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 don't want something gaudy, but then you realize you can change the keyboard's backlighting to a wide variety of pretty colors. And 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 corners were cut.

Introducing the Alienware M17x R3 Application and Futuremark Performance


View All Comments

  • The0ne - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    You are expecting your SSD to blow the performance of the Alienware R3? Are you being serous here? Has Anandtech users fallen so low in stupidity that they say such things? On one hand it's a great laugh until I realize these people are actually serious and then I remember the iPhone vs EVO bear video about the sales-bear taking off his own dong because he doesn't want to have to raise kids in such an ignorant world.

    Let me ask you some questions,

    1. How often do you use your MBP on battery alone?

    2. How often do you play games on battery alone?

    3. You rather have a laptop that burns you instead of one that doesn't? And this is because you think its quite fine since you have longer battery life in which to prolong the burn? You think all laptops of different, and in this case more powerful, should have battery life like MBP?

    4. Do you know what an SSD is? Do you know what it improves and what it doesn't improve? Do you now realize the ignorance of your statement IF you have an answer for the first two?

    5. Price comparatively in performance what are the prices for the MBP and R3? Go on, take your time and respond. I want you to. There are performance charts here in this review to get you started btw.

    6. If you were to start a company with a specific product would you consider deterring from it? Let me elaborate so as to not confuse you. If you "had" a company that has a theme of say Bantam chicks (these are really pretty midget chickens btw) would you change your image because of some dick with no clue about marketing and such thinks bantam chickens suck and should be more like a duck? Just an example mind you. I sad "had" was a good choice of word don't you?
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Are you gonna add something useful to this discussion or just ask stupid questions? Do you have anything to say that can honestly refute my position that a 17" MacBook Pro is more desirable than this butt-ugly, over-weight, Dell laptop? Anything factual? Anything at all? Because, so far, all I see is a PC fanboy having difficulty producing facts.

    The only tangible advantage the Alienware has is a better GPU option,. But to get that GPU, you need to sacrifice everything else. I would not make that sacrifice, and I think many people will agree with me. The Alienware laptop is over-priced, lacks any sense of style, isn't ground breaking portable technology, and is largely targeted at teenage boys.

    Price being equal - I see more value in a 17" MacBook Pro.
  • dlite1 - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    Purchased an ASUS G53JW-SSD with a 120 G SSD and 750 / 7200 G HD two months ago. 8 G RAM and a Nvidia GTX-460M ran just less than $2000. I priced Alienware but the price for the feature set just seemed high. Course people that buy Alienware are looking for performance and bling. Reply
  • vhong - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    I bought the Alienware M17x R3 from dell Outlet for $1279 (with online coupon). It has the base configuration + w/ 2GB 6970.
    Still has a standard 1 year warranty, and looks brand new.

    This thing looks amazing.

    People's jaw usually drops when they first see this, followed by something like: "That's awesome!" The pictures taken for this article just don't do it justice, as they all appear to be the blue color scheme. The 4 sections of my keyboard & front lights are slowly rotating through the color spectrum. Video would have been better for this review.
  • erple2 - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    To be fair, if you were to option out the M17x as the base 17" MBP, (2500 base cost at retail) it would cost about 1900 dollars, not $2503.

    So you are spending about 600 bucks (I know, you can get a MBP sometimes cheaper online at discounts) nets you a slower GPU (by about 1/2 - which may or may not be important to you), and higher load temperatures on the surfaces. On the positive side, you get a thinner and bit lighter chassis, 120 extra vertical pixels, and more battery life (roughly double, if you use OSX vs. Windows 7). OSX is either a positive or a negative, depending on your viewpoint.

    If you factor in discounts, it's a bit less clear - though Dell typically has significant discounts available (25% isn't unheard of).

    Which is the better all-around machine? I'd be willing to say the MBP is probably the better one. It is, however, 600 dollars more expensive (at retail). However, you're not buying this Alienware machine for it's "all around performance". You're buying it for playing games for which it FAR exceeds the performance of the MBP.
  • kioshi - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Mac user here.

    The MBP will not be as future-proof for gaming which is the main intention of this laptop. Also the MBP will have a much longer battery life (I don't know how Apple does that but they do).

    IMHO the MBP is a very nice machine but not for the heavy gamers who want a laptop. Even the 27' iMac comes with a mobile GPU and non upgradeable components, not really what I'd want for a gaming machine even though I'm planning on getting one of those.
  • kevith - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link


    To keep on comparing MBP´s and the Alienware is quite pointless. I don´t think you could find two more different systems:

    One has a "whispering" design, grey in grey, silent, lightweight, astounding battery life, a "Gentlemans Express"; the other is MEANT to shout out loud, look alien and brute and catch every eye in the room, a "Thoroughbread Racer" .

    One is for all kinds of work EXCEPT gaming, the other is for the hardcore gamer segment

    It even comes with two different OS.

    What the one doesn´t have is the others finest virtues.

    I´m sure they are both very nice laptops, I´l never afford neither of them, but for this machine and this review we probably could find some more appropriate comparisons.
  • anishannayya - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    Who would buy a 17" MacBook?

    To be fair, I would buy neither, but if I was forced to, I would take the Alienware any day.

    Trying to compare a functional computer to a locked down and feature lacking system doesn't make any sense.

    Apple makes great hardware and they have an awesome marketing department.

    But because I'm not a glitzy hipster neither an Mac nor an Alienware system would work for me. I'll go for a ThinkPad and build my own gaming desktop. And, oh yeah, I'll still spend less than you.
  • khimera2000 - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    this is true that you can get a macbook for that price, but you only need a budget of 2000 on the alienware and your alredy pushing beyond what the macbook pro can do, pushing up to 2500 the mac book pro looses any chance of catching up to the M17. Its cool that the macbooks are made out of aluminum, but it still dosent stop them from having many flaws from a company that does alot to make sure those flaws dont come out.

    Mac Books have nice looks to there builds, but there build quality has suffered and to me can no longer be considered as a major point of comparison. All there products have had major flaws be it cracking on the G4 screen from case stress, warping of the optilce drive slot on there macbooks, leaking of user information once again on ther phones, or bricking of ipods which cant be fixed out to sea (I had 6 of them floating in my locker by the end of deployment) I just dont trust apple to make a product 100% ready, Hell i dont even expect them to make a product that isint bata on first release. sure what you look at will work ausome, but its always something else, that goes horrably wrong.
  • UltimateTruth - Saturday, June 25, 2011 - link

    Macbook Pro? That overheating, overpriced pile of pot metal? You should keep some aju sauce on the side when you have one on your lap. Since it will slow roast your thighs something tasty. Reply

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