Alienware 17 R4 is great for Oculus Rift and can play almost any game, whether it be a VR game or a regular triple-AAA computer game.
However, that is not the thing I wanted to address…
Alienware products are known to be a top quality. They perform well, and rarely leave customers unsatisfied due to “Get-Go” mentality. It means that it performs well as soon as you get it, without needing to overclock, chance settings or play with anything to get better performance. Alienware 17 R4 has also been re-made to be Oculus Rift and HTC Vive compatible from the beginning. Not a single spec is underpowered for VR, regardless of what version you get. At the moment, there are 4 versions, starting from $1,400 all the way up to $3,000. For the sake of popularity and simplicity, let’s say you plan to buy the 2nd version that costs $1,549.
It has 1TB of HDD, 8GB of RAM, GTX 1060, Intel i7 8750H. Now, these are not bad specs at all and are capable of running everything you throw at it. I especially like the CPU that it has since it’s the newest one and is quite a lot stronger than the 7th generation.
But, the price is what I wanted to address from the beginning…
Let’s compare it to Acer Predator Helios 300 that is in my Oculus Rift gaming laptop list. Not only is it 500 dollars cheaper, you get 16GB of RAM instead, the same graphics card, and 256GB of SSD that will make your PC run miles faster than Alienware 17 R4. This is actually what it comes down to. Alienware build quality is good (with few exceptions in some areas) but if you buy that laptop for Oculus Rift just out of recognition of that brand, it’s my duty to tell you that there are some better and more affordable options.
Alienware used to be a great name that was really expensive compared to others, but they backed it up with quality. After Dell purchased them, that quality went down so they could use cheaper material, while at the same time keeping the price where it was. After all, no one would notice, right?
However, even if the build quality went down, they are still up there compared to others. The cooling isn’t bad, although the fans are loud because of that, and some extra widgets that they stuffed in there can be nice. I am not really sure about that eye-tracking technology, as in my opinion it’s a bit of an overkill because you won’t really be using it that much, and there are only around 90+ games that use eye-tracking. Considering that you buy a laptop for Oculus Rift, I don’t really see the point in liking it. It just adds to the price.
See this video for more information:
Another issue that Alienware 17 R4 might have with Oculus Rift is the number of ports. I say ‘might’ because unless you go with the vanilla 1 sensor for seated experience, you will run out of ports. This problem isn’t exclusive to Alienware 17, most laptops don’t have enough ports. Luckily, it can be fixed by using a USB Hub. You connect it to an available USB port, and it splits the connection into many parts. Read the link above for more information.
However, if you do want to use only 1 sensor, do the following things (or click on this link for images too):
- Connect the HDMI cable of the Oculus Rift headset to the back of your computer.
2. Connect the Oculus Rift headset to the USB Type-A port at the right side of your computer.
3. Connect a USB Type-C to Type-A dongle to the Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) port at the back of your computer.
4. Connect the XBOX controller to the USB Type-A port on the USB dongle.
5. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the setup.
Alienware 17 R4 is not a bad laptop, but it is overpriced. Considering how expensive virtual reality experience can be, it’s good if people know that there are cheaper options that have the same performance or even better. There is no reason to pay for the brand unless you really need it.For example, the most expensive version costs almost 3,000 dollars and it has a 120Hz TN panel. You could get one for $700 less, and get an IPS display. IPS one shows colors a lot better.
The port amount is also a bit ridiculous considering how much free space the Alienware laptops seem to have inside. They could have easily fit in couple extra USB ports so you won’t have to worry about USB Hubs.
If I were to praise this Alienware 17 R4, it’s more like how good it is in terms of processor. i7 8th generation 8750H is at least 25% better than i7 7700HQ, and you’ll definitely feel it when you are doing everyday tasks.
8th generation Intel CPU’s are getting inside other laptops also, but slower than Alienware apparently. This CPU would work nicely with all the VR games and applications that are coming out.
But, other than that, I wouldn’t really recommend it.
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