Alienware M14x Gaming Laptop Review - HotHardware

Alienware M14x Gaming Laptop Review

47 thumbs up
There's something about the allure of a gaming notebook. Even mainstream users, not necessarily hellbent on frame rates and decked-out designs, can relate to a powerful notebook with striking good looks. It's no wonder that products like Asus' G73 series of notebooks and Alienware's M series, have been some of the most viewed pages of our mobile computing section here at HotHardware.com. Similarly, Dell's recent announcement that they were expanding the Alienware M series line, to flesh out 14-inch and 18-inch versions, was met with a fair bit of buzz as well.  The 14" model especially caught our eye, striking a nice size and weight compromise between the soon to arrive 18" behemoth and the rather svelte M11x we looked at not long ago.

So, of course we reached out to Dell for a review unit and Dell was good enough to respond in short order with their new middleweight contender.

The Dell Aienware M14x is a 14-inch notebook designed in typical Alienware fashion, with rugged, impeccable build quality, adorned in custom lighting with a striking design that's driven by the latest CPU and GPU technologies from Intel and NVIDIA.  Here's the spec sheet rundown for our eval unit...

Alienware M14x
Specifications & Features

CPU
2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2360QM Processor 2.0-2.9 GHz, 3MB Cache
Operating System
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
LCD
14" Glossy Display 1600X900 (1366X768 option)
Chipset
Intel HM67
GPU
NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M with 1.5G GDDR3
Audio
Internal High-Definition 5.1 Performance Audio with WavesMAXX Audio (Standard)
Speaker
2.1 Speaker configuration audio Powered by Klipsch®
Memory
4GB DDR3-1333
HDD
500GB SATA 7200RPM Samsung HDD
Optical Drive
8x SuperMulti DVD±R/RW Slot Load Optical Drive
LAN
10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet
WLAN
Built-in 802.11b/g/n WLAN Card
Wireless HD Video
Vizio Wireless HD Video and Audio Kit, Wireless HD Compatible
Card Reader
9-in-1 Media Card Reader
Webcam
2.0 Megapixel HD Video and Picture Camera with dual digital microphones
USB
USB 2.0 Port with PowerShare Technology, USB3.0 X 2
Bluetooth Option
Internal Bluetooth® 3.0
Video Port
VGA (15-pin, D-Sub), HDMI 1.4, Mini-DisplayPort
Audio Port
(2x) Audio Out 1/8" Ports, (1x) Audio In / Microphone 1/8" Port (retaskable for 5.1 audio)
Keyboard
4-Zone, multi-color RGB, 82 key keyboard with AlienFX lighting controls
Battery Pack
8 Cell Lithium Ion 63whr
Dimension
10.17”(Depth) x 13.27”(Width) x 1.49”(Height)
Weight
6.45lbs
Manufacturer Warranty
1 Year Limited Warranty (Optional up to 4 yrs.)
Price
$1,747.99   (As Tested - $1099 Base Price w/ Core i5 CPU)
 

The Alienware M14x bundle, complete with Vizio Wireless HD Transmitter Kit

Intel's latest Sandy Bridge-based Core i7-2630QM quad-core processor powers the M14x we tested and it's backed up by NVIDIA's GeForce GT 555M mobile graphics processor with 1.5GB of discrete GDDR3 video memory. The combination of these two amigos should power the machine nicely under gaming workloads, even at its panel's native resolution of 1600X900, and of course with HD video content as well. 

Speaking of which, our system came bundled with Vizio's new Wireless HD video/audio transmitter kit, which is capable of outputting up to 1080p signals from the notebook's HDMI port, wirelessly to an HDTV, with less than 2ms latency.  And since the technology is embedded in the M14x unit itself, there is no bulky dongle to mess with.  However, the notebook we tested didn't have this feature enabled, so we unfortunately didn't have the opportunity to test it out.  If the technology works according to its specs and is anything like the WHDI kits we looked at not long ago, it should be a really nice add-on to get your multimedia and gaming moves on with a big screen HDTV.

Let's get a closer look at the M14x itself...

Article Index:

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Thanks for the review Dave. This looks like a beast of machine. The lighting is a really nice touch that Dell has added in. Though I think if I personally were to spend that kind of money I probably would go with a MainGear System.

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It's a great notebook for sure. Dell's Alienware division makes some pretty sweet product.

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Powerhouse laptop for sure. My alienware was good for gaming while it lasted but it ran so hot so at least it sounds like they were able to take care of heating issues with these latest models.

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"A nice little monster thats for sure, the only thing that I'm not wild about is the glossy screen and the price, but Alienware and Dell makes some wicked Mobile machines. I just feel that their Desktop Lineup design needs a complete overhaul, its no attractive anymore and they are not aggressive anymore with overclocking.'

-Optimus

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Gaming laptops are a joke. Expensive whilst having bad performance. We need those desktop grade GPUs externally now! Sony started it but put a crappy lowend mobile GPU in it...make the whole external thing useless.

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http://www.amazon.com/G53SW-XA1-Republic-Gamers-15-6-Inch-Gaming/dp/B004X5XL3Q/?tag=thnenedo-20

$500 cheaper, higher quality, faster ( cpu and GPU) , full HD screen......

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Paintace, good to have you with us. That's a nice machine from Asus for sure but a larger form-factor, so a different animal really. It has the same CPU, not faster but the 460M in the Asus machine is faster than the 555M in the M14x. It's a trade-off really -- size vrs horsepower for the dollar. Both machines have their merits.

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>> The 8-cell battery in the M14x is self-contained and cannot be removed or replaced.

Yikes... I like it otherwise, but that kind of bites. That means that almost no one's going to make replacement batteries. So, when it's dead in a few years, you can pay Alienware a premium to replace the battery, or throw what would be a great web-book/office machine in the trash (it probably won't be good for playing Windows games at that point, but it would be a kick-ass software development box).

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"The 8-cell battery in the M14x is self-contained and cannot be removed or replaced."

This does not seem to be correct. See Dell's website for instructions on replacing the M14x's battery (http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/M14x/en/SM/battery.htm).

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What most laptop reviews are missing is more information about the hardware that's in the unit.

Simply running Lavalys Everest Ultimate or it's replacement will reveal exactly which LCD screen is used,what the stock wireless card is,which ODD is in there and more info about the camera,USB chips,sound,and lan.

I'm sure many potential buyers would like to know exactly what they're getting.

There's a lot more to a laptop than just the CPU and GPU..

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