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Alienware M14x - Battery life, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

With Alienware it's a given that you're paying a premium for the brand, build and lights - and arguably, these elements are worth it. Yet with the graphical limitations imposed upon the M14x by its size, those who demand the best visual experience should look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you want to game on the go and are willing to accept a few compromises, you will find much to like.

Alienware M14x

There is, for example, its impressive battery life. In our relatively light test (with the screen at 40 percent brightness, using Intel's integrated graphics rather than the Nvidia card, and with wireless radios disabled), this little beast managed a solid four hours and 47 minutes from its eight-cell/63Wh battery. And though it's not replaceable so you can't carry a spare, it does charge to 50 percent of full capacity in around an hour.

Alienware M14x 2

Really, aside from its somewhat underpowered graphics, our only physical complaint with the M14x is that it gets noisy under load. We were expecting some noise due to the laptop's small chassis, but were hoping its chunkiness would help alleviate this issue. However, when the GPU and CPU are both under load you'd better be gaming with headphones, because you won't be able to hear yourself think over this Alienware's fans. The Asus G73Jh still holds the crown of quietest gaming laptop we've reviewed, though that was a 17.3in machine.

Alienware M14x 3

When it comes to value, there are certainly cheaper - if larger - alternatives out there than this Alienware. And while they won't look or feel as nice, while their keyboards might not be as good nor their lights as bling, they will be able to play Crysis and other demanding games. Both MSI and Asus offer several configurations around the £1,000 mark, with a choice of AMD Radeon 5870 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M graphics – either one of which is noticeably faster than the M14x's GT 555M. There is even a version of the MSI GT680 with a 120GB SSD and 500GB hard drive combo, also including 6GB of RAM instead of this M14x's 4GB and a Full HD 15.6in screen to boot, all for £1450 (around the same price as the Alienware with just a hard drive).

Verdict

There's no denying that Alienware's 14.1in laptop is a beautiful piece of tech. It looks great, with its sleek 'stealth-bomber' lines, red or black matte finish and, most impressive of all, individually controllable light zones. It feels just as good, with solid build, soft-touch plastics and a superb keyboard and touchpad. There's plenty of connectivity, decent battery life and all the specifications you could wish for too. However, it's let down by arguably its key component; its graphics card. It's plenty fast enough to play all games but just not when looking their best, and for a gaming oriented machine that's crucial. Combined with its noisiness under load and premium price this prevents the M14x from receiving our coveted recommendation despite its many strengths.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 8
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 6

Behnam

August 13, 2011, 2:28 am

I don't understand how TR can reccommend this laptop or any alienware/dell laptop for that matter, 8 out of 10 people on forums i've visited complain about alienware.
I hear horror stories of the laptop running so hot that it's internals melt or partially melt, besides that also hear about how horrible the customer service is.
Ofcourse what i read about alienware/dell is not a fact but still when i read so many people warn potential buyers to avoid alienware/dell laptops, then i think there is perhaps some truth in what they are saying.

Torrence

August 16, 2011, 8:51 pm

I'll agree that there is the occational inevitable "lemon" coming out of any manufacturer, a lot of the things you will read regarding "Alienware Sux" are written by folks who know very little about computers and fancy themselves gurus. I am an owner of an M15x, and it handles everything and anything I throw at it without even blinking. It's the strongest laptop I have ever owned, and there is literally nothing else out there like it.

Looks like that still holds true, since the m14x refresh seems to have gone down some as far as available hardware. I got mine just before they discontinued the line and put the 5850 in it - it's truly a gaming beast that goes with you anywhere.

Looking at the designs of other laptops such as the RoG line from Asus and some Sager notebooks - none of them have the flash and the warranty options, and they all cost just the same. You want to talk about horrible customer experiences, go check out Newegg reviews and look at some of the horror stories from people trying to get service out of Asus for their RoG line.

I had one issue with my m15x, and it wasn't even really an issue per se. I reloaded windows (because I like a fresh copy), and the CD didn't come with the software to watch BluRay movies. I called up customer service, gave the tech my info, he logged into my laptop and verified the hardware, and in 10 minutes a digital copy of the software was uploaded to it and I was back to playing with my new machine.

In short, you have to consider the source when reading things on forums, especially the ones that have little to no moderation. Any 12 year old with an opinion can voice it, and it doesn't even have to be objective.

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