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Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop review

Andy Vandervell

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Alienware M11x - 11.6in Gaming Laptop
  • Dell Alienware M11X 11.6 Inch Notebook (Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300,1.3GHz,4GB RAM,320GB HDD,WLAN,Webcam,Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit)

Summary

Our Score:

9

The words 'gaming' and 'laptop' are frequently used together, but they're uncomfortable bedfellows. Aside from the long lost Zepto Znote 6224W, we can't think of a single "gaming laptop" worthy of the description that weighed less than three kilos and came with a screen smaller than 15 inches. Alienware, which is really just a Dell sub-brand these days, looks to have broken this trend in the M11x.

This much we gleaned from our initial hands-on when the Alienware M11x was announced at CES earlier this year. Since then we've been itching to get our hands on it, counting the days in fact. When it finally arrived our expectations have proved justified. This 11.6in laptop, which weighs just a shade less than two kilos, delivers on its promise with great aplomb.

Leaving aside its gaming focus for the moment, the M11x's most obvious contemporary is the Acer Aspire Timeline 1810TZ. It has the same size and resolution screen, has roughly similar dimensions and utilises the same Intel CULV range of processors. What it adds is dedicated Nvidia graphics and a little of the Alienware special sauce. Unsurprisingly it costs a good deal more - prices start at £748 and our review model would set you back £1,159, but you get a lot more too.

Powering our review unit is an Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300, which has two 1.3GHz cores that share a 3MB Cache. It's not the only option, though, since you can also get the near identical Intel Pentium SU4100. Despite not having the Core 2 Duo moniker and aside from its smaller 2MB Cache, it has the same features and 1.3GHz core clock speed. Considering both can be overclocked to up to 1.73GHz (selectable from the BIOS) and will perform near identically, we'd save the £40 and get the SU4100.

In addition, we have 4GB of 800MHz DDR3 RAM, which is the minimum (and the maximum) we'd recommend on this system. What makes our system particularly expensive is the optional 256GB SSD, which is great if you can afford it but overkill for most people. Alternatively you can choose between 320GB and 500GB 7,200rpm hard drives, both of which bring the price to less than £900. Our preferred specification, which would feature the Intel Pentium SU4100 and 500GB hard drive, would currently set you back £868.99. A 320GB drive further reduces this to £829.00.

One thing that remains constant is the graphics card, which is an Nvidia GeForce GT 335M with 1GB dedicated memory. This chip sits near the top of Nvidia's mobile graphics range, albeit not at the very top, but its ability to play games is the key component of the whole machine. Better yet the M11x can also switch to Intel's integrated graphics to save power, giving you the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, at the moment at least, the graphics switching tech on the M11x isn't the seamless experience offered by Nvidia's Optimus technology - you have to select which GPU you want manually - but rumour has it this is likely to change later this year.

scamevoli

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.

Stuea4

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!

Castalan

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 ....

hankb6d

April 23, 2010, 6:37 pm

Hmmm the Sammy R780 is tempting me

TheLostSwede

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 http://edu.acer.com.sg/nyp/con...

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...

ilovethemonkeyhead

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.





http://forums.hardwarezone.com...





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.

Petrov

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?

MrGodfrey

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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