Alienware breaks through the refresh rate ceiling as its new m17 R5 and x17 R2 gaming laptops come with the industry’s first 480Hz displays.
Admittedly, it’s tricky to conceptualize what a 480Hz display looks like in action. Dell describes what this technology brings to the table (opens in new tab) and it all sounds awesome. The company claims that these displays will bring a “multiplicity of gameplay benefits…” In-game animations will be smoother, system latency will be reduced, and ghosting will be reduced. Ghosting, for those who don’t know, occurs when a game runs at such a high speed that the monitor can’t keep up and causes afterimages to appear. It’s an annoying problem and any feature that reduces it is a big plus.
In addition to the 480Hz refresh rate, laptop screens come with Dolby Vision for a wider range of color and contrast and ComfortView Plus to reduce eye strain. However, the unprecedented refresh rate comes at the cost of resolution as it is only available on the Full HD display (1920 x 1080). The m17 and x17 have an Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) display option, but the refresh rate drops to 120 Hz which is still decent.
Relative to other hardware options, the m17 R5 laptop offers more variety.
As the most ideal, the x17 R2 offers a 12th generation Intel Core i9-12900 HK processor, NVIDIA GeForce 3080 Ti graphics, 64GB of RAM and a 4TB SSD. There are options for less memory, less storage capacity, or other GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs if you want to cut the price.
The m17 R5 leans more towards AMD hardware. For the CPU, you can choose between a Ryzen 7 6800H or Ryzen 9 6900HX Processor. For graphics cards, there’s the Radeon RX 6700M and Radeon RX 6850M, but you can opt for one of the four GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs. The memory and hard drive options are the same. For RAM, you can go from 16GB to 64GB. SSD options range from 512GB to a maximum of 4TB.
In addition to the 480Hz display, the m17 R5 has an AMD software suite called AMD Smart Technologies that aims to further enhance the gaming experience. The suite includes AMD SmartAccess Graphics, which changes the way a game renders graphics for better battery life and reduced latency, and smart access memory to allow the CPU unrestricted access to the GPU.
However, some AMD features are only available on select models. For example, if you want Smart Access Graphics, you’ll need to buy an m17 laptop with a 120Hz Ultra HD display and one of the Radeon graphics cards.
Both laptops are available for purchase from the Dell website. O m17 starts at $1,599.99 (opens in new tab) while the x17 laptop from $2,249.99 (opens in new tab). But what is strange is that the 480Hz display option, the big draw for these laptops, is not available at the time of writing. The highest refresh rate option is 360Hz.
We contacted Dell and asked when the 480Hz display option will be available. We’ll update this story if they respond.
Analysis: For a niche audience
So which of these laptops should you buy? That depends on what kind of player you are. A 480Hz display is certainly impressive, but only if you’re an esports player or someone who spends hours playing video games. The average person probably won’t be able to tell the difference between a 480Hz or 120Hz display. The details are meticulous.
That’s not to say these Alienware laptops aren’t worth it. They are top of the line models, but for a very specific audience. An esports player will appreciate the assurance that frames won’t drop mid-game as it can mean the difference between winning or losing. But the average gamer is probably not interested in frame data; they just want to play.
If you’re interested in a good performing, inexpensive gaming laptop, we recommend checking out our list of low price gaming laptops for july 2022.