The 14-inch gaming laptop is in just about every vendor's repertoire, while 15-inchers are a step up, and just slightly harder to seek out. At 17.3-inches, the gaming laptop enters even more niche of a category, catered to by a few boutique brands and even fewer mainstream manufacturers, like Toshiba and HP.
An 18.4-inch laptop, however, is a relative ghost. When a notebook gets to be so large it requires a rolling luggage bag to haul around (and costs as much as a downpayment for an apartment) it better be something truly special. The Alienware 18 is just that – for $4,166 (about £2,434, AU$4,443), that is.
Featuring dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 880M GPUs – Nvidia's most powerful mobile graphics chips – and a blazing fast Intel Core i7 processor, the Alienware 18 is the muscle car of mobile gaming rigs fitted with two turbochargers. For all of this graphical might, the unit Alienware sent to TechRadar costs a depressing amount of money. The hardware spec is hot enough to make any PC nerd faint, but is this the pinnacle of laptop gaming as we know it?
Like the rest of the redesigned series of Alienware notebooks, this 18.4-inch beast scored a makeover since the Alienware 18x released two years ago. The Dell-owned company has moved away from gaming platforms that look like trapezoids and instead has adopted a more angular look with rounded edges.
The new look is modern, accented with sleeker lights, and much more pleasing to look at from the front than the automotive grill aesthetic from years past. Rather, the new design resembles a space ship – in fact, a curious onlooker commented the machine looked like just that while I took photos for this review.
On top of the updated looks, the Alienware 18 has a few other premium niceties, including an aluminum-clad lid and magnesium alloy base. The interior of the laptop is also lined entirely with a soft-touch rubbery material, a comfortable place to rest your wrists for extended gaming sessions.
Put all together, this gaming machine is one such meticulously crafted piece of hardware that it closes flush without any gaps. You won't find a single misaligned panel on the laptop even with all the intricate body lines integrated into the laptop's body armor design. This perfection even extends to the notebook's ports, which are all fitted with metal bands. Alienware's attention to detail is truly something to behold.
Around the back of the laptop are two massive exhaust vents. Flip over the laptop and you'll find over a third of the Alienware 18's footprint isn't a plain old panel but an expanse of mesh for the laptop's three intake fans. There nothing understated about the Alienware 18. It's a machine ready to run all the latest games better than any other laptop out there and look good while doing it.
Failure to launch
While the Alienware 18's dual GPU setup lends it unprecedented amounts of gaming horsepower, it does not come with the option switched on by default. At first, the laptop performed struggled to run the latest games at max settings with only one GPU. Luckily, after a quick peek at the Nvidia control panel and a few clicks later, everything was fixed. It's an easily correctable problem, but one that new owners should be mindful of when they pull their rig out of the box.
Another thing users will have to check under the hood is the touchpad's gesture controls. For some unknown reason, scrolling also comes disable, but not two fingered pinching or rotating. It's an odd quirk, and it's unfortunate, because the Alienware 18 sports one of the best touchpads you can ask for on a laptop.