The Most Powerful Thin Gaming Laptop! Alienware x16 Review

Alienware’s x16 is the thinnest gaming laptop with full powered RTX 4080 or 4090 that I’m aware of. It’s even thinner than Razer’s Blade 16, but it still manages to pack in 4 fans to keep thermals in check. Honestly, the performance from this laptop surprised me considering its thinner size. So it seems like Alienware are trying to get as much performance as possible while remaining as thin as possible. But unfortunately doing this results in other compromises that you really need to know about! And I’m not just talking about the price tag! But first, this part of

the video is sponsored by Ugreen’s 1st Nexode 300W GaN charger! Experience hyper-fast charging with the PD3.1 protocol, capable of charging a MacBook Pro 16 from 0 to 56% in just 30 minutes. With a maximum total output of 300 watts, you can quickly charge up to 5 devices at once, including 3 laptops! It also supports up to 140 watts of power from a single port! Ugreen takes safety seriously with their thermal guard system, which monitors temperature 6000 times a minute! Protecting your devices from overheating and overcharge. While the simplistic design and included braided Type-C cable compliment

any workspace. Check out Ugreen’s Nexode 300W GaN charger with the link below for more details. Back to Alienware’s x16. It’s available in one color choice, Lunar Silver with a

two tone finish. Silver on the anodized aluminum lid and metal bottom panel, while the back is white with a smoother magnesium alloy finish. This all-metal design is only available for RTX 4080 and 4090 configurations, or for some reason the 4070 if you upgrade the keyboard, but not in the lower tier 4050 or 4060 options. The interior is all black with a smooth finish and overall build quality

feels good. There’s less keyboard flex compared to a lot of other laptops, something I didn’t expect considering that it’s also thinner. That said, the metal lid flexed more than expected, and there’s small amount of screen wobble when typing hard. The hinge feels smooth to open and close, even when ripping it open fast. It’s easy to open anywhere with one finger, as the front has their V-Rail edge – basically there’s an indent along the whole front. This also means the front edge is nice and smooth rather than sharp, which matters as there’s less space down the

front due to the back above the keyboard being air vents. So it pushes everything down a bit. Alienware always have some of the thinnest gaming laptops on the market, and that’s the case with the x16, making it a little lighter compared to Lenovo’s Legion Pro 7i, but not quite as light compared to Razer’s smaller Blade 16. The laptop alone weighs 5.8lb or 2.6kg, increasing to 8lb or 3.6kg with the 330 watt charger included – not exactly lightweight, but it’s the lightest 4080 laptop we’ve tested so far. The 330 watt GaN charger is noticeably smaller compared

to most other brands, and lower specced versions come with a smaller 240 watt charger. The configuration I’ve got here has Intel’s Core i9-13900HK processor, full powered RTX 4080 graphics, 32 gigs of RAM, and a 16” 165Hz screen. But there is a lot of customization you can make to get it how you want with the link below. You can upgrade to CherryMX ultra low-profile mechanical switches for $50 more, which is what I’ve got here. It has per-key RGB backlighting, and all keys and secondary functions get lit up. Key brightness can be turned off or adjusted between

two brightness levels with the F7 shortcuts, while some keys like volume and mic mute on the right change to white to show that they’re enabled. Typing on the keyboard felt nice with 1.8mm of key travel. Mechanical switches mean it’s louder than most laptops, but it’s not as bad as XMG’s Neo 16 in our last review. The smaller top row keys don’t seem to be mechanical, but all the rest do. The power button lighting is separate and changes depending on the charge status or battery power remaining. The power button is close to delete and backspace, and

by default an accidental press puts the laptop to sleep. You can change that in the Windows power settings, then it takes a few seconds of holding it down before Windows asks what you want to do, which would have been a better default in my opinion. It turns on when you open the lid by default, so if you press the power button after opening the lid out of habit like I do, that turns it off, but you can disable this feature through the BIOS. The Alienware logo on the lid can also be customized with different colors

and effects, and the same goes for the RGB ring on the back. It has 100 micro LEDs and looks kind of cool, but can get so bright that we found it hard to actually see the ports on the back and had to lower the brightness. You don’t get to see it when using the laptop either, so it seems like it’s only for flexing on people going by. There’s even RGB lighting in the glass touchpad, at least in the RTX 4060 or higher configs. It doesn’t really add anything apart from a unique look. It feels super

smooth and nice to use and is 15% larger than the x15. Touchpad lighting turns off after 10 seconds and I couldn’t find a way to extend this. There aren’t any ports on the left or right, it’s all air exhaust vents while the L shapes are for the Wi-Fi antennas. All the ports are on the back with a nice selection available. This design helps keep cables out of the way, but it could have been improved with some rear light up port icons on the back, like Lenovo’s Legion 7 has, because we have this space that would

have been perfect for it. At least the RGB ring isn’t sharp to hold like last year’s x17. The website even specifically notes that it features soft edges, definitely a welcome improvement. Both Type-C ports on the back can be used to charge the laptop with up to 100 watts. And they both also offer DisplayPort 1.4, so you can connect a screen to either, but the one on the right always connects to the Intel integrated graphics whether optimus is on or off. But the other Type-C port as well as HDMI and Mini DisplayPort always connect directly to

the Nvidia graphics no matter what. And we confirmed HDMI could run our LG B9 TV at 4K 120Hz 12-Bit with G-Sync. Getting inside requires unscrewing 6 Phillips head screws of different lengths, and some don’t come out of the panel and instead help lift it up, but I still needed pry tools to get inside. You can find the ones I use linked below. Inside we’ve got the battery down the front, two PCIe Gen 4 M.2 slots just above with metal covers, and the Wi-Fi 6E card on the left. Unfortunately memory is soldered to the board and

cannot be upgraded – one of the downsides to thinning down a laptop to this degree, so make sure you buy it with the amount you need, because you’re stuck with it. The Wi-Fi speed was quite good compared to other laptops, but a little behind last year’s x17. The speeds from the 1TB SSD were excellent, and my MicroSD card performed quite well too. The card clicks in and sits the full way into the machine, so it can be a bit awkward to get in and out without longer fingernails. The upgradeability score is lower than most other

laptops due to the soldered memory, but we can change the Wi-Fi card, and both M.2 slots support our 4TB drive with chips on both sides. There are front facing speakers on the left and right of the keyboard, as well as 4 woofers underneath along the front. It gets loud and it sounds decent with some bass, but it’s not as clear at higher volume levels and there’s a fair bit of wrist rest vibration. The Latencymon results aren’t amazing, but not as bad compared to most other laptops tested this year. The x16 is powered by a 6-Cell

90Wh battery. I couldn’t find any options in software to help with battery life. But it still lasted for more than 6 hours in my standard YouTube video playback test, a decent result compared to most other Intel based laptops, especially compared to last year’s larger x17 R2 with slightly smaller battery. The screen was running at 165Hz during this test though, because unlike most other laptops from other brands, there’s no option to automatically lower the refresh rate to save power. You’d have to remember to do it manually. Let’s check out thermals next. All x16 configs have 4

fans, but only the RTX 4080 and 4090 options have a vapor chamber cooler. All configs have Alienware’s Element 31, a gallium-silicone thermal interface material, on the GPU, but only the 4080 and 4090 ones have it on the CPU too. There are holes for air intake at the back above the keyboard, and directly over all four fans underneath. The bottom panel has a rubber ring foot that only allows cool air in through the front and back, preventing the hot air exhausted out the sides getting pulled straight back in. Alienware’s Command Center software lets us pick between

these different performance modes, which from lowest to higher are quiet, balanced, performance, and overdrive. You can optionally use custom mode to tune it further by controlling GPU temperature limits and overclocking. You can also press F1 to enable high performance mode. For some reason this is separate to the modes available through software and can only be turned on or off with this keyboard shortcut, despite the fact that it tells you it’s on in software. It sets the fans to max speed, just like overdrive mode, but with a higher GPU overclock than overdrive mode. Just quickly while

we’re talking about the software, when we first got this laptop it took one, sometimes even two minutes to open the command center software after rebooting. And this is something that I’ve experienced countless times on previous Dell and Alienware products. I thought it would be different with the new version 6.0 of the control center software, but at first that didn’t seem to be the case. Taking more than 30 seconds to open up is just unacceptable in my opinion, and eventually it just completely stopped opening at all. In the end we uninstalled it and reinstalled it, and

ever since then it’s been way better, taking a little over 20 seconds after a fresh boot before we can adjust the performance modes. Still not anywhere as fast compared to some others like ASUS’s Armory Crate, but it’s way better than what it was when we first started using it. So I hope the current experience that we have right now is what everyone else is going to experience if everything’s fully up to date. The internal temperatures were cool at idle. The rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU stress tests which aim to represent

a worst case full load scenario. High performance ran cooler than performance mode as it sets the fans to max speed. Overdrive mode also maxes the fans, but it ran warmer. Closing the lid resulted in both the CPU and GPU hitting thermal throttling, so it seems like the vents above the keyboard need to be unblocked for best results. The cooling pad I test with, linked below the video, was able to drop temps by about 6 degrees Celsius. These are the clock speeds during the same tests. Overdrive mode was reaching much higher clock speeds on both the

CPU and GPU compared to high performance mode, which explains the warmer, but still relatively good temps in overdrive mode. Closing the lid lowers GPU clock speed as it creates thermal throttling, while the cooling pad offers the lowest temps and best performance. The RTX 4080 can run up to 175 watts with Nvidia’s dynamic boost, but with the CPU also loaded up it maxed out at around 165 watts. This confirms the 4080 is running at full power, an excellent result considering how thin Alienware have made the laptop. That said, the tradeoff is the CPU gets limited to

45 watts, which is probably why they didn’t use HX CPUs here, as that’s just not enough power to spread out over way more cores. It’s no surprise after seeing those stress test results that the highest overdrive mode performed the best with an actual game running, which is why we did all game testing in this mode – more on that later. The CPU can use way more than just 45 watts of power if the GPU is idle, like in Cinebench, where thermals became the limit with some fairly high power levels being reached. The x16 now has

the best multicore performance score out of any 14 core laptop tested so far, an impressive result considering its thinness. It’s basically matching last year’s Legion 7i, but that has 2 extra P cores and is thicker. This is a 21% higher score compared to last year’s larger x17 R2, great stuff considering the size. Performance lowers if we unplug the charger and instead run purely off of battery power. It’s not quite the best 14 core result now, but it’s not too far behind in third place behind Lenovo’s Slim 7i and ASUS’s Zephyrus M16. It’s very close to

the thicker Legion Pro 5i just above it with 10 more CPU cores, but at the same time it’s only slightly ahead of a Ryzen laptop with just 8 cores, as AMD tends to be more power efficient. Most laptops I test are in the low 30 degrees Celsius range on the keyboard at idle, and the x16 was right in line with this. It’s warmer with the stress tests running. The keyboard isn’t uncomfortable, but the side speakers over the air exhausts are hot. The higher balanced mode isn’t much different, and you can see the differences between performance

mode set through the software and high performance mode with the F1 shortcut and maxed out fans here. The highest overdrive mode wasn’t much different, and like the previous modes the keyboard was warm but not hot. The sides and back will burn you, but realistically you don’t need to touch there. Let’s listen to how loud the 4 fans get. It’s quiet when sitting there idle, then gets louder in the higher modes with the stress tests running, as expected. Even with the 4 fans maxed out, it’s not too different compared to a lot of other laptops. The

x16 uses a 16:10 screen, which means there are more pixels vertically and less of a bottom chin compared to before. There are three different screen options to choose from when ordering with the link below, but we have the first 165Hz one here. The Color gamut is alright for a gaming laptop, but creators might want the 240Hz panel for $50 more which claims 100% of DCI-P3 coverage. The screen was a little dim, only just getting to 300 nits at full brightness, which is the minimum I want to see from budget friendly laptops, so this is disappointing

from such an expensive machine. And all three screen options are listed at 300 nits, so you can’t get brighter with any of the other options either. There was some backlight bleed. I never noticed these patches during normal use, but this will vary between laptops and panels. The average grey-to-grey screen response time was great, with all measured transitions below the 6.06ms needed to occur within the 165Hz refresh window. There was some overshoot and undershoot, indicating a panel overdrive mode enabled, but there’s nowhere in the software to change it. It’s decent compared to other 165Hz laptops with

the same resolution, but not quite as fast compared to most of the 240Hz panels out there today as you’d probably expect. The total system latency is the amount of time between a mouse click and when a gunshot fire appears on the screen in CS:GO. It’s a bit slower compared to the same selection of laptops, but not by much, and realistically you’ll need to be an eSports pro to notice the difference anyway. The x16 has a classic MUX switch, but it’s only available through the BIOS rather than software. You don’t have to do this though, because

it also has advanced optimus through the Nvidia control panel, and G-Sync is available when optimus is disabled. There’s a 1080p camera above the screen with IR for Windows Hello face unlock. Here’s how the camera and microphones look and sound, and this is what it sounds like while typing on the mechanical keyboard. Now let’s find out how well Alienware’s x16 performs in games! We’ve tested it with these settings for best results. Cyberpunk 2077 was tested the same on all laptops, and I’ve got the x16 shown by the red highlight. It’s a little behind the other RTX

4080 laptops tested, but both of those have higher tier HX CPUs which may do better at 1080p. The x16 is right in line with Razer’s larger Blade 18 at the higher 1440p resolution, and it provided a higher 1% low compared to those other 4080 laptops, so less dips in performance. It’s the lowest result from an RTX 4080 laptop so far at the higher 4K resolution, but it’s not far behind, and you could always use FSR, DLSS or frame generation to improve performance. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested with the game’s benchmark, and the x16 was

much closer to the other 4080 laptops at 1080p than before. It’s actually got a slight lead at the higher 1440p resolution, only beaten by higher tier 4090 laptops, and there’s not much difference at all at the higher 4K resolution either, but there is at least a nice boost compared to the best laptop GPU from last gen – the 3080 Ti. The x16 was a little behind the other 4080s in Control at 1080p as well, but again, this is still a nice boost compared to last year’s x17 with 3080 Ti. The 1% lows were better than

the other 4080 laptops with HX processors at 1440p, but the average FPS wasn’t too different, and then it’s a similar deal at the higher 4K resolution here too. Here are the 3DMark results for those that find them useful, now for some content creator tests. The x16 was behind the other 4080 laptops in the puget systems tests, as the other laptops having HX processors with more cores and threads is generally an advantage in content creation. Overall performance is good here. The BIOS provides a lot of customization compared to most other laptops out there, with the only

exception being MSI, who just offer a stupid number of options. If you’re after a device that’s a bit more premium compared to MSI’s offering, but still want a lot of tuning, then the x16 is one of your few devices to consider. Linux support was tested with an Ubuntu 23.04 live CD. By default the keyboard, touchpad, camera, and speakers worked, but Wi-Fi was not recognized. Keyboard shortcuts to adjust volume, keyboard brightness and screen brightness work, but the F1 high performance mode, volume and mic mute shortcuts did not as they need software. Pricing and availability will change

over time, so check the link below for updates and current sales. And if the x16 does go on sale, we’ll be sure to add it to our website. We update that everyday to include all of the latest sales, so make sure you check it out regularly to save money on your next gaming laptop, as sales change every day. At the time of recording, the x16 starts from $1800 USD on Dell’s website without any sales, and that’s for the RTX 4050 configuration. So you’re definitely paying a massive premium for Alienware considering we have way cheaper

RTX 4070 laptops on the deals site right now. Actually, I’m pretty sure that we’ve had a 4080 laptop available for a similar amount of money. It might not have as many features compared to the x16 or be as thin, but it’s absolutely going to destroy a 4050 in games. The configuration that we’ve tested in this video goes for $3000, while the maxed out config with RTX 4090 goes for $400 more. Again, seems a bit expensive considering you can pick up Lenovo’s Legion Pro 7 on sale for $2500 with an RTX 4090. But then again, this

deal will probably be gone by the time this video goes live, so again you’re just going to have to check out the link below for current sales. Thinner powerful laptops like this just cost more money, that’s the way tech works. Personally, I don’t really see the point in making laptops this thin. If the width and depth end up being pretty much the same as the competition then it’s still going to have pretty much the same footprint when you put it into a bag. I don’t know, I’m just perfectly happy with slightly thicker laptops that offer

more performance. Now that said, the x16 does actually offer excellent performance considering its size. The main problem that I have with thinness is when it starts to hurt other areas, like upgradeability. Having all the memory soldered to the motherboard with no option for 64 gigs kind of sucks. And the other thing I didn’t like was that all three screen options just seem to top out at 300 nits. Which I think is just too low from a premium product. We kind of got off on the wrong foot with Alienware’s new version of command center software. But

after a reinstall, it seems to be much better and working fine. So hopefully people buying this laptop don’t have the same problems that we did out of the box, because the command center software sucked before we reinstalled it. Seriously, after booting the laptop I timed it taking more than 2 minutes to fully open, that’s just completely unacceptable, but now after the reinstall it’s down to about 20 seconds. There’s plenty of RGB customization and BIOS customization if you’re a tuner. Otherwise the premium materials feel nice, but expect to pay a premium price to get all this

in a thinner device. So if you’re spending this much money on Alienware with a 4080, is it worth spending $400 more to get the 4090? Check out this video next where I’ve compared both GPUs in 25 games at 3 different resolutions. When you’re spending this much money on a gaming laptop a few minutes extra research are well worth it for something you’re going to use for years, so I’ll see you in that one next.

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