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Alienware M18x 18.4-Inch Gaming Laptop Computer

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Alienware M18x Gaming Laptop Review
Image Courtesy Dell

The Bottom Line

May 7 2011 - Alienware's latest gaming laptop comes in the form of the larger than life 18.4-inch M18x system that features a 1920 x 1080 full HD display. Unfortunately, the base M18x is somewhat underwhelming for the price with only 4GB of memory, a small 320GB hard drive, and an average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M 1.5GB graphics card. Luckily, the Alienware M18x can be configured with lots of options, such as dual GeForce GTX 460M graphics card in SLI or two AMD Radeon HD 6970M video cards in CrossFireX configuration. The overall design is nice with programmable macro keys and a cool backlit keyboard.

Pros

  • Large Display
  • Support for up to 32GB of Memory
  • Nice Design with Programmable Macro Key Controls

Cons

  • Very Expensive
  • Many Options Should be Standard for the Price

Description

  • Intel Core i7-2630QM 2.0GHz Quad Core Processor
  • 4GB DDR3 1333MHz Memory
  • 18.4-inch 1920 x 1080 WLED Display
  • 1.5GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M
  • 320GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
  • DVD Burner
  • 9-in-1 Memory Card Reader
  • 12-Cell Battery
  • One HDMI 1.4, One HDMI 1.3, Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, One eSATA Port
  • 17.7" x 12.68" x 2.09" @ 11.93 Pounds

Review - Alienware M18x Gaming Laptop PC

Alienware M18x Macro Key Controls

Alienware M18x Macro Key Controls

Image Courtesy Dell

Do you often feel that a 17-inch display just isn't big enough? The new Alienware M18x is geared toward gamers who want just a little more room for a gaming experience as close to the feel of a desktop as possible. Starting at $1,999 for the base configuration, the system is on the upper end of the price tier - even for a large 18-inch system.

Since the massive 18-inch display is a definite draw for gamers, the display better be good. The 18.4-inch screen is capable of a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is full HD. However, for the price, it would be nice if a higher resolution screen was available considering the display's dimensions, even if it did cost more.

For nearly $2,000, the Alienware M18x is equipped with an Intel Core i7-2630 quad-core mobile processor. This chip runs at 2.0GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.8GHz. Although this is a fast CPU since it deploys Sandy Bridge architecture, it is disappointing that Dell (owner of the Alienware brand) puts the more economical Core i7 in the $1,999 model, even if upgrades are available. For an additional $150, the processor can be changed to an Intel Core i7-2720QM, but this chip also features 6MB of L3 cache. Basically, if you are using single threaded applications, you will benefit from the 2720's increased Turbo Boost speed of 3.3GHz over the 2630's 2.8GHz Turbo speed. Otherwise, the upgrade may not be worth the added cost.

Dell also equips the base M18x with 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory. For this price, it's disappointing since competing gaming laptops usually have 8GB. To make this laptop more future proof, you'll definitely want to consider adding more memory, especially since $2,000 or more spent on a laptop is quite an investment. The laptop supports up to 32GB with memory speeds up to 1600MHz.

The hard drive is also quite small for a gaming laptop. Gamers typically want more space to store applications, multimedia content, and more. The Alienware M18x has a 320GB 7200RPM hard drive in the base model, which just isn't spacious enough for most users. It's worth considering upgrading to a hybrid drive, which is more economical than a full-on SSD. The Alienware M18x also supports RAID, so you can have two 500GB hybrid drives in RAID 0 for $250 more.

Also included in the standard configuration is an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M 1.5GB graphics card. This model is slightly above midrange level with 192 CUDA cores and a texture fill rate of 16.1 billion per second. Available upgrades include adding a second NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M in SLI or going for two AMD Radeon 6970M cards in CrossFireX for an enhanced gaming experience albeit at a high expense as well.

For those wanting to game in 3D, the Alienware M18x does support WirelessHD, which is a $99 option. For that price, you can play games or watch content on a compatible HDTV without the wires and without compression thanks to a max 4Gbps transfer rate. Since the card runs on the 60GHz wireless frequency, it doesn't interfere with your regular wireless network. Please be aware, though, that viewing 3D content requires compatible equipment. Unfortunately, if you want to watch HD movies on the M18x, you'll have to splurge on an optional Blu-ray drive which is an extra $150. The downside is that all of these options really drive the price up.

If you're looking for a larger than life desktop replacement, the choices are quite limited. The Alienware M18x fills that void but with a hefty price tag. It would be nice if certain options were available to users, such as a higher resolution display and a more powerful single graphics card solution. However, if money is not an option it's very possible to configure the Alienware M18x into a powerful gaming laptop that performs at desktop levels in-game. For the price, though, you do get a cool looking notebook with nice lighting and gamer-specific features such as programmable macro key controls.

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