Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Alienware recently unveiled its X-series of gaming laptops. The X-series consists of slim gaming laptops with exceptional performance, even surpassing the brand’s M-series notebooks in terms of portability. While slim gaming laptops have been available for some time, they often come with compromises. Therefore, gamers are skeptical when brands promote a sleek yet powerful gaming laptop.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Dell aims to convert skeptics into believers with the Alienware X16 R1. Equipped with top-of-the-line hardware, including 13th-gen Intel processors and the latest 40-series GPUs from NVIDIA, the X16 R1 checks most of the right boxes. Plus, with Dell’s Cryo-tech cooling technology, the laptop should perform well on paper.

But does it live up to its price tag? Let’s find out in our comprehensive Alienware X16 R1 Review.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Specifications

First, let’s address the specifications. The Alienware X16 R1 is a highly customizable laptop. You can customize it based on your preferences. Here are the customization options:

Processor:

– Intel Core i7-13620H

– Intel Core i7-13700H

– Intel Core i9-13900HK

RAM:

– 16GB LPDDR5 5200MHz

– 16GB LPDDR5 6000MHz

– 32GB LPDDR5 6000MHz

GPU:

– NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050

– NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060

– NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070

– NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080

– NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090

Storage:

– Up to 4TB PCIe NVMe SSD

Display:

– 16-inch QHD+ 165Hz 100% sRGB with Nvidia G-Sync

– 16-inch QHD+ 240Hz 100% DCI-P3 with Nvidia G-Sync

Wireless:

– Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6E AX1675

Weight:

– 5.67 lbs to 6 lbs (depending on configuration)

Dimensions:

– 14.36 in x 11.41 in x 0.73 in

Design

The X-series aims to deliver top-tier gaming performance in a slim and portable design. This concept has been previously explored by ASUS’ ROG Zephyrus range and Razer Blade laptops.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The Alienware X16 R1 is an exceptionally slim laptop, measuring only 0.73 inches. To put that in perspective, the Apple MacBook Pro is even thinner at 0.61 inches, and the ROG Zephyrus G16 is thicker at 0.81 inches.

In addition to its slim profile, the X16 is also lightweight, weighing less than 6 lbs. Dell has clearly prioritized portability by reducing the size and weight of the X16’s chassis.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The laptop is available in one color trim, Lunar Silver. It has an aluminum lid with a large ‘X’ engraved on it. The laptop’s hinge is painted light gray, resulting in a two-toned finish. Despite this, the design is minimal and should appeal to most buyers.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The laptop is filled with RGB. Whether it’s the Alienware logo, keyboard, touchpad, or vents, the device offers plenty of pizazz.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Alienware logo light up, but the stadium lighting enveloping the laptop’s vents is the true highlight. The laptop has 100 micro-LED lights that shine on the unit’s back. The lighting is customizable and you can fine-tune the LEDs with the AlienFX settings in the Alienware Command Center app.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The laptop has vents on either side of its chassis. The X16 takes in cool air from underneath and pushes it out from the vents on the sides and rear. I will discuss the thermals later in the review. However, the X16’s design has captured my attention, and I bet you’ll also be smitten with its looks.

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Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Interestingly, the laptop lacks ports on its sides. Instead, the company has placed the I/O at the back of the device. This includes a DC-in port, a Mini Display 1.4 port, a USB-A 3.2 Gen1 Port with PowerShare, an HDMI 2.1 port, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, a Thunderbolt 4 port, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The addition of a microSD card slot didn’t please me. If Alienware was targeting content creators, they could have equipped the machine with a full-sized SD card slot. Or better yet, since the X16 is a gaming laptop, they could have replaced the SD card slot with a LAN port. But, you can’t have everything, can you?

Display

Moving on to the display, my review unit had a 16-inch QHD+ panel that refreshes at 240Hz. Note that the panel’s 16:10 aspect ratio might not appeal to all buyers. I really like the screen. The extra space is great for productivity tasks, and I don’t mind the letterboxing effect when watching movies. Your preference may vary, but if I had to choose between a laptop with a conventional screen and thicker bezels, I’d pick the 16:10 panel without hesitation.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

For gaming, the screen increased the refresh rate for fast-paced eSports titles like Valorant or Overwatch. The display also has a response time of just 3ms, which matched our experience.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Another important point is that the panel covers the entire DCI-P3 color gamut. If you’re a content creator, you’ll like the X16’s screen.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Alienware has layered the display with an anti-glare matte coating, allowing you to use the laptop outdoors or under direct lighting. This is partly due to the panel’s peak brightness of 300nits, which is solid for a gaming laptop.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The X16’s display is my favorite screen on any gaming laptop right now. The panel is the right size, responsive, snappy, and can be used in well-lit environments.

Audio

The X16 boasts a powerful audio setup that complements its impressive display. It includes six speakers, including two upward-firing tweeters and woofers. This is the first time the brand has offered six speakers with every laptop configuration.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The laptop supports Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. You can customize the experience using the Dolby Access app while gaming or watching a movie.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

If you want my suggestion, avoid the ‘Dynamic’ sound profile because it reduces the bass at high volumes. The ‘Detailed’ preset sounded more natural and lively to me, so I used it throughout my time with the laptop.

Keyboard

The Alienware X16 is equipped with a CherryMX ultra-low-profile mechanical keyboard that offers a generous 1.8mm travel distance for the keys. Additionally, the mechanical switches provide excellent haptic feedback, resulting in a phenomenal typing experience.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

To give you a better picture, I tested the keyboard in MonkeyType and consistently scored around 75 wpm with 97% accuracy. The keyboard is easy to get used to, especially if you’ve used a mechanical keyboard before.

However, if this is your first time using a mechanical keyboard, you’ll need to acclimate to the sound. The keyboard can be quite loud, especially when typing quickly. On the positive side, Dell also offers a chiclet-style keyboard for a quieter typing experience if desired.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Regardless of the version you choose, you can enjoy per-key RGB lighting on the keyboard deck. You can customize each key’s RGB effect or choose from pre-defined presets. The keyboard’s RGB lighting is also very bright and visible even in broad daylight.

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Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The keyboard layout has hotkeys to toggle performance mode or launch the Alienware Command Center. Most 16-inch laptops have a Numpad, but the X16 does not.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Instead, the X16 is a gaming laptop with upward-firing speakers and vents on the sides.

Touchpad

The X16 comes with a glass touchpad, slightly smaller than that of other 16-inch gaming laptops. However, it is not small and allows for seamless input of swipe-based gestures using pudgy fingers. The trackpad also has a smooth surface and excellent palm rejection.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The touchpad on the X16 laptop is enhanced by RGB lighting, which greatly improves its appearance. Unlike previous Alienware laptops that had single-zone lighting, the X16 offers highly customizable lighting effects. Simply enable the Rainbow Wave effect in the AlienFX settings, and the trackpad will display a range of colors.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Most gamers will use a good gaming mouse with the laptop. However, when you need to rely on the X16’s touchpad, it won’t let you down.

Webcam

Webcams have not seen much improvement in quality. The Dell Alienware X16 is no different. It includes a 720p webcam, which produces sub-par results. The attached image shows a reddish tint on the subject’s face and a soft appearance. However, the webcam offers good HDR capabilities. It effectively illuminates the subject’s face without overexposing the room lights.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The webcam doesn’t come with a privacy shutter, but it does have a white LED light when in use.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The webcam has IR tech, allowing you to use Windows Hello Face Unlock. While it generally works well, there were times when it didn’t and asked for a PIN instead.

Software Utilities

The Alienware X16 comes with a Windows 11 Home license. However, Dell includes a lot of unnecessary software with the laptop. Although I have respect for Dell and its laptops, the company should focus on improving its software suite. At any time, I had around 20 background processes running from Dell or Alienware, which impacted the laptop’s performance.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

Some utilities, such as the Alienware Command Center, are useful. This platform allows you to control the X16’s RGB lighting, performance profiles, and apply custom settings for installed games. It’s a nice app that works well but uses a fair amount of memory.

Performance

Our Alienware X16 R1 review unit features Intel’s Core i9-13900HK processor, NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU, 32GB DDR5 RAM (clocked at 6000MHz), and a 1TB Samsung PM9A1 NVMe drive. On paper, the X16 R1 offers a powerful package. So how does it perform in the real world?

In short, the laptop delivers impressive numbers in both synthetic and gaming benchmarks. However, these numbers fall behind competing gaming laptops with the same Intel Core i9-13900HK processor. The GPU performs well, but it’s clear that the CPU is bottlenecking its performance. Refer to the attached benchmarks for more insights on the laptop’s gaming performance.

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Thermals

The Alienware X16 is susceptible to thermal throttling, which limits the laptop’s Core i9 processor and RTX 4080 GPU. Despite enabling high-performance mode and maxing out the four fans, the CPU quickly reaches 95 degrees Celsius, with a couple of cores touching 100 degrees. This limits the CPU’s clock speed to a peak of 3.93 GHz.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The surface temperature is a major issue. The laptop gets extremely hot to the touch, with the WASD keys hitting 45 degrees quickly. Placing the laptop on a desk doesn’t help because the exhaust vents are on the side, blowing hot air towards the user’s hands. This can bother you if you’re using a mouse to play games.

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Please note that I conducted the tests in a controlled environment with a room temperature of 22 degrees Celsius. Your results may vary depending on your usage conditions. However, the temperatures clearly show that you have to compromise on thermals when choosing portability.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

For the same price, you can get a laptop with Intel’s Core i9-13900HX processor. So, by choosing the Alienware X16 R1 gaming laptop, you’re losing two performance cores and eight efficiency cores.

Upgradability

The Alienware X16 has two M.2 SSD slots, one of which is occupied. You can easily add more storage or replace the existing drive. Additionally, the Wi-Fi card can be replaced seamlessly.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The laptop’s RAM is soldered on, so upgrading the unit’s memory is not possible.

Battery and Charging

Our Alienware X16 R1 unit has a 6-cell 90Wh battery, and it comes with a 330W GaN-FET charger. This charger makes the laptop more portable, as other machines usually have bulkier bricks.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The GaN charger includes an LED ring around the charging port to indicate power flow. This subtle feature enhances the laptop’s visual appeal.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The battery backup of this unit does not last long. In my testing, I got about five hours of use. Note that the display brightness was at 50 percent and I only used it for web browsing and basic editing in Photoshop.

Dell Alienware X16 R1: Worth It?

The Dell Alienware X16 R1 starts at $1,999 and goes up to $3844.99. Our review unit costs around $2949.99. Considering the price, it’s clear that you’re paying a premium for Alienware’s branding and the laptop’s portability. However, if you don’t mind a bulkier machine, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16 is a better choice with superior cooling. On the other hand, if budget is not a concern, the MSI Raider GE78 HX is a much better performer.

Dell Alienware X16 R1 Review: Portable Performance?

The Dell Alienware X16 R1 is not a bad machine. It has a unique design, is portable for its power, and has RGB. The laptop has bottlenecking issues, but that is common with high-performance gaming laptops.

What We Like

The provided text has some redundant words and phrases that can be eliminated to enhance readability and clarity without losing the original meaning:

– Unique design with flashy RGB everywhere

– Quite portable

– Flagship display

– Low-profile mechanical keyboard

– High-end hardware

– Plenty of storage options

By removing redundant words and phrases, the revised text becomes more concise and impactful:

– Unique design with RGB

– Portable

– Flagship display

– Low-profile keyboard

– High-end hardware

– Ample storage options

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