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Alienware X14 (2022) review

Alienware's new tiny gaming laptop

Alienware X14 on a table, playing Hitman III
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Alienware X14 is an absolutely gorgeous little gaming laptop, easily able to keep you gaming on the go, thanks to its solid performance and lightweight build. However, battery life is a little on the weak side and you're going to have to settle for a sub-par webcam.

Pros

  • +

    Gorgeous design

  • +

    Extremely lightweight

  • +

    Very thin

  • +

    Solid performance

  • +

Cons

  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Short battery life

  • -

    Subpar webcam

Thin and light gaming laptops like the Alienware X14 are becoming more common as mobile PC components become more power efficient and PC makers get better at designing cooling systems that don't take up as much space. We've already seen a few laptops try to pack high power and light weight in a single chassis, but now Alienware is throwing its legendary hat - and design into the ring. 

And, it ends up with one of the thinnest and lighting gaming laptops we've ever used. This laptop is just 0.57 inches thick and weighs just under 4lb, making it easy to carry in your backpack. But it doesn't sacrifice power to fit in that chassis. The model we reviewed comes with an Intel Core i7-12700H, 32GB of RAM and an RTX 3060. That's not the most powerful hardware on the market, but its more than what you'll find in most laptops this size. 

But with that high power in such a portable chassis, you're going to have to pay. The model we got in for review will cost a whopping $2,299 (about £1,700, AU$3,200) in the US, quite a bit more expensive than an equivalent Razer Blade 14, though it is a bit thinner and lighter. With the high price of entry, the Alienware X14 really is a gaming laptop for people that want something that can play the best PC games at high settings, but without weighing them down. And the fact that it uses USB-C charging instead of a giant power brick definitely helps, too. 

Price and availability

SPEC SHEET

Here is the Alienware X14 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-12700H (14 cores, 24MB cache, up to 4.7GHz Turbo)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
RAM: 32GB
Screen: 14-inch 1080p LED, 144Hz, 7ms
Storage: 1 X 2TB M.2 SSD
Optical drive: N/A
Ports: 1x USB-A,2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, 1 x USB-C with DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x microSD card reader, audio combo jack
Connectivity: Killer WiFi 6E AX1675 (2x2 ), Bluetooth 5.2
Camera: HD 720p Webcam
Weight: 4.06 pounds (1.8 kg)
Size: 12.66 x 10.35 x 0.57 inches (321 x  263 x 14.5 mm; W x D x H)

The Alienware X14 is available today, starting at $1,649 (about £1,250, AU$2,300). That will get you a 12th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050. That would be enough for most esports games, and should be more than capable of handling most AAA games, especially if you use DLSS. 

If you want a bit more gaming power, though, you can up the GPU to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD for $1,849 (about £1,360, AU$2,580) . This is the configuration we'd recommend for most people, and the price is actually pretty good, and about what you would pay for other gaming laptops with similar specs - including our favorite low-profile gaming laptop, the Razer Blade 14. 

The configuration reviewed here will set you back $2,299 (about £1,700, AU$3,200), and comes with 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD. This is definitely an overkill amount of RAM and storage space, especially in a gaming laptop that maxes out with an RTX 3060. But as far as Alienware laptops go, this max configuration is actually pretty tame. 

In fact, we wish Alienware pushed a little further with the X14. Even if it just included a 3070 configuration for people that want to play some Cyberpunk 2077 on the go or something. But it's likely that would have added to the bulk of the device, and it would have lost some of its charm. 

Alienware X14 on a table, playing Hitman III

(Image credit: Future)

Design

It is immediately striking how thin the Alienware X14 is when you pull it out of the box and look at it. And then, when you pick it up and notice how light it is, it's easy to forget that this is, in fact, a gaming laptop. 

This is a laptop that measures just over half an inch thick and weighs just around 4lb.  In a lot of ways, it's a similar profile to a MacBook Pro or a Dell XPS 15, just with a little bit of extra gaming juice behind it. The one thing that does bulk up the laptop's profile a bit, though, is the protrusion on the back.

A lot of the hot air is channeled through the vents back here, and this is also where every single port is found. However, while it's convenient in the moment when you have it on a table or something, it does unfortunately add to the footprint of the Alienware X14. This protrusion makes it a bit more difficult to fit in a bag, and if you were just barely fitting a 14-inch laptop in your bag before, you might need to get a bigger backpack. This packs away more like a 15-inch laptop than a 14-inch laptop. 

However, the smaller charging cable makes up for it. This is the first Alienware laptop we've ever used that uses a USB-C charger as its primary method of charging. The charger that comes in the box is exactly the same one as comes with the XPS 15, and it works just fine with our MacBook Pro charger as well. With more and more devices using USB-C charging, it's nice having a gaming laptop that we don't have to also pack a special charger for. 

As far as the ports around back that we mentioned earlier, there are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one standard USB-C for charging, an HDMI, one USB-A port and a microSD card reader - and of course a headphone jack. As far as most gaming laptops go, this would be a bit lacking, but considering the size of the laptop, it's more than we were expecting. Luckily we haven't reached a time when gamers have to live the dongle life as well - at least not yet. 

And for such a thin laptop, the keyboard is surprisingly solid. Travel is nice and deep, and bottoming out on the keys isn't as solid and shocking as on other chiclet-type keyboards. The trackpad is also surprisingly good, accurate and has a nice clicking mechanism. 

Even the speakers are pretty good considering the size of the device. The only place they're lacking is in bass response. Listening to "Billions" by Caroline Polachek, the entire song comes through loud and clear. However, the deep bass in the background gets muffled by the weak woofers on the Alienware X14. In games, this means things like explosions and gunshots aren't as clear as they should be, but you should be using a gaming headset for stuff like that anyway - a shame there's only one USB-A slot though.

The display is also very good. It's a 14-inch 1080p display with a 144Hz refresh rate. It hits an average of 377 nits of brightness, which should be plenty for most people. It also manages to reach 109% of the sRGB color spectrum, which means it's extremely colorful. It's definitely not the most beautiful or bright display on the market, but it's fast, and it's accurate enough that gamers are going to love it. 

Finally, because this is a gaming laptop in 2022, there is of course some delightful RGB lighting. The fan exhaust on the back of the laptop is surrounded by an RGB light bar and the Alienware logo on the lid of the laptop also features user-adjustable lighting. The keyboard also features RGB lighting, and by default comes in a gorgeous static blue setting. 

Alienware is definitely a company that wants you to show off your laptop, and trust us, you're going to want to show off the Alienware X14. 

Alienware X14 on a table, playing Hitman III

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

Benchmarks

Here's how the Alienware X14 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Night Raid: 41,366; Fire Strike: 15257; Time Spy: 6716
Cinebench R23 Multi-core: 13686 points
GeekBench 5: 1567 (single-core); 13531 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home test): 6830 points
PCMark 10 Battery life: 5 hours and 27 minutes
Battery life (Techradar movie test): 6 hours and 13 minutes
Total War: Three Kingdoms (1080p, Ultra): 52 fps; (1080p, Low): 177 fps
Metro Exodus (1080p, Ultra): 46 fps; (1080p, Low): 150 fps

While this is a thin and light gaming laptop, it definitely isn't specced out like one. This is equipped with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, and unlike the one you would find in, say, the XPS 17, this is a 75W version of the mobile GPU - which is very nearly the full-fat 80W maximum for this piece of silicon. 

Dell was able to do this by utilizing a similar cooling solution to what's found in the X15 and X17, just with a two-fan configuration rather than four fans. That's likely why this laptop is limited to just an RTX 3060 and a Core i7, but it's definitely effective. While the laptop does get loud under load, temperatures are kept in check, and it allows the laptop to perform admirably. 

In Metro Exodus at Ultra settings at 4K, the Alienware X14 manages just under 50 fps, and as soon as you turn on DLSS (which you should), that will easily hit 60 fps. Likewise, in Total War: Three Kingdoms, this laptop manages 52 fps on the Ultra preset. 

This gaming laptop can absolutely play the latest AAA games at high settings at 1080p, but you are going to have to fiddle around with some of the settings if you want to hit the magical 60 fps mark. This is why we would have loved an RTX 3070 configuration. Maybe next time around, Dell will find a way to fit a slightly more powerful GPU in here. 

As for the CPU in here, Alder Lake-H continues to impress. This is a Core i7 configuration and has no problem absolutely wiping the floor with its 11th-generation equivalent. It even manages to match an 11th-generation Core i9 processor in much thicker laptops like the Dell XPS 17 and the Alienware x17. 

CPU heavy workloads like photo and video editing are going to be a breeze, and the Efficiency Cores in the Core i7-12700H will make sure that pesky background tasks don't get in the way of you getting things done.   

Alienware X14 on a table, playing Hitman III

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life

Battery is, simply put, the Achilles Heel of the Alienware X14. This gaming laptop just lasts around 5 and a half hours in the PCMark10 battery benchmark, and just about 6 hours in our video playback test. 

This is likely because there is only an 80Whr battery in the X14, rather than the 99WHr batteries found in most gaming laptops these days. That was probably in interest of keeping the laptop as thin and light as it is, but it does mean that you're likely going to need to carry around a charger. But, again, the bright side of that is that you can charge this laptop with pretty much any USB-C charger you have lying around. 

It's definitely a compromise we wish we didn't have to make. We don't really go anywhere where we can't plug a laptop in, but if you're hoping to have this thing last you through an international flight - it's probably not going to manage that. 

Camera

Good webcams are more important than ever before now that telecommuting is becoming more common, and the Alienware X14's camera is pretty lackluster. It's a 720p sensor, and the images it captures aren't very detailed. The lighting is pretty awful as well, which means it's probably not a laptop we'll be taking video calls on any time soon. 

It does have IR, so it supports Windows Hello, but that's pretty much the only good thing about the webcam here. Dell has been putting better webcams into its other laptops, we don't know why this laptop was neglected, especially since livestreaming has become so popular. 

Alienware X14 on a table, playing Hitman III

(Image credit: Future)

Features and software

Just like any other Alienware or Dell laptop, the Alienware X14 is loaded with Dell's own software. However, it is all conveniently contained in one launcher this time around, called My Alienware. From here, you can get updates, launch Alienware Command Center, and other various support-flavored tasks. 

Alienware Command Center continues to be where you're going to find all the performance profiles and controls for RGB lighting. It also will let you scan your PC for games, so you can launch your whole library from that one app instead of juggling around a bunch of different storefronts. Definitely a nice touch, though you can get the same effect by just downloading GOG Galaxy. 

Should I buy the Alienware X14?

Buy it if...

You want something thin and light
The Alienware X14 is just over 0.5 inches thick and weighs just under 4lb, making it easy to slip into your backpack and carry anywhere. 

You want a premium gaming laptop
The Alienware X14 is definitely a looker. This really is a beautiful laptop, and one of the only gaming laptops on the market that you won't want to hide away in shame.

You want a USB-C charging laptop
These days, we use USB-C chargers for everything, but it's rare to see a gaming laptop that can do it. Luckily the Alienware X14 can, and you can probably cut out some of the charger clutter from your bag. 

Don't buy it if...

You need heavy gaming performance
If you're looking for a gaming laptop you can use to max out every AAA PC game, the Alienware X14 just isn't it. 

You need long battery life
If you're just looking for a laptop with strong performance and long battery life, we'd actually recommend an XPS 15 or a MacBook Pro instead. Same price, way longer battery life, but worse at gaming.

You're on a budget
Just like any Alienware laptop, the Alienware X14 is an expensive piece of hardware. 

Jackie Thomas (@jackiecobra on Twitter) is TechRadar's US computing editor. She is fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but she just happens to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop her a line on Twitter or through email.