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Alienware M17x R.3 3D 17.3-inch Gaming Laptop

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Alienware M17X R.3 3D Gaming Laptop Review

Alienware M17x R.3 in Stealth Black.

Image Courtesy Dell

Jan 22 2011 - Alienware's first venture into 3D gaming comes in the form of the M17x Revision 3. This 17.3-inch gaming notebook features an upgraded 1080p display and NVIDIA GTX 460M graphics card. The M17x R.3 is customizable, and there are a few options you'll want to consider if you plan on gaming heavily on this system. Thanks to a new Sandy Bridge processor and updated design, the Alienware M17x is a decent desktop replacement if you want 3D capability.

Pros

  • Capable of Displaying 3D Content
  • Soft Touch Finish
  • Available Options

Cons

  • Lack of Memory
  • Small Hard Drive

Description

  • Intel Core i7-2630QM 2.0GHz (2.8GHz Turbo Mode) with 6MB of Cache
  • 4GB DDR3 1333MHz Memory
  • 17.3-inch 1920x1080 120Hz WLED Display with NVIDIA 3D Vision Bundle
  • NVIDIA GTX 460M 1.5GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
  • 320GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
  • 802.11 g/n Wireless
  • Dual Layer DVD Burner
  • Two USB 3.0/2.0 Combo, One eSATA/USB, One HDMI 1.4, One Mini-Display, One VGA Port
  • 9-in-1 Media Card Reader
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
  • 16.14" x 11.96" x 1.77" @ 9.4 Pounds (Starting Weight)

Review - Alienware M17x R.3 17.3-inch 3D Gaming Laptop PC

Alienware M17x R.3 3D Gaming Notebook Review

Alienware M17x R.3 in Nebula Red.

Image Courtesy Dell

In an earlier review, the base configuration of the Alienware M17x R.3 (R.3 stands for Revision 3) was rated. Today, the 3D version of the M17x R.3 is up for review. The price point on this model is substantially higher starting at $1,924 with the upgraded screen and 3D Vision bundle, along with a required video card upgrade.

For starters, since the 3D version of the Alienware M17x R.3 is just an upgraded base M17x R.3, the design is the same. The refreshed M17x features a soft touch finish that was originally in the M11x. Two color schemes are available: stealth black and nebula red. Overall, the M17x R.3 is a nicely designed machine with a great feel.

Considering this review is dedicated to the 3D M17x R3 configuration, it's imperative to discuss the display. The bulk of what drives the price from $1,499 for the base model to $1,924 for the 3D version is the upgraded screen. For $350, you get the NVIDIA 3D Vision Bundle and a full 1080p 120Hz WLED screen with a max resolution of 1920x1080. It's a very nice display that offers gorgeous HD resolution for gaming and enjoying movies.

In order to configure the Alienware M17x R.3 into a 3D model, you'll need to also upgrade the graphics card from the AMD Radeon 6870M to the NVIDIA GTX 460M with 1.5GB of GDDR5. This is in order to take advantage of NVIDIA 3D Vision. Normally for around $2,000, I'd hope for a higher-end card (such as the NVIDIA GTX 480M), but since this system is a 3D model, you're paying for that feature.

Processing power is solid with an Intel Core i7-2630QM that runs at 2.0GHz and can Turbo up to 2.8GHz. This 2nd Generation Sandy Bridge CPU features 6MB of cache. Of course, if you want only the fastest speeds, an upgrade to the Intel Core i7-2820QM with 8MB of cache is available.

Unfortunately, the saying "all good things must come to an end" rings true. While the display and processor offer excellent qualities, the amount of memory does not. For over $1,924, only 4GB of memory is standard. To upgrade to 8GB is another $250. That is absurdly expensive. If you're into gaming and spending this much for a laptop, having only 4GB of memory at your disposal is a definite drawback.

Hard drive space is also a bit scarce at 320GB, although it is a fast 7200RPM model. However, you can purchase two 320GB drives in RAID 0 configuration for $150 more. Another option you may want to consider is upgrading to a Blu-ray drive, since the display features HD resolution.

To sum up the Alienware M17x R.3 (3D model), it's a slick gaming notebook that offers enhanced 3D gameplay. The large 17.3-inch display and high definition screen make it a great desktop replacement. But the lack of memory is a definite bummer. It'd also be nice if a higher performance video card was available as an option, but it is understandable why it isn't. A higher end card draws more power, and more power equals added weight and heat. This brings us to the Alienware M17x R3's dimensions. The weight of the M17x with a 9-cell battery starts at 9.4 pounds, but of course weight is based on how the system is configured. The R.3 is slightly thinner at 1.77 inches compared to the past, which measured in at over 2 inches. While you won't want to lug around the M17x everywhere you go, this desktop replacement can travel with you on occasional trips.

Overall, the Alienware M17x R.3 (3D model) is best suited for moderate gamers looking to play in 3D. It's easy to enjoy HD multimedia, especially when combined with the upgraded Blu-ray drive. The design and soft touch finish add a nice feel to a notebook that is built for gaming.

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