Performance-wise, the Alienware 17 is as screamingly fast as you’d expect from a laptop housing a combination of a 2.8GHz quad-core Core i7, a solid-state drive and a hefty dollop of RAM. Despite a faster processor, though, it wasn't much quicker than MSI’s GT72 Dominator Pro, scoring 1.1 to the MSI’s 1.04. That's probably due to the MSI's twin RAID-configured SSDs.In the games tests, however, there's a little more clear air between the two laptops, with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M helping the Alienware 17 R2 to achieve a truly stonking set of test results. In our Very High quality Crysis test (run at 1,920 x 1,080) it achieved 85fps, which is 12fps smoother than the MSI. In this CPU-limited scenario, it's the Alienware's faster CPU which gives it the edge over the MSI. Push the GPU harder, however, and the results are predictably identical. When we upped the resolution up to 2,560 x 1,440 and Very High detail, it fell just one frame behind the MSI, with a result of 57fps, which is 19fps quicker.
Indeed, it was only when we pushed the resolution up to 4k and the quality settings to Very High that the frame rate dropped to a less than smooth 26fps. In the final analysis, the identical GPUs mean that there's not a significant gap between the two laptops in GPU-limited titles. On the rare occasion when the CPU isn't working flat-out, however, a little more CPU grunt clearly pays dividends.Externally, the Alienware 17 R2 is reasonably well-appointed. There are four USB 3 ports, two on either edge; an SD card reader; HDMI 1.4 and mini-DisplayPort 1.2 outputs; Gigabit Ethernet and a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks. Bluetooth 4 and 802.11ac make the cut, too.Flip the Alienware 17 upside down, and two screws secure the access panel on the underside. This gives access to the single 2.5in hard drive bay, the two RAM slots, the Wi-Fi card and the four (yes, four) M.2 slots.
In our review unit three of those M.2 slots were free, but as yet there's no way of setting further drives in a RAID, as with the MSI, and there's no second pair of RAM slots for easy memory upgrades either. Alienware has also used a soldered rather than an upgradeable MXM GPU, so the upgrade path there is restricted, too. When it comes to upgradability, though, Alienware is placing all its bets on its Graphics Amplifier: a £200 optional extra that makes it possible to use desktop-class graphics cards with any compatible Alienware laptop.Little bigger than a mini-ITX or old-school Shuttle PC case, the Graphics Amplifier contains a dedicated 460W power supply and a single PCI Express 16x slot. Connect it to the rear of the laptop with the supplied cable and you have access to desktop-class gaming power – it’s a neat idea, and we look forward to getting some hands-on time with it in the near future. For those keen on the idea of dumping their desktop PC completely, it may be one of the more appealing features of the new Alienware range.
So, where does this leave the Alienware 17? It’s a tricky judgement call to make. It’s by far the most impressive-looking 17in gaming laptop we’ve ever clapped eyes on, and the hardware specifications and all-round performance are simply stellar.But the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro is a hugely capable rival, and while it's nowhere near as pretty as the Alienware 17, it does boast far better (and easier) upgradability, an optical drive, and models with twin, triple or quad SSDs in RAID. Indeed, up your budget to nearer £2,200, and you can nab yourself a model with 32GB of RAM, four 128GB SSDs and an 8GB MXM version of the GTX 980M. It's a monstrous opponent.Ultimately, it comes down to which laptop fits your needs best. The MSI wins out on expansion and upgrade potential, while the Alienware combines gorgeous looks and better battery life with the option for future (albeit desk-bound) expansion via the novel Graphics Amplifier. It's a tough call to make but, whichever you choose, either will tackle the most challenging games out there: the Geforce GTX 980M is an absolute beast.
In an attempt to play catch up to Google and Apple's highly-linked apps, and further advance it's new approach to business, Microsoft has announced it will be releasing Office for free on Windows mobile devices.Continuing Microsoft's distinction between mobile and desktop ocurring at 10.1in in screen size, it's decided that Office for Windows 10 devices also needs two different approaches. The decision has come about due to its research discovering that most people using 10.1in or smaller devices are using them on the go, as a compliment to a dedicated laptop or desktop PC.Writing on the Office Blog, Office 365 Client Apps and Services team corporate VP Kirk Koenigsbauer outlined Microsoft's ethos around its new distribution model, saying "offering a free, basic mobile app exposes more people to the innovations we’re bringing to mobile. Our goal is to make Office and other Microsoft services available on small screens to the broadest population of mobile users."
This mentality follows on from the announcement that Microsoft is working with Dell and Samsung to preinstall Office apps onto upcoming Android devices. It's unsurprising too, as Koenigsbauer revealed that since going free on iOS, Office has recieved 80 million downloads in less than a year since launch.It's clear there's a demand for Microsoft Office on mobile devices, and users aren't just interested in having a barebones app, they want a subscription. "We’ve seen demand for these premium consumer subscription services grow," continued Koenigsbauer. "Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal grew to more than 9.2 million subscribers in the last quarter, up 30 percent".
While the Office team may want you to think that Office on Windows 10 has a revolutionary new pricing and distribution model, it's essentially now in line with how it works on other mobile devices.Free versions of Office will be stripped-back to each app's essential functions, with an Office 365 Home or Personal subscription opening up its cloud functions.Office users on a screen bigger than 10.1in will get all the benefits of Office 365 included in their Office package, but they'll have to pay.Microsoft has also opened up Office 2016 Preview for IT professionals, and released a free preview build of Office 2016 for Mac too.The Surface Pro 3 was a great tablet, but now that the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has taken its place, its reign is at an end. The new Surface Pro has a slightly larger 12.3in display with a higher resolution of 2,736 x 1,824, and includes the latest Intel Skylake processors, so it runs cooler and very slightly quicker, too.
The Surface Pro 3 is still on sale, but as stocks are running low there aren't many bargains to be had – in many cases you'll find it selling for the same price as the new Surface Pro 4. If you find it going for a song, or second-hand, then the Surface Pro 3 is still a great device, but the Surface Pro 4 is now a far better bet. Click here to read our Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review, or read on to find out why we loved the Surface Pro 3 so much. The Surface Pro 3 is the flagship of Microsoft’s Surface family, the big, pricier brother to the recently released Surface 3. The Pro ups the ante with a larger 12in display, a vastly more potent Intel Core processor and a nippy SSD. But is all that enough to back up Microsoft’s claims that this is "the tablet that can replace your laptop?" After all, not only does the machine have competition from Windows tablets, it now also faces the iPad Pro (and we've written a direct comparison if you're interested in how they compare). So it is still the hybrid to beat?
The Surface Pro 3 comes in a wide variety of specifications. You can choose from Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, as well as a spectrum of SSD capacities ranging from 64GB right up to 512GB. Pricing varies dramatically as a result, with the low-end model starting at a very tempting £639. We’d avoid this one, though: its Core i3 CPU and 4GB of RAM may do everything you need, but a 64GB SSD is too tiny these days. A slightly better bet is the £849 version, which gets you a Core i5, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, but ideally we’d pick the 256GB model, which also doubles the RAM, at £1,079. If nothing but the best will do, you’ll have to dig deep: the Core i7 versions are both equipped with 8GB of RAM, and the 256GB or 512GB SSD options come in at £1,299 and £1,549 respectively. In the US, but unfortunately not available here yet, Microsoft also has a 128GB i7 model available for $1,149 (~£739). Bear in mind that none of these prices include the Type Cover, which adds another £110 on top.http://www.batteries-pc.com/dell.html
The Surface Pro 3 makes a great first impression – it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Microsoft hardware. The clean, unfussy design oozes luxury, and while we prefer the moody, all-black exterior of the Surface Pro 2, there is something rather alluring about the Surface Pro 3. Light grey metal reaches all around the back and along the tapered edges, and a slight sparkle shimmers under the matte finish.And while the the Surface Pro 3 is substantially wider and taller than what’s come before, Microsoft has used the extra surface area to spread the components more thinly and slash the overall weight – the chassis now measures a dainty 9.1mm thick and weighs 800g. The 12in, 2,160 x 1,440 screen (protected by a glossy panel of Gorilla Glass 3) is a big step up from the 10.6in, 1,920 x 1,080 panels of previous Pro generations. It’s also a different shape, forsaking the Surface Pro 2’s widescreen 16:9 format in favour of a 3:2 ratio. This may not sound like a revolutionary change, but the ergonomic impact is huge. In laptop mode, the display’s extra height brings back happy memories of 4:3, square-screened laptops from the 1990s; held vertically in tablet mode, with the Surface Pen in hand, the extra width gives the feel of a slightly shrunken A4 page. No matter how you use it, the Surface Pro 3 feels like a more natural fit than previous models.