The Alienware 17 and the R9 M290X are a lower-cost alternative configuration to the $4500 system we reviewed in August of last year, that keeps almost all of that system's general-purpose compute muscle and an acceptable midrange gaming rig's 3D performance. Build quality is excellent, Alienware's value-added software and capabilities actually do add value, and AMD's mobile GPUs are strong products in this space.
Overall, we're very pleased with the balance on this system, even if AMD Enduro's stability was a sore spot. Disabling the function isn't difficult, but it does come with a battery life tradeoff. Hopefully AMD and Alienware will be able to improve the situation with better drivers and software in the future. Regardless, if you're gaming on this machine, you're going to always want to use the discrete GPU anyway.
If you like the styling and design of Alienware's high-end systems, the Alienware 17 is a strong overall product. It is built well, it looks good, and the included software allows for a multitude of customizations. Overall, there is a lot to like about this machine.
- Desktop-equivalent 3D performance
- Good thermals
- Audio system is strong (for a laptop)
- Great 1080p HD Display
- Still fairly expensive
- Poor Enduro support