Amidst the CES 2022 chaos, Alienware announced a myriad of new laptops featuring latest specs from Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA showing what money can really buy. The focus of this article is the Alienware m17 R5, in particular the AMD Advantage edition which boasts flagship specs and prices, offering the best-in-class performance for a gaming laptop.
First things first, the m17 and m15 R5 are the same laptop under hood with just different screen sizes—17″ and 15″, if that wasn’t clear. There will be a special AMD Advantage version of the laptops which is basically the name given to any laptop that features both an AMD CPU and GPU. Nevertheless, the m17 R5 will be available in a bunch of different configurations, catering to every consumer.
The AMD Advantage
The laptop is kitted with AMD‘s latest Ryzen 6000 mobile CPUs and either Radeon RX 6000M or NVIDIA RTX 30-series mobile graphics, the former being the AMD Advantage option. There are three CPU options including the Ryzen 7 6800H, Ryzen 9 6900H and the Ryzen 9 6980HX. That last processor is supposed to be the end-all-be-all mobile chip from AMD featuring 8 cores and 16 threads at 5Ghz max boost.
On the graphics side of things, we have two options from AMD and four from NVIDIA. The highest-end option from AMD is the new Radeon RX 6850M XT, a 175W monster of a mobile GPU with 12GB of GDDR6 memory. From NVIDIA, the highest-end option is the new RTX 3080 Ti mobile with has a 180W TDP and is said to be even faster than the RX 6850M XT.
The other option from AMD is the RX 6700M, which is a 10GB SKU with a maximum SmartShift MAX power draw of 135W. At the time of the laptop’s announcement, the RTX 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti are moments away from being officially unveiled so they’re not explicitly mentioned in the spec sheet. The other two NVIDIA options are the RTX 3050 Ti and the RTX 3060.
The interesting bit here is that Alienware and AMD have jam-packed this laptop with features, more specifically proprietary features. AMD Smart Technologies such as SmartShiftMAX, Smart Access Memory, and for the first time on any laptop, Smart Access Graphics all help to make this laptop perform better than the sum of its parts.
SmartShift MAX is self-explanatory. It’s a proprietary solution that dynamically shifts power between the CPU and GPU inside the laptop to best accommodate for the task at hand. Smart Access Memory utilizes the memory of the GPU and allocates some of it to the Ryzen CPU, essentially combining them into one to boost performance. Lastly, Smart Access Graphics is a new technology that will allow the laptop to switch intelligently between the discrete Radeon GPU and the RDNA iGPU inside the Ryzen 6000 APUs, depending on the workload.
You can probably see now why the all-AMD version of the Alienware m17 is called AMD Advantage as it truly has its advantages that you won’t see if you were to pair it with the NVIDIA GPU option. That’s not to say that the laptop won’t shine when it’s paired with a NVIDIA GPU, in fact it will likely perform better in, at least, gaming because of the RTX 3080 Ti’s faster specs.
Moving on to actual laptop stuff, the m17 will have three screen configurations. The first one is the simplest FHD 1080p panel with a refresh rate of 360Hz and 1ms response times. There’s another 1080p option that is the exact same but just lowers the refresh rate to a more conservative 165Hz while upping the response time to 3ms. Finally, the balls-to-the-walls option is a 4K UHD panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time.
All three screen options have support for AMD FreeSync or NVIDIA G-Sync+, depending on your GPU config. They also support Dolby Vision HDR. However, only the highest-end 4K variant is the one that comes with SmartAccess Graphics support so if you want the true AMD Advantage, get the maxed-out spec.
Furthermore, given that this is essentially just a desktop replacement machine, the device comes with up to 64GB of 4800Mhz DDR5 RAM. For storage, you can customize the laptop to be equipped with up to 4TB of solid-state storage via only a single or two NVMe drives. Keep in mind that the lowest-end RTX 3050 Ti config of the laptop does not support dual-drive storage but you can still max it out its single drive to 4TB.
Finally, there are a plethora of ports at your disposal too. Once again, the base 3050 Ti model does take a hit here as it includes limited connectivity compared to other configs. Every configuration above the 3050 Ti includes 3.5mm headphone jack, three USB-A 3.2 Gen1 ports and a USB-C 4 Gen2 port, a dedicated power plug, a 2.5Gbps ethernet port, and a HDMI 2.1 port. The USB-C port supports both 15W power delivery and display out.
As for the battery, we’re looking at a 64 Watt-hour Lithium-Ion battery as standard, though that can be upgraded to a 97 Watt-hour variant. There are also three different power adapters depending on the power requirements of the laptop, the 180W adapter is the standard. That battery does add to the laptop’s weight as the whole thing comes in at 3.3 KGs or 7.3 pounds. Apart from that, it’s built like a tank already with its copper alloy thermal components and a whole vapor chamber cooling solution for the highest-end config. So, this is definitely not a portable carry-around.
Pricing and availability
The laptop is very clearly an allegory for “money can buy happiness” as it features absolute bleeding-edge specs. Alienware calls the m17 R5 AMD Advantage the “the most powerful 17-inch AMD Advantage laptop“. In hindsight, that makes it one of the fastest laptops in the world as it literally features the highest-end specs possible. But, with great power, comes great… prices. As you can probably tell by now, this baby does not run cheap.
Alienware m17 R5 will start at $1599 US while the m15 R5 will start at $1499 US, with top-end configurations running several hundred dollars more. Both will be available in Spring 2022 and ship with Windows 11 out of the box in almost all regions. You can check out the full technical specifications in all their fine-print glory below. This was the very first laptop announced at CES 2022 so stick around for coverage of other exciting devices as they are made official at the show floor.