Alienware M18x Gaming Notebook: Tale of Two GPUs

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Design & Layout

To say the M18x is built for speed would be an understatement.  Though Alienware does pack power efficient notebook components inside, this machine is optimized for performance and a robust computing experience with top-shelf features, size and weight be damned.


The keyboard area of the M18x is roomy and comfortable.  Key caps are slightly beveled toward the center of each key creating a striking surface that conforms to your finger tips.  Key travel is relatively deep and though this is still a membrane keyboard, tactile response is solid and pronounced. 

The keyboard is backlit and has four individual lighting zones. There are also four other lighting zones that can be controlled with Alienware's AlienFX control software. We won't delve into AlienFX again here.  We've covered it extensively in the past and encourage you to check out our recent coverage of the Alienware M14x to get a flavor for it, if you're unfamiliar. 

Lighting accents aside, the speakers behind the front grill area of the M18x actually sound just about as good as it looks.  Reminiscent of the Bat Mobile, or the air intake of a muscle car hood, the front speaker ports offer a fair degree of sound output in the midrange and high-end but lack bass punch, in general.  For notebook speakers, they're not actually half bad, though you won't be replacing your headphones anytime soon.
Ports-a-plenty and then some, including HDMI output and input

The M18x also packs just about any I/O option you could want, including a pair of USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, an SD card slot as well as an Express Card slot and both HDMI output as well as HDMI input.  Our system came configured with an 8X slot load DVD-RW combo drive but other options, including Blu-ray, are available as well.

The bottom side of the M18x has venting that, while under gaming conditions really has no business being on your lap. It gets warm down there, as you'd expect with a pair of screaming fast GPUs inside, as well as a punchy quad-core Intel processor.
The 12-cell Lithium Ion battery in the M18x is a chunky block and you can essentially think of it as a battery back-up with the ability to game for about an hour or so on a full charge.  More details on battery performance later.  The M18x's AC adapter brick is also rather large and puts out about 330 Watts if you can believe that.  It gets warm to the touch under use but keeps within reasonable limits.

Alien vs Predator - DX11, 1920x1080, 4X AA and all the eye candy turned up...

The 18.4 LED backlit display on the M18x is just gorgeous.  The panel has edge-to-edge glass that does occasionally throw a bit of glare at certain angles but other than that, image quality is just plain stunning with this machine.  The colors are vibrant, with deep blacks and scenes rendered that just seem to pop.  Desktop viewing with text is sharp with excellent contrast and color uniformity.  We really can't say enough about the M18x's display.  It's easily one of the nicest screens we've set eyes upon in a notebook form-factor.

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