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Alienware M14x - Performance and Gaming

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Alienware is all about getting some serious power under those shiny, luminescent exteriors (as long as you're willing to pay for the privilege), and the M14x is no exception. Our sample sports a quad-core Intel 'Sandy Bridge' Core i7-2630QM, which runs at 2GHz by default and clocks up to 2.9GHz. This chip offers more power than many games will know what to do with, and opting for a dual core Core i5-2410M will save you £140 while still providing enough muscle for the majority of games.

Alienware M14x

Results here are severely skewed by the Alienware's 256GB SSD, as this aside performance should actually be lower than the GT680R.

It's backed by 4GB of RAM, which you can upgrade to 8GB for 'only' £160! The hard drive on our review sample is the top-end option. Rather than one of the 7,200rpm hard drives which come in up to 750GB sizes, our machine rocks a 256GB SSD. It adds a whopping £430 to the price, and that's the cheapest SSD experience available – Alienware doesn't offer smaller capacities. To be honest this takes ridiculous to a whole new level, and we rather prefer MSI's combo SSD and hard drive setup, as found in the £1,450 configuration of its GT680.

Anyway, as long as you have the cash, so far this 14in gaming laptop offers all the power you could want. But how do its graphics hold up? This crucial area is where we most often find compromises, and unfortunately that holds true for this little beast. Because no matter how fat your wallet is, the only option is an Nvidia GeForce GT 555M. Whether you pay the extra £130 to double its RAM to 3GB, as on our review sample, will really make very little difference in most games. It's the card's GPU power rather than its memory that limits it.

Alienware M14x

Just consider, you're getting a card that's two families below the mobile top-end, with Nvidia's 560M and 580M series above it. Alienware was probably constrained by the physical dimensions on offer here, but it's still disappointing. Mind you, with less demanding fare the M14x still holds up well. Even with details turned up to maximum, it managed a 41.4 frames per second (fps) average in Stalker: Call of Pripyat at the screen's native 1,600 x 900 resolution.

Alienware M14x

However, the four year-old Crysis can still bring the GT 555M to its knees without trying, even on 720p (1,280 x 720). At high detail it maintained a just-about-playable 27fps average, but knocking the detail up to full had it limping along at 17.4fps. So basically, this £1830 gaming laptop can't run intensive titles at the settings they were meant to be played at, and it won't regardless of the amount of money you're willing to throw at it.

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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