Alienware M11x R3 review

£1499
Price when reviewed

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.

Alienware M11x R3 - front

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.

Warranty

Warranty 1yr on-site

Physical specifications

Dimensions 286 x 234 x 35mm (WDH)
Weight 2.000kg
Travelling weight 2.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2537M
Motherboard chipset Intel
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
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
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 256GB
Hard disk usable capacity 238GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Samsung PM800 SSD
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 7,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel 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
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Underside
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 2.0mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

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
Responsiveness score 0.60
Media score 0.51
Multitasking score 0.35

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Revovery partition

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