Alienware M11x R2 review

Price when reviewed

Alienware’s M11x isn’t your usual ultraportable. Most laptops fed by low-voltage processors shudder at the mere thought of 3D gaming, but Alienware’s miniature portable practically salivates at the prospect.

It isn’t long since we reviewed the M11x, but mere months later it’s gone under the knife at Alienware HQ and emerged as the M11x R2. Visually, it’s almost identical, cutting the same bold, futuristic dash as its predecessor. We’re definitely fans of the new Stealth Black lid, though: its smooth, rubbery-feeling matte-black looks far classier than the glossy grey of its predecessor.

Underneath the moody black contours, the M11x R2 has undergone some serious internal upgrades. Intel’s Core 2 architecture has made way for Intel’s Core i5 and i7 ULV chips, and, most importantly, Nvidia’s automatic graphics switching technology, Optimus, now takes a central role.

As a laptop destined to lead dual lives – one-half energy-efficient ultraportable and one-half mighty gaming pipsqueak – Nvidia’s Optimus makes the perfect partner. It’s Optimus that now allows the M11x R2 to switch seamlessly and automatically between the power-frugal Intel HD graphics and the power-hungry Nvidia GT335 chipset. Fire up a game, and the GT335 leaps into action. Fire up Microsoft Word, and Intel takes the lead.

Alienware M11X R2 front

Where Nvidia’s Optimus adds some finesse to the proceedings, Intel’s Core i5 and i7 ULV processors add a bit of brawn. Our review unit came with the more affordable 1.06GHz Core i5-520UM, 4GB of RAM and a stupidly overpriced Samsung 256GB SSD. Dump the SSD and you’ll save £505 right away; more than enough to afford the £180 upgrade to the 1.2GHz Core i7-640UM.

A processor rated at a mere 1.06GHz might sound like a return to the days of the Pentium III, but the Core i5-520UM has all the usual tricks up its sleeve. TurboBoost is capable of shunting the processor up to a maximum of 1.86GHz and, while it’s a mere dual-core processor, those two physical cores are accompanied by virtual Hyper-Threaded cores allowing up to four processing threads at once. The results speak for themselves. The previous model with its Core 2 Duo SU4100 overclocked to 1.73GHz managed just 0.85 in our benchmarks; the Core i5 cruised to 1.10 at stock speed.

Overclocking remains an intrinsic part of the Alienware’s appeal. The previous model provided the ability to run at stock speeds or at a set CPU overclock of 1.73GHz, but with nothing in-between there was little scope for tweaking. And with no guarantee: you either had a CPU capable of a stable overclock, or not. The new BIOS improves matters by allowing the base clock to be pushed up from its standard 133MHz to 166MHz in 1MHz increments. The results still depend very much on the particular CPU, but pushing up to 146MHz left the Core i5-520UM running at 1.17GHz and TurboBoosting to 2.04GHz, and increased its score in our benchmarks to 1.15.

The M11x R2 pushes well ahead of its predecessor in application performance, but our gaming benchmarks weren’t quite the game, set and match we expected. In our least-demanding Crysis test – run at 1,024 x 768 and with detail set to Low – the Alienware managed just 44fps; significantly below the previous model’s average of 55fps. All the evidence points towards the CPU being the limiting factor. As we moved the resolution up to 1,600 x 1,200 pixels and upped the detail to High, the graphics card became the bottleneck, the M11x R2 averaging 14fps, neck-and-neck with its previous incarnation.


Warranty1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions286 x 233 x 33mm (WDH)
Travelling weight2.4kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-520UM
Motherboard chipsetIntel QS57
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size12.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetNvidia GeForce GT335M / Intel HD graphics
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Hard disk usable capacity238GB
Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSamsung PM800
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical driveN/A
Battery capacity5,600mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed100Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
FireWire ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks3
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationFront edge, Under keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use6hr 43min
Overall application benchmark score1.10
Office application benchmark score1.09
2D graphics application benchmark score1.13
Encoding application benchmark score0.99
Multitasking application benchmark score1.21
3D performance (crysis) low settings44fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedN/A

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos