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  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Its surprising that they would design a machine that is targeted at gamers, yet has such poor cooling.

    I didn't go look at the site, but do they offer the i7-2620? I have one in my new Precision M4600 and I have been quite happy with it overall. Great balance of power and battery life/temps. Its actually the first machine that stays quite cool on my lap even when under load. Great dual fan cooling design as well.
  • pandemonium - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Well done, very thorough!

    "When I say the Alienware M14x is too much by half, I'm not talking about the pricetag. Truth be told the price is actually remarkably reasonable given the excellent build quality, bling, and extra features. I'm talking about the configuration and cooling design, and these are things that significantly limit what you can do with the M14x."

    I agree with this. I'm very surprised at the price for what's inside, but seeing the lack of cooling and capabilities of the display knocks the overall value down too much.
  • runbmp - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    The m14x can expedite heat rapidly, however this comes at the cost of noise. This isn't really an issue for me as I wanted a performance laptop and not a google notebook.

    My only gripe has been with the onboard intel chipset, its kind of a joke really without any options to disable it and its drivers really muck around with games.

    Also to note. drivers will not install on their own, atm the only option is to either get a custom .inf or use the older drivers from Dell.
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Personally I'd rather see how good the Dell XPS line is in comparison Namely, the XPS 15/17.

    How many drive bay slots, etc, and all that.

    These things are butt ugly, but i can see how *maybe* the cooling system on them would work out good though. Will read the article later to see how well it stacks up, but honestly right now I am not even considering these( and I am in the market for a new gamer like laptop)
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    "These things are butt ugly, but i can see how *maybe* the cooling system on them would work out good though"

    Replace would with could, and you have what i meant. However after reading through the 3 worthwhile comments. Never mind. Seems that having fancy ugly ports for cooling is not everything.
  • Flunk - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    If you're looking to game, the XPS line isn't really an option. Dell has eliminated the graphics options so that there isn't any overlap between XPS and Alienware. Reply
  • Rookierookie - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    Not on the high end no, but the GT525M/540M on the XPS 15/17 series can handle older games quite easily. Reply
  • Flunk - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    I respectfully disagree. Even a high-end laptop like this struggles on current gen games. The 525 (17" is far too large to be comparable) struggles even on older games. Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I agree with you completely; same company after all. Personally I've always liked industrial style design over gaudy Alienware style design. I do have to admit though, when I was like 10 I thought their computers looked the "coolest"; lol.

    I'm a PC Tech and everytime I work with a Lenevo business class notebook I am entirely impressed. Soft rubber touch coating everywhere. No glare anywhere. Solid well built, well thought out chassis and keyboard. Impressively light and thin. Seriously, THAT is what I want from my laptop; just with consumer parts in it.

    To be clear I care less about thickness than the other stuff, I understand it has to get thicker to cool down a 2620QM with a GTX560M and 8GB of RAM in a 15.6" chassis. Make it thicker all you want, I don't even care what it weighs (6'4" 235lb man) I just want the design of the thing to be that...neat.
  • Nathelion - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I bought one of these shortly after launch (a few months ago now) and I've been happy with it. Is it loud? yes. Is it hot? yes. Do I like the aesthetic? not particularly. But it has two killer features:

    1) It is fast enough to do medium gaming in a 14" form factor
    2) It has a high-enough-to-be-useful resolution screen in a 14" form factor

    When it comes to complaints about heat and noise, those are a bit misguided. There are plenty of thin & light notebooks out there, but they also won't do anything above very low end gaming. There is simply no way to cram a decent amount of horsepower into 14" without making it hot and loud. In my experience, the notebook generally does a decent job of staying quiet (although it still gets rather hot to the touch) when it's being used for surfing or document editing, that is, in the roles where you would normally have it on your lap. When you fire up games, you would most likely put it on a table anyway (it does get loud when you use it for gaming, but... well, duh).

    The screen, however, is what sealed the deal for me. It's pretty normal (aka mediocre) quality in terms of color and gamut (you can however crank it up to be ridiculously bright if you want, I typically run it at 30% brightness even when plugged in), but the big feature is the resolution. The ONLY other modern 14" laptop with a resolution above 1366x768 is the ThinkPad T420s. While that is an excellent option, the gaming performance just isn't there - the highest you can spec one of those is a dual core sandy bridge and an NVS 4200M with 48 CUDA cores and pretty miserable clocks. I should also add that when I specced out two systems for comparison back before I bought the alienware, the thinkpad ended up a good $700 more expensive.

    To put it succinctly: If you want performance and a decent screen resolution in a 14" form factor, this is the only option.

    The only real contender is a ThinkPad that costs ~30% more for vastly inferior performance. Granted, it's also much lighter and not as much of a heat and noise monster, but that comes with the territory. For the "portable gaming while still being feasible to move around and with a high-enough res screen to not be outright painful" segment, this thing really is the only viable option.
  • cknobman - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Hmm Sony C' series laptops are 14' with 1600x900 panels and offer ATI 6630 graphics in them.

    Last year I bought the CW series before they discontinued them which was a 14' 1600x900 panel and came with Nvidia 330m graphics.

    There are other (and cheaper) options out there besides dellienware.
  • etamin - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    A couple friends asked me to look into a few portable laptops for them the past week and I spent some time looking for hi-res options on 14" models. The only other notebook I found with a 1600x900 screen was the HP Elitebook 8460p which, in my opinion, is the best business notebook for $1500. It's absurd that most vendors stop at 1366x768 even on their 15.6" models. Reply
  • lunarx3dfx - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I bought mine on release day, and I love it. At the time that I ordered mine the i5 wasn't even an option cpu wise, but I have found that if you keep the GPU in check (aka don't use it when not needed) the fan noise isn't bad at all. On my unit the fan usually only runs for a few seconds at a time unless I'm gaming, and I haven't noticed the laptop getting all that hot. I agree that the cooling could definitely be better.

    Also, on the issue of media playback. I'd be willing to bet that the GPU was kicking in automatically. By default the optimus settings use the GPU for media players. I went in and set mine to use the Intel GPU, and my media playback battery life went to well over 3 hours.

    Just a suggestion. To the person that mentioned nvidia's drivers not working, you are right. However, it took them a little while to support the m11x R2 after its release as well. Just give it time and they will add support. Until then, modded inf's aren't hard to find.

    All in all, I thoroughly enjoy my m14x, and I'm glad that someone finally stated what I stated in my video review of the m14x on youtube about the memory options for the GPU. I've gotten flamed quite a bit there because I said that the 3 GB option was excessive and not necessary, and would provide no performance improvement.

    Thanks again, for a great review.
  • StrangerGuy - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Easy. Replace the useless internal optical drive with another HSF. Problem solved.

    I'm not even sure why they want to squeeze in an ODD in an laptop intended for pure GAMING performance. What a dumb decision.
  • Wolfpup - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I still don't like the looks on these things-wish you could just get them boxy. The M15x had defective audio-either out of the box, or often within a year.

    Hopefully that's fixed on this...but it has Floptimus and a mid-range GPU... If it looked more normal, and didn't use Floptimus, they'd have something...
  • lunarx3dfx - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    What's wrong with optimus? It does exactly what it's supposed to do very well. Also, how would you expect them to fit a high end GPU into a package that small? The purpose of the m14x is to meet those of us who want a portable laptop that can still play games. For that it works very well. Reply
  • aguilpa1 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Regardless whether you want portable or not, when a "GT" 555M can't even outperform an ancient 460M there is a HUGE problem with the industry as a whole. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    The 400M and 500M series are essentially equal, so you "ancient 460M" isn't really that old -- I first tested the 460M in November last year, so it's perhaps nine months old now. (

    The second problem is that the GT line has always been the slower (mainstream) line from NVIDIA, while the GTX is for the enthusiast/high performance sector. So, it's really no surprise at all that the fastest current "mainstream" part is slower than the previous generation (aka, "not-speed-bumped") "enthusiast" part. It's like saying it's a HUGE problem that the GT 555M isn't faster than the GTX 560M; it's not supposed to be. If the GT 555M was slower than the GT 445M, then we'd have something to complain about. Not that the memory configuration and different core types isn't a big enough issue with the GT 555M!
  • GeorgeH - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Please. Next you're going to be telling us that the brand new GT520 is a lot slower than the ancient GTX480. And don't even get me STARTED on the MX460/GTX460 flotilla of LIES and ICE CREAM.

    Damn you, industry! Damn you to Hades!
  • FH123 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Dustin, you wrote: "The 1600x900 resolution is frankly vastly preferable to the dire 1366x768 resolution invariably employed by notebooks in the 14" class. 1366x768 is just cramped, and on a 15" notebook it's an eyesore."

    I wonder could you not make such blanket statements about high resolution. I completely agree with complaints about poor contrast in todays screens and am glad you're hammering that message home every chance you get. However high DPI is a problem for some of us with less good eye-sight. Windows was designed in an era of 90dpi screens and this still shows. Even with Windows 7 I frequently run across text in some software, some Windows screen or some web-site that won't scale or is blurry as a result. As long as this is the case, high DPI is a strain for me. I particularly take issue with your use of the word "eyesore", as this word applies completely the other way round in my case. It's the high DPI screens that cause my eyes to be sore. As these are normally the premium screens that also have at least half-decent contrast, I am caught between a rock and a hard place. Going with a poor contrast low DPI screen or a good contrast high DPI screen is a toss-up for me. What I really want is a good contrast low DPI screen. Windows 8 looks to change the UI experience yet again, but be under no illusion that it still needs to run all the legacy stuff out there, so I don't see this situation changing for many years yet.

    By the way I have a driving license and naturally had to pass an eye test for that. I do not consider myself disabled and I can work with high DPI screens, if I have to. I simply prefer high contrast, low DPI screens. Going back to my old 4:3, XGA 14" notebook or 19" 1280x1024 (86dpi, PVA) desktop screen is always a relief.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I agree with you on high-DPI being a problem for those of us with less than perfect eyesight (welcome to the world of 35+ year olds!), but the 1366x768 resolution itself is still an eyesore in the sense of being a pain to use. Windows is really targeted at higher resolution displays, and 16:9 widescreen didn't help the situation. I'd much rather have 1440x900 or 1680x1050 (or 1920x1280 or even 1280x800) than all the 16:9 stuff. 768 vertical pixels just doesn't cut it for me; just like 1024x768 went out of fashion about six years back, a wider version of 1024x768 isn't any better. Your 1280x1024 desktop display is a relief in more way than one I'm sure!

    Incidentally, I use a 30" desktop LCD at 2560x1600, and I have to set the DPI to 120 in Windows and deal with the various programs that don't work right with font scaling in order to use the LCD without eyestrain. And yet, given the choice, I still wouldn't go back to a lower resolution, lower DPI panel. It's the proverbial Catch-22: I need the higher resolution, but the higher DPI is difficult to see, but you can't get high resolution and low DPI unless you're running a 40+ inch HDTV. (And running a 30" LCD at 1920x1200 results in scaling blurriness, so I prefer to deal with the Windows DPI crud.)
  • FH123 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I can't really argue with that. We're basically on the same page - and I'm 46 - although I do tilt the other way and use my 8-year old XGA laptop screen most often. I like working with the machine on my lap.

    Age makes you cynical about progress. I recently evaluated a Thinkpad X220 with a great IPS screen, but quite high DPI at 12.5" and with 1366x768 16:9 resolution. The perfect example of the schizophrenic nature of progress, it also took 90 seconds to fully boot Windows 7 from a conventional disk. My 8-year old Northwood P4 (Thinkpad T30) boots XP in less than 1 minute including a virus scanner and full-disk encryption (also no SSD). Would I feel the benefit of SandyBridge if I moved on to it? Probably, but my old machine is surprisingly easy to live with. There are too many things, like boot / load times, that are not improved even with SSDs, for example Thinkpad applets and the Intel display driver UI that I suspect are written in .NET. There are others, like ever shallower keyboards and less-tall, low contrast screens, that are in fact regressing. Among screens today a 14" 1280x800 screen would possibly be ideal for me ... if it still existed.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    At CES 2011, Lenovo was demoing a ThinkPad Edge that could boot in under 10 seconds. Now *that* is a laptop I'd like to fool around with -- I was very curious what sort of tweaks they had made to get it to boot that quickly. Obviously there was no bloatware, but even so my desktop with an overclocked i7-965 and Vertex 2 SSD takes about 12 seconds to boot Win7, and that's not including the 15 seconds it takes to POST. Reply
  • FH123 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Yeah, this is why the X220 being so slow surprised me. I'm sure it had the "Lenovo Enhanced Experience" sticker, which I thought is partly about quick boot time. An SSD would have made a huge difference of course, but even so. Then, once you start using some of the Lenovo apps to, say, adjust your power management settings (on a Thinkpad T410s WITH AN SSD that I have), they can take ages to come up, i.e. several seconds. In my view applets like that should open up instantly. Lenovo Enhanced Experience is a mixture of the good and the awful. It possibly comes down to some manager not seeing that they can't write this stuff completely in .NET, Flash, Java or whatever they're using.

    There's a video on YouTube somewhere where Lenovo explain how they worked quite deeply with device driver manfuacturers to cut down the boot time. Of course they don't say exactly what they did and you can supposedly only reap the benefit from their preload. Based on my extremely limited experience I have to wonder whether that only works well on select demo machines. It must be hard rolling out the performance tweaks across every driver and BIOS revision.
  • sir_laser - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Shoutouts to Faulkner and Shakespeare!

    FH123: So what you are saying, in part, is that it is very difficult to find high quality low DPI laptop screens in the consumer market?
  • FH123 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I must confess I haven't looked at the consumer market. I buy business laptops, usually Thinkpads for their keyboards. I have the impression that complaints about poor screens are universal though and have more to do with the manufacture and availability of those screens. There seem to be some markets where high quality screens are more common, e.g. tablets, workstation and large high-end laptops - as well as anything made by Apple. However try to find a decent screen in a mainstream 14" Windows laptop and the situation is dire. Reply
  • Beenthere - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    ...but refuse to buy it with an Intel CPU. Alienware told me they do not know if or when they will be using Llano APUs but this would seem like a smart move for good gaming performance with low power consumption and low heat/fan noise. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Ah, yes, the anti-Intel sentiment. Unfortunately, as an enthusiast company, there's really no place for Llano in Alienware's current lineup. The ULV processors used in the M11x are generally equal to Llano in terms of power use for idle/low use, equal in multi-threaded performance, and much faster in single-threaded performance.

    Llano A8-3800M vs. M11x R3:

    Llano A8-3800M+6630M vs. M11x R3:
  • Beenthere - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    So Alienware loses another sale. In this economy it's gotta hurt to not be selling what consumers want. Reply
  • cjl - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    You know, I believe the evidence is that consumers want performance and battery life, and by and large, they don't really care what brand of processor the computer has. Those that do mainly prefer intel (thanks to their advertising). So, I would say that Alienware is selling exactly what consumers want. Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    yeah, he just hates Intel because they're succesful. I hate petty people.
    I do wish we could see some competition from AMD though, just to drive prices down. Intel's have been creeping steadily up since the release of the Core series of CPU's.

    For instance I think the 2500K should be about 185-195, not 215 or 230 or whatever it is. Not a huge deal, when I build a new desktop next fall (2012) I will use the newest Intel CPU equivalent to that one. Generally though 200 has always been my cap for CPU prices, I just wanna overclock so an extra 20 bucks is meh; still, not like it costs Intel anything extra to enable that.

    Unless Bulldozer makes Sandy Bridge look at least average??? Please! No? Ohhhh, ok.
  • Skott - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    If I was going to buy a gaming laptop I'd go with a Sager. They have the superior cooling system for gaming laptops. That heat over time can kill a laptop. It needs to be as cool as possible. Just my 2 cents. Reply
  • scook9 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Not really that superior actually....they have nice beefy cooling on their x7200 and x8000 lines but their single GPU stuff is comparably cooled compare to the alienware lineup (And the M18x matches the x7200 cooling....) Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    sager is just a brand built on Clevo or Compal or Asus or MSI or any other whitebox manufacturer; they don't actually make the laptops, they just put parts in them like the CPU/GPU/RAM and what not. Reply
  • Gonemad - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    ...but right now can anybody answer me with a simple yes or no: Is this the fastest machine that can be crammed in a 14" notebook frame, heat be damned, noise be damned, battery life be damned?

    Apparently yes it is. Won't this note enter the category *hot-rod* as in "the largest engine on the smallest car"? Or is it a "Rolls-Royce jet engine in a Pinto", where the sum is worse than its parts?

    PS: You don't see anything beyond 1600 x 900 all the way to 17"...
  • Pylon757 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Sony has 1920x1080 across 13". 1080p isn't that hard to find on 15".

    This is about the same weight as a number of 15" laptops too.
  • bigboxes - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Isn't it really a LED backlit LCD display? Just because the manufacturers are marketing them as LED displays doesn't make them so. Reply
  • etamin - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    That is what LED display means. All LED displays are LED backlit LCDs whereas traditional LCDs are actually CCFL (Cold-Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) backlit displays. They are both types of LCDs. Reply
  • etamin - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I was not able to tell from the pictures but is the memory in the M14x self upgradable? Alienware is charging $200 for 2x4GB DIMMS (1600MHz) which can be had on Newegg for as low as $75.

    Also, do you at Anandtech notice any changes in quality since the pre-Dell days of Alienware? I believe the Area-51 m7700 I owned years ago was the last pre-Dell model built and have not given Alienware a second thought since both harddrives (yes, both at the same time) in RAID 0 permanently failed along with the motherboard. Over the life of the system, I had to replace a dead graphics card, deal with a battery that could not hold a charge, and replace a screen myself with one from a used Sager built on the same Clevo chassis. In total the system fell into the 4k range over 4 years of use and I cannot even dream about spending even 2.5k on a laptop ever again. My understanding is that Dell now uses even cheaper generic parts but I could be wrong.
  • Hrel - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I wish you guys could get the "other" version of the GT555M in for testing; really just out of curiosity. I'd like to see what's different and where from 768p to 1080p.
    (I also wish you guys would test at 1080p NOT with max settings; but with "reasonable" texture settings. You can make games look better than a console and run at 1080p by tweaking things just a little.)
    Really THIS GPU with GDDR5 is the only GT555M that should exist. Hopefully Nividia will do that with the GT666M or whatever they wanna call it. I truly baffles me that someone somewhere thought it was a good idea to have two entirely different GPU's under the EXACT same name each with at LEAST 2 possible configurations totally 4+ GPU's with the same damn name!!! AHHHHH, frakkin marketing people; clearly their degrees mean nothing more than "yep, I drank a lot in college".
  • etamin - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    just curious, where can I find out more about this 4 GPUs with the same name business? Reply
  • Hrel - Saturday, July 23, 2011 - link Reply
  • lunarx3dfx - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    The m14x isn't available with the other GT555M. I have a feeling that it would be significantly slower though. Reply
  • AlexKitch - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    My friend has one of these and struggles to even play Minecraft without the machine becoming so unbelievably hot that it has to de-clock itself, turning his games into more of a slideshow than a game. This happens in my (fairly cool) apartment, on a solid desk with no obstructions to any of the fan intakes/exhausts.

    Personally, I don't like the styling of Alienware machines either. It's all a little over the top and immature.
  • kevith - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    is NOT a lot! It´s terrible to keep on reading, that notebooks that weighs like this one, are heavy!

    I´m 50 years, and I´m working in the woods, and the chainsaw I use weighs around 22 lbs. And not only shall I carry it around for 8 hours every day, I have to toss it arond all the time to obtain access to sawing area.

    I´ve read reviews, where the reviewer has used words like "chiropractor", "immoblie", "desktop only" etc.

    Come on man, I don´t know what kind of workout You do - if any - but I will recommend You to spend more time doing it or find a more effective system.
  • Hrel - Saturday, July 23, 2011 - link

    Yeah, that always annoys me too. Basically as long as the things under 10lbs I'm fine with it. And that's only because of all the other stuff I keep in my notebook bag. But then again, if you're talking about burly men that's totally different than if you're talking about 5'4" women. Reply
  • solracd - Monday, August 08, 2011 - link

    Can someone explain why the 1.5 upgrade to 3Gb video memory is not useful? Is is not helpful 'today' but possible useful in a year or two? The same applies to the CPU option. I would think getting the most is the best (although clearly not the most cost effective).

    I buy laptops and keep for a while so I'm puzzled how more is not better.

    Thanks in advance!
  • Habshockeygrl - Tuesday, January 03, 2012 - link

    I love my M14x, I don't mind the louder rapid cooling although my husband when sitting near me sometimes complains about the loudness of it. My problem as been the sound system. I paid extra for the premium sound package and have had multitudes of problems with it. They tried to have tech support remotely reset drivers, which made the surround sound stop working. They sent a tech to my house, upon taking it apart he somehow destroyed the motherboard and the mouse track pad. So he had to come back with the new parts. Second trip, he brought brand new speakers because he could see a visible problem, replaced the motherboard and the tracker section. Now only either front or back speakers will work separately but not together. Nobody has been able to figure out this problem and I continue to feel I was ripped off in the sound department. Good luck to anyone purchasing the upgrade! Reply

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