Performance Summary & Conclusion
If pressed, we’re not sure we’d change much of anything on this gaming beast. It would be nice if the optical drive could burn Blu-rays, and the front edge where your wrist rests while you use the machine could be a little more comfortable. Other than that, there’s really nothing else you could ask for.
The processor is top of the line, and there are two high-end GPUs inside. 32GB of RAM is more than enough. The display is huge and beautiful. Dell even struck an excellent balance of storage and performance by implementing a spacious 512GB mSATA SSD and a large 750GB SATA drive (7200 RPM). It’s true that other models have RAID-ed SSDs, which can offer a substantial performance boost on the storage side, but for an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink gaming notebook, you want to have plenty of storage in addition to performance. (We imagine some folks would prefer the extra SSD performance, but it’s a matter of personal preference more than anything, because the standalone SSD is plenty fast.)
To top it all off, Dell did a fine job of redesigning the look of the Alienware 18. Not that there was anything wrong with the old design, but this new edition looks classier without feeling dull; the lighting schemes and options are all still present, the keyboard is loaded with toys, and the new backlit touchpad (whose lights you can switch off if you prefer) is just plain cool.
The $4,499 price tag is a bit dizzying (there are cheaper build-outs, obviously), but if you’re looking for a solid gaming machine at a bargain price, there are other Dell Alienware configurations (as well as good options from other manufacturers) that you can value shop for. The Alienware 18 is the one that you buy when money is no object and you refuse to accept anything less than everything.