If you read the review of the Alienware 17, this part is going to be pretty familiar to you. While the original Alienware M18x looked like they took the M17x R3's chassis design and just stretched it out, the 18 looks like a more proportional super-size of the 17. It's really about as attractive as an 18.4" behemoth is going to get, but users who aren't interested in a 12 pound notebook need not apply.

As with the Alienware 17, we have an aluminum lid with accent lighting, bevelled body with lit trim, and soft touch plastic used on the majority of the touchable surfaces. I know a lot of you don't like how Alienware notebooks look, but I really have to stress that photos don't do them justice. I wasn't a fan either until I actually laid hands on and spent time with the M17x R3, and the same was true of the 17 and now the 18. Once you sit there and use the notebook, you start to dig it. The configurable lighting can be as ostentatious or mundane as you like; I configured mine magenta simply because you never see anyone with a magenta-backlit notebook.

With all that said, my reservations about the Alienware 17's keyboard and touchpad continue to apply to the 18. I'm not a fan of the revised keyboard layout as the programmable keys above the number pad make virtually no sense, and I never liked the column of programmable keys next to the primary keyboard on the original M18x. If you navigate a keyboard by touch, you're used to feeling for the Control key by finding the bottom left of the keyboard. On this keyboard, you'll wind up hitting the 5th macro key instead of Control. If Alienware is going to continue to include these keys, they need to adjust their position so that they're more distinct from the rest of the keyboard.

I'm also still not a fan of the backlit touchpad and vastly prefer the lit trim on the old model. Backlighting the touchpad just creates this giant block of light whenever you use it, and while you can certainly disable it, you can't disable paying for it.

The interior is also a lot less user friendly than it used to be. The primary panel only reveals the drive bay and two DIMM slots. Thankfully, one of the major benefits of Dell owning Alienware is that detailed service manuals for end users continue to be readily available for Alienware notebooks.

Gallery: Alienware 18

I like how the Alienware 18 looks a lot more than I did the M18x and M18x R2, even if it feels even bulkier than those beasts. As far as I'm concerned, something like this is basically an all-in-one in a different shape and without the touchscreen. I'm still more bullish on the Alienware 17 for the majority of users, but at least the 18 is more justifiable than its predecessors were.

Introducing the Alienware 18 System and Futuremark Performance
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  • stacey94 - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    pounds* Whoops Reply
  • SniperWulf - Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - link

    Maybe so, maybe not. I frequent the gym enough for it to not be an issue. I've carried military equipment that was much heavier further distances that I'll ever carry this thing. Reply
  • SniperWulf - Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - link

    Oh, and the machine itself doesn't weigh 12 lbs. Maybe my bag with all my crap it it does. Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    @blanarahul

    I bought the M18x R2.

    Specs: CPU i7 3920XM, which I've had up to 4.7GHz, but typically run @ 4.4 or 4.5GHz for everyday use. Dual 240GB SSDs in RAID0, dual 7970Ms, 16GB 1866MHz (clocked at CAS9), and 1TB for storage.

    With all graphical settings maxed-out, I hit the 200fps limit in Black Ops 2, frequently.

    Ignoring than the initial AMD drivers we had, and the glossy non-IPS display I have, I'm absolutely loving it. Looks wonderful on the big screen.

    As mentioned, the customer service is w o n d e r f u l, and most importantly for me - worldwide. As a frequent traveler, I cannot have a desktop, and this fits my needs wonderfully.

    Nice talking point in the office with new clients too.

    I will definitely upgrade to the newest M18(2, whatever) when Broadwell is released - Just so long as the IPS panel is still available.

    And that is voting with your feet.
    Reply
  • punko - Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - link

    Bought one in February. I need a portable workstation, not an ultrabook. If you want something to sit cooly on your lap while you flip through facebook at an airport lounge, this isn't it. If you want to have something with serious chops, then this works. Myself, I find the screen a tad lacking in quality in comparison to my other 18", ASUS W90 VP , but performance is top drawer. Reply
  • Mondozai - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Comparing it to a mini-ATX kind of misses the point. Good luck taking a big desktop monitor with you in a handbag. It is for people who move around a lot and game on the go. Judged as that it is a great piece of hardware but most people would never buy it (including me) but that is beacause we do not have those needs. Comparing it to a mini-ATX does make me suspicious of your judgement, though. It is not a desktop PC, so why do you fail that test of common sense? Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    The mITX comparison is aimed at lan party gamers. A monitor and an mITX system can easily be carried in two trips; and if that's all you need your portable gaming for a few extra minutes walking for a thousand dollars savings. Unless your portability needs include being able to fly with it, or to troll coffee shop workers a tiny desktop is able to match most of the usecases for something like this. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Um...did you read the final paragraph? All we're saying is that if you just want a really fast and somewhat portable PC, there are alternatives to a maxed out SLI notebook that cost a lot less. "You lose a healthy amount of portability, but we're talking about thousands of dollars, too." A review done in a vacuum (i.e. not looking at other potential alternatives) is missing the point of a review, and so we include some desktop performance figures and mention the pricing of desktops so that readers who may not be as versed in the hardware scene at least get an idea of where performance stands. Reply
  • tim851 - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    I'm with you, Jarred. Desktop numbers need to be in the benchmark IF ONLY to give one a reference point. Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - link

    Agreed. I'd like to see a desktop equivalent performance card in more mainstream gaming laptop reviews too. I could dig through bench or multiple articles to figure out what the closest desktop equivalent to a single 770M is; but being able to put it in context easily would be nice. Reply

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