ALIENWARE m17 R4 (2021) Review

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In this article, I give you my Alienware m17 R4 (2021) review with specs included. This is the fourth generation of this 17-inch laptop. It’s a relatively speaking, slim, sort of light, a gaming laptop from Alienware, which is really Dell since they do own the Alienware brand.

This also comes in a 15-inch size like the m15 R4 but here we’re going to look at the bigger chassis.

So, what’s new in this generation? Well, the biggest thing is Nvidia RTX 3060, 3070, and 3080 graphics inside. And, also the fact that they are Max-P versions basically, even though we don’t use Max-P and Max-Q labels anymore.

My RTX 3070 has a 140-watt GPU inside. If you go for that RTX 3080 with 16 GB of VRAM it’s 165-watts. That outdoes even the MSI GE76 Raider 17-inch that I’ve reviewed which had a 155-watt RTX 3080.

The design obviously is the same. It’s the same “Legend” design available in your choice of ‘Lunar light’ or ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ color combo with the so-called ‘Endurance’ clear coat. And that is magnesium alloy for the casing underneath despite the fact it might look to you like plastic.

Before we talk about thermals and other goodness there are a few other things that are new. One of those is there are optional Cherry MX switches.

So, for those who like that kind of mechanical keyboard feel this is like ultra-low travel relatively speaking for a mechanical keyboard. It’s 1.8 millimeters of travel which is pretty long for a laptop. It’s going to sound a little more clicky but for those who like that they’ve just introduced that option.

Also new is the full HD 360 hertz refresh 5 millisecond IPS display which is the one that I have. So, that basically replaces the 300-hertz refresh rate that was available before. Between 15 and 17-inches there are a few display differences. I’ll try to cover those as we talk more about the display later.

Also, let’s talk about the two compelling considerations related to Alienware m17 R4 (2021). Number one, there is a newer CPU generation with a newer model, the Intel 11th gen H-series 45-watt mobile CPUs.

While on the desktop Intel 11th gen was not really much of an improvement, pretty much architecturally very similar to the 10th gen, still 14 nanometers, we do see the drop down to 10 nanometers for Intel 11th gen H-Series 45-watt eight-core and six-cores CPUs that are available with a newer Alienware.

But, I don’t think the 11th gen model is such a big leap forward in performance over 10th gen models. It could help with thermals mostly but not so much with performance. Perhaps it has better battery life.

But there’s the other compelling consideration. Even more power-efficient are Ryzen CPUs with a seven-nanometer process or lower. But, I don’t think that is a noticeable CPU difference for gamers. Most games today really depend more on the GPU than the CPU so you want the max wattage which still makes Alienware m17 R4 (2021) attractive.

Let’s see the display options on this one. You have the new 360 hertz and that has G-sync. And by the way, this will always get confusing a little bit with Alienware, some display options may be available only with some color chassis.

The rest of the options are what we saw in 2020. By the way, all these full HD displays are 300 nits. There’s a 144 hertz full HD display. That one’s seven millisecond response time.

That one’s the one that’s attractive for those who actually care about battery life. Probably more for those of you looking at the m15, which is more portable than the m17. It’s because that one has Optimus so you can switch. You can use Fn+f7 and you can switch between dedicated or integrated graphics.

If you get a 360hz display you’ve got G-sync and you got dedicated graphics only.

Also, there is a 4K UHD wide-gamut display option and that one is 500 nits and 25 millisecond response time at only 60 hertz. So, clearly geared toward content creators. It’s a nice-enough-looking display. The 15-inch uses an OLED but not the 17-inch though.

I actually prefer the 17 inches a little bit better because I don’t think that the OLED display is that attractive on the 15-inch. It looks a little old-gen, a little bit yellow, too glossy, and too shiny to me.

But anyway, that 4K UHD is not so geared towards gamers and it’s a little bit of a disappointment because Razer has been offering 4K displays with a 120-hertz refresh rate for a while.

So, for those who would care about a bit higher frame rates over 60 well that’s not an option with 4K UHD but for content creators, the 4K is still there for you.

The display on my laptop is pretty good with backlight bleed but the bottom right corner has something like an IPS glow. That corner is a little bit lighter than the rest.

Let’s look at the display metrics of my display. They are pretty good. The contrast on this is over a thousand to one. It has full sRGB coverage. In fact, it has 83 or so of P3. So, it’s not that far-off color gamut-wise from Asus’s lovely Rogue Zephyrus G15 display which is a pretty wide gamut display.

And the response times on this are obviously quite good. The G-sync, for those who love G-sync, well you’re not going to see any tearing here. It’s very nice.

And maybe you wonder if you need a 360-hertz display. Well, it’s up to you but for me, this is worth it. Even if this laptop could maybe drive CSGO at exceedingly high frame rates or something like Apex, where you can get into mid-100s easily, it also offers more multipliers for better syncing of the GPU to the display. So, there are other things that add to the experience other than just frame rates.

Experientially to me, it does look a little bit better than the year 2020 300 hertz option, just a little bit crispier. Metrics wise doesn’t look that different. I don’t know why it is but each generation hopefully does get better. All right, enough about the display.

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Alienware m17 R4 (2021)
  • 95%
    Performance - 95%
  • 94%
    Price - 94%
  • 95%
    Value - 95%
94.7%