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An impressive gaming laptop, the Alienware x16 (2023) has a short battery life and runs hot


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Alienware has been the name in high-end PC gaming for years. And although the Dell-owned brand is best known for its tricked out desktops, it also offers a series of incredibly powerful gaming laptops. This includes the Alienware m18 (currently one of the best gaming laptops on the market) and the Alienware x16, its new flagship model.

Described as the "most premium" option in Alienware's laptop lineup, the x16 is configurable with powerful Intel CPUs and new Nvidia RTX 40-series GPUs. Despite that high-end hardware, the x16 is still lighter and more compact than most other gaming laptops, making it a fantastic choice for gamers craving portability — if they can afford it.

The Alienware x16 is a great option for anyone who wants the brand's trademark power and design quality in a smaller body. But short battery life, hot temperatures, and an expensive price keep me from recommending it for everyone.

The Alienware x16 is powerful but inconsistent

Two Alienware x16 laptops with the game “Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered” playing on the left and “Valorant” playing on the right.

Configurations are available with Nvidia RTX 40-series graphics.
Christopher Gordon/Insider

Like most laptops, Alienware offers the x16 in a variety of hardware configurations. The model I tested has an Intel i9-13900HK CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU, 1TB of solid state storage, and 32GB of RAM. It retails for about $2,850 from Dell's website, but you can find other configurations that start at $1,700 and go up to as much as $3,900.

The x16's greatest strength is its graphical power. It constantly achieved high and stable framerates with a variety of intensive games at the highest or near-highest settings, including Cyberpunk 2077, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, Forza Horizon 5, and Elden Ring. According to tests run via Geekbench, the x16 I tested even outperformed the Asus G14 I reviewed, despite the Asus having an RTX 4090 instead of the X16's 4080.

The 4080's ray tracing looks great, too. Even at the highest settings, the x16 handled ray traced lighting and reflections easily, with little or no hit to performance. That's a rare feat for gaming laptops.

For the majority of my time with the x16, its Intel i9 processor excelled. Even games designed to tax the CPU, like Teardown and Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, ran quickly and evenly. But I also occasionally ran into issues where apps would randomly hang, or simple files would trudge through long loading times. And at least one Geekbench test showed the CPU performing at half its normal power. The CPU can be flaky, but it's not bad enough that I'd consider it a dealbreaker.

A sleek design makes the x16 stand out from the crowd

Two Alienware x16 laptops showing the x16’s RGB lighting.

The x16 is lined with RGB lights.
Christopher Gordon/Insider

Alienware is synonymous with unique and futuristic aesthetics. And in that department, the x16 doesn't disappoint.

The x16's biggest selling point is its size. It's certainly not the slimmest gaming laptop around, but compared to its siblings in the Alienware M-Series, it's tiny. It has signature Alienware power packed into a more portable frame, which sets it apart from the competition. It's also thin — less than an inch thick when closed. I haven't had any issue carrying the x16 around the office, or commuting with it between work and home.

Dell claims that the x16's screen only delivers up to 300 nits of brightness, which makes it surprising that it looks so consistently vibrant, even in well-lit environments. Buyers can configure the x16 with one of three different screen options: A 1600p screen with a 165Hz refresh rate, 1600p wide-color screen with a 240Hz refresh rate (the model I tested), and — amazingly — a 1200p wide-color screen with a 480Hz refresh rate. That's the fastest refresh rate I've ever seen on a gaming laptop by far. Every screen option uses a 16x10 aspect ratio. 

The x16 wouldn't be a true Alienware laptop if it wasn't decked out in RGB lights. But the x16 goes a step further than most laptops — not only are the keyboard and chassis backlit, but the trackpad too. And all the lights are customizable.

I also want to shout out the Cherry MX mechanical keyboard available on some x16 models, which feels wonderful to type on and play with, even for long periods of time. For a writer like myself, I vastly prefer the tactile mechanical keys to the squishy and imprecise membrane ones you usually find on laptops. And the onboard speakers are shockingly high-quality, adding ample volume and bass to anything you play.

Heat and battery life are the x16's biggest issues

The Alienware x16 laptop, playing the game “Elden Ring.”

The laptop can run hot and loud.
Christopher Gordon/Insider

Where the x16's portability does falter a bit, though, is in battery life. If you're just browsing the internet, with all of Windows' energy recommendations enabled, the x16 lasts about 4.5 hours, which is great. Turn up the brightness (a necessity for a 300 nits screen) and switch off "Power efficiency" mode, and that drops to three hours or less, which is average for a big gaming laptop.

But turn on any game — even simple ones, like Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel — and that drops to a little more than an hour. Playing on battery also reduces graphical performance, even with high performance modes turned on. Combined with the chunky AC adapter, this is a hit to the x16's portability.

I should also mention the x16's thermals. During intense gameplay, the CPU regularly hit temperatures of 170 degrees Fahrenheit, high even for a gaming laptop, and the GPU wasn't far behind. It generally idled around 130 degrees. And this was all under normal conditions — the i9-13900HK supports overclocking, and I can only imagine how hot it would get when truly pushed to its limits.

The x16 gets loud, too. Whenever you start a game, the laptop automatically shifts into "Performance" mode, which ramps up the fans as fast as they can go. It makes the x16 sound like a jet plane taking off. You can turn the computer back to "Balanced" mode, but it comes with potentially worse game performance.

Alienware x16: Specifications

Dell produces a variety of different Alienware x16 models, each with its own specifications. In the table below, I've put together all the possible specifications for the x16, although note that not all combinations are available together. Bold text represents the specs that my review model had.

Should you buy the Alienware x16?

The Alienware x16 laptop, with its screen tilted slightly down.

The x16 isn't perfect, but it's a strong contender in the high-end gaming laptop space.
Christopher Gordon/Insider

Yes, if you're looking for Alienware performance and beautiful design in a smaller package. Those are all valuable traits — especially portability, which is a premium in the gaming laptop market — and should be a consideration for any buyer.

But this brings us to price. At the low-end, it's relatively reasonable: $1,800 for an RTX 4050, an Intel i7, and a 1TB SSD. But bump up to an RTX 4080 (like the model I tested), and you're paying about $3,000. I have to compare it to the Alienware m16, which is configurable with a faster CPU but is slightly heavier for about $200 less. And the Asus G14, which you can get with a more portable body but a slightly slower CPU for $500 less.

If you bump all three laptops up to an RTX 4090, though — the best graphics card you can get in a gaming laptop right now — they all retail for about $3,300. So to get the best graphics performance, you're always looking at a price over $3,000 no matter which one you go with.

But in general, the Alienware x16 hits a nice sweet spot, combining power and decent portability. However, if you want an even more portable gaming laptop with similar capabilities, check out the Asus G14. And if you don't mind a bigger body, the Alienware m16 and m18 both offer more power for a similar or lower price.

William Antonelli

Tech Reporter for Insider Reviews

William Antonelli (he/she/they) is a writer, editor, and organizer based in New York City. As a founding member of the Reference team, he helped grow Tech Reference (now part of Insider Reviews) from humble beginnings into a juggernaut that attracts over 20 million visits a month. Outside of Insider, his writing has appeared in publications like Polygon, The Outline, Kotaku, and more. He's also a go-to source for tech analysis on channels like Newsy, Cheddar, and NewsNation. You can find him on Twitter @DubsRewatcher, or reach him by email at [email protected].

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