A powerhouse in a small package.
The Alienware brand is of near legendary status after more than two decades in existence. However, with the brand name’s laptop two things are synonymous: powerful machines that are equally big and bulky. Two years ago Alienware set out to change this image of theirs with the much loved M11x laptops, sadly these were discontinued last year and it’s replacement, the M14x is what I’ll be looking at today.
I know a lot of people loved the M11x, but once I used it, I realized that gaming on that small 11-inch screen was sort of unfulfilling. Meanwhile the M17x and especially the M18x are practically desktop replacement notebooks, and as such are nowhere near as portable for daily life as the M11x would be. The M14x is, therefore, the perfect compromise in giving relatively powerful specs on a relatively light chassis.
Our test M14x R2 (revision two) came armed to the teeth in the highest-end hardware possible. The 3rd gen Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor runs at 2.30GHz, TurboBoosting up to 3.3GHz under pressure. Coupled with 16GB DDR3 memory and a 750GB HDD with 32GB SSD for cache makes the M14x R2 an excellent mobile workstation in its own right. The 1600×900 screen provides sharp image without straining the eyes and quite a lot of real estate, and mated to a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GT 650M with 2GB GDDR5 memory it’s also a decent gaming machine.
Alienware doesn’t allow any dual-card configuration or higher-end GPU as option because, frankly speaking, a chassis this small couldn’t support the heat levels. Those power options are left for the M17x and M18x.
Alienware’s current design for laptops has been going on since 2009 with the M15x and M17x, and it certainly looks just as impressive today on the M14x R2, making it one of the most well-recognized and sharp looking gaming laptops around.
The body of the M14x R2 is comprised of a felt, almost rubberized, material; the finish is also carried inside on the palmrest area. While this gives the M14x R2 a solid feel, especially when you’re carrying it around, it does tend to attract dust particles, which stand out very obviously on the dark colored body. Measuring 1.49 inches thick the M14x R2 weighs a modest 2.92kg.
On the left we have a VGA, HDMI and mini-DisplayPort, plus a USB 2.0 port with power charging, audio ports and a memory card reader. On the right we have the Blu-ray/ DVD combo drive, two USB 3.0 ports and the LAN port. Meanwhile the only thing on the back is the power connector.
The M14x R2 obviously carries the multicolor keyboard, with four areas of customization on the colors, rate of pulse and cycling mode between colors. Obviously the speakers, Alienware logo at the bottom of the screen, the power button and WiFi LEDs, mouse pad border and front grills are all customizable. Sadly the alien head on the lid only comes with white color for its eyes.