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By gaming notebook standards the m15x is quite discreet. Finished almost exclusively in understated silver with a smooth, glossy finish it doesn't feature a wedge shaped design like some recent notebooks, with the whole chassis resembling a large slab of metal - or plastic in this instance.
This description, though, does sound rather unfavourable, which would betray the fact that this shape does have its charm. It doesn't try too hard to impress, it just sits there in a confident and menacing manner giving a subtle impression of the power that lies within, just waiting to be unleashed. Some in the office queried whether it was just a little too subtle, that it wasn't "special" enough, but I for one think Alienware has got the balance just right - no doubt you'll have your own opinion, too.
It's a look aided in no small way by the lighting system on the m15x. On the outside this is seen in the shape of the alien head on the lid and "light beam" on the edge, while inside the whole keyboard, quick touch buttons, Alienware lettering and touch pad surround are all lit up. Moreover, each separate component can be customised using the provided AlienFX software, changing both the colour and behaviour according to your desire. For example, the alien head will pulsate in sleep mode and can be set to do so when charging, while if you wish you can combine different colour configurations and save them as themes.
It's all very intuitive and easy to configure and, as you can see from our shots, the effect is stunning. The keyboard in particular looks great; likewise, the light beam, as it's called, on the outside edge of the display is a very nice touch and overall the lighting system is a real triumph. Customisation doesn't end there either, since you can specify all sorts of things at point of order including the default lighting colour, window colours in Vista, desktop image and the image on the provided mouse mat. There are also a few other extras, including a fabric slip case and even an Alienware branded baseball cap - mmm, fashionable.
Dodgy cap aside these are all nice touches and clearly Alienware is trying a little harder than most to provide a more personal service. This includes not burdening its systems with too much software. You get basics such as Cyberlink PowerDVD and Youcam along with Nero Essentials 7, but unless you ask for it no productivity or security software comes pre-installed. So, there's no need to uninstall any annoying trialware when your system arrives.