The Alienware M17x was always a good laptop, although it did suffer a little from some build quality issues with earlier versions. Revision 3, is an evolutionary release with many aspects of the design enhanced and fine tuned for 2011.
Build quality is outstanding, and while we noticed a little keyboard flex, it is certainly not as pronounced as earlier versions. The touchpad was a pleasure to use, easily one of the best we have used in recent years, although we would assume that most users (especially gamers), will immediately pick up a high quality optical mouse.
The sound system is exceptionally good within the physical confines of a laptop chassis, offering high clarity and acceptable levels of bass. While it won’t replace a dedicated sound system at home, this partnership with Klipsch has certainly helped push this machine to the upper echelons of audio performance.
The Intel 2630 QM processor is a mobile powerhouse, delivering incredible results and easily capable of professional level rendering on the move. The nVidia 460M also proved to be an integral part of the hardware jigsaw, allowing gamers to enjoy their titles at the native resolution of the 17.3 inch screen. If these components aren’t fast enough, there are further upgrades available from the Dell site. Just be sure to keep an eye on your credit card bill.
The highlight of the system for me however is the screen, it is one of the finest laptop screens I have used, and easily comparible with the class leading LED panels I have tested in the latest Apple 17 inch MacBook Pro’s. Offset viewing angles are great, and there is very little colour shift and bleeding throughout most of the diameter.
Battery life as expected, is a slight weakness, and within the space of an hour mobile gamers will be looking for a spot to recharge. In other, less stressful conditions however a lifespan of 3 hours is fairly plausible.
The machine we tested today will set you back £2,269 inc vat, which is actually a fairly reasonable price considering the results we achieved today. Like all premium products, you do pay extra for the badge, but the performance and quality under the hood speaks for itself.
KitGuru says: If you want the ultimate performance desktop replacement, then this might just hit the spot. Just be aware of the weight and the short battery life, this is a desktop replacement, not a ‘portable, everyday’ machine. Carrying it to LAN parties, then back home should be extent of its travels.
EDIT: The Alienware M17x R.3 notebook launched in January is affected by the design issue in the recently released Intel 6 Series support chip set, code-name Cougar Point. Effective immediately, Dell is removing this platform from their website until further notice.