Alienware M17x R4 (2012), Ivy Bridge and Kepler Refresh

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The term “laptop” can only be loosely applied to the nearly 9.39-pound Alienware M17x--you don’t exactly want to have the thing perched on your lap for any extended period of time. But you know what? Who cares. The M17x is a powerful and (mostly) portable gaming rig, and Dell can call it anything they want; awesome by any other name is still awesome.

The M17x has been in Dell’s Alienware lineup for a while, but now it’s been refreshed with the latest and greatest in mobile components, packing an Ivy Bridge CPU and the newest NVIDIA Kepler-based mobile GPU. The Intel Core i7-3720QM (2.6GHz/3.6GHz Turbo, 6MB cache) is one of the highest-end mobile processors in Intel’s Ivy Bridge lineup, taking a backseat only to the Core i7-3820QM.

Here's a quick look at the beast in action before we dig into the particulars...

Dell paired the Intel chip with NVIDIA’s smokin’ hot GeForce GTX 680M (2GB GDDR5) GPU for a massive one-two gaming punch. In addition to an intense of amount of graphics firepower, the 680M includes NVIDIA's Optimus technology. Optimus is switchable graphics technology that intelligently and automatically alternates between the battery-friendly integrated graphics (in this case, the Intel HD 4000 series) and the more powerful discrete GPU for a balance of performance and battery life.

Dell Alienware M17x R4 - Ivy Bridge and GeForce GTX 680 Refreshed

Alienware M17x Gaming Notebook
Specifications & Features


Operating System:








Optical Drive:



Card Reader:



Video Port:

Audio Port:


Battery Pack:



Manufacturer Warranty:

3rd Generation Intel Core i7-3720QM Processor @2.6-3.6GHz, 6MB cache

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

17.3-inch WideFHD 1920 x 1080 60Hz WLED

Intel HM77


Creative Sound Blaster Recon3Di HD 5.1 w/THX Tru Studio Pro

2.0 Speaker configuration audio powered by Klipsch

8GB DDR3-1600MHz

500GB SATA Hitachi 7200RPM, 32GB mSATA Samsung PM680 caching SSD

Slot-Loading Dual Layer Blu-ray Reader (BD-ROM, DVD±RW, CD-RW)

Integrated 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet NIC

Killer Wireless-N 1103 a/g/n 3x3 MIMO with Bluetooth 4.0

9-in-1 Media card reader

2.1MP full HD camera with dual digital microphones

USB 2.0 /eSATA 3Gbps combo port with PowerShare Technology, USB3.0 x 4

VGA (15-pin, D-Sub, HDMI-1.4 output w/ audio, HDMI 1.3 input w/ audio, mini-DisplayPort

(3x) Auto-sensing jacks for Line-out (2 line out; 1x SPDIF/Headphone), Microphone Input jack

4-Zone, multi-color RGB, 82 key keyboard with AlienFX lighting controls

High Capacity 9-cell Lithium Ion (90whr)

11.97x16.14x1.75 inches (DxWxH)

9.39lbs (starting)

1 Year Limited Warranty (Optional up to 4 yrs.)

$2,469 (as configured) 

The M17x is further outfitted with 8GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, a beautiful 17.3-inch WideFHD 1920x1080 WLED display, and a host of I/O ports including four USB 3.0 and HDMI in/out. Although the storage drive is a solid, if somewhat modest, 500GB (7200RPM) SATA drive, it’s paired with a 32GB mSATA drive for SSD caching and a nice boost in performance.

What’s under the hood is always most important, but Dell definitely didn’t ignore the exterior; let’s have a closer look...

Image gallery

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CDeeter 2 years ago

(cough) contest (cough)

That's one sweet laptop! Love the lighting effects, and it has all the performance I need =)

goingout1231 2 years ago

i still like ratina macbook pro ~!

3vi1 2 years ago

Great review. One question:

I didn't see the $116 power-brick pictured in the review. Since I imagine you'll be carrying it with you everywhere due to the battery life, I'm curious as to how big/heavy it is. Is it surprisingly small, or is it like I picture: with wheels and an extendable handle for easy dragging?

BDarr 2 years ago

The power brick only weights about 2-4 pounds i say but yes the battery life sucks with them. You can only go 2 hours with power saver and the ALienwar fx off.

OleTrondheim 2 years ago

Great review Seth. A bit disappointed that there wasn`t a 7970M to compare against though.

As for GTX 680M test, included Battlefield 3 and other games, there is a user that is testing it right now:

GTX 680M runs very cool even with huge overclock. A great GPU indeed

BDarr 2 years ago

Alienware laptops are pretty bad Ive had countless problems with mine and they still won't send me a new one even though i have the warranty for it. You can make/customize a laptop from a no name company for cheaper and it will last the same amount of time. You are buying an Alienware for the looking and brand instead of the customer service and quality they used to provide before Dell bought them out. Wish i would have never bought it.

Owner of a M15x Alienware laptop.

krammer66 2 years ago

It is not just Alienware! I just had a Toshiba Qosmio X775 880 great machine but I almost sent is back for the 5th time until corporate sent me a refurbished machine then month later I purchased the M17x. We only read more about the bad then the good replying about their satisfaction.

wuyu0109 2 years ago

I didn't see the $116 power-brick pictured in the review. Since I imagine you'll be carrying it with you everywhere due to the battery life, I'm curious as to how big/heavy it is

WStare 2 years ago

I notice the reviews are always the upgraded to the max versions, the ones the most of us can't afford.

The base model has only  a GTX 660m a 500GB HDD and 6GB of memory and only 1600x900 screen and is $1499.99 to start, I could build or have made a Supper Gaming Desktop or a great gaming laptop for far less than this.

Eye candy shouldn't cost that much more!

Fire_Rider 2 years ago

All the video through I was waiting for a game to be played, Like Stalker or whatever.

All those ports I see in the description!

Freightbum 2 years ago

I have had my M17x R4 since May 2012. This is my third and best laptop I have ever had. I'm fan of Total War games and Guild Wars 2 and this rig can handle anything that comes up. I keep this on a laptop cooler with a 220mm fan and the Alienware fans only really kick in on Shogun 2 when fighting with large armies. Which puts more stress on the cpu than the gpu. The differents in the rig reviewed here and mine is that I have the Ivy bridge 3820 cpu, AMD 7970, and the 32ssd and 750 gb hard drives. If you travel and like to play games and don't mine carring a extra 15 lbs around (adding backpack and other nic nacks) this is the way to go.

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