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Alienware x14 hands-on review: Thinnest Alienware ever has serious RTX 30 power

This sleek gaming laptop doesn't skimp on performance

Alienware x14 front and right side
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Alienware x14 is a slick and powerful gaming laptop that's great for most users looking for a device that's both powerful and portable.

Pros

  • +

    Powerful 12th gen Intel Core processor

  • +

    Slick, futuristic design

  • +

    Impressive performance-enhancing features

  • +

    Vibrant 14-inch display

Cons

  • -

    Price may be steep for some

  • -

    Full HD is only display option

The Alienware x14 (from $1,799) is a thin and powerful gaming laptop designed for gamers on the go. Though all configurations pack a beefy RTX 30-series card, this sub-4-pound laptop won't completely destroy your checking account. 

Other features include a 12th gen Intel Core processor, long battery life (according to Dell), and a slick 14-inch full HD display. Though it isn’t the most powerful gaming laptop you can find, it’s hard to argue against the Alienware x14's relatively affordable price and portability.

We only had a brief hands-on experience with the Alienware x14 but found it impressive. In fact, this machine could wind up on our best gaming laptop list. Here are our initial impressions.

Alienware x14: Specs 

Pricefrom $1,799
Display14.0 inches (Full HD 144Hz 7ms with ComfortView Plus, Nvidia G-Sync and Advanced Optimus)
CPUIntel Core i7 12700H, Intel Core 17 12900H
GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB), 3050 Ti (4GB), 3060 (6GB)
RAM16GB, 32GB
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Ports2 Thunderbolt 4 ports (USB Type-C), 1 USB 3.2 (USB-C), 1 Type-A USB 3.2, 1 HDMI 2.1, Micro-SD 5.2 UHS-II, global headset jack
Size12.66 x 10.34 x 0.57 inches
WeightStarting at 3.96 pounds

Alienware x14: Release date and price 

The Alienware x14 is expected to release sometime in the first quarter of 2022 at a starting price of $1,799. The base model features a 12th gen Intel Core i7 12700H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB GDDR6) graphics card, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage.

You can upgrade up to a 12th gen Intel Core i7 12900H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 (6GB GDDR6) GPU, 32GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. There are no upgrade options for the display.

Alienware x14: Design 

Alienware x14 closed

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Alienware x14 has the slick, semi-futuristic design the X-Series is known for. Constructed with CNC aluminum and magnesium alloy parts, the laptop has a starting weight of 3.96 pounds. At 12.6 x 10.3 x 0.57 inches, it has a relatively large footprint but is still small enough to comfortably carry around. Lunar Light is the only available chassis color.

Dell says the Alienware x14 is the thinnest Alienware laptop yet. It achieves this thinness because of its dual-torque element hinge that creates space within the system itself. This allows the laptop to achieve a 0.57-inch maximum z-height combined with a maximum graphics power of 85W. Dell says that, without the hinge, the x14 would either be thicker or less powerful.

Alienware x14: Keyboard and touchpad 

Alienware x14 keyboard

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This laptop introduces Alienware’s X-Series thin keyboard with a 1.5mm key travel and includes N-Key Rollover technology as well as Anti-ghosting technology. The low key travel time is crucial when playing competitive multiplayer games. I found the keyboard suitable for typing, though I’d like to get more hands-on time to test how it fares with regular usage. But for gaming, the keyboard seems rock solid.

The touchpad felt smooth and responsive. But considering my brief time with the x14, I don’t want to render a verdict on the touchpad at this time. Like the keyboard, it’s reasonably adequate for gaming.

Alienware x14: Display 

Alienware x14 display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Alienware x14 features a 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) 144Hz display with a 7ms response time. Other features include ComfortView Plus, Nvidia G-Sync and Advance Optimus. The FHD panel has a brightness of up to 400-nits and displays 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. All configurations come with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certification.

I found the HDR-capable display bright and vibrant in person. The resolution maxing out at 1080p could be seen as a negative but it suits the 14-inch screen size. And considering Dell wants to market this as an affordable gaming laptop, we can forgive it for not having 4K or OLED options. The screen’s low response time should allow games to appear smooth even during moments of heavy action. The Nvidia G-Sync feature will also ensure a smooth gaming experience.

Alienware x14: Ports 

Alienware x14 ports

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Alienware x14 is no slouch when it comes to ports. You’ll find two Thunderbolt 4 ports (USB Type-C), a USB 3.2 gen 2 power (USB-C) and a Type-A USB 3.2 Gen 1 port. There is also an HDMI 2.1 output port, a microSD card slot and headset jack.

With that many ports, you’ll be able to connect to various external devices, which is always important for a gaming laptop.

Alienware x14: Performance 

You’ll get two processor options with the Alienware x14. The starting model comes with a 12th gen Intel Core 12700H (14-Core/20-Thread, 24MB L3 Cashe, up to 4.7GHz max turbo efficiency) CPU. You can also opt for a 12th gen i7 12900H (14-Core/20-Thread, 24MB L3 Cashe, up to 5.0GHz max turbo efficiency) CPU. Either processor will give you a boost over 11th gen CPUs.

Memory-wise, you’ll find 16GB of LP-DDR5 4800MHz RAM with the RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti configurations and 16GB LP-DDR5 5200MHz with 3060 configurations. You can upgrade up to 32GB of RAM.

Configurations packing an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 are engineered with Dell’s exclusive Element 31 thermal interface material. Made of a Gallium-Silicone matrix and vapor chamber cooling technology, these features – along with Smart Fan control technology – will enable the Alienware x14 to achieve high performance.

It will be interesting to see how the Alienware x14 stacks up to other gaming laptops we’ve reviewed when we can run it through our litany of benchmark tests. But given the power under the hood, this should be a performant device.

Alienware x14: Battery life and charging 

The Alienware x14 comes with an 80 WHr lithium-ion battery. The X-Series also includes Alienware’s HyperEfficient Voltage Regulation technology. This tech is capable of up to 12-, 8-, and 7-phase graphics voltage regulation. This will ensure high performance over long gaming sessions.

We’ll see how long the battery lasts when we’re able to test the Alienware x14 ourselves.

Alienware x14: Outlook 

The Alienware x14 looks like a great gaming laptop for those who want solid performance from a portable device. Though not exactly cheap at a starting price of $1,799, it is relatively affordable for a machine of its kind.

We’re impressed by its slick design, crisp 14-inch display and the number of available configurations. 12th gen CPUs and RTX 30-series GPUs are what we expect to be the standard for 2022 laptops and it’s good that the Alienware x14 features both out of the box. Alienware’s exclusive suite of power-saving and performance-enhancing features should also make this laptop last long on charge.

Based on what I’ve seen, the Alienware x14 has the potential to be one of the best gaming laptops of 2022. We’ll see if this is true once we spend more time with it.

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.