Product Dell Alienware 14
Specifications 14in 1920x1080 IPS display, Intel quad-core 2.4GHz Core i7-4700MQ processor, Nvidia Geforce GT765M GPU 2GB GDDR5 VRAM, 8GB DDR3L RAM, 256GB SSD, 750GB hard disk, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0, 3 x USB 3.0 ports, mini-Displayport, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, microphone, headset, headphone jacks, 69Wh Li-ion battery, 335x261x42mm, 2.8kg
PC MAKER Dell's Alienware brand is one of the dominant names in gaming laptops, and its latest machine, the Alienware 14 notebook takes on rivals with pure power.
Its specifications are impressive, as its graphics grunt comes from one of Nvidia's beefiest mobile GPUs, which is partnered with an Intel Core i7 Haswell processor, and there's a capacious 256GB SSD plus a 750GB HDD, a full complement of connectivity and ports, and a 14in 1920x1080 resolution IPS screen.
Design and build
Alienware machines are infamously flashy, but the Alienware 14 strikes the right balance. It's littered with lights, but that's tempered by a classy, matte black anodised aluminium case. Its angles and vents cut an attractive, aggressive figure, and we love the lighting. There's a lighted band around the base, a backlit keyboard, and logos that glow. The trackpad glows into life when prodded. Build quality is similarly superb, making this a rock-solid laptop, and the base panel can be removed for interior access.
The Alienware 14 is sturdy and attractive, but it has downsides. Its 2.8kg weight is heavier than two ultrabooks, and it's 42mm thick. You'll definitely notice its heft in a backpack.
Display and sound
The cheapest Alienware 14 makes do with a 1,366x768 resolution screen, but our sample has a 1,920x1,080 resolution panel. Dell has fitted the IPS screen with a matte layer, so intense gaming moments aren't hampered by reflections.
It's not a touchscreen, but quality is high. The screen is bright and has deep black levels, so there's a wide colour gamut and good contrast. Games leap from the screen, and colours are vivid and accurate rather than washed-out. Viewing angles are great, too. Our only issue concerns the matte layer, which makes the panel a little grainier than glossy screens.
Dell has paired the screen with Klipsch tuned Dolby speakers. They're louder than those on most laptops, and quality is good, putting out punchy bass and a prominent, snappy mid-range. Our only complaint concerns the high-end, which was often drowned out by the volume elsewhere.
Next: Performance and operating system, keyboard and trackpad.