The Bottom Line
- Anodized Aluminum Case
- Wide Range of Customization Options
- Extremely Large and Heavy for 17-inch Laptop
- Intel Core i5-520 Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 250GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 17" WXGA+ (1440x900) Display
- ATI Radeon Mobility HD 5870 Graphics Card With 1GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Four USB 2.0, eSATA, FireWire, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, ExpressCard/54, 8-in-1 Card Reader
- 16" x 12.7" x 2.1" @ 11.7 lbs
- Vista Home Premium 64-bit
Guide Review - Alienware M17x 17-inch Desktop Replacement Laptop PC
Jul 5 2010 - Alienware's M17x laptop is a very large system that is designed more for performance than portability. Even though it has a 17-inch display, the system is very thick, closer in size and weight of laptops featuring 18.4-inch displays. Having said that, much of the size is there to properly handle the extra performance options available for the system including dual hard drives for RAID and multiple graphics processors for CrossFire graphics. The version reviewed however does not include these and is priced at a much more reasonable $1799.
The Alienware M17x has a very unique and different case that is worth mentioning. It uses an anodized aluminum that gives it a very sturdy and sleek look. Rather than soft edges, the design is very angular that gives it very distinctive look. The design is also very well suited to the high performance components ensuring that they get properly cooled when under heavy load.
As mentioned above, performance can be extremely strong if the system is tricked out with a variety of upgrades. The base system is much more subdued although it does perform quite well. The Core i5-520M processor only features two cores compared to many competing systems that use the quad Core i7-720QM. This doesn't impact its gaming performance much as most games aren't written to take advantage of more than two cores. Those needing the extra performance can always upgrade.
The big feature are the graphics. The 17-inch base display uses a fairly low 1440x900 resolution which some may not mind but it is lower than many similarly priced 17-inch laptops. The ATI Radeon Mobility HD 5870 graphics processor will have no troubles running the latest Direct X 11 games up to this resolution. It can even handle the higher resolution 1920x1200 upgraded panel but the CrossFire upgrade will allow full use of filters as well. There are some newer laptops that use the GeForce GTX 480M with higher performance but it requires even larger power and cooling.
The base storage features on the Alienware M17x are well below the average laptop system. The 250GB hard drive provides half of what competing laptops offer. It does spin at the higher 7200rpm rate which helps mitigate some of the performance issues. Larger harder drives are available as well as secondary drives in a RAID 0 array for performance or RAID 1 for data protection. Dell also offers solid state options. Optical storage is handled by a fairly typical dual layer DVD burner for recording and playback of CDs and DVDs. Blu-ray writers and combo drives are available as an option but it is fairly expensive.
The Alienware M17x's big issue though is price. With a base price of $1799, it is possible to find similarly equipped laptops for less or for the same price with additional features.