alienware x14 CES lead.jpg

CNN Underscored is bringing you the best of CES 2022 all week — be sure to check out our coverage hub for the biggest tech products worth getting excited about.

It’s not easy to find a slim 14-inch gaming laptop — let alone from a company known for unapologetically big, bold designs. But that’s exactly what Alienware is looking to deliver with the Alienware x14. It’s both the company’s slimmest laptop yet and claiming to be the thinnest 14-inch gaming laptop out there.

We’ve seen the Alienware x14 up close, and can confirm that this improbably slim machine isn’t just a fever dream. But will it hold up against the best gaming laptops when it launches later this year starting at $1,799? Here’s what we think so far after a quick hands-on.

One of the slimmest gaming laptops yet

Alienware x14 2

The Alienware x14 is a joy to look at simply because there aren’t a lot of gaming laptops like it. The only other 14-inch gaming laptop we’ve tested recently is the Asus ROG Zephryus, and even that notebook is fairly chunky on the edges. And if you want something truly slim, you’ve typically had to shell out for larger, more premium options like the Razer Blade 15 Advanced.

As such, the x14 is a welcome addition to the small arena of ultraportable gaming laptops, while still unmistakably an Alienware notebook. We only had a few moments to hold the x14, but the 4-pound laptop felt remarkably light, and we were struck by how thin the 0.57-inch edges looked in person. The company’s signature two-tone design is especially attractive in this build, with a slick black interior and a stylish white shell complete with a fairly large bump in the rear where the ports live.

This design choice is fairly unique to Alienware’s latest X-series of laptops, and while some might find the bump unsightly and the port placement to be a bit inconvenient, it allows the sides of the laptop to be very slim and seamless. The plus side is you get some solid connectivity in the rear with two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports (ideal for the latest monitors and accessories), a standard USB-C port, an HDMI 2.1 port, a microSD card reader, a USB-A port for older peripherals and a headphone jack.

Solid specs for such a small laptop

Alienware x14 3

A gaming laptop this tiny isn’t going to get you the absolute best power that PC gaming has to offer, but the x14 manages to cram some impressive processing and graphics options into its small frame. The notebook will ship with the latest 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processors and up to 32GB of RAM, which should give you plenty of power for everyday multitasking. You’ll also get a choice of Nvidia RTX 3050, 3050 Ti or 3060 graphics — these are in the mid-range of Nvidia’s lineup, but are all equipped to play modern PC games at respectably smooth settings and 1080p resolution complete with fancy tricks like ray tracing for ultra-realistic reflections. And yes, it’s a dedicated graphics card.

The Alienware x14 packs a 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 display with a 144Hz refresh rate, which means you’ll be able to play your favorite games at pretty silky frame rates. The laptop is also Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certified, which should allow for impressive HDR visuals and immersive three-dimensional sound. We got a quick demo of both these technologies in action, and the added audio depth and richer colors were definitely noticeable when Vision and Atmos were active.

Other key features include Smart Fan, which allows each individual fan in the laptop to adjust its speed based on which specific areas of the x14 need cooling, and five adjustable power modes that let you optimize for either maximum performance or long battery life.

Let’s recap

Alienware x14 4

Alienware usually goes extra-big when it comes to gaming laptops, so we’re excited to see the company try something different with the compact Alienware x14. It’s one of the lightest and nicest-looking notebooks the company has crafted yet, and its display and keyboard impress at first glance.

And with the latest Intel processors, solid graphics options and some promising cooling tech, the x14 should deliver an impressive balance of power and portability that we’re looking forward to trying in 2022, so stay tuned for our full review.