Alienware M14x Gaming Laptop Review

Article Index

Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Alienware designed the M14x with certain compromises that had to be accommodated.  Obviously, this smaller form-factor of gaming notebook, in order to meet its thermal constraints, had to be configured with more midrange components.  Performance-wise, what the system put forth was exactly what we expected. 

The M14x handily powered past mainstream notebooks with solid multimedia-targeted hardware on board with discrete GPUs even. Under gaming conditions, it surged past these competitive platforms even more so.  Under heavy-duty gaming conditions, however, and versus full-sized desktop replacement gaming notebooks, the M14x doesn't quite have the chops to keep up with the big boys, though this was to be expected.  After all, this is a 14-inch, 6.5lb machine and very portable as a result.  It's not a road warrior solution for business travelers, but then again, it's not going break your back like some of the other boat anchor machines we tested it against.

As we noted early on, gamer-class notebooks seem to get a lot of attention around here and elsewhere. And for good reason, top-shelf notebooks like Alienware's M14x are a pleasure to use for a number of obvious reasons. With the M14x you get absolutely impeccable build quality and great looks that will even turn heads of non-gamers or enthusiasts. The 14-inch high resolution display that was configured in our machine was very easy on the eyes and the M14x's keyboard, all backlit and ready for game time, was just as comfortable to use as the display was nice to look at.  Performance-wise, the numbers told the story easily.  This is one of the fastest 14-inch notebooks we've ever tested under any test condition, gaming or otherwise.  Again, if you wanted to wring more performance out of this machine, the only upgrade we'd suggest is a fast SSD as the boot drive.  At that point, you'd have portable gaming nirvana.

On the downside, we weren't fond of the rather audible fan whine emitted from the M14x while gaming, but we've heard similar acoustic challenges in just about any machine with a discrete GPU in this size and weight class. That's no excuse but at this point, it's sort of comes with the territory.  The other aspect to consider here is price.  Though you can find similarly configured notebooks at lower prices, what we found was you'd have to make compromises with a lower resolution display, lower grade build quality and other lower grade component as well, like smaller batteries etc.  All told the M14x, though definitely designed for the high-end market, actually offers a reasonable return on investment when you consider the total package. 

If you're the type that doesn't want to compromise much on gaming performance and style but need a notebook in a reasonably portable size and weight, the Dell Alienware M14x is for you.  And we liked it so much we're giving it an Editor's Choice.

  

  • Fast general purpose and gaming performance
  • Killer good looks with custom lighting
  • Rubberized coating feels sturdy and doesn't attract fingerprints
  • Two USB 3.0 ports
  • Gorgeous 1600X900 14" display, though a bit glossy
  • Super-comfortable back-lit keyboard
  • Exceptional build quality
  • Great sounding speaker system for a notebook
  • Fans get a bit noisy when gaming
  • Pricey but you get what you pay for

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