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Alienware M17 17in Gaming Notebook review

Ardjuna Seghers



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We weren't too impressed with the last Alienware product we looked at, its Area-51 Gaming PC, but the company's last notebook that passed through our test-beds, the Alienware Area-51 m15x, won a glowing review and a Recommended Award. Today we're looking at a new member of the Area-51 notebook range, the 17in M17, which Andy was generally impressed by in our Hands-On Preview. But can it really hold up to the standard set by its little brother?

Of course, this isn't the first 17in notebook Alienware has done; the Area-51 m17x has been available for quite a while. So what does dropping the 'x' give you? Ironically, CrossFireX for a start. Yes, this portable monster comes with dual ATI Mobility Radeon HD3870s powering a 1,920 x 1,200 display and it's also Alienware's first mobile product to offer a Quad Core Intel processor. Nor does the fun end there, but before we enter into the rest of the specifications let's take a look at the outside; for though we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, it's a different story when it comes to notebooks.

As it turns out, the M17 comes with a lovely cover. Rather like a very expensive black inside-out pillow-case with its fold-over flap, the cover is felt on the outside and stretchy satiny material on the inside. It's perfect to protect your laptop from dust, dirt and scratches, and light and thin enough to fit in a pocket folded up. There's a high-quality black mesh Alienware baseball cap, with the inevitable alien head stitched on in white and a thick plastic alien head sticker with blue eyes.

You'll also find a leather folder, which contains the manual and CDs, including Vista Home Premium, Nero 7 Essentials and the M17 support disc. The included mouse mat is far better than what we're used to from bundled ones, with a rubber under-side and textured hard top along which any mouse will glide smoothly. Last of all are four spare screws of the same type that hold the notebook's bays in. Overall it's a fairly comprehensive bundle and does make you feel you're getting that little bit extra.

The machine itself immediately catches the eye for all the right reasons. Alienware's PCs have always been distinct thanks to the unique alien head with glowing eyes that adorns them. However, the M17 stands out more than most thanks not only to the silver alien head with blue-lit eyes, which incidentally works nicely with the black lid, but also the shape of that lid. For all of you that know the signature 'ribbed' case front found on the company's desktop models, it presents a familiar aspect, and for those who've read our m9750 review, not much has changed. Some might lament the lack of stylistic progress here, but if it ain't broke, why fix it?

And the M17's design certainly isn't broken. The entire notebook, with the exception of the screen bezel, is finished in soft-touch rubberized plastic. This not only looks fantastic, doing a far better job of avoiding fingerprints, grime and scratches than a glossy chassis might, but it also lends the M17 that touch of exclusivity. Basically, thanks to the soft-touch finish you feel like you're getting a premium chassis for your high-end machine, and aside from Lenovo's award-winning Thinkpads there aren't many laptops out there that offer it.

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May 19, 2013, 3:00 pm

Well, I am going to state facts. Dec. 2011 I buy Alien M17. Out of box keyboard bent. Graphics glitchy and fan on high speed and hot. They send a tech. to repair. He leaves parts on my floor from computer,that I found after he left. Few months later fan on high speed all the time, smells hot, graphics glitchy again, processors loud as heck. Was told I would get a m18 and they send me replacement for just time I was down while myn was at depot. they sent replacement to temp. Sent my original one to depot. They sent back all scratched up, chipped, and the graphics was messed up. After 20 emails 5 phone conversations, and twitter conversations, they did not uphold agreement, satisfy repairs. Then 13 months later see it is outta warranty, you hit power button keyboard lights up then stats beeping and shuts off. They want 430 dollars to repair then tell me pay and other 430 for extended warranty. I have been kind, in email, phone conversations, explained exactly what I was doing at time of all problems. They don't after time respond to your emails, they tell you to "let us know when is good time for us to call you" So point is after all the bull, a lawyer is involved and the investigation continues. They have had plenty of time to satisfy, uphold, and fix problem. That let me tell you by the way parts that where put in are over a year old or more.

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