Alienware x14 Review: Form A to Z

With the release of the new Alienware x14 gaming laptop, Dell has specifically claimed that label for themselves. With to its 12th Gen Intel processor, Nvidia RTX graphics, and brilliant, high refresh rate screen, it’s no slouch at gaming despite its small design. Although the entry fee isn’t quite low, the Alienware x14 offers remarkable performance for the money.

Alienware x14 – Design and Features

I like to imagine that Shepard from Mass Effect’s gaming laptop might resemble this. Although Alienware has always tended to lean toward science fiction in its designs, there’s something additional about this that just seems “Normandy” to me. I put the blame on the lid, which has an enormous “14” that may pass for the word SR2 and an off-white tint that resembles a spaceship. Yet, there was no RGB alien head on the Normandy, making it clear that this was an Alienware gaming laptop.

If you don’t mind it sort of appearing like a spaceship, it’s amazingly stylish whether you enjoy Mass Effect or not. That’s undoubtedly a draw, and Dell deserves praise for its meticulous attention to detail. This is a well-designed laptop that feels and works as well as it looks, whether it’s the way the vents around the keyboard split up like a particle beam or something more useful like the sturdiness of its hinges.

Although purchasing a ticket to go on this vessel is not inexpensive, it is also not the most expensive you can find. This model’s top-tier variation, which sells for $1949, was provided to me. A powerful and absurdly expensive 14-core, 20-thread 12th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card, 32GB of LPDDR5 memory, and a 1TB NVMe SSD are all yours for that price. You can scale those specifications up or down to meet your needs.

Here are the specs for our system and the ways you can adjust up and down.

  • Model: Dell Alienware x14
  • Display: 14-inch IPS, 3ms
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080, 144Hz
  • Processor: 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700H (Intel Core i5-12500H available)
  • Graphics: Nvidia RTX 3060 6GB (RTX 3050, RTX 3050 Ti available)
  • Memory: 32 GB LPDDR5, 5200 MHz (16GB 4800 MHz, 5200 MHz available)
  • OS: Windows 11 Home (Windows 11 Pro available)
  • Storage: 1 TB NVMe SSD (512GB to 4TB available)
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Ports: 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with PD and DisplayPort, 2 x Thunderbolt™ 4 port with PD and DisplayPort, 1 x headset combo port, 1 x HDMI 2.1 port, 1 x MicroSD Port
  • Connectivity: Intel AX211, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
  • Battery: 80 wHr
  • Dimensions: 12.65 x 10.34 x 0.57 (WxDxH)
  • Weight: 4.06-pounds

The Alienware x14 14-inch gaming laptop is marketed as the “thinnest” in the world, and it certainly lives up to that boast. At only 0.57 inches thick and 4.06 pounds, it’s easy to tuck into any bag and just about forget it’s there. The lid’s hinge not being flush with the back is one of this design’s oddities. Instead, it leans slightly forward, about an inch and a half, giving the laptop a very substantial lip along the back of its IO. That suits the rest of the design quite well. During use, the screen’s borders protrude slightly above the corners of the rear panel, adding a hint of white to the otherwise dark keyboarding space. At 10.4 inches, it does make the laptop a little bit taller, so be sure to consider the bag’s proportions.

Whether you’re playing games or spending time by perusing Twitter, the laptop’s great screen makes using it enjoyable. The 14-inch, 1080p display is the perfect balance of compactness and usability and doesn’t have the same squeezed-in feeling that 13-inch laptops tend to have. It has vibrant, intense hues that look fantastic right out of the box. It can also dynamically dip to 72Hz to conserve battery life while still maintaining a maximum frame rate of 144Hz for ultra-smooth gameplay.

The laptop performs astonishingly well. The exterior frame is made of a robust magnesium alloy that feels smooth to the touch. The internal foundation is made entirely of stainless steel and aluminum, with plastic used for the surfaces and vents to strike a balance between durability and weight. You don’t have to worry about it looking soiled after each usage because of its design, which makes it resistant to fingerprints.

The hinge’s design adds a subtle yet significant touch. The x14 may move back and forth along a track thanks to a novel, patent-pending technology. A more robust construction with a gratifying level of tension and less wobble than any other laptop I’ve tested has a practical impact. The lid doesn’t lay fully flat, but it reclines enough to be used when standing at a desk and always returns to its original position.

Using the built-in keyboard, typing emails and playing games feels comfortable. I was surprised by how little the keys were. Although the touchpad and function row are particularly small, getting used to them doesn’t take long. It incorporates all of the standard keyboard controls, such as those for volume and mic mute, as well as secondary actions for switching between performance modes, adjusting brightness levels, and accessing other typical laptop capabilities. Although the keys are quite little, they are delightfully tactile and prevented any typos while I got used to their size. However, users with larger hands might find it a little too small. There is no way to create bespoke layouts because the keys are RGB backlit in a single zone rather than individually.

The Alienware x14 delivers somewhat powerful hardware underneath those keys, but it isn’t the most advanced at its price point. The new Intel Core i7-12700H CPU from the 12th generation is the main attraction. It has 14 cores and 20 threads to accommodate your multitasking requirements, whether you need to play a game and host your own stream or use a number of apps from your home office or school library to do work.

The processor is flanked by an RTX 3060 graphics card, and combines to produce the highest-spec option for this laptop. Although it seems obvious that a thinner design wouldn’t be able to accommodate more potent technology, such a Core i9 or RTX 3080 Ti, it does limit the overall performance you can anticipate for the price. Even so, the RTX 3060 demonstrated that it could play contemporary games at high and ultra settings. The x14 can intelligently switch to the laptop’s integrated graphics when you’re not gaming to conserve electricity. You work from your home office or school library using several apps.

Maintaining a balance between fan noise and high temperatures is one of the ongoing issues for gaming laptops. With two independently regulated fans for the CPU and GPU, vapor chamber cooling for the CPU, and a lot of vents to let hot air out, the x14 takes care of that. The cooling performance is excellent; I’ll discuss exact temps in the section that follows. On the other hand, fan noise is not. The x14’s fans produce a high-pitched whirr that drowns out other sounds in the room even though it isn’t the loudest laptop I’ve ever heard. The cost of excellent sustained performance without thermal throttling is that fan noise.

A set of standard speakers and a 720p camera are also included with the laptop. Although the webcam is fairly grainy and requires a lot of light, it supports Windows Hello and successfully authenticated me on the computer. It works well for online lectures and meetings, but it won’t soon take the place of your dedicated webcam. The speakers are likewise acceptable, but lack bass and will distort at higher volumes. Although they are Dolby Atmos compatible, it is much more effective to simply connect in a set of headphones and use Atmos with those.

The lack of any connections on the front or sides of the laptop may come as a surprise if you want to utilize a gaming headset. Every piece of IO is positioned along the lid’s back border. A full-size HDMI 2.1 port, a MicroSD card reader, a headset combo jack, two Thunderbolt 4 ports (each with PD and DisplayPort), one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port (also with PD and DP), one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports are all included. There are plenty of connectivity options here for both gaming and productivity, however I personally would swap one of the Thunderbolt ports for another Type-A port.

Each USB Type-C port can be used to charge a laptop. The disadvantage is that you’ll lose one of those ports for charging, but if you don’t want to carry the heavier power brick throughout the day, you can keep the laptop powered with a smaller aftermarket charger. The bundled brick is smaller than most previous laptop chargers but still bigger than most compact GaN chargers.

The largest battery for a 14-inch laptop is found in the x14. At 80 watt hours, it is almost 30% more powerful than the Razer Blade 14 I reviewed at the same time last year. As it consumes a lot of power, I still advise having a charger on ready in case you need to use it all day.

Alienware x14 – Battery Life

I was thrilled to see the x14 contain such a big capacity battery for its size because even the best laptop is useless if its battery dies too soon. The laptop’s efficiency is more important than just its wattage, so I put it to the test using PCMark’s Modern Office Battery Test. I turned down the monitor and keyboard backlighting to 50%, turned on only the WiFi radio, and set the monitor to utilize Advanced Optimus for the longest battery life to simulate a day of work use (there is no option to lock the system to integrated graphics). It was able to function for a total of 4 hours, 11 minutes using these settings.

If you’re planning on taking the laptop with you for a full day, be sure to pack a charger. Turning up brightness and playing games will significantly increase battery drain making the laptop die even faster.


The Alienware x14 is a pricey but surprisingly effective little computer. Although I wish it provided more powerful versions for gamers with larger budgets, it is a joy to use for gaming and everyday tasks because to its efficient cooling and clever design.

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