Alienware M11x R3 review
Alienware’s M11x has always been something of a marvel. The first product to transform the concept of gaming laptop from a contradiction-in-terms into genuinely portable reality, the M11x was, and still is, the only 2kg gaming laptop truly worthy of the name.
Now in its third generation, Alienware’s gaming pipsqueak looks the same as ever. The all-black chassis is still gorgeous, the Alien FX lighting beaming out from beneath the keyboard and spilling out of the grilles on either edge. At 2kg, it’s remains a good deal more portly than your average ultraportable, but the pay-off is bombproof build quality. The thick base is fiendishly stiff, and the lid feels stout and largely flex-free.
Beneath that understated exterior, Intel’s second-generation Core processors now take pride of place. There’s a choice between Intel’s 1.4GHz Core i5-2537M and, for a £150 premium, the 1.5GHz Core i7-2617M. Our review unit came with the Core i5 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 256GB SSD. And, while that price at the top of the page looks obscene, fear not. Dump the £530 SSD and the price drops to a far more reasonable £969.
The Intel Core processors have made a big impact. A small amount of overclocking is possible in the BIOS – no more than 3% of the CPU’s base clock – but it’s no longer an essential part of the M11x’s personality: with Turbo Boost 2 kicking into action, the Core i5-2537M in our review unit boosted right up to 2.3GHz when required.
That’s power enough to earn the little M11x R3 a reasonable 0.49 in our application benchmarks. Admittedly, that’s some way behind the score of our reference PC, which sports a 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K, but still quite fast enough for most purposes.
Shift your attention from spreadsheets to first-person shooters, though, and the M11x relishes the challenge. With Nvidia’s GeForce GT 540M alongside the new Sandy Bridge processor, the Alienware scythed through our Low quality Crysis test at a blistering average speed of 80fps. More notable is the M11x’s ability to almost handle Crysis at High quality. At the screen’s native resolution of 1,366 x 768, this gaming monster is capable of racking up an average frame rate of 25fps. Pushing average frame rates, which are more than 20% quicker than the last generation, the M11x R3 is a genuinely capable gaming platform.
Such performance would normally see most gaming laptops falter away from a mains socket, but even here the M11x R3 impresses. Nvidia’s GeForce GT 540M chipset launches forth where 3D grunt is required, and Nvidia’s Optimus graphics-switching technology allows Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 chipset to take the reins for power-efficient desktop duties.
|Dimensions||286 x 234 x 35mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-2537M|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD graphics/Nvidia GeForce GT 540M|
|Graphics card RAM||1.00GB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk usable capacity||238GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Samsung PM800 SSD|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||1|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||3|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||2.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||11hr 5min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 15min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||80fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.49|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Revovery partition|