Alienware X14 review: a portable PC for mobile gamers

Alienware X14 review: a portable PC for mobile gamers

Construction

A rather all-purpose design for an Alienware.  © The Digital

A rather all-purpose design for an Alienware. © The Digital

The Alienware X14 sports a white dress slightly degraded to gray. A large “14” adorns the bonnet, accompanied by the inevitable alien head, of course backlit and customizable.
We are immediately struck by the finesse of the PC and by this 4 cm extension of the chassis behind the hinge.

Face side: white;  battery side: black.  © The Digital

Face side: white; battery side: black. © The Digital

Opening the screen reveals a completely black interior with perforations all around the upper edge of the keyboard. We also notice the smallness of the touchpad and, by transparency, the two fans which suck the air both under the chassis and above at the level of the keyboard.

Our test model has a few flying hours, dust is starting to accumulate around the fans.  © The Digital

Our test model has a few flying hours, dust is starting to accumulate around the fans. © The Digital

Typing on the keyboard provides a good feeling, with good feedback. Key backlighting is customizable in the FX tab of the Alienware Command Center software.
On the other hand, the touchpad, due to its low height and its proximity to the chassis and the keyboard, is unwelcoming. For example, a two-finger scroll works half the time; you end up plugging in your mouse to play.

The touchpad is really small.  © The Digital

The touchpad is really small. © The Digital

The connectors are entirely located on the edge behind the screen. For a brand that’s supposed to be detail-oriented, we notice that none of the ports are height-aligned. Thus the two Thunderbolt 4 ports and the USB-C port (compatible with 130 W charging) are on the lower part, while a mini-jack socket, an HDMI 2.0, a USB 3.0 and a microSD card reader are on the upper part. Note the presence of a USB-C / RJ45 2.5G adapter in the box for network cable addicts.

These off-axis ports are visually frustrating.  © The Digital

These off-axis ports are visually frustrating. © The Digital

Wireless connectivity is provided by an Intel AX211 chip compatible with wifi 6E at 2400 Mb/s and Bluetooth 5.2. The webcam located above the screen offers a poor HD sensor whose quality is far from highlighting the curves of your face.



In the shadow.


Good brightness.

On the cooling side, Alienware has multiplied the air inlets and outlets. Thus, as mentioned above, the fresh air is sucked in both above and under the chassis to be expelled by 4 outlets distributed under the upper corners which are equipped with as many radiators. However, it is difficult to know the exact number of heat pipes since the motherboard is mounted upside down, with its components on the keyboard side.
The thermal camera reveals what we were a bit afraid of: the entire chassis is generally very hot after 15 minutes of play. We note nearly 37°C on the Z key, more than 50°C on the part between the keyboard the screen, and palm rests at more than 34°C, whereas generally these parts remain under 26°C, even on a chassis gaming.

© The Digital

Switching to the sound level meter isn’t flattering either. If in silent mode the X14 does not exceed 37 dB, i.e. an acceptable hum, performance is severely limited. Activating Performance mode unleashes the fans to reach 48.2dB; it quickly becomes unpleasant, especially since the X14 is equipped with small fans with particularly strident noise. The so-called “balanced” mode limits noise pollution to 46.9 dB, but it is far from offering the expected calm.
A word on the general behavior of the ventilation, since the latter is triggered very easily. In non-game use or in photo/video processing, we advise you to activate the Silent mode to calm the surges of the processor and therefore those of the fans. The balanced mode leaves far too much freedom to the fans which take turns at the slightest request.
We are also quite surprised to hear the fans running even when the hood is closed and Windows is on standby…

A word about the Alienware Command Control software, the software common to all the brand’s laptops and which allows you to manage ventilation, keyboard backlighting, and even overclocking. Its use proved to be particularly painful on the X14, in particular with loop updates. In the end for our test, we contented ourselves with playing with the lighting effects and the ventilation profiles to evaluate the noise pollution, the management of the cooling and the performance.

Disassembly is quite simple. It goes through 6 Phillips screws. Please note, the two central screws are held to the cover with specific washers, so do not try to remove them. To remove the hull, there is a small subtlety: two lugs are present in the center of the chassis. You must therefore lift the shell to unclip them, then slide it forward and release it from the rear part.
The opening reveals the huge removable 80 Wh battery. You will also have access to the SSD and the wifi card. The RAM seems soldered to the motherboard, but on the keyboard side, which requires a complete disassembly.

© The Digital

Editor's Rating: 5 out of 5

Performance

Alienware has integrated an Intel Core i7-12700H processor (Alder Lake hybrid architecture) associated with 16 GB of DDR5 RAM. The 75 W Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU completes this CPU-RAM couple.
As a reminder, the Core i7-12700H has six high-performance cores (P-Cores), hyperthreaded and clocked at 2.3 GHz with a boost at 4.7 GHz, and eight low-power cores (E-Cores) at 1.7 GHz with a boost to 3.5 GHz. During our traditional encoding, we noted an average frequency of 2.94 GHz for the P-Cores and 2.4 GHz for the E-Cores with respective maximum frequencies of 4.55 GHz and 3.49 GHz.

© The Digital

The Alienware X14 and its Intel Core i7-12700H processor obtain a performance index of 151. It thus allows itself to make fun of the Ryzen 7 5800H of the Lenovo Legion 5 and even the Ryzen 9 6900HS of the Asus Zephyrus G14, which for its part benefits from a much lower power envelope. Only the Core i9-12900HK of the MSI Raiger GE76 (168) resists it. It is important to remember that the Alienware X14 allows its Core i7-12700H to express itself fully and does not suffer from a drop in frequency (throttling) even during long encodings.

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