Alienware 17 R5 review

An overwhelmingly powerful Core i9 gaming laptop

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Here’s how the Alienware 17 R5 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 39,089; Fire Strike: 17,248; Time Spy: 6,826
Cinebench CPU: 987 points; Graphics: 141 fps
Geekbench 4 Single-Core: 5,804; Multi-Core: 20,831
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 4,717 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 21 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 3 hours and 40 minutes
Total War: Warhammer II (1080p, Ultra): 61 fps; (1080p, Low): 138 fps
ME: Shadow of War (1080p, Ultra): 97 fps; (1080p, Low): 166 fps

An Intel Core i9 processor combined with a factory overclocked Nvidia GTX 1080 makes for a monster combination. By widening the CPU bottleneck just a little bit, the Alienware 17 R5 proves Nvidia’s aging Maxwell GPUs still have a little performance to give by producing some of the highest graphics scores and frame rates in games we’ve seen from a gaming laptop.

Alienware’s 17-inch gaming laptop wipes the floor with the Asus ROG G703GI in all the 3DMark tests. Though, it seems like Asus is able to keep its Core i9 part at a higher frequency, as it scores better in both Cinebench and Geekbench. This is likely due to the ROG G703GI utilizing two power bricks, whereas the Alienware 17 R5 only relies on one.

The extra throughput of the Intel Core i9 CPU also enables Asus’ 17-inch to run both Total War: Warhammer II and Shadow of War at 1080p and Ultra-quality settings with slightly higher frame rates. Still, it’s impressive that these two laptops have managed to overpower the previous graphics titan, Aorus X9, which came equipped with two Nvidia GTX 1070s in SLI.

Outside of our traditional benchmarking, the Alienware 17 R5 runs Vermintide II at a steady 100 fps even in the face of a giant AI-powered horde, as well as us running the game at max settings and 1440p. We see equally smooth experiences while playing State of Decay 2 and FarCry 5 – both running at an average 90 fps even with V-Sync turned on.

Alienware 17 R5 review

Battery life

Despite the higher power demands of its Intel Core i9 processor, the Alienware 17 R5 proves to have even better battery life than its predecessor. Compared to its R4 predecessor, this year’s model ran for an hour and eight minutes longer on PCMark 8 and 21 minutes longer on our usual local video playback test.

That’s also far longer than the Asus ROG G703GI that only managed to hang on for a dismal 1 hour and 29 minutes in PCMark 8 or 1 hour 53 minutes in our movie test.

Of course, four hours max with regular use isn’t really actually usable when on the go, so we’d recommend always traveling with this laptop’s power adapter if you’re going to take it outside.

Alienware 17 R5 review

Final verdict

The Alienware 17 R5 is an amazingly performant machine, if you’re willing to cough up the wads of cash for a high-end configuration. You can definitely go for a lower-priced configuration and still get a great experience out of it. But, as far as our baller system goes, we’re thoroughly impressed by what Alienware has on offer here.

Combining Intel Core i9 power with a factory overclocked Nvidia GTX 1080 has unlocked a new level of graphical and gaming performance for notebooks. All the while, Alienware’s impeccable build quality continues to impress, and you’ll get a surprising amount of battery life out of this 17-inch machine. 

In terms of Intel Core i9 gaming laptops we’ve tested so far, the Alienware 17 R5 seems the most balanced between performance and everyday usability.

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.