Alienware breaks the refresh rate ceiling with its new m17 R5 and x17 R2 gaming laptops featuring the industry's first 480Hz displays.
Granted, it's hard to conceptualize what a 480Hz display looks like in action. Dell outlines what this technology brings to the table (opens in a new tab) and it all sounds impressive. The company claims that these screens will bring a “multitude of gaming benefits…” In-game animations will become smoother, system latency will be reduced, and ghosting will be reduced. Ghosting, for those who don't know, occurs when a game is running at such a high speed that the monitor can't keep up and causes ghost images to appear. It's an annoying problem and any feature that reduces it is a big plus.
In addition to the 480Hz refresh rate, the laptop screens come with Dolby Vision for a wider range of colors and contrasts and ComfortView Plus to reduce eye strain. However, the unprecedented refresh rate comes at the expense of resolution, as it's only available on the Full HD (1920 x 1080) screen. The m17 and x17 have an Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) display option, but the refresh rate drops to 120Hz, which is still decent.
choice of material
When it comes to other hardware options, the m17 R5 laptop offers more variety.
In its most optimal form, the x17 R2 offers a 9th Gen Intel Core i12900-12 HK processor, an NVIDIA GeForce 3080 Ti graphics card, 64GB of RAM, and a 4TB SSD. There are options for less memory, smaller storage capacity, or other GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs if you're looking to cut the price.
The m17 R5 leans more towards AMD hardware. For the processor, 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 choose to have one of the four GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs instead. 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 features a suite of software from AMD 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 certain 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 on the Dell website. The m17 starts at €1599,99 (opens in a new tab), while the x17 laptop starts at €2249,99 (opens in a new tab). But the strange thing is that the 480Hz display option, the big draw of these laptops, is not available at the time of writing. The highest refresh rate option is 360Hz.
We've reached out to Dell and asked when the 480Hz display option will be available. We'll update this story if they ever reply.
Analysis: For a niche audience
So which of these laptops should you buy? It depends on the type of player you are. A 480Hz screen 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 minute.
That's not to say these Alienware laptops aren't worth having. These are high-end models, but aimed at a very specific audience. An esports player will appreciate the assurance that frames won't drop mid-game as it can be the difference between winning or losing. But the average gamer probably isn't interested in image data; they just want to play.
If you're interested in a great budget gaming laptop, we recommend checking out our list of cheap gaming laptops for July 2022.