The Alienware x16 gaming laptop is powerful enough to run all your games, with plenty of RGB to show them off.
Alienware is one of the biggest brands when it comes to gaming laptops (and desktops), and for good reason. The brand, owned by Dell, has built up quite a reputation for delivering powerful performance and featuring an instantly recognizable design language. Although, Alienware laptops, like many gaming laptops, are known for being unwieldy. The Alienware X series in 2023 is meant to take things even further by packing powerful performance into a more compact chassis.
The Alienware x16 is one of the latest additions to the series, combining that powerful performance and compact design with the current trend of larger, 16:10 screens for gaming laptops, and it delivers. The model I reviewed comes with a high-end CPU and GPU, and it can handle just about any modern game you could want to play beautifully. I also love how the laptop looks, combining a silver exterior with a black interior and a ton of RGB lighting that might actually be too much for some people.
Table of Contents
Alienware x16 gaming laptop Pros
- Powerful Intel processors and Nvidia graphics
- Compact design compared to other gaming laptops
- Great display with solid color reproduction and 240H refresh rate
- Lots of RGB lighting
Alienware x16 gaming laptop Cons
- Very expensive compared to similarly-specced laptops
- The keyboard can sound clanky
Alienware x16 gaming laptop: Pricing and availability
The Alienware x16 was announced at CES 2023 and launched in the first quarter of the year. Pricing officially starts at $2,099, but there are various configurations available at different prices. The model I reviewed comes with high-end specs, including an Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU, plus 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. That one is officially priced at $3,500, though it’s currently discounted to $3,100 at writing time.
Alienware x16 gaming laptop: Design
A big focus of the Alienware X series is slimming down gaming laptops so you can carry them around a bit more easily than the flagship M series. In the case of the Alienware x16, we’re looking at a laptop that comes in at 18.57mm thick, compared to the m16’s 25.4mm thickness. It also goes up to six pounds of weight, though that’s the maximum advertised by Dell. That’s still over a pound lighter than the m16’s 7.17 pounds. It’s still not a super portable machine, but slimming things down this much is a big deal for such a powerful laptop. It’s not rivaling the best general-purpose laptops out there, but for this segment, that’s impressive.
I also love how this laptop looks. It comes in what Alienware calls a Lunar Silver colorway, mixing a silver exterior with a black interior to create a unique design. Most of the chassis is made of anodized aluminum, but some parts use a magnesium alloy, which helps the laptop stay a bit lighter.
The best part — if you enjoy flashy laptops — is just how much RGB there is. Of course, the keyboard has per-key RGB lighting that you can fully customize, and the Alienware logo also lights up. There’s also a light ring around the back, with over 100 micro-LEDs lighting up in different colors, so you can customize the look of your laptop. But what really gets me is that even the touchpad lights up. There’s a line of lights along the top edge that illuminates the entire thing. The light only stays active when you’re using the touchpad, though.
Alienware x16 gaming laptop: Keyboard and touchpad
One of the highlights of my review unit is that it comes equipped with a keyboard designed in collaboration with Cherry, and it uses low-profile CherryMX switches, akin to the ones on the Cherry KW X ULP keyboard I reviewed not too long ago. This allows it to provide a mechanical feel while still fitting in a laptop chassis, and frankly, it’s great.
Whether it’s for gaming or typing, I really love this keyboard. There’s a satisfying amount of tension and travel distance, and the keys don’t bottom out harshly. My only complaint is that the switches occasionally felt a bit clanky. While it wasn’t always noticeable, I could sometimes hear the metallic mechanics inside the laptop as I typed, which didn’t feel quite right. I wouldn’t say it was overly distracting, but it wasn’t the most comfortable for my ears.
Aside from looking fantastic with its RGB lighting, the touchpad is also comfortable to use. The surface is smooth, and it’s more than big enough for moving the mouse cursor around as needed. Clicking is a bit louder than I’d like, but it’s not a major problem. If you’re buying this for gaming, you’re probably getting a proper mouse anyway.
I don’t have many complaints, but I had some issues with the touchpad glitching out occasionally, acting as if there was some kind of dirt or water on the touchpad and causing unwanted inputs. I described the problem to Dell, and I was told that this is the first the company has heard of anything similar, so it’s possible I got a faulty unit.
Alienware x16 gaming laptop: Display
One of my favorite trends with gaming laptops this year is the transition to the 16:10 aspect ratio as standard. We’ve been seeing that in premium ultrabooks and creator laptops for a couple of years, but since 16:9 is the most popular format for gaming, most laptops have stuck with that. Thankfully, that’s changing, and that makes laptops like the Alienware x16 great not just for gaming but also for productivity or content creation.
If you do opt for the 240Hz panel, though, there’s another benefit. You’ll get improved color reproduction, covering 100% of DCI-P3. This makes for a better screen for general use, whether that’s watching movies or working in color-sensitive fields like photo editing. Surprisingly, Dell only advertises 300 nits of brightness, which isn’t very impressive if you want to use this laptop outside. Unfortunately, I can’t test these claims due to some personal circumstances keeping me away from my color calibration tool. However, these advertised specs are often very close to reality, and I can confirm the viewing experience is great, at least indoors.
Alienware x16 gaming laptop: 1080p webcam
Another great thing to see in gaming laptops this year is better webcams. While most high-end ultrabooks started getting higher-quality webcams after the work-from-home boom in 2020, gaming laptops didn’t really follow that trend very closely, but that’s finally changing. The Alienware x16 has a 1080p webcam, which is solid for a gaming laptop.
Even better, the Alienware x16 also supports Windows Hello facial recognition. This is something many gaming laptops are still missing, including my previous favorite, the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i. It’s such a convenient feature that I always have to dock some point from laptops that don’t have it.
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Alienware x16 gaming laptop: Performance
Alienware x16 sticks with the typical H-series processors; my unit specifically comes with an Intel Core i9-13900HK, with 14 cores and 20 threads. It also comes with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU and 32GB of RAM, so it’s a pretty specced-out machine.
While using H-series processors may be a technical downgrade from the HX models, I think this laptop proved to me that CPU performance isn’t as important as those laptops might make it seem. I tried to play a few games, including Forza Horizon 5, Cyberpunk 2077, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider and found the results to be pretty close to the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i, which has more powerful Intel processors. Here are the average frame rates I saw for these games when running them at the native 2560×1600 resolution:
|Game||Graphics settings||Average frame rate|
|Forza Horizon 5||Extreme preset||108FPS|
|Apex Legends||High preset||190FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077||Ray tracing Overdrive preset||38FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077||Ray tracing Overdrive preset, DLFG||50FPS|
|Elden Ring||Max||57FPS (capped at 60FPS)|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark||n/a||113FPS|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider (gameplay)||Highest preset, Ultra Ray Tracing Shadows||141FPS|
Real-life performance for gaming won’t suffer that much from having an H-series processor compared to an HX-series model, at least if the games you’re playing aren’t particularly CPU-intensive. Most games tend to focus on the GPU, and in that aspect, the Alienware x16 delivers.
Should you buy the Alienware x16 gaming laptop?
You should buy the Alienware x16 if:
- You want a powerful gaming laptop
- You’re looking for something that’s still somewhat portable
- You enjoy lots of RGB lighting
You should NOT buy the Alienware x16 if:
- The extra cost compared to an Alienware m16
- You’re not planning to travel with the laptop frequently
- You want great battery life
The Alienware x16 makes a very compelling argument for itself if you care about portability. It delivers all the performance you could want in a gaming laptop, letting you run the latest and greatest games with no issue and at high frame rates (in most cases), yet it fits in a chassis more compact than the vast majority of its competitors. Whether it’s Alienware’s own m16 or something like the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i, this kind of power usually comes at a bigger cost in portability, and the Alienware x16 does a very good job balancing those two things.
However, it does come with a higher price tag, too. Compared to an Alienware m16 with similar specs, this one will set you back an extra $550 outside of sales, and that’s a big difference to pay for more portability. I would say it’s hard to justify, but it depends on how much you care about having a compact chassis that can do almost all the same things as a thicker one. Personally, it seems like a little too much, but if you can find it on sale, it may be easier to justify.