Alienware M11x Review

Alienware M11x Review

ÿIn the past, Alienware’s laptops have been anything but compact. In fact, the company’s whole strategy with their laptop line has been to market them as “portable desktop replacements.” While Alienware’s 15-inch and 17-inch powerhouses can be transported easily, using them on the road is difficult due to their bulky chassis and short battery life. Fortunately, the crew over at Alienware took note of the absence of an ultra-portable gaming solution in the laptop market and at CES 2010 introduced their answer: the M11x. Boasting a slim, lightweight 11-inch design, the ability to run high-definition games at high specs, and a starting price of just $799, the M11x seems like an unbeatable product. Does it live up to its promises? We put the M11x through the paces and find out psp games.

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When we first saw the M11x at CES 2010, we were quick to liken it to a netbook, but after spending time using the system, we’ve learned otherwise. Although the M11x may bear a striking resemblance to the standard netbook archetype ? a sub-12-inch display, slim, lightweight casing, wireless connectivity, and no disc drive ? the similarities end as soon as you start it up for the first time. Netbooks are, by definition, specialized for web applications; checking email, browsing the internet, etc., however the M11x is capable of far much more. For one, every M11x comes standard with a full 64-bit edition of Windows 7, and it runs the hefty PC operating system with ease, booting up in less than a minute. Furthermore, each system comes loaded exclusively with a 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M graphics processor, which is capable of powering a wealth of high-definition games.

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Check out our video review of the M11x.

Our System’s Specs

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.3GHz
GPU: 1GB NVIDIA GT 335M
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Memory: 4GBs of DDR3 Memory
Hard Drive: 500GB SATA II
Other Features: Bluetooth Module, WWAN Port
MSRP: $1,099
The M11x’s graphical prowess is substantial for a system of its size. Naturally, the M11x cannot compete with a full-sized tower loaded with dual GPUs and high-speed processors, but its ability to run detailed games at high specs is certain to impress. We tested the M11x with a diverse collection of games, ranging from the visually jaw-dropping Mass Effect 2 to the no-frills, but relentlessly fun Left 4 Dead. The M11x met, and in most cases surpassed, our expectations with just about every we tested. We were most surprised by the M11x’s ability to run Mass Effect 2 with every visual effect turned on and resolution set to maximum (1366 x 768). Not only did Mass Effect 2 run at maxed out specs, but it consistently ran above the industry standard of 30 frames-per-second. The average framerate for Mass Effect 2 at max specs on our M11x was around 45 frames-per-second, although at times it reached up to 50 or 60 frames per second.

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While Mass Effect 2 took the cake in terms of the most visually astounding benchmark title we used when testing the M11x, we saw impressive results with other titles as well. Borderlands was the next most recent title we tested, which despite its seemingly less demanding visual style, ran slightly slower than Mass Effect 2, which we attributed to its more numerous enemies and more extensive interactive environments. Still, with settings set high on Borderlands, we found the M11x the game at an average of 30 to 40 frames-per-second, momentarily dipping just below 30 during intense combat. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the M11x handled the zombie hordes of Left 4 Dead with no framerate drops of any kind at maxed out settings, running at an average of 50 frames-per-second. Finally, we gave the M11x a runthough with the RTS favorite ? Company of Heroes. Given the large, detailed maps paired with multiple enemies, on-screen and off, we expected only average results, but to our surprise the M11x ran the game with little or no system strain.

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Running an RTS like Company of Heroes also gave us an opportunity to get a feel for the M11x’s keyboard, which is larger than those you typically find in a laptop of this size. The keyboard extends from edge to edge, and the keys are of comparable size to that of a Logitech G19 keyboard. While the M11x’s keys are sizable, they are extremely low-profile and, at times, hard to differentiate without looking directly at. The directional keys seemed to be crammed in the lower right section of the keyboard, but since a majority of titles rely on the W-A-S-D key arrangement for movement, it’s rarely noticeable during use. The M11x’s trackpad, on the other hand, is quite impressive given the limited surface area Alienware had to work with. The trackpad is textured for a little extra grip and incredibly responsive, making it functional for gameplay control if mouse control is not available or ideal.

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Like it’s full-sized brethren, the M15x and M17x, the color of the M11x’s keyboard illumination can be altered to match just about any color in the RGB spectrum, ranging from red to pink to white using Alienware’s proprietary AlienFX software. Unlike the M15x or M17x, however, the keyboard has only one color zone rather than three. Otherwise, users can alter the colors of the the row of indicator lights just above the keyboard, along with the alien head power button, and speakers. Each color zone can be programmed to actively transition between two colors, glow a solid color, or pulsate.

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