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Alienware M17X Notebook Review

By on December 17, 2009
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An Alien has annihilated our offices. Resistance is Futile.

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Performance:
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The Verdict:
Owning an Alienware is like belonging to an exclusive club that outsiders will never understand.

There’s something about an Alienware machine that makes you lose focus. From the intricate styling to the incredible performance, Alienware is the laptop every gamer dreams of. Today, we take a look at their recently released M17x.

Packaged royally in a BIG box, the M17x makes it statement before you even open up the packaging. Since this was a test unit, we only found a charger and a soft-bag that the notebook was wrapped with. The charger is a bit large in size but not as thick as some of the others we’ve seen along with offering cable management. We quickly connected it to the wall outlet and allowed it to charge it for a few seemingly long minutes before turning it on.

The M17x is the fastest laptop that we’ve received in our labs to date- and we’ve looked at Intel’s Core i7 based notebooks. This particular unit was equipped with an 2.53GHz Quad Core QX9300 CPU, 4GB DDR3-133MHz RAM, the AMD 4850 GPU with 1GB RAM and a 320GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive. The display is 17″ with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1920×1200. The only thing that was a bit of a let-down as far as specs are concerned is the 802.11g based Wireless card and not the latest 802.11n.

m17x_cover

The M17x is a beauty and a beast to look at. The lights around the unit make it look mean- not only does the logo light up on top, but you also have the keyboard, touchpad and speakers light up. The most awesome bit is that you can change the color of these lights using the Alienware Command Center Application.

m17x_front

To the left of the notebook, you have a DSUB, an HDMI, Ethernet, eSATA and a couple of USB ports while the right side has a BluRay capable slot-in optical drive, audio outputs, memory card reader and a couple of additional USB ports. The belly of the notebook house the battery and the speakers.

m17x_keyboard

The M17x I received was a Vista based unit but Alienware will surely be upgrading to Windows 7 on the new unit. The machine is FAST and works as expected. I liked the keyboard on the M17x, but the Touchpad is a bit on the smaller side. Regardless, any self-respecting gamer will use a mouse instead of the touchpad to game.

m17x_back

There are two areas where the M17x shine. First, the screen is gorgeous and was able to keep up with refresh rates playing an FPS. The colors are rich and the 1920×1200 resolution looks really sharp on the 17″ screen. Secondly, the sound produced by the M17x was better than many desktop speakers I’ve tested. It was crisp and loud enough to  make my neighboring office complain.

The following table compare the benchmarks we ran on the M17x vs the Intel Core i7-920/GTX260 based notebook that we had looked at some time back.

Benchmark Alienware M17x Intel Core i7 920/GTX260
Cinebench 10 10853 8366
Lost Planet (Native Res) 42.4 37.7
PCMark Vantage: Overall 5314 4041
PCMark Vantage: Productivity 5140 3672
PCMark Vantage: Gaming 4937 5371

As you can see the Alienware M17x managed to score higher than the Intel Notebook in every test except for the PCMark: Vantage Gaming test which is a bit of a surprise as an actual game like Lost Planet ran faster on the M17x. Both the Notebooks had identical screen resolution so that wasn’t a factor either. Overall, the M17x was around 20% faster than the Intel Notebook.

I wasn’t expecting battery life on the M17x to be anything awesome and no surprises there. – I managed to get about an hour and a half out of it which is fine for a “desktop replacement.”

To sum it up, this is the best gaming notebook I’ve ever tested. From its performance to its look and usability, the M17x excels in almost everything. The price tag of AED 10,999 as configured on the review unit might seem a bit high- but you always pay for premium and thats exactly what Alienware is about.


About

Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of tbreak.com and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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