Alienware M18x Gaming Notebook: Tale of Two GPUs

Introduction & Specifications

Big, bad and unapologetic. These three words accurately describe the Alienware M18x. Unapologetic about its size, this is a desktop replacement notebook that almost defies the entire category of portable machines. Sure, it's portable, in the sense that you can move it from room to room or perhaps pack it up for a LAN, but you're not tossing this bad boy into a dainty backpack or laptop tote. No, the Alienware M18x steps into the ring weighing in at nearly 12lbs (11.935) and thumbs its nose at would-be competitors. Though mobile components are humming along inside its rugged metal frame, Dell's Alienware division gives gamers and performance enthusiasts the choice to configure a machine with fastest technologies money can buy currently in notebooks.

To that end, in our efforts to evaluate Alienware's new gaming Goliath, the company decided to send us two machines.  We hemmed and hawed; with all that gaming prowess at our fingertips, how would we get any real work done?  Such is the perilous line we walk some days in the lab.  Regardless, the dynamic M18x duo we received for testing were both configured with identical base builds, an Intel Core i7-2630QM quad-core at the helm, but with different graphics subsystems. One M18x came strapped with a pair of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M GPUs in SLI, ready to throw down.  The other machine came packing heat with dual AMD Radeon HD 6990M GPUs in CrossFire, just as angry and twitching to do battle.

Want to watch the benchmark sparks fly?  We did too.  Follow along and stay close.  This is going to get a bit dicey.  First let's fire up a video preview for you to relax with...

Alienware M18x Gaming Notebook
Specifications & Features
2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2630QM Processor 2.0-2.8 GHz, 6MB Cache
Operating System
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
18.4" Glossy Display 1920x1080
Intel HM67
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 x 2, AMD Radeon HD 6990 x 2
Internal High-Definition 5.1 Performance Audio with WavesMAXX Audio (Standard)
2.1 Speaker configuration audio Powered by Klipsch®
6GB DDR3-1333 (as tested, non-standard configuration)
7500GB SATA 7200RPM Seagate HDD
Optical Drive
8x SuperMulti DVD±R/RW Slot Load Optical Drive
10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet
Built-in 802.11b/g/n WLAN Card
Card Reader
9-in-1 Media Card Reader
3.0 Megapixel HD Video and Picture Camera with dual digital microphones
USB 2.0 Port with PowerShare Technology, USB 2.0 x 2, 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)
4-Zone, multi-color RGB, 82 key keyboard with AlienFX lighting controls
Battery Pack
12 Cell Lithium Ion 97whr
12.68”(Depth) x 17.17”(Width) x 2.13”(Height)
11.935lbs (starting)
Manufacturer Warranty
1 Year Limited Warranty (Optional up to 4 yrs.)
Price *
$2599 - $3299 As Tested w/ 4GB DDR3-1600, $2799 - $3499 w/ 8GB DDR3-1600
  * Dell offers a $200 price promotions from time to time on this configuration

It's almost ominous, isn't it?  Our test systems came loaded for bear, complete with Intel Sandy Bridge Core i7 2630QM processors, 6GB of RAM, 750GB Seagate hard drives, USB 3.0 connectivity and of course, the fastest mobile graphics processors on the planet currently.

This notebook is the quintessential desktop replacement machine. It's big, built like a tank and powerful. Let's dive in for a closer look.

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