Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop - Design

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Lacking Optimus is obviously a disappointment and it's not the only compromise to consider. As you may already have gleaned from the pictures there's no optical drive on the M11x, while the battery isn't hot-swappable. In the latter case the battery is hidden inside the machine and is screwed in. It's still replaceable should it need to be, but it's not as instantly accessible as on most laptops.

In the greater scheme of things, however, these are two things we can easily live with. Optical drives, while still useful, are far from essential these days - most games can be bought and downloaded online, as can a lot of video content. Should you desperately need a DVD drive, Dell still offers an external one as an option. With regards to the battery, you shouldn't have much need for a second one anyway, as we'll discover later.

Such compromises are made even more palatable because they make possible the wonderfully conceived chassis. We'll concede that Alienware's design language, its angular lines and chunkiness, won't be to everyone's taste but we rather like it. To us it has the right amount of unique, eye-catching design flair without alienating more conservative users. This is particularly true of the black version we have, though a silver option is available.

What really sets the M11x apart is the awesome AlienFX lighting system. Like the original Alienware m15x, you can customise each single element of the M11x's backlighting system. This includes the keyboard, Alienware lettering below the screen, the alien heads above the keyboard and on the lid, and the two slots on the front edge of the machine. These can be set to a single solid colour, to morph between different colours or to 'pulse', though the latter two are no more than gimmicky distractions really. You can also turn off all lighting via a keyboard shortcut button.

If there's one thing that we dislike about the design it's simply the thickness (32.7mm) of the chassis. This is somewhat unavoidable, though, considering the cooling required for the graphics card and the space needed for that battery. Moreover, while thinness generally looks good, not having it doesn't really impact on the portability of the M11x. Here weight is far more important and though 1.98kg is quite heavy for an 11.6in laptop, it's not too hefty for regular mobile use.

Another more significant bugbear (partly related to the design) is the reflectiveness of the screen. Like many modern laptops the M11x has a clear plastic sheet across the screen. This may look good, but even by modern standards the reflections it creates are exceedingly irksome. This isn't too great a problem in shade or when indoors, but you can forget about using the M11x in bright sunlight. Anyone particularly intolerant of reflections will find it a difficult machine to live with.


April 23, 2010, 3:02 pm

A wonderful machine. I'm sure they would sell bucketloads of them if they only got rid of the oh-so-embarassing alien heads and related guff so that people could use them in public places. As it is, I would have to cover it in brown paper - just like all my special magazines...

poor man jim

April 23, 2010, 5:05 pm

"...we can't think of a single "gaming laptop" worthy"

It's been long discontinued but the Epson Endeavor NA801 from Japan was certainly worthy. 13" with a 8600M GT at 1.8kgs (including an internal optical drive).

I'm surprised however you didn't mention the LG P310. 13" screen, Intel P9500, 9600M GT - 1.6kgs. I think it's still available from LG in countries like Germany (a UK keyboard option was offered on the older P300).

I have a real problem with 11" and 1.99kgs. Okay, the 8 cell battery would add some weight but the cooling required for the low voltage CPU isn't an issue. If LG managed cooling a much hotter CPU/GPU needing only 1.6kgs (and this was years ago), surely Dell/Alienware could've done much better.

I for one am not impressed with this super chubby monster.


April 23, 2010, 5:54 pm

I hate you TR. Why did you have to publish this review on my Payday? :p Now I've got money burning a hole in my pocket and I'm trying to find excuses not to order! Gah!


April 23, 2010, 6:13 pm

Completely agree with scamevoli - I'd like a fast gaming laptop just like this - but why does it have to be the equivalent of the 80's ghetto blaster from the audio section at Dixons

If I'm going to drop £1700 quid on a laptop it had better be fast AND look understated and desirable - not look like something a 13 year old might draw on the back of his homework diary ....


April 23, 2010, 6:37 pm

Hmmm the Sammy R780 is tempting me


April 23, 2010, 7:20 pm

Meh, it's already outdated, the new Acer TimelineX series comes with a Core i7 620M and a Mobility Radeon HD 5650 with switchable graphics. Albeit at a larger 13.3-inches and 1.8kg, but I'd willing to do that tradeoff, especially considering the fact that it's cheaper

poor man jim

April 23, 2010, 8:55 pm

TheLostSwede's nailed it. Now that's a laptop spec worth recommending. Shame though it's for the Singapore market. The only UK based 3820TG I can find is equipped with the slower i5 and 5470. Nothing currently mentioned on the Acer UK website...


April 24, 2010, 4:20 am

i have this one, with the 500GB harddrive and the pentium su4100. it's phenomenal. sometime you've just got to take the plunge and jump in, without worrying about whats coming soon. i was going to wait see if they release ones with optimus or core i processors, but to be frank, it's good enough as it is now.

synaptics have a multi touch driver for most synaptics touchpads, including this alienware. i use it now, and the multi touch works better than a bootcamped macbook.

plus there are some hacked optimus drivers that apparently work pretty well, also. though i'm yet to try them.

Jay Pain

April 25, 2010, 3:56 am

The Asus UL series are OK at gaming

Daniel Gerson

April 26, 2010, 12:33 am

I'm so glad TR gave it a 9/10. My sentiments are the same.

I bought the laptop in Feb before the review, purely based on specs and what I found on the web. This was unnerving because sometimes specs hide the true picture of usability. For the sake of sanity I wish the laptop review had come out earlier. Everyone I've read from using the Asus UL series bitch and moan about the trackpad's button click which is terrible.

Had the Acer that TheLostSwede mentioned been out at the time, I may have opted for it because of the processor (and I can find sentiments about actually using it)... but in my searching it wasn't available at the time so no regrets.

Only two negatives. 1) The mottled plastic on the front did scratch on my belt buckle when lying down with the laptop on my legs, but asking for scratch-proof is probably a bit much. 2) The reflective screen.

I have some gripes about the multitouch software Scrybe from synaptics which you need to download to catch up to and surpass the mac... but these are really feature requests (like the 3 finger menu is a little too easy to fire off and no finger control to get rid of the dialog and have to resort to ESC) but these are software issues.


April 26, 2010, 2:25 pm

Has anyone tried installing an HSDPA card (not having one is a killer for me), to see if it works? Also, would installing said card yourself void the warranty?


April 26, 2010, 4:22 pm

A silly question, but: What is the point of an 11.6" gaming laptop?

That's not a rhetorical question, I am genuinely curious. I have owned many PCs and laptops over the years, but it's never occurred to me to play games (other than the most basic ones) on a small-screen laptop. Presumably you would generally connect it to an external monitor or TV for gaming?

Daniel Gerson

April 26, 2010, 8:32 pm

@MrGodfrey. Everyone seems to forget that a gaming laptop doubles as a mutlimedia machine for 3D work, video editing, image editing etc... and other tasks where you can leverage the hardware. And finally such a machine that enables you to do stuff on the go!!!

When you are at home you can always connect it to a bigger screen.

@Scamevoli The alienware bling is not so bad when you only turn on the keyboard backlighting and switch off all other lights (which you can do).

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