The main area of focus with the X14 is down to its ultra thin design, which has been made possible thanks to some shrewd design choices that are aimed at making most of the available real estate, while still maintaining that razor edge. Dell claims that this is “the world’s thinnest gaming laptop” and at just 14.5mm, it’s a difficult one to dispute.
But in order to make this possible there have been a number of compromises made. All ports – including connection points, charging and even the headphone jack – can be located at the back of the laptop, which may not suit everyone. This does keep cables, chargers or otherwise out of the direct view of the user, but if you’re planning to hook up the laptop to a monitor or other device, such as a PC-compatible controller, it may make the initial setup just that bit more fiddly.
It certainly doesn’t detract from the overall design, and still integrates quite well with some of the X14’s other features. The monitor’s hinges come forward roughly 1 inch from the back of the device, which benefits the pivotal point by making it sit flush when closed. This helps to give the X14 a bit of room to squeeze out those crucial millimetres but also contributes nicely to the futuristic design that Alienware likes to strive for across all its devices.
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The other drawback from this is the available square footage left over for the workspace. The RGB keyboard comfortably makes use of this available space edge-to-edge with nice functionality but there’s little left for the small touchpad that occasionally failed to register movement during keyboard inputs. Granted, a gaming mouse will always be a preferred method of navigation but it wouldn’t have gone amiss to offer greater control for keyboard-heavy games.
As for its performance, the 12th generation i7 is more than capable of handling Full HD games at a fixed steady framerate and being partnered with the RTX 3060, it can more than handle its fair share of games at medium-to-high settings. That’s made possible, in part, thanks to the 14in 1080p screen that means performance is prioritised. The lack of a 1440p resolution may lose out on users hoping for clarity but on a 14in display, those resources are put to better use where they count.
In our benchmarking tests, the X14 performed admirably while only on rare occasions being subjected to a small wobble. When playing Forza Horizon 5 locked at 60 FPS, the steady performance, responsive display and bright screen all contributed to a decent driving experience where speed actually matters.
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A few sessions in Fortnite made the best case for its 144Hz screen, with the X14 in its element for those games where performance may be favoured over graphical prowess, also bolstered by the screen’s ability to handle colour saturation, making those glossy aesthetics pop even more.
But even when playing graphically demanding games such as A Plague Tale Requiem, sweeping vistas along with the game’s demanding rat hoards were handled with a remarkable level of competence that made us briefly forget it was all being rendered on a laptop. That is, until you notice the fan noise.
This is to be expected on just about any device when running current gen titles, but there were moments it was hard to hear anything at a low volume over the sheer howl of the rear-facing exhausts doing their best impression of a wind tunnel. Even short stints on Vampire Survivors (not exactly the most demanding if we’re being generous) would be met with the same roaring sound levels. In light of that, the X14 never felt hot to the touch thanks to its overpowering heat dissipation.
The X14 boasts one of the largest batteries in a 14in gaming laptop, with a 80 WHr lithium-ion that’s advertised as up to 7.5 hours. That may be the case when completing productivity tasks, checking emails or browsing on social media, but gaming will inevitably knock a big dent in those figures.
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That’s especially true if you’re playing some high intensity games, but the X14 is a notable improvement in terms of battery life when compared to similarly positioned models. At the end of the day, a bad battery life can make or break a gaming laptop’s appeal, and the X14 does fall into the former half of that sentiment.
After around two-and-a-half-hours of game time, we only started to notice that the laptop needed charging, which was more than our initial expectations. You may find that playing in short one-hour bursts will fulfil your gaming needs but if you’re planning on a longer binge, then access to a power cable is a necessity.
Luckily, the Alienware X14 laptop also houses dedicated USB-C charging ports. USB-C has quickly started to become the power/data transfer standard, so this should come as welcome news to anyone susceptible to leaving their various charging cables at home.