Alienware's x15 and x17 cram Intel H-series CPUs and RTX 30 graphics into thin frames

·Contributing Writer
·5-min read

As much as gaming laptops have dramatically improved over the last several years, all that power still comes with a significant compromise. You sacrifice a lot of portability to play PC games on the go. And while its latest models can't pass for a thin-and-light, Alienware has announced two new models that are its thinnest yet: the x15 and x17. Of the two, Alienware claims the former is the world's most powerful sub-16 mm 15-inch laptop in the world. In its thinnest iteration, the x15 measures 1.59 cm thick (0.64 inch).

To put things in perspective, the ASUS Zephyrus G15 and Razer Blade 15 Advanced, two of the better 15-inch gaming laptops you can buy at the moment, come in at 1.95 cm (0.77 inch) and 1.58 cm (0.62 inch) thick, respectively. The x17, meanwhile, measures 2.09 cm (0.82 inch) thick, making it comparable to the 1.99 cm (0.78 inch) Blade Pro 17.

Alienware x15 Gallium TIM
Alienware x15 Gallium TIM

As you might imagine, Alienware is playing up all the work it put into ensuring the x15 and x17 don't cook their components. Both include four internal fans. Sensors Alienware has placed in and around critical components help an AI-assisted program to control each one independently. The company says it has also installed highly efficient voltage regulators to help with heat dissipation. Models with an RTX 3070 and above come with a special gallium-silicon compound applied to the CPU. The company claims the thermal interface is up to 25 percent better at transferring heat to a heatsink than the solution it used in its previous m15 R4 notebook

Each also comes with vents on the top, bottom, back and sides of its lower chassis. The result is a design that leaves either computer without many side ports. Both feature only a power input on one end and a headphone jack on the other. That leaves all their other IO relegated to the back. In the case of the x15, you get a single USB-A port, two USB-C connections, a microSD slot and an HDMI 2.1 output. The x17, meanwhile, comes with two USB-C and USB-A ports, an Ethernet jack, a microSD slot and HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 outputs.

Alienware x15 airflow
Alienware x15 airflow

Internally, the x15 and x17 feature Intel's recently announced 11th-generation H-series processors. Both come with the 8-core, 16-thread i7 11800H standard, which you can upgrade to the i9 11900H. Each also comes with 16GB of 3,200 MHz RAM by default. You can configure the x15 with up to 32GB of RAM, while the x17 maxes out at 64GB. Storage starts at 256GB via an NVMe. With a single SSD, 2TB is the max, but you can also go for a dual-drive setup for 4TB total.

Things get more complicated when you get to the 3D cards on each model. Both the x15 and x17 come with the RTX 3060 standard, and you can pay extra to upgrade to RTX 3070 or RTX 3080. But if raw GPU power is all you're after, the x17 is the way to go since it comes with the powerful version of each card. On the x15, for instance, the RTX 3070 can pull a maximum of 110W of power and boost its clock speed to 1,410 MHz. By contrast, the x17's RTX 3070 can draw as much 140W and boost to 1,620 MHz. With the RTX 3080, you can also get an RGB touchpad.

Alienware x15
Alienware x15

Your display options are also different between the two laptops. With the x15, Alienware offers a mix of Full HD and QHD panels. On the 1080p side of things, you can go either for a 165 Hz screen with a claimed 3 ms response time or one with a 360 Hz refresh rate and 1 ms response time. Both max at 300 nits and feature 100 percent sRGB coverage, but you'll need to upgrade to the latter to get NVIDIA's G-Sync variable refresh rate technology. Your other option is a QHD display with a 240 Hz refresh rate, 2 ms response time and G-sync. It's also 100 nits brighter and better for content creation work, thanks to its 99 percent DCI-P3 coverage. On the x17, there's no QHD option. Instead, you can go for a UHD panel that features a 120 Hz refresh rate, 4 ms response time, 500 nit brightness and 100 percent Adobe RGB coverage. The other option unique to the x17 is a keyboard with CherryMX switches that Alienware says have 1.8 mm of travel. For connectivity, both computers come with WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 support.

Alienware x17
Alienware x17

So how much can you expect to pay for the x15 and x17? When Alienware begins selling every configuration of each laptop on June 15th, the x15 will start at $2,000, while base model x17 will set you back $2,100. As a point of comparison, the RTX 2060 version of the Zephyrus G15 costs $1,500. It's not as much of a showpiece as Alienware's new laptops, but you're getting a system with a Ryzen 9 processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. In short, with the x15 and x17, you're paying a premium for thinness, not power.

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