Alienware M11x Ultra-Portable Gaming Notebook Review

rated by 0 users
This post has 14 Replies | 2 Followers

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 26,390
Points 1,192,475
Joined: Sep 2007
ForumsAdministrator
News Posted: Tue, Apr 13 2010 1:41 PM

Alienware M11x Ultra-Portable Gaming Notebook ReviewDuring the Consumer Electronics Show which took place in early January of this year, we showcased a myriad of upcoming products in our coverage of the event. Of the literally thousands of things we saw at CES, however, we'd consider only a handful of them to be truly stand-out products. One of those geek-lust worthy products, at least in our opinion, was the slick Alienware M11x.

We gave you somewhat more than a glimpse of the M11x in our close-up look at the machine at Dell's display at the show, but we have since gotten one in house and have been able to put it through its paces on our home turf. Our video review of the Alienware M11x utlra-portable gaming notebook is below; an image gallery and full benchmarks follow on the pages ahead...

Alienware M11x Ultra-Portable Gaming Notebook Review

  • | Post Points: 125
Top 100 Contributor
Posts 862
Points 11,010
Joined: Apr 2008
RyuGTX replied on Tue, Apr 13 2010 3:20 PM

I think the battery life for this laptop is pretty amazing. For it to be able to switch to the Intel graphics and getting that long of a battery life is very good in my opinion. This seems like a quality mix of performance and duration of use.

If you think you can’t do something, you’ll never be able to do it. No matter how easy it is.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 5,053
Points 60,715
Joined: May 2008
Location: U.S.
Moderator
3vi1 replied on Tue, Apr 13 2010 3:21 PM

WOW - I'm actually surprised.  At that price I expected it to be a bit less.

When I saw the keyboard I was sure that was going to be the Achilles heal / dealbreaker.  But, if a fellow "keyboard snob" likes it, I guess I won't knock it without trying it.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 5,053
Points 60,715
Joined: May 2008
Location: U.S.
Moderator
3vi1 replied on Tue, Apr 13 2010 3:23 PM

RyuGTX:

I think the battery life for this laptop is pretty amazing.

Yeah, that's one of the main items I found surprising too.  It sounds like it has way better battery life than my Lenovo, and that's running a very poor Intel video chipset.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,248
Points 11,580
Joined: Jan 2005
Location: Florida

The really bad thing is the lack of Optimus on it.  Having to go into your BIOS every time you want to switch from gaming to normal GPU might have been ok in '08/'09, but now'a'days almost every machine will switch between them based on need.

 

Which leads into another problem.  The GPU drivers will *NOT* be updated in a reasonable timeframe (if ever).  This is using old tech that Nvidia is not supporting.  Though I didn't see it mentioned in the article, I'm betting the video drivers are 6 months or more old (with no newer ones out there).  You can not just pull the newest driver from Nvidia, you need ones specificly made for this.

Smooth Creations LANShark "Blue Flame" + ASUS G73JH-A2 + ASUS EeePC S101H

"I frag therefore I am!"

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 318
Points 3,180
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Louisiana
la_guy_10 replied on Tue, Apr 13 2010 3:53 PM

Very respectable numbers put up by this Alienware infused DNA notebook. I was surprised how much better the battery life was against the U30Jc espically on the Integrated side of things. I am however puzzled by the screen quality or lack there of as Dell uses some of the best quality grade A panels in their high end displays all the way back to the Dell Ultra Sharp using the SPVA panel instead of the standard TN panel. I like the look of this Alienware, but if I was buying a laptop today I would stick with the Asus U30Jc reviewed right here at HotHardware on April 5th If you have not checked it out do so as this is the one to get IMO.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,361
Points 48,680
Joined: Apr 2000
Location: United States, Connecticut
ForumsAdministrator
MembershipAdministrator
Marco C replied on Tue, Apr 13 2010 4:12 PM

@InfinityZ - You don't have to go into the BIOS to switch GPUs. You simply have to click on a tray icon and or hit a Fn key combo to make the switch. As for drivers, it's true that NVIDIA won't be posting updates as regularly, but that doesn't mean and enthusiast can't easily mod a set of new drivers to work. I've been doing that for ages.

Marco Chiappetta
Managing Editor @ HotHardware.com

Follow Marco on Twitter

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 498
Points 6,040
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: South Carolina

It looks like Alienware if falling behind the curve in terms of laptop processors. I would like to see Dual Cores in laptops to slowly be phased out, but I can see here that this M11X is giving up processing computing and replacing that with GPU strength, and it also keeps the cost down. This is actually a very affordable machine for it being an Alienware.

The design of the M11X is really simple, but it's functional, and I like that. The notebook itself somewhat resembles a sports/luxury vehicle especially when you consider the light customization options for the keyboard and logo. Are there laptops that come with DVI ports, I really only see VGA, or is there a hardware issue I'm not aware of?

I was a little disappointed that this version didn't have auto correcting discrete graphics, but it will had a discrete GPU which is still impressive. The screen, as you mentioned, could have used some work. Usually people associate a glossy screen with really rich and vibrant colors. I know that you were using a camera to try and capture color across two mediums, so maybe the added film grain and lighting conditions added to what we saw on the desktop.

Overall the computer had a really good rating, it was just that dual core that was bottlenecking it's potential. Like I said, it's understandable, games aren't optimized for quad cores yet, and the cost effectiveness will probably influence more potential buyers.

Great Review Marco!

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 3,795
Points 40,670
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: New York
Inspector replied on Tue, Apr 13 2010 4:49 PM

Great review. The M11x is a great system and the discrete GPU is nice and its small and portable so its a great gaming rig. Heck it might even be better then my current desktop... lol

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,809
Points 18,105
Joined: May 2009
Location: Waikiki

Great review Marco,

Although the Video refreshed itself three times before I got all the way through it? And it played the advertisement before each one?

Left for dead looked pretty smooth there! I love the illuminated keys. I have always wondered why more manufacturers have not integrated that as an option on all systems.

I like the HDMI out which will make it fun to port to the TV. I just wonder why no Blutooth, it would make Headset choices easier.With only two USB ports it could be tricky.

Y'all know my thoughts on Netbooks. As far as they go, this one makes a whole lot more sense! I would definitely get one of these before a PSP!

My only concern is the timing. Are they saying anything about the expandability,...

Will the M11x ever be able to handle DX11?

Intel Core i7-875K Quad
Asetek 510LC 120MM
4GB Kingston Hyper-X DDR-3
ASUS P7P55D-E Pro
CyberPower 800 PSU
Kingston 64GB SSD 
2 Hitachi 1-TB HDD'S
FirePro V8800
8X Blu-Ray DVD±R/±RW
HPw2207 22" LCD
Cintiq 21UX
CoolerMaster 690II Advance
Win 7 Pro 64 bit
Special thanks to HotHardware.com!
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 100 Contributor
Posts 862
Points 11,010
Joined: Apr 2008
RyuGTX replied on Tue, Apr 13 2010 11:49 PM

Marco C:

@InfinityZ - You don't have to go into the BIOS to switch GPUs. You simply have to click on a tray icon and or hit a Fn key combo to make the switch. As for drivers, it's true that NVIDIA won't be posting updates as regularly, but that doesn't mean and enthusiast can't easily mod a set of new drivers to work. I've been doing that for ages.

 

Thanks for confirming. That would have been a horrible move if switching GPUs had to be done in the BIOS. I assumed it was via the tray tools like on my friend's HP (i3 and some AMD gpu). I didn't think to look further into it and see what options it had, but when I opened the lid to bring the computer from sleep mode, it prompted me if I wanted to switch graphics. Almost felt like the program was measuring the load and wanted to confirm if I wanted to make the switch. Not sure because I was only using it to look up a few things really quick.

Is there anything like that on the Alienware M11x as an option? Or is it purely manual?

 

If you think you can’t do something, you’ll never be able to do it. No matter how easy it is.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,361
Points 48,680
Joined: Apr 2000
Location: United States, Connecticut
ForumsAdministrator
MembershipAdministrator
Marco C replied on Wed, Apr 14 2010 8:57 AM

It's purely manual.  It's just a matter of hitting a key-combo to switch though and doesn't require a restart.

Marco Chiappetta
Managing Editor @ HotHardware.com

Follow Marco on Twitter

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,809
Points 18,105
Joined: May 2009
Location: Waikiki

I also like how Y'all are now using Star Trek Online for the screen images!

I hope they come out with a DX11 upgraded version of it soon. At least it finally materialized, unlike the Stargate game.

Ka' Pla !

 

Intel Core i7-875K Quad
Asetek 510LC 120MM
4GB Kingston Hyper-X DDR-3
ASUS P7P55D-E Pro
CyberPower 800 PSU
Kingston 64GB SSD 
2 Hitachi 1-TB HDD'S
FirePro V8800
8X Blu-Ray DVD±R/±RW
HPw2207 22" LCD
Cintiq 21UX
CoolerMaster 690II Advance
Win 7 Pro 64 bit
Special thanks to HotHardware.com!
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,248
Points 11,580
Joined: Jan 2005
Location: Florida

@ Marco, then that means they did an update from the early review models that other sites got and reviewed, which required a change in bios to switch video cards.

Have you tried moding a current set of driver and seeing if they work fine with the laptop?  Just interested.

Smooth Creations LANShark "Blue Flame" + ASUS G73JH-A2 + ASUS EeePC S101H

"I frag therefore I am!"

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 158
Points 1,735
Joined: Mar 2010

This laptop (sorry, netbook! :P ) is getting awesomer and awesomer the more I read about it. Probably better than my current desktop, light, portable, Alienware build quality I would guess, and pretty sweet battery life. Speaking of battery, that's the reason I'm resurrecting this topic after three days of inactivity: I see that the battery is not removable. This might be a problem on long trips I guess, when you have to recharge for a while before you can leave it unplugged, but my real concern is that once the battery starts losing its charge, it will be much more difficult to replace. By then the warranty will have expired and one could try to replace the battery on their own, if luckily it's an accessible unit and not like the one in the MacBook Air.

BTW, THIS thing should be the next contest prize, IMO. :P

  • | Post Points: 5
Page 1 of 1 (15 items) | RSS