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Alienware M17x R4 Review (i7 3610QM/ AMD HD7970M)

The fourth revision of the Alienware M17X has been a very enjoyable machine to review, incorporating the latest high end components from both Intel and AMD.

The new Ivy Bridge Core i7 3610QM processor is a very capable design from Intel, and quite often not that far behind the previous mobile i7 2960XM flagship. It is perfectly suited for high resolution gaming, and can double up as a great option for 3D rendering, or video editing, on the move.

If this isn’t enough processing power then Alienware can offer two upgrade options at extra cost, the Ivy Bridge i7 3720 and i7 3820. These add £200 and £430 to the overall cost, respectively.

This leads us nicely into discussing the AMD HD7970M. This discrete mobile graphics card is a gamers wet dream, delivering some incredible frame rates previously associated with Crossfire or SLI configurations. It only costs £160 more than the default GTX660M option and is certainly worth the investment.

The HD7970M was able to drive many of the latest Direct X 11 games we tested at native 1920×1080 resolution, offering good future proofing for the foreseeable future.

The Alienware M17X is an attractively designed laptop computer, following the same ethic as previous revisions. Dell have incorporated a quality panel into the M17X, delivering a high level of contrast and colour saturation. The viewing angles are quite good too, and the glossy finish make it an ideal option for high definition media and high resolution gaming.

Panel consistency is well above average, with only minimal backlight variance at the corners.

Like the M18x, the M17x utilises a class leading Klipsch onboard sound system which really is surprisingly good. We certainly wouldn’t say it will replace dedicated speakers at home, but for ‘on the move’ duties it is one of the best we have heard. There is even a little bass response, which is very unusual for a laptop.

The lighting system will appeal to gamers who love to attract attention. Various sections of the M17x can be tweaked and adjusted to suit, and the backlight keyboard options are fantastic. Both practical and visually appealing.

The chassis design is inspired, particularly as the back panel can be removed within the space of a couple of seconds. Swapping out the memory for instance is a painless procedure, and one that we wish other manufacturers would adopt.

As always, there are a few negatives which we need to mention.

The M17X can suck through a full battery charge in around an hour when gaming, although in less intensive environments we did manage to squeeze around 3 hours before a charge would be needed. For a desktop replacement this is pretty much par for the course.

With all the high end components, Alienware have had to incorporate a sophisticated cooling system within the M17X. The HD7970M is a powerful discrete video card and under gaming load, the dedicated fan has to react aggressively to maintain the thermal curve. The downside is that the M17X can create a high level of noise when pushed hard, but we would imagine that gamers will be either wearing a headset, or blasting the audio through a set of dedicated speakers. That said, outside gaming the M17x is generally reasonably quiet, even when watching a bluray movie.

If you are a gamer wanting a new high end desktop replacement with few compromises, then the Alienware M17X R4 is one of the best designed machines on the market. Just be sure to tick the AMD HD7970M box on the configurator.

You can configure your own M17x, over here.

Pros:

  • Chassis design is class leading.
  • lighting is attractive and customisable.
  • screen quality.
  • Klipsch sound system.
  • AMD HD7970M is a powerhouse discrete card.
  • Intel Ivy Bridge processors.

Cons:

  • battery life.
  • can get loud under gaming load.
  • heavy.

Kitguru says: The Alienware M17X is a gamers wet dream, just be sure to select the AMD HD7970M.

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Rating: 9.0.

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