Alienware M14x. This is no Ultrabook
Dell’s Alienware M14x is certainly no Ultrabook it’s 37.8mm (1.49in) thick chassis and 6.48 -pound weight suggest that this impressive looking laptop is no weakling..loaded as it is with top end components.
Alienware laptops are made for gamers, that means a lot of “bling”. Two grills glow on the bottom front of the 37.8mm(1.49in) x 258mm(10.16in) x 337.00(13.27in) chassis, and the keyboard also glows..you can change the colours too. As you would expect from such a big machine the keys are in the traditional style, rather than the chiclet style that are common to most laptops. The keys feel good and had the proper travel so provided a great touch typing experience for a laptop. The rubberized texture of the deck—over its magnesium frame provided some traction while typing and adds to the unique Alienware look. The plastic touchpad provides a smooth navigating experience with just the right amount of drag and the mouse buttons are quiet and easy to click.
There are three USB ports in total, two of which are the faster USB 3.0. Why USB 2.0 is still included is beyond me as the chipset would support all there ports as USB 3.0. The USB 2.0 port does feature Powershare Technology so you can use it to charge your portable devices. HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, and VGA are all available allowing you to connect pretty much any external display. There is also Gigabit ethernet, Audio in and out (1/8″ ports) and a 9-in-one Media card Reader. As well there is a slot loaded DVD writer..Blu-ray is optional.
The Alienware M14x is not a pretty face..it looks downright aggressive..especially with the red or blue lighting and it has the muscle under the hood to back up the look. It is powered by Intel’s new 3rd generation i5 or i7 Ivy Bridge processors, comes with up to 16GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M with Optimus switchable graphics technology with either 1GB or 2GB of VRAM. It also sports a 750Gb 7200 RPM hard drive..which just about as fact as you can get in a laptop without going to a SSD.
My test unit came with the Intel i7-3610QM processor up to 3.30MHz with Turbo Boost 2, 8Gb of 1600 MHz dual Channel DDR 3 RAM and the high resolution 1600 x 900 display..frankly on this quality of laptop I wouldn’t even consider the base 1366 x 768 display especially since the HD display is only $100 more. The screen is a bit more glossy than I like and is subject to major reflection problems. especially with dark scenes.
Audio comes from a Creative Sound Blaster Recon 3Di High Definition 5.1 Audio with THX TruStudio Pro software..which pushes audio through 2 speakers well located on either side of the screen hinge just above the keyboard. Audio quality is pretty good with some hint of bass coming from the small built in subwoofer.
As with many computers based on the latest generation of Core CPUs the M14x takes advantage of the ability to use two GPUs. The first is built into the CPU and is Intel’s HD 4000 GPU wfor everyday computing, supporting DirectX 11 and Blu-Ray acceleration. It is also able to assist the CPU when combined with appropriate software such as Cyberlink Media Expresso where the GPU can speed up conversion times as well as reduce CPU use, freeing it up for other tasks. In addition to this Intel GPU we have a 28nm NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, a DirectX 11 capable set to 745MHz core and 1000MHz memory. This NVIDIA card becomes active, seamlessly via NVIDIA Optimus, for gaming and gives far better performance (and features) than is possible on the Intel GPU in that area.
Now a bit of a confession..I am not a gamer but I found the game included with the M14x… Diablo III..loaded quickly played well. The audio was good audio when cranked up..a bit of distortion crept in if I pushed the volume all the way to the top.
So as I said at the beginning, this is no Ultrabook..it is a not so lean powerful gaming machine, great for the dorm because it is also a solid laptop that sports a very comfortable keyboard for writing those long term papers. All this doesn’t come cheap though..the Alienware M14x starts at $1099.99..
My test unit priced out at $1609.99 but until August 31 at 5:00AM it is reduced to $1429.99..at that price a really good deal. The M14x is available at Dell.ca with free shipping in Canada. It is available in Red or Black.