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Pro Great to excellent performance options
Alienware 17 comes with 2 GPU options - GeForce GTX 980M and GeForce GTX 970M with 3DMark's 1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics benchmarks showing scores of 9774 and 7440 respectively and as of March, 2015 are the top two mobile graphics cards on the market. Still, it should be noted that the 980M is 20 to 30 percent faster than the 970M.
In the real world, GTX 980M allows running Evolve, Shadow of Mordor, Battlefield 4, on ultra at 62, 66, 72 fps on average respectively while GTX 970M allows running same games on ultra at 51, 52, 55 fps on average respectively.
There are also 2 CPU options - i7-4710HQ and i7-4980HQ with PassMark's scores of 7,956 and 10,087 respectively. As of March, 2015 the i7-4980HQ has the top PassMark score for a laptop CPU. And while the i7-4710HQ is still a good choice, it should be noted that it is about 20% less performant than the i7-4980HQ.
8GB and 16GB RAM configurations are available. Just enough to handle most gaming without any hiccups.
The laptop has 1TB of HDD and 128GB or 256GB or 512GB of SSD can be added on top of that. Files read from SSD will load quicker so it's recommended for the operating system and software or games that are run regularly or can take advantage of the quicker load times.
Pro Performance can be improved via Alienware Graphics Amplifier
The Alienware Graphics Amplifier is essentially an external GPU that can be used to handle graphics intensive games. It includes 350-watt PSU and 16 x PCI-E slots so most cards can fitted within it. To use it, boot the laptop with the amplifier attached.
Pro Customizable backlighting for keyboard and touchpad
AlienFX tool, accessed from the accompanying Command Center software, allows setting own keyboard and touchpad illumination colors. Colors can be set on a per predefined zone basis and even configured to morph between variations or pulse at a set tempo.
Pro Solid build quality
The laptop has a rigid aluminum chassis and is built using carbon-fiber filled materials making the machine sturdy while keeping it reasonably light.
Pro Good 1080p anti-glare or touchscreen
There are two 1920x1080 IPS display options available both bright at 300-nits brightness - an anti-glare version and a touchscreen version.
Con Graphics Amplifier costs extra
Alienware Graphics Amplifier that can be used to improve the graphics performance costs additional $299 + the price of a desired GPU.