Dell Alienware M18x Review – Best gaming laptop for the upmarket audience
Alienware laptops are in a world of their own. These machines are far from portable, they aren’t made for people who travel a lot all the time. On the other hand, the specs onboard are top notch and all hardcore gamers will certainly drool on them. I got M18x in my labs for testing and this beast comes with 18 inches full HD display which will give you an idea about how massive it is. Inside, there is Core i7 overclocked chip which runs are four GHz and for graphics, there are two of most powerful GPUs from NVIDIA. Wireless HD streaming too is available on board. All these specs will dig a deep hole in your pocket with a price tag of $5,552. Let’s see what this machine is all about in more detail.
Dell Alienware M18x Design :
It is hard to find a laptop that is as monstrous looking as the Alienware ones. Even the 11 inches model is a bit hard to carry around. The design of this machine is quite similar to its predecessor, the M17x. There is aluminum lid on the top (my review model was in Nebula Red and there is an option of black too). It is adorned along with Alienware chrome logo located in center and on the bottom, there is rubber panel. Deck resists any fingerprints courtesy of soft-touch black finish. There are the backlit distinctive grilles located on the either end which is typical of Alienware machines.
My Dell Alienware M18x review model was 17.2 by 12.7 by 2.1 inches and it weighs around 13 pounds. Other 18 incher laptops are much behind. I reviewed Acer Aspire 8951G before which was just 8.8 pounds. The power adapter of the Alienware machine itself is four pounds heavy.
One thing about the design that I really liked was the lighting. You get to change keyboard, front grille, logos, and also the ring around touchpad. There are a lot of different options which you can apply according to your mood. It is simpy awesome. There is something called AlienFX app for changing the controls and it is fun to use. I spent a lot of time in my review sessions playing around with the colours.
Alienware M18x The keyboard and the touchpad :
Alienware M18x keyboard is huge which isn’t unexpected considering that this is an 18 inches system. There is full number pad located on the right side and on the left, there are set of 5 macro buttons. Top of column has a button for switching between the three modes and hence you get to have fifteen macros for each game.
Keys of the keyboard are large enough but the manufacturer should have bevelled them for giving more of space on the top for resting the fingers. There is also some flex to the layout particularly on left side close to ASDW buttons. You won’t notice this much while typing but I don’t expect flex on a laptop that has such a big price tag.
Alienware M18x touchpad is 3.9 by 2.2 inches and this size is the same as that on the M17x, the predecessor. I would have appreciated if the manufacturer had made the trackpad a bit larger even though all gamers will be using external mouse. This trackpad is through Synaptics and it has multi-touch gesture support. You will have to go the settings and turn it on as the manufacturer has turned them off out of the box. I wasn’t really happy with them though as rotate and pinch-to-zoom weren’t working as well as that on the other laptops.
Dell Alienware M18x Display :
Dell Alienware M18x gaming laptop comes with huge 18.4 inches WLED screen having a resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels. Graphics look awesome and panel is glossy with edge to edge glass. I checked out few games and movie and really got involved in them. Blu-ray makes things even more fun due to the higher quality images.
Dell Alienware M18x Audio :
This laptop comes with Klipsch 5.1 surround sound speakers which gives true, powerful and loud audio. I haven’t seen such audio quality from other laptop speakers but then, I did expect superior quality considering the price tag.
HD Wireless streaming :
We saw this first on M17x and this one too has WiHD or WirelessHD streaming built in. It will stream data at speeds of four Gbps on spectrum of 60 GHz. The range is of sixty feet. There isn’t any latency unlike WiDi technology of Intel and you get to stream the protected control like Blu-ray content to compatible receiver. My review model had Vizio XWH200 receiver and the manufacturer is selling transmitter and receiver for $229 separately.
Dell Alienware M18x Gaming :
This was something that I was really looking forward to on this machine. The manufacturer has put two GeForce GTXs which are one of the most powerful GPUs in the market right now. Each has 2GB video memory. The gaming performance was the best I have seen in any laptop and this isn’t a surprise considering the hardware inside. World of Warcraft gave me 164 fps at 1080p which is awesome. Far Cry ran at 151 fps with effects maxed out. Compared to this Asus G74SX, which i reviewed earlier, gave me just 97 fps. You will have a great time playing games on the M18x.
I then extended the display to 55 inches Samsung HDTV Plasma through WiHD. I played Iron Man Blu-ray in full screen. I played a lot of games with settings on max but I never got any hiccups. The gaming prowess of this laptop is incredible.
My Alienware M18x was priced at $5,500 but you can go higher than that too. A rig with Windows 7 Ultimate, Intel Core i7-2920XM which was over clocked to four GHz, 16 GB DDR3 memory running at 1,600 MHz, dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M graphics processor, 256GB dual SSDs, Wireless HD, Killer Wireless-N Wi-Fi, Blu-ray slot loading drive, will put you back by $6,500.
But if you are short on cash and still want the M18x, then here is the configuration for you – Windows 7 Home Premium, 2 GHz i7-2630QM Intel Core chip, 4 GB DDR3 memory running at 1,333 MHz, 1x Nvidia GeForce GTX560M graphics card (1.5 GB), 7,200 rpm 320GB hard disk, DVD burner, Wi-Fi – Intel Advanced-N 6200.
There are other options available onboard like dual AMD Radeon HD 6990M GPU having CrossfireX along with SSD hybrid drives. There is just one thing left to desire – SATA 6 GB SSDs supports. I asked about this to the company rep and he told me that they were working on this and that it is in the pipeline.
Dell Alienware M18x Battery :
With such high end components inside, you can’t really expect stellar battery life. Still, I was surprised that this machine lived for about 1 hour and 46 minutes in my testing. I did web surfing Wi-Fi. Heavy gaming would have sucked the battery juice faster. There is no Nvidia’s Optimus technology of graphics switching here. Also, let me tell you that if this beast was running on a single GPU, then the battery would have lasted for 3.36 hours.
Dell Alienware M18x Price :
Expect the pricing for Dell Alienware M18x gaming laptop to be around $2,088 USD (Rs. 92,700 approx).
Alienware M18x is an awesome machine but not many can afford it. Even if there is enough money in the bank, i’d doubt if anyone would spend such big bucks on a gaming laptop. Get PS3 instead. But let me tell you that the performance is awesome. You don’t get a lot of notebooks having two graphic cards in the market. This laptop has everything that a gaming addict would yearn for.
My test rig :
- Intel Core i7-2920XM over clocked to four-GHz
- 16GB of DDR3 memory (at 1600 MHz)
- Dual Nvidia GTX GeForce 580M GPUs (SLI enabled),
- 2x 750GB, hard drives of 7,200-rpm in RAID 0 array
- Windows 7
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