Alienware was incorporated into Dell Corporation back in 2006. While the initial partnership saw innovations that were launched by the two divisions under the prevalent branding and Dell hugging tightly to the employment of XPS in advanced products, the scenario quite changed in June 2009. Dell-Alienware released what they claimed to be their very first co-developed gizmo with the Dell Alienware M17x laptop being showed off amidst much fanfare keeping gamers in mind. The laptop obviously screamed out loud its presence as a replacement to a desktop and you’d have only been ignorant if you didn’t notice it then. Well, we did and couldn’t wait to lay our hands on this monster for a comprehensive review. So is it a powerful gaming warrior weapon or just over-hyped? Bury yourself deep as our investigation reveals what this mean machine that’s out in the wild is all about.
The laptop came packed in a rather huge box with the carton revealing a soft carrying case, a rather huge mouse mat, installation CDs, Warranty support and User manual (was very rectangular, huge and rubberized). The packaging befits the laptop just right. A massive beast of a laptop like it was in deep sleep in the woods lay right among all the accompaniments. The M17x follows a red and black color scheme and is exceptionally bulky, certainly not for the weak-hearted. Portability isn’t what the company had in mind when they were tailoring this device and you’d need serious muscle power if you wish to carry it along with you everywhere. Moving our hands on the top hood gave off a spine-like feel vertically around the center of the laptop. The Alienware skull logo in metal is also infused here and has a red matte and gloss finish all through.
On the top cover, the half-rhombus like portion flaunts a black colored design while the rest of the chassis is deep red. The M17x laptop features speakers that are front-firing on the extreme ends of the base in the glossy portion. With the lid shut, the front view reveals an IR receiver in line with the speakers which is outlined by a deep red hue. The laptop’s back view holds just the AC connector. Dell packs in quite a punch as far as connectivity options are concerned with the M17x spilling over with ports. The left edge includes the security cable slot, VGA port, HDMI, DisplayPort connector, Ethernet, two USB ports, USB/eSATA port and IEEE 1394 A connector. On the right side is an 8-in-1 Media card reader, ExpressCard slot, Optical drive, 2 USB ports, 2 audio out/headphone 3.5mm connectors, a rear surround connector and an audio in/microphone connector. Move to the display area and Dell has upped the ante with two microphones on either side of the integrated camera and camera activity indicator on the top panel.
Opening the closure showboated the Power button in the signature Dell skull form factor. In a line below this on the left side are status lights for Scroll, Caps and Nums while the right edge features Touch Controls for media controls and WLAN connectivity among others. The Dell Alienware M17x obviously feels massive when you open it too but it is pleasing to look at with its clean and aesthetic build. The keyboard fitted in is complete and has a separate number pad akin traditional desktop keyboards. While there is enough space between the keys, unlike the Alienware 15x the alien language representation on the gamer aka WASD keys has been given a miss. Besides the Synaptics TouchPad V7.0 software backing up the trackpad, Dell’s own AlienTouch function in the Command Center helps make it a fully functional one. You can configure the Tapping, Sensitivity and Virtual Scrolling support offered by the trackpad. Though the trackpad area is wide and includes the left and right-click buttons right beneath, it’s a tad bit too small. The empty space in the trackpad’s vicinity though makes for a comfortable wrist area with gaming convenience, especially when attacking through the keyboard.
Personalization options in the Dell Alienware M17x are taken a step further with the committed Command Center. The AlienFusion let us select and create a power plan that suited us best while details could be tweaked in Quick Settings. AlienFX quite reminded us of the very colorful time we spent with Razer’s Lachesis mouse lately. In a similar fashion, though obviously more extensively (it’s the entire laptop in question here) there are 10 regions in the entire laptop that can be given a color treatment of your choice. Well, the laptop is ready to be one center of attraction at various gaming parties. There’s AlienSense too that enables the Facial Recognition software and should you lose out on important settings in the laptop due to viruses or software corruption, Dell’s Alienware Respawn will be more than handy. Restoring the system in a more accurate manner just like how it was when shipped is what it offers. The Dell MyColors attribute took us straight to the StarDock website that throws up a choice of themes which can be used for the desktop, though you’ll have to cough up a ridiculous price for some of them. What’s more, gamers can look forward to benefiting from the infused Intel Rapid Storage technology in this laptop that gives more control on how data is handled between the master and recovery drive.
Coming down to the main intent of the laptop namely gaming, it is pre-loaded with the Steam application which should update and start almost as soon as you hit it if you have a good internet connection. It was quick at getting us registered too and keeps users updated about all the latest games and friends’ activities while also enabling download and playing of games. We dived straight into the single-player puzzle game Portal where we donned the mask of Chell to solve puzzles. The graphics, audio and general quality of gameplay is certainly top-notch with the laptop integrated with EVE Online Tyrannis too for your gaming pleasure.
Gamers interested in the nuts and bolts of this machine can look forward to the Alienware M17x being brawny not just on the outside but the innards as well. With an Intel Core i7 CPU Q 840 operating at 1.87GHz, it comprises of a 4GB RAM and is based on a 64bit Windows 7 Home Premium. The laptop is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled proffering super-fast file transfers and internet access. Besides gaming, the laptop is competent enough to handle all computing tasks efficiently with a 500GB hard drive capacity. The interface is clean, simple and easy to use and isn’t anything users won’t be familiar with. The Dell Dock we’ve seen in a number of notebooks from the company has been left out and logically so as gamers wouldn’t really be missing it. The laptop’s incorporated webcam is a decent snapper for regular home images and videos. The device served up around 1 ½ hour of battery life upon heavy usage with graphic-intensive games.
The laptop is very customizable with loads of options to suit personal preferences.
It’s a stellar in terms of performance too and stays cool even after prolonged usage.
The bulky design will be a put off to gamers who love showing off their weapon of choice at every LAN party in town.
With a pretty reflective screen, the backlit keyboard though neat could be seen as a distraction by many professional gamers.
It could have offered a much better battery life.
Coming down to it, the Dell Alienware M17x is a mean machine having enough arm power to satiate just about any PC gamer. If only the price isn’t flashed out, the laptop would surely feature in the wish list of every technologically sound gamer. Well, it is an expensive toy to play with and we aren’t sure how many gamers would see it as budget-friendly at a price of Rs. 2,27,700. We scream out a sharp 8.5 out of 10 for this gaming arsenal.