Alienware m15x - Overview
We'll start with the Alienware m15x, which is certainly the most unique laptop we're looking at today. Alienware is one of the heavy hitters among the boutique computer vendors, and as a wholly owned subsidiary of Dell to have more resources than many of their competitors. In the past, some of Alienware's laptops were simply ODM designs with a customized shell on top. To the best of our knowledge, the m15x is a unique design that's only available from Alienware.
Alienware computers - both laptops and desktops - have always tended to look at users either love or hate. The m15x has tone things down a bit, and that users are able to choose between one of two chassis designs. Besides the usual "Skullcap" design, which we've seen on most of their laptops (including the m7950), Alienware now offers a "Ripley" design. Both options use a shiny silver plastic that likes to collect fingerprints (although they're not as visible as they would be on a shiny black exterior), but the Ripley design doesn't have the extra ridges and tends to be a bit more understated in appearance.
We're not quite sure how understated a glowing alien face can be, not to mention the lighting highlights around the borders of the case and on the keyboard, but there you have it. The m15x has six different zones for the AlienFX lighting: the alien head and power button (with two different states depending on whether you're plugged in or using battery), the light pipe around the border of the LCD, the Alienware logo at the bottom of the LCD, the quick touch controls, the touchpad, and the keyboard - note that the keyboard lighting is an optional upgrade. You can set each of these areas independently to one of 12 colors (counting white and black/off as colors). It's kind of gimmicky, but not all gimmicks are bad - certainly my teenage nephew was duly impressed by the lighting.
In the above gallery, you can see pictures of the m15x laptop on our operating table being dissected. Sometimes this is easy, and sometimes it can be extremely frustrating trying to determine what screw you might have missed. Even worse are the laptops that have plastic clips that hold the case together, which frequently break no matter how careful you are when you take things apart.
In the case of the Alienware m15x, getting at all of the important internal components is extremely simple - one large cover provides access to everything from the memory slots and hard drive to the CPU and GPU. While this might make doing things like swapping hard drives or replacing/upgrading memory a bit more tedious than if they had separate compartments, the easy access to the CPU and GPU is definitely appreciated. Now all we need is the ability to upgrade MXM modules, which is unfortunately not something offered or supported just yet.
While getting at the major components was easy, after an hour of trying to remove the keyboard and look at some of the other parts without success, we decided to call it quits before we broke something. Besides, how often is it that you need to replace your motherboard or keyboard on a laptop?