Its a hallmark moment for the Alienware family with the arrival of their new baby.
What did M17x say to M15x- “Honey, I’ve shrunk the kids.” Bad jokes aside, M11x is Alienware’s new baby laptop and it certainly looks like it will be a worthy successor to the family. I saw it first at TechEd in Dubai last week and instantly fell in love. Luckily Dell had one available for review and I picked it up the very next day. In a nutshell, the M11x looks and behaves exactly like you’d expect an Alienware laptop to- except that its really tiny in size. Think of it as a netbook on steroids.
Our review unit came packaged in a white box with the power adapter and some DVDs, but expect full Alienware treatment when you buy the retail package. One thing that confused us was the inclusion of DVDs in the package yet no external optical drive. Considering that this is a gaming notebook and you’d probably end up buying most of your games on a DVD, may that is something Alienware should include in the packaging. Also helpful would be a wireless mouse as gaming on a trackpad isn’t ideal- but every gamer has their weapon of choice so we’ll let the exclusion of a mouse slide.
The M11x measures 28.5 x 23.3cms in length and width which makes its thickness of 3.2cms and weight of 2kg seem a bit out of proportion- you expect it to be thinner and lighter when you pick it up, but you’ll see that’s justified when you read the specifications. Instead of a low performing Atom CPU with integrated graphics or even NVIDIA’s ION chipset, this little monster comes equipped with Core 2 Duo SU7300 CPU running at 1.3GHz as well as the NVIDIA GeForce GT335M graphics controller with 1GB VRAM. The beautiful screen is 11.6″ in size with a resolution on 1366×768. Our unit had 2GB RAM and 250GB Hard Drive, both of which are upgradeable. On the connectivity side, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet are standard but if you want WAN or Bluetooth, you’d have to pay for that.
Looks wise, the M11x is very much like its bigger siblings with the typical Alienware LEDs on the front. On the left, you have outputs for VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort along with one USB port, Gigabit Ethernet, an unpowered 4-pin Firewire connector and a card reader. The front side is free of any switches or ports allowing for the cool glow that Alienware laptops are famous for while the right side features two additional USB ports as well as audio in and out connectors. Your charger connects to the back side. The belly of M11x looks quite sexy as well with grills for speakers and a battery measuring button that lights up a number of LEDs like you see on Macs. You can also see a meshed grill with a fan behind it to output the heat from the laptop. Finally, there is a nameplate that can be customized to your liking.
Flipping the lid up reveals the instantly recognizable backlit Alienware keyboard and the logo with the glowing eyes that acts as a power button. Using the AlienFX software, you can change the color of lights on the unit. They keyboard has a nice soft touch feel but was a bit small for my linking- a chiclet style keyboard works better on smaller laptops. I also prefer the backspace and enter keys to be on the far right side so the extra column of keys on the far right side of M11x with “Home, Page Up, Page Down and End” was a bit inconvenient- I feel that they could’ve been mapped to the arrow keys with the Fn button pressed. The trackpad has a bit of a nice rubberized finish and tracks really well, however, its not in the center of the palm-rest but a bit towards the left which caused my left wrist to continuously rest of the sharp edges of the laptop making it uncomfortable for extended periods. Also the buttons are a bit squishy to my linking- I prefer them to be more clicky.