14 (2021)|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-12700H||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS|
|Geekbench 5 Single / Multi||1716 / 12800||1456 / 7408||1470 / 8236|
|GPU||Nvidia RTX 3060||Nvidia RTX 3070||Nvidia RTX 3060|
|3DMark Time Spy||7760||8721||6241|
None of these approaches are bad; they’re just different. Pricing reflects each company’s strategy: the entry-level x14 costs $1499 / £1449 / €1749, while the priciest Razers soar beyond $3000 / £3000 / €3000.
The x14 fights back in the processing benchmarks. The Core i7-12700H delivered top-tier Geekbench 5 results of 1716 and 12,800, and both beat the Ryzen 9 6900HX in Razer’s latest Blade – that laptop scored around 1600 and 9600 points. The x14’s PCMark 10 score of 7481 squeaks ahead of the AMD chip, and the x14 maintains a more significant lead over the Ryzen 7 6800HS used by Asus in its updated Zephyrus G14 notebooks.
That’s an encouraging performance. The Intel chip’s huge speed means this laptop will manage any mainstream content-creation task, including photo and video editing. Multi-tasking isn’t an issue, with you able to open as many browser tabs as you like. The x14 is better than either rival for creative tasks and difficult workloads.
Not surprisingly, though, the compact x14 offers mixed thermal performance. There’s noticeable fan noise when gaming and the x14 was louder than the Razer; but a headset takes care of the noise and the x14 was quieter during work situations. And while the Alienware’s exterior became warm while gaming, the Razer was far hotter.
- Expect an hour of gaming before the battery dies
- Lasts up to six hours elsewhere, but rivals are better
Dell has crammed an 80Wh battery inside the Alienware x14, but don’t expect anything particularly ground-breaking from this small laptop.
During a gaming test the x14 lasted for 1hr 11mins with reduced performance. That’s on a par with the Razer, and it means that you should stick to the mains when gaming.
Alienware’s machine ran a work benchmark for 5hrs 14mins and played video for just over six hours. You’ll get to lunchtime if you’re careful; but the Asus and Razer machines were both far better – the Blade handled 12hrs of video.
Should you buy it?
You want a slim laptop with a great performance:
The x14 delivers great 1080p gaming speed alongside top-notch CPU power inside a thin, sturdy and well-balanced design – it’s a great all-rounder.
You want more gaming power or a better battery life:
The x14 is fast in games, but other 14-inch laptops are faster – and often deliver better battery life, too.
The Alienware x14 is the slimmest gaming laptop in the world, and inside its thin, robust and good-looking design you’ll find decent gaming power, a fantastic CPU and a great screen. That said, you should hunt elsewhere if you want even more gaming ability or lengthier battery life – but be prepared to pay for it.
How we test
Every gaming laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life.
These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs when running a AAA game.
We used as our main laptop for at least a week.
Tested the performance via both benchmark tests and real-world use.
We tested the screen with a colorimeter and real-world use.
We tested the battery with a benchmark test and real-world use.
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By default, Alienware offers a one-year warranty with the x14; but upgrades are available.
The x14 can be beefed up at the point of purchase with 32GB of memory and up to 4GB of storage, but larger Alienware machines offer more upgrade choices. The internal memory is soldered, so it can’t be swapped.