Tag Archives: laptop

The Alienware M17 Laptop Is Great For 4K Gaming

There are a lot of laptops on the market with 4K, ultra HD screens, but not a lot of them can easily run demanding games at that resolution. Kitted out with Nvidia’s Geforce RTX 2080 mobile graphics, Alienware’s M17 gaming laptop is the first time I’ve felt comfortable with a 4K laptop gaming.

Founded in 1996 and purchased by Dell in 2006, Alienware is one of the most recognized names in gaming hardware. Its name and alien head logo have graced countless colorful PC and laptop housings over the years, signaling that the particular computer was very good at playing video games. While Kotaku has reviewed Alienware desktops, laptops, and “Steam machines” in the past, I’ve never had the pleasure. Now I have.

The M17 is the slimmer sibling of Alienware’s Area-51m, recently reviewed by our sister site Gizmodo. At .91 inches at its tallest point it’s not the thinnest 17-inch laptop Alienware makes—there’s a new version of the M17 out now that’s only .81 inches thick—but it’s still a pretty low-profile machine. With its magnesium alloy housing it weighs a little under six pounds, so it’s not much to lug around either. The case is a subdued design that doesn’t shout “someone steal this expensive gaming laptop,” though the Nebula Red cover of my review unit is quite eye-catching.

(Product vid)

The model Alienware sent for evaluation is quite nice on the inside as well. The processor is an 8th generation Intel Core i9-8950HK with a base speed of 2.90 GHz and turbo speeds of nearly 5.0 GHz. It’s got 16 GB of DDR4-2666 Mhz memory, though the system can handle 32 GB. The graphics, as mentioned previously, are handled by Nvidia’s Geforce RTX 2080 with the power-efficient Max-Q design, which is the best you can get in a gaming laptop these days. That’s more than enough to play games at full resolution on the system’s 17.3 inch ultra HD (3850 x 2160) IPS display. All of this powerful hardware is packed beneath a lovely RGB-lit keyboard and a touchpad that works well enough when I can’t have an external mouse connected.

Alienware M17 Review System Specs

  • CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i9-8950HK (6-Core, 12MB Cache, Overclocking up to 5.0 GHz)
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce RTX 2080 8 GB GDDR6 with Max-Q Design
  • Display: 17.3″ UHD (3840 x 2160) 60 Hz IPS, 400-nits, sRGB 100% color gamut
  • Memory: 16 GB 2x16GB DDR4-2666 MHz
  • Storage: 512 GB PCIe M.2 SSD + 1 TB (+8 GB SSHD) Hybrid Drive
  • Battery: Lithium Ion (60 Wh) Battery
  • Ports: (2x) SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Type-A , HDMI 2.0 Output, Mini-Display Port 1.3 Output, Thunderbolt 3 Port, Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port, Killer Networks E2500 Gigabit Ethernet NIC, USB SuperSpeed 3.1 Type-A with Powershare Technology, Audio Out 1/8″ Port (Compatible with inline mic headset)
  • Dimensions: Height: Front 0.727″ (18.5mm.) – Rear 0.91″ (23 mm.) – Width: 16.1″ (410 mm.) – Depth: 11.52″ (292.5mm.) – Weight: 5.79 lbs. (2.63 kgs)

What I’ve Done With It

I have to spend a lot of time in bed lately, recovering from multiple surgeries following an incident last year. That means a lot more laptop time. Much of my computing is done on the table below, which covers a bed in a room much less tidy than in this product photo. Just imagine a large, bearded balding man here and several cats.

The Alienware M17 fits nicely on that table, where it’s spent the past couple of months being my go-to computer. I’ve worked on it, editing video in Adobe Premiere Pro and creating images and animated GIFs in Photoshop. I’ve tortured the poor machine with more than 20 open Google Chrome tabs at a time, because I have the world’s shortest attention span and hate clicking on small Xs.

I’ve gamed quite a bit on the M17. Most of my ongoing coverage of Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers expansion has stemmed from playing it on Alienware’s machine. The game runs incredibly well on the M17, to the point where I assumed it was running at 1920 x 1080 until I realized the screenshots I was capping were at 3840 x 2160.

What I Like

That Power: Like I said in the lede, the M17 and its RTX 2080 GPU had me comfortably playing in 4K on a laptop for the first time. My personal laptop, a 2018 Razer Blade Pro, has a 4K screen, but I run games at 1080p, preferring not to take the performance hit. Having a nice 4K screen is great. Having the graphics power to back that screen up is the best.

Just bear in mind that there are versions of the M17 that come with less powerful graphics cards and a 1080p display, which is obviously not going to do 4K at all.

That Display: The M17’s 17.3 inch ultra HD IPS display is one of the brightest and sharpest I’ve seen. The colors are bright and vivid. Overall image is excellent.

While I would have preferred a system this powerful have a screen that runs faster than 60 Hz, this is as good as 60 Hz gets.

That Look: Alienware’s laptop design has mellowed significantly over the years. It’s much less in-your-face-gamer with the bright lights and flashy colors. The M17 is short and sleek. There are angles on the lid, but they’re not very pronounced.

Even the red model, which I’ve been using, is a lovely crimson with a soft touch finish that’s elegant and decidedly un-flashy.

That Spill-Resistant Keyboard: The Alienware AlienFX mSeries keyboard looks lovely and doesn’t feel bad at all for a low-profile laptop affair. It’s also incredibly resistant to spilled liquids, which I know for reasons I won’t go into here.

What I Don’t Like

That Heat: As is the case with many slimmer gaming laptops, the M17 gets really hot while playing games. Not so much that I can’t touch it, but hot enough that it can get a little uncomfortable to play on a summer’s day in Georgia when the air conditioning is doing the best it can. The system fan runs a little loud at times, but considering the heat it’s fighting against, it’s forgiven.

Final Thoughts

My review M17 has been through a lot. I took it to Momocon in downtown Atlanta in late May. Most of my Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers progress has happened on it. I’ve edited lengthy videos and created some amazing animated GIFs. I filled 90 GB of its 460 GB solid state main drive and 300 GB of its 476 GB hybrid drive with games from Steam, Epic, Origin and other sources. It’s served as an outstanding desktop replacement on a very cluttered desktop. My review unit, which sells for $3,000 as configured, has taken a licking but keeps on ticking. It’s my first time with an Alienware laptop, and I’m impressed.

What impresses me most is how well the Alienware M17 handles 4K gaming. To be fair to all the laptop makers out there, any system with similar specs would probably perform just as well. But Alienware does it with sturdy style, and you always remember your first.

Source: Kotaku.com

How to Partition Your Hard Drive and Why You Would Want To

Photo: David Nield (Gizmodo)

Partitioning your hard drive sounds like a technically involved task that most people don’t need to bother with—but it’s actually relatively simple to do, doesn’t have to cost you any money, and can make your computing life easier and more productive. Here are the advantages of a partitioned hard drive, and why you might want to do it.

Partitioning splits your hard drive into multiple drives: You don’t actually take a saw to your internal disk, but you do split it up into chunks at the lowest level of the operating system. The end result is that as far as Windows or macOS is concerned, you’ve got two drives installed rather than one.

If you’re using a desktop computer you can, of course, physically install a second hard drive instead. It’s a tidier option than partitioning, though it means opening up your computer case and spending more on an additional drive. As long as you’ve got the storage space to spare, partitioning makes the most sense for most people.

The benefits of partitioning

Screenshot: Gizmodo

Partitioning is usually done with a specific purpose in mind, rather than on a whim. One of those purposes that we’ve written about before is dual-booting operating systems—with two partitions available, you can, for example, run macOS on one of them and Windows on another (Apple has an official tool for this, as we’ll explain).

As long as both partitions are visible to your computer as it boots up, you can choose which OS you want to make use of. All of your applications and files are typically kept separate from one another, though in some situations you can set up a dual-boot system so that files on one drive can be seen and accessed from the other.

Even if you’ve got no interest in setting up a dual-boot configuration on your computer, you can still benefit from a separate partition for your key files and folders—all those photos, videos, documents, music, and other crucial files that you rely on day to day.

Screenshot: Gizmodo

Why have them on a separate partition? Quite simply because it isolates them from whatever operating system you’re running—you can reset and refresh Windows without worrying what’s happening to your data, or even switch to a different operating system altogether without affecting the files stored on the data partition. It also makes data recovery easier if your OS partition is damaged or corrupted in some way.

In fact many computers now come with an emergency partition all set up instead of the old recovery disc that used to be supplied—if you can’t boot up your laptop or desktop normally, you can boot from this recovery partition instead and get back your data.

Having a separate data partition also makes sense from a backup or encryption point of view: You can focus on this one particular drive without having OS files and applications get in the way. It’s easier to point a backup program to a whole (partitioned) drive than picking out files and folders individually.

How to partition a hard drive

Screenshot: Gizmodo

Both macOS and Windows have built-in partitioning tools that do the basics, and third-party alternatives are available for both OSes if you need something that’s more advanced or professional.

In the case of macOS, the tool you want is Disk Utility (find it in Applications or search for it in Spotlight). You’ll see your main internal drive appear, then your options are to either click the Partition button or the Plus button above the Volume label.

Modern-day Macs make use of a new file storage system called APFS (Apple File System), and it has its own alternative to partitions in the form of volumes (the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, which can get confusing). You still get the choice of either creating a new partition or a new volume in Disk Utility, but Apple is pushing users towards volumes as the faster and simpler option.

Screenshot: Gizmodo

A lot of the differences are behind the scenes: Volumes can change size dynamically, for instance, while partitions have a fixed size. For most purposes you can go ahead and use a volume, though partitions are still useful for maintaining compatibility with non-APFS systems (if you want to install Windows, for instance).

Creating a volume or partition only takes a couple of clicks in Disk Utility. You’ll need to name the new disk space, and specify its size if it’s a partition (you can set a minimum and maximum size for a volume too, but it’s easier just to let macOS manage everything itself).

If you want to create a partition specifically to install Windows alongside macOS, use Apple’s Boot Camp utility—launched from Utilities inside Applications, or the Spotlight search. The setup wizard takes you through the process of creating a new partition and installing Windows on it.

Screenshot: Gizmodo

Over on Windows systems, the built-in tool you need is Disk Management—just search for it from the search box on the taskbar (it may well appear as Create and format hard disk partitions, which gives away its primary purpose).

This integrated Windows tool isn’t quite as slick or intuitive as its macOS counterpart. First you need to reduce the size of your existing hard drive partition by whatever size you want the new partition to be: Right-click on it and choose Shrink Volume to do this. Once some space has been cleared, you can right-click on that and pick New Simple Volume to get the new partition formatted and ready to access.

If you’re installing a different operating system on the newly created partition, you can usually skip that last step: The OS installer will do the job for you and get everything set up so the partition is accessible.

Screenshot: Gizmodo

When it comes to choosing how much space to leave for your new partition, it’s not an exact science. Obviously it depends on how much room you have available in total, and what you want to do with your newly partitioned space: A whole separate operating system is going to take up more room than a few documents.

In the case of Apple’s Boot Camp, 64GB is the minimum you need to run a copy of Windows alongside macOS, and 128GB is recommended for the best experience (you wouldn’t really want to buy a Windows PC with 64GB of storage). You can use that as a guide to how big your new partitions should be.

Third-party partitioning programs offer a few advanced features on top of that, like easier partition management, partition merging and resizing, and built-in data recovery tools. They can be worth the outlay, if you’re going to be doing a lot of partitioning and need something more user-friendly.

Screenshot: Gizmodo

EaseUS Partition Manager is one of the best options for Windows: There’s a free edition that’s easier to use than Windows’ own Disk Management, and the Pro version (with cloning, converting, migrating and other advanced features) will set you back $40 (a free trial is available).

Also high up on our list is MiniTool Partition Wizard—as with the EaseUS application, you’ve got a basic free edition and a more advanced Pro version ($40 with a free trial). It’s got perhaps the friendliest interface of all the programs we’ve mentioned here, and includes just about everything you’ll need.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager is a good bet for Mac and Windows and also costs $40 (and also offers a free trial). While the macOS Disk Utility and the Windows Disk Management tool will do the job well enough, Paragon Hard Disk Manager throws in extras like partition recovery, easy disk copying, and easier partition resizing.

Also worth a look is Stellar Partition Manager, $40 for macOS, again with a free trial available—it can work with Boot Camp partitions too, if you’ve created them with Apple’s official tool. It offers a very similar feature set to the Paragon software for macOS, so you might want to check for specific functionality if you know you’re going to be needing it.

Source: Kotaku.com