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

16 thumbs up
Performance Summary: When you have a killer CPU/GPU combo like the Alienware M17x does with the Intel Core i7-3720QM and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M, you know you’re going to have a wickedly powerful system, and indeed, the M17x is an impressive specimen. Except for a couple of aberrations, this rig beat out the competition handily, even over systems with dual GPU configurations.

The only trouble is with the storage setup; the 500GB (7200 RPM) hard drive, even bolstered by the mSATA SSD cache drive, is somewhat pokey in comparison to some other mobile systems we've tested.


Dell Alienware M17x

It’s not hard to throw together a system with every top-of-the-line component possible and call it the best. All you have to do is ignore budget issues and the sky’s the limit for what you can build. What is far more difficult is building a high-performing rig that deftly balances performance and a reasonable cost, and that is mostly what Dell has done with this configuration of the Alienware M17x.

Obviously, Dell didn’t skimp on graphics, rolling with the highest-end NVIDIA mobile GPU available; on the other hand, they didn’t bother with a second GPU in an SLI configuration, which would add a lot to the price tag. On the CPU side, though, opting for the excellent Core i7-3720QM instead of the slightly higher-spec’d Core i7-3820QM saves nearly $200 on the build, and the although the configuration we tested could have had more memory on board, looking at the benchmarks, it wasn’t really necessary.

However, pairing an HDD with a 32GB mSATA caching drive, while facilitating significant cost savings, was a misstep with a machine of this caliber. We’d prefer to drop a little more cash to upgrade to larger SSD, which is indeed an option when you’re configuring an M17x.

One thing that Dell did absolutely right, though, is include the Alien Command Center and other themed software. Those programs feel mature and it’s pleasing to be able to customize a notebook so much without digging around through Windows menus. The lighting scheme is just right, and the front intakes are (still) a very cool feature, although we weren’t big fans of the palm/forearm rests.

In the end, the Alienware M17x is a phenomenal gaming rig that outstrips most of the stiffest competition at a relatively reasonable price. Sure, $2,469 is steep, but the system could easily have cost hundreds of dollars more, and looking around at the competition, that price is probably just about where it should be for what you’re getting. Aside from a few minor complaints concerning ergonomics and storage, the Alienware M17x is a killer refresh of the line that any gamer would be glad to show off.




 
  • Powerful performance
  • Great design and build quality
  • Beautiful display
  • Good included software
  • Weak storage configuration
  • Uncomfortable palm rest
  • Excessive screen glare
  • Heavy
  • Power-hungry
 

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(cough) contest (cough)

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

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i still like ratina macbook pro ~!

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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?

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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.

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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:

http://forum.notebookreview.com/sager-clevo/673583-p150em-upgrading-675m-680m.html

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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!

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