Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop - Performance & Verdict

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Gauging the performance of the Alienware M11x was always going to be an interesting process. In the end we chose to compare against itself, running all our tests in both dedicated (orange) and integrated graphics (dark grey) modes where possible, and against the Samsung R780. In the case of the latter, its similar pricing provided an interesting comparison even though it's nothing like as portable due to its 17.3in screen

In PCMark Vantage, the M11x performs well. This is boosted by the extremely fast SSD, though, which generated a massive score in hard drive intensive tests - as can be seen in the full results page at the end of the review. There's a small difference in the overall performance with and without dedicated graphics, but the Samsung's full-power CPU gives it an obvious advantage. Subjectively, and outside of purely CPU intensive tasks, the M11x's general performance and responsiveness is very good and it should still be with a standard hard drive.

However, it's gaming performance we're really interested in here, and results were sufficiently impressive. Predictably Trackmania Nations didn't pose a meaningful challenge, with a silky smooth 52.8fps when using the dedicated graphics compared to a slovenly 15.7fps on the integrated graphics. Our more demanding STALKER test, however, was particularly interesting. Not only did the M11x produce a decent 35.6fps, its result matched that of the R780.

To give us some further insight, we tried a few more games, including Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2 and Just Cause 2. Running both at 1,366 x 768, we found MW2 ran very well indeed. Even on Extra Detail and with 2x anti-aliasing we got a smooth 45fps, leaving enough headroom for moments when the action got really hectic. Just Cause was more challenging, though, averaging around 25fps at medium settings and with no AA. It was still playable, however, which is impressive given that the massive draw distances and explosions make this a particularly challenging game.

Overall, while compromise is still necessary, provided you don’t exceed the native resolution (e.g. through connecting an external monitor) you can get playable frame-rates and still enjoy great looking games. For this machine's purposes that's just right.

This performance in games is made to look all the more impressive when you glance at the battery life on offer. Even on the dedicated graphics the M11x lasted a healthy 237 minutes (3hrs, 57mins), but switching to the integrated graphics extended this to a whopping 404 minutes (6hrs, 44mins). In recent memory only the Acer Aspire Timeline 1810TZ, which lasted 523 minutes (8hrs, 43mins), can better this.

We were also particularly impressed with the thermal performance of the system. Naturally, the fan spun up during games, but never did it get uncomfortably hot or outrageously noisy. Given the size of the machine and performance it offers this is an impressive feat.


Arguably the Alienware M11x is the first true gaming laptop. Not only can it play games well, it can be used on the move just like any normal laptop - more so than most, in fact, as its battery life is among the best in the market. We'd probably wait for it to be updated with Nvidia's improved Optimus graphics switching tech, but nonetheless this is an outstanding (and unique) machine.


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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