Alienware debuts 480 Hz refresh rate with new 17-inch laptops

Enlarge / Alienware x17 R2 laptop.

PC display speeds are about to go up. Alienware’s updated m17 R5 and x17 R2, a pair of 17.3-inch gaming laptops, will each include the option for 480 Hz displays—about 33 percent faster than the previous top speed of 360 Hz.

As of publication time, the laptops’ 480 Hz options aren’t available for purchase, but a spokesperson for Alienware told Ars that they should be available online soon.

The 480 Hz displays have a resolution of 1920Ă—1080 and a gray-to-gray response time of 3 ms. In its announcement, Alienware promised “animation smoothness for easier target tracking, ghosting reduction which minimizes distracting effects, and lower system latency, making it easier for you to spot other players earlier.”

The laptops’ intended audience is hardcore gamers who want to keep up with pro esports players. Alienware didn’t disclose what company is making its 480 Hz panels, but we’ve known such speed was coming from companies like AU Optronics for a few months. We’re still waiting for a 500 Hz desktop monitor from Asus, but in the meantime, Alienware’s laptops boast the highest speed among consumer displays.

Of course, the boost will be less obvious if you’re used to 360 Hz, for example, while your experience should be markedly better if you’re graduating from 60 Hz. We haven’t tried out Alienware’s 480 Hz laptops in person but can confirm that 360 Hz screens have shown noticeable visual improvements, especially when it comes to fast action, like rapidly scrolling text.

To fully reap the benefits of 480 Hz, you’ll also have to be running content that can play at 480 frames per second with the system’s hardware.

Alienware’s m17 R5 comes with up to an AMD Radeon RX 6850M XT (12GB GDDR6, up to 175 W) or Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti (16GB GDDR6, up to 155 W and 1,410 MHz), an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX CPU (eight cores , 16 threads, up to 4.9 GHz), 64GB of DDR5-4800 memory, and 4TB of SSD storage.

Alienware m17 R5 gaming laptop.
Enlarge / Alienware m17 R5 gaming laptop.

alienware

The x17 R2, meanwhile, is focused on being Alienware’s thinnest 17-inch-class laptop. It has up to an Intel Core i9-12900HK (14 cores, 20 threads, up to 5 GHz), an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti (16GB) GPU, 64GB of DDR5-4800 memory, and 4TB storage.

The displays are specced to hit up to 300 nits of brightness and cover 100 percent of sRGB.

They also support adaptive sync via AMD FreeSync Premium and Nvidia G-Sync, plus Nvidia Advanced Optimus, which lets the system switch between integrated and discrete graphics as needed and uses “a hardware-based dynamic display switch that allows GeForce GPUs to directly control the display,” instead of the integrated graphics only, according to Nvidia.

The 480 Hz screens will carry a $300 premium over the standard configurations of the laptops, which have 165 Hz displays.

Both laptops will also come with up to 4K resolution displays, but those will max out at a 120 Hz refresh rate and 3 ms response time.

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