Making the Case for Bling

Despite every fiber of my being arguing to the contrary, I was unfortunately wholly won over by Alienware's aesthetic with the M17x R3. It's the age old conflict...you don't want something gaudy, but then you realize you can change the keyboard's backlighting to a wide variety of pretty colors. And dude...it even glows out of the vents. And the alien head on the lid, it glows! And you can configure the colors for all of these, choosing from pretty much the entire rainbow! Soon you feel like a gibbering moron and begin to question your own taste.

But there's something to the design of the M17x R3. First off, the entire unit is basically one color, a dark, gunmetal gray (though you can order yours in "nebula red.") The overwhelming majority of the surfaces of the M17x R3 are an incredibly comfortable rubberized plastic surface, with glossy plastic used sparingly and fairly intelligently deployed. The lid has soft contours, a choice that extends to every surface of the notebook.

When you flip it open, you'll see the first instance of gloss, but it isn't too alarming. The screen is a glossy panel, and rather than have a bezel there's simply a single glossy surface from edge to edge. It all winds up being fairly reflective which is no doubt going to disturb at least a few of you, but on a system targeted at gamers (read: consumers with disposable income) it's understandable. The only other glossy surfaces are around the speaker grilles in the front of the notebook, but these are unlikely to see any finger traffic and the mild accent is appropriate.

Honestly, it's when you get to the keyboard, media buttons, and touchpad that you really see Alienware blow Clevo out of the water. The keyboard on the M17x R3 is a very smart design, making effective use of the 17.3" form factor's ample real estate. It isn't cramped and the 10-key is appropriately standardized, and the whole thing is backlit (once again, you can choose the color of backlighting.) The keys also share the comfortable rubberized surface texture of the rest of the notebook. My only complaint here is that there's a little bit of flex under the keyboard that seems to correspond with the three different backlighting zones.

The touchpad is just as pleasant to use. Surface friction is just right, and the mouse buttons offer the appropriate amount of tactile feedback without being audible.

Ultimately the M17x R3 seems a little glitzy or gaudy at first, but actually using it and getting a feel for it pays dividends. There was some clear thought put into the user experience; configurable backlighting may seem silly, but it's one more way for the end user to personalize the notebook for him or herself. Given the overall solid build quality, powerful components, and comfortable keyboard, it's just one more thing that improves the experience...no corners were cut.

Introducing the Alienware M17x R3 Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • RoninX - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Yes, I would find it very useful to see both performance and run time stats for gaming on the battery.

    Right now, I'm pretty satisfied with the balance of power vs battery life on my XPS 15, but I am curious what sort of price you pay in terms of run time if you move up to a gaming laptop like the M14x (or the equivalent rigs from Clevo or ASUS).

    Likewise, I'm curious whether you actually get better performance on the gaming laptops while on battery (as compared to a general-purpose high-end laptop like the XPS 15), or whether the actual performance ends up being equivalent (or worse) due to throttling.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np5165-clevo-w150hr-p... Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    I'll have a review of one of those in the near future (not from XoticPC, but it's the same Clevo W150HR chassis); I would say "better" is all relative. If you mean it will have better battery life, then yes, it's better. If you mean it offers okay performance in games, but it's not as fast as GTX 460M, then yes, it's "better". The GT 555M is half-way between GT 540M and GTX 460M, though, which means the 6970M is over twice as fast... and 1080p gaming on the 555M is definitely a stretch. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Immediate disqualification on the grounds that you still have to put up with that Clevo keyboard. ;) Reply
  • b0tch02 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Does this Clevo have the capability for 6970m CF? No.
    Maybe you prefer the Optimus technology of the Clevo?

    "Better" how? What is your definition of better? Because everyones opinion differs - people buy different laptops for different reasons/applications/funtions...

    You're comparing apples to oranges.
    Reply
  • prophet001 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Nice article. Thank you for typing it up. I have been looking for a replacement for my aging XPS and this might be it.

    I was wondering though if you have any idea what the SSD option is. Is it worth it to maybe get the laptop with the SSD option and then purchase a 2nd HDD after you receive it for storage purposes?

    The drive situation and the keyboard issue are the only two things that would keep me from purchasing it (well that and the fact that the XPS I have now is 1920 x 1200).

    Thank you again
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    It's my understanding the SSDs that Dell ships the notebooks with aren't the best. Under the circumstances you may be best off ordering it with a single HDD and then upgrading to an SSD of your choosing. Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Seriously, putting some really great hardware through its paces. Makes me wonder, if this is the first laptop that's made you regret having to send it back, what's your daily driver?

    Either way, great job, can't wait to see the M11x R3view.

    Jason
    Reply
  • Uritziel - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    LOL, nice. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    It's not the first one, but it's definitely the one I've wanted the most out of all the machines I've tested, desktop and notebook. My personal desktop is powerful enough that the demons I test aren't that interesting (they're noisy and generate a ton of heat), but I've been looking for a new 17" notebook and the M17x R3 is sooooo perfect. :(

    Honestly I'm just thankful I get the chance to test these things at all so I can see and know there's something out there to shoot for.
    Reply

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