Alienware 17 R4 2017 Gaming Laptop Review: Powerful And Refined

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Alienware 17 R4 2017: VR Performance And Experience

Virtual-reality is gaining traction, especially with gamers that have the budget to afford a machine like the Alienware 17. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift demand high-end hardware to render 2160x1200 at 90 FPS, however. Alienware touts the 17 as VR-ready with certifications from both leading HMD makers. To test its claims, we’re running the Alienware 17 through the SteamVR Performance Test and VR games to objectively and subjectively test its VR-gaming capabilities. 

SteamVR Performance Test
VR-gaming readiness test

The SteamVR Performance Test is a basic tool that determines your system’s readiness for VR gaming. The test rates your system on a scale of 1 to 11, with 11 being an excellent configuration for VR. This benchmark also provides a detailed report that shows the number of frames dropped below 90 FPS and if your CPU is holding back performance.

Alienware17R4 SteamVR

The Alienware 17 maxed out the scale at 11 for a very high-quality experience – the best we’ve seen from a gaming notebook. It also maintained 90 FPS without breaking a sweat and the mobile CPU isn’t holding back performance either. 

VR Gaming Experience
Subjective experience

We hooked up an Oculus Rift to the Alienware 17 to thoroughly test its VR capabilities and were not disappointed. But before we dive into the experience, there are some caveats with connecting everything necessary for the Oculus Touch experience. The Alienware 17 only has two USB 3.0 ports so we had to use a dongle on one of the USB-C ports to connect the HMD cable and two sensors necessary. We left out the Xbox One controller because we didn’t have another USB-C dongle or USB 3.0 hub available.

Alienware17R4 VR

Once everything was up and running, we tested a few titles – Robo Recall, Project Cars, The Climb, and Elite Dangerous. The Alienware 17 performed flawlessly, as expected from something with a GeForce GTX 1080. The noise of the system fans under load is hard to drown out with the Rift’s bundled headphones, even at 100-percent volume, however. We recommend upgrading to sound-isolating earbuds if you plan to use the Alienware 17 for a VR rig.

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