For years, Alienware eschewed thin-and-light gaming laptops, opting instead to make slightly bulkier systems with more affordable pricing. But all that changed last year with the introduction of its X-series notebooks. And now, Alienware is pushing its quest for sleekness even further with the new x14, the company’s thinnest and lightest gaming laptop yet. To add even more rum to the punch, the x14 is also one of the first gaming laptops available featuring Intel’s latest 12th-gen mobile CPUs. And while the x14 isn’t without its quirks, the result is a machine that makes me wish Alienware had gotten into portable gaming rigs years ago.
Sporting Alienware’s Legend 2.0 design language, the x14 is without a doubt a striking system, though ultimately you’ll need to decide how much you fancy its sci-fi aesthetics. What’s not in question is the laptop’s thinness, which stands at just 0.57 inches thick while weighing barely more than four pounds. That’s even thinner and almost a pound lighter than the x15 (0.63 inches and 5 pounds), while making Alienware’s more mainstream M15 R7 seem almost bloated (0.8 inches and 5.3 pounds).
- Slick design
- Vibrant screen with Dolby Vision
- Highly portable
- USB-C power brick
- Good performance and value for the size
- Somewhat cramped keyboard layout
- No side-mounted ports
- Noisy fans
- Mediocre 720p webcam
- Short battery life during gameplay
Now I’m not normally the type to lust after a few ounces or tenths of an inch getting shaved off a device, but on the x14, every little reduction matters. That’s because while most gaming laptops don’t even come close to fitting in my everyday messenger bag that’s not meant to stash anything larger than a 13-inch ultraportable, the x14 actually fits, if just barely.
That means I’m much more likely to bring this thing with me on trips, which is kind of the whole point of a thin-and-light gaming notebook. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate beastly 17-inch gaming rigs, but when my back starts to hurt at the mere thought of carrying one around, in practice those systems often function more like mobile desktops than any sort of travel-friendly gaming machine.
The main innovation on the x14 is Alienware’s new dual-torque hinge which adds strength and stability to the laptop’s display, while once again reducing weight and thickness compared to previous X-series machines. And, as you’d expect from Alienware, the x14 comes with customizable RGB lighting on its lid and keyboard. That said, compared to its larger siblings you do lose the extra RGB light ring that would normally outline the system’s rear ports. (Fun fact: That pill-like shape is actually called a stadium.) Inside, there’s a lovely soft-touch finish on x14’s wrist rest, which may feel a bit cramped for people with larger hands.
Display and sound
On the x14 there’s only one display option, and it’s a good one. The 144Hz 1,920 x 1,080 screen is plenty sharp, while support for NVIDIA’s G-Sync helps