Manufacturer:Alienware/Dell UK Price: From £948.99 (£1,549 as reviewed) US Price: From $1,099 ($1,599 as reviewed)
Gaming laptops are largely heading in two divergent directions: machines such as the MSI GS70 and Razer Blade are bringing Ultrabook-style slimness to the fore, while notebooks like the Schenker XMG P303 Pro stick with the bulky designs we’re used to seeing from these powerful machines.
The new Alienware 14 fits firmly into the latter camp, indeed this system is one of the chunkiest laptops of its screen-size we’ve seen. You do get plenty for that bulk, though – Dell has crammed a Haswell processor, one of Nvidia’s latest graphics chips and even an optical drive into its 42mm-thick chassis.
So the Alienware 14 is definitely bulky, but nonetheless its refined design makes it one of the best-looking Alienware machines we’ve seen. It of course has the lights and branding we’re used to seeing from Dell’s gaming brand, and there’s the familiar alien head logo on the lid, a loop of lights around the base, and a trackpad that illuminates when it’s prodded.
The matte finish of the anodised aluminium that covers much of the lid and base of the machine lends it a classier air than previous Alienware efforts, and the angles, slanted edges and body details are impressive but - with the lights off - actually quite subtle, making for a machine that’s both bold and understated. Certainly it’s much more attractive than the Schenker XMG P303 Pro, which suffers from a more generic design.
The 14’s 42mm thickness and 2.8kg weight aren’t slim or light, but it does mean that the Dell has enviable build quality. There’s barely any give in the base, the wrist-rest is sturdy, and there’s little flex anywhere on the screen. Lug this machine around to a friend’s house or a LAN gaming event and you can be assured it’ll arrive in one piece. That’s something we can’t exactly say about most flimsy Ultrabooks, but it does mean that you’ll notice this machine in your bag – it’s more than 10mm thicker than the Schenker, and almost a kilo heavier. Granted it has a larger 14in footprint but when the 14in Razer Blade manages to come in at a mere 16.8mm and 1.88kg you realise just how hefty the Alienware is.