Alienware M18x Gaming Notebook: Tale of Two GPUs

Alien Command Center and Experience

Alienware's Alien Command Center software suite has been bundled with their M series of notebooks for a while now and the M18x also sports this package. There are three primary sections of the Command Center: AlienFX, AlienTouch and AlienFusion.

Alien Command Center - AlienFX

AlienFX allows you to control the 8 lighting zones of the M18x that we spoke of earlier. As you can see, a jog wheel is available to select colors from for each of the zone individually if you so choose. The keyboard area has four divided zones itself, which could come in handy for certain gaming situations and key-mapping functions.

Alien Command Center - AlienTouch

AlienTouch allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the multi-touch capable touchpad area. We're pretty thankful for this functionality as we often find ourselves accidentally bumping the touchpad on some machines, sending our cursor into a frenzy and wreaking havoc on the desktop.

Alien Command Center - AlienFusion

AlienFusion is where you control the machine's power plan and there is a fair bit of granularity here, with control of things like PCI Express link power under certain power profiles. There are three preset power profiles (Balanced, High Performance and Power Saver) or you can create your own custom profiles. Regardless, AlienFusion goes above and beyond simple Windows Power profile settings and really lets you dial the machine in at the power settings that make the most sense for you.

Switchable Graphics and/or Optimus Not Enabled - Reboot Required

One small downer that we didn't expect to stumble upon was the fact that neither the NVIDIA GeForce-based M18x or the AMD Radeon-based M18x we tested offered dynamically switchable graphics solutions.  As you can see in the above Steam screenshot, with a simple key combination, you can switch between integrated and discrete graphics but a reboot is required.  This is likely due to the multi-GPU configurations we tested, though Dell informed us that currently even single GPU configurations of the M18x, based on NVIDIA or AMD GPUs, do not support existing dynamic switching technologies.

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