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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  • aranyagag - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    It is very rarely that I play any games or watch any movies on my laptop, however, I do use my laptop for Internet browsing and productivity software like Microsoft Word and open office.. Even when I watch movies, I strongly prefer to have player controls below the actual picture. Therefore, for me, And the taller a screen the better. Why is it that nobody other than apple can manage to find a 16:10 screen on a 17 "laptop. Reply
  • b0tch02 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    One thing I haven't seen anyone mention is an option for laptops I've been wanting for years... HDMI-In. For those of us that travel a lot (i.e. Military) and don't have the means of transporting a 55" HDTV with us, HDMI-In for a laptop is a big selling point so we can hook up our XBOX360 or PS3. I for one will probably buy this "blinged-out kid's toy" for this feature. Blasphemy you say? I love computer games just as much as any of you, but the cold hard fact is that game designers are obviously focusing their efforts mostly on console games. And even if a game is multi-platform, the console versions tend to be the most polished versions and less buggy. For example, both a friend and myself who are professed PC gamers who have always loathed console gamers have crossed to the dark side. Because the PC version of Battlefield 2: Bad Company had initially been so buggy, and unplayable online, we both bought PS3's and the PS3 versions of the game to get our Battlefield fix.

    So, in short, having a gaming laptop and portable HDTV ( HDMI-in option) for my PS3 has sold me on this laptop or the m18x.
    Reply
  • arvee - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the excellent review; timely because I'm in the market for something like this and was just looking at these machines a few days ago.

    My main issue is that I'm not really a gamer, I play the occasional game but what I really want is everything that comes with these machines minus the expensive video cards. I'm a programmer and also need a good CPU and large amount of RAM for virtualization. My general formula at the moment is:

    SNB i7 + RAM++ + big beautiful screen + 2 drive bays

    The Dell Precision line is more up my alley but I can't comprehend how those prices are justified. It seems to me more of a market segmentation exercise--business users *can* pay more and are less likely to skimp than personal users (who buy gaming laptops) who are forking over their own money so I'm sure the margin from Precision is much larger than Alienware.

    Because I need this for work and I'm often with customers while using my laptop I *really* don't need something that a 14yr old would want a poster of for their bedroom wall; I need a bit more professionalism. This is one of the major drawbacks for me with the Alienware line.

    I've been looking at the ASUS G73SW but the specs already look like they could do with a refresh--the inputs for example (1 USB3.0 and no eSATA?) when stacked up against the competition like the Alienware. Plus.... a "stealth fighter"? Really?

    The one that I'm more interested in is the MSI GT780. I've never owned an MSI before but the specs look great, though it's not due out here in Australia for another few weeks: http://au.msi.com/product/nb/GT780.html

    A notch up in terms of a professional 'look' than the alternatives, I'm glad they didn't just make a bigger version of the GT680 case.

    Does anyone have one of these? I think they are out in the US aren't they? Any comments on MSI in general?

    And what are the chances of an Anand review of one of these?
    Reply
  • Bolas - Thursday, October 13, 2011 - link

    Just ordered a refurbished Alienware m17x R3, based largely off of this review.

    Mod Number Mod Description
    K972H 210W/240W switchable Slim 3P A/C Adapter
    N971H 125V Power Cord
    DK04N Alienware M17x R3 Laptop
    5GMTT Processor: Intel Core i7 2820QM 2.3GHz (3.4GHz w/Turbo Boost, 8MB Cache)
    3K4G1 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz (4 DIMMs)
    HD4KK 750 GB SATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)
    02TT0 Blu-ray Disc (BD) Combo (Reads BD and Writes to DVD/CD)
    D50W4 2GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M
    GY0N1 Internal 60GHz WirelessHD Transmitter
    H9XM4 Killer Wireless-N 1103 a/g/n 3x3 MIMO
    VX5CJ 17.3 inch Wide FHD (1920 x 1080 60Hz) WLED Display
    8VWCN Genuine Windows 7 Ultimate
    8409V Soft Touch Nebula Red
    1M57Y Dell Wireless 375 Bluetooth Module
    WHD6215-R Wireless HD Receiver
    Reply

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