Unlike most smaller gaming notebook manufacturers, Alienware use a custom chassis for the 18. This has given them much more freedom to create an exciting and unique design.
The lid and underside of the notebook are finished in anodized aluminium which looks great and should be pretty resistant to damage. This has a gunmetal-grey finish which is very attractive indeed. Like most Alienware laptops, the 18 looks like it has been modeled on a stealth fighter, giving it a striking appearance.
Considering the 18 is Alienware’s flagship machine and boasts a 18.4″ display, it’s not surprising that it is absolutely massive. It weighs in at around 5.5 KG, meaning portability is quite limited. We imagine that most users purchasing a machine like this will be using it to game at LAN’s, though, where this isn’t such an issue.
Opening up the machine reveals a vast expanse of soft touch black plastic which feels very good quality and gives the notebook an exclusive appearance. It feels pretty hard wearing, so we expect it will resist damage well.
It’s not surprising that Alienware have decided to incorporate a full size keyboard on this machine considering its vast size. In fact, the keyboard is even wider than usual as it features an extra column of macro keys along the left.
The keyboard also features backlighting which can be fully configured using the included control panel. The keyboard is one of the best laptop keyboards that we have ever used and it feels a perfect fit for a high-end machine like this.
The touchpad is fairly large and is recessed slightly into the palm-rest to help prevent accidental touches. When you do touch the pad, though, it is illuminated with LED backlights. Again, these can be configured in the included software utility. The touchpad is of a similar high quality to the keyboard and is one of the best we’ve experienced. The surface texture allows free movement of your fingers and doesn’t restrict motion at all.
There are a pair of speakers are located in the front of the chassis alongside some LED lighting strips. The speakers are very impressive and offer both decent sound quality and generous volume levels, although a good set of headphones or external speakers would be recommended for the best experience. The laptop actually boasts a 5.1 configuration which is excellent both when gaming and for movies.
Alienware have chosen to use a 18.4″ panel in this machine which is about the largest you’ll ever find in a laptop. Despite the large size of the screen, it still has a thick bezel which shows just how big this laptop really is.
The viewing angles are pretty good and the screen is very bright indeed thanks to the WLED backlighting. The 1920 x 1080 resolution is perfect for watching Blu-Ray movies on this machine and is also good for gaming.