Date of last review
100% of reviewers
Pissin' people off one post at a time
Registered: July 2005
Location: West Point, New York
Review Date: 18/3/10
||Would you recommend the product? Yes |
Price you paid?: £1,700.00
| Rating: 10
Positive aspects of the product (pros):
Easy to use Over the top Hardware choices, Command Center is pretty sweet, WellÖ the Alienware name definitely gives you some bragging rights, Fast as mofo, Best Gaming computer I've ever used, Top notch screen, Solid build, AlienFX is really cool, Fairly
Price, if youíre not prepared to break the bank, donít waste youíre time, Heavy, Battery lasts, at best, 2 hours outside of Stealth mode, which basically bricks the machine, Wonít fit in most 15 inch Laptop Cases, aim at the 17 inch area, There is a wait
Alienware M15X Laptop
Even just saying the word Alienware can start a heated flame war on the internets. One can liken it to Ferrari, Perini Navi, Heckler & Koch, B&W (Speakers company, not BMW cars), even a few companies from our own humble sport of airsoft, such as Systema and Ino, can raise eyebrows as aside from having huge prices as a relating factor, they have bits of controversy due to customerís wondering if for that huge price do they have a quality and reliability warranted or are they just pretty names.
In gaming PCís, if building your own isnít your thing, Alienware and Falcon Northwest are probably the two top tier Laptop makers youíre going to look at (possibly a few others but I digress) and Alienware is absolutely the most famous of them all. With innovative designs over the years and a clear dedication towards tailoring their products to their customer base; Gamers .
I have, since I started playing PC games in any serious amount, wanted an Alienware gaming PC and when my Army issued MN2300 took a dump I figured it was time to try them on, especially since Alienware just released their new revamp of the 15 inch, the M15X series, I decided to pony up the impending high price and go for it.
Established in 1996, Alienware assembles high performance desktops, notebooks, and workstations. According to employees, the Alienware name was chosen because of the founders' fondness for the hit television series The X-Files, hence the theme to their products, with names such as Area-51, Hangar18, m15x, and Aurora.
Alienware was originally established to tap a niche in the high performance game market, which back then was not on the radar of the major PC manufacturers such as Dell. Since high-end hardware was not widely distributed, the company's founders formed an OEM which sold personal computers with the highest performing hardware and settings according to benchmarks. The company products are also differentiated by their science-fiction based designs.
Dell considered buying Alienware since the year 2002, but did not take any action until March 22, 2006, when it agreed to purchase the company. The new subsidiary maintained its autonomy in terms of design and marketing. However, Alienware's access to Dell's supply chain, purchasing power, and economies of scale would lower its operating costs.
Initially, Dell maintained its competing XPS line of gaming PCs, often selling computers with the same specifications. The XPS line may have hurt Alienware's market share within its high-end market segment. Due to corporate restructuring in the spring of 2008, the XPS brand was scaled down. Product development of gaming PCs was consolidated with Dell's gaming division, with Alienware becoming Dell's premier gaming brand. On June 2, 2009, The M17x was introduced as the First Alienware/Dell branded system.
Alienware now represents the premium performance space in Dellís consumer family of products. This launch also expands Alienwareís global reach from six to 35 countries.
On March 25, 2009, Alienware stated that it was considering closing its manufacturing bases in Athlone, County Westmeath, Ireland, and in Miami, Florida.
*Courtesy of Wikipedia
Take control of the game once and for all with the Alienware M15x, the universeís most powerful 15 laptop. Grab the reins of the 15 powerhouse with blazing fast graphics, the latest in processor technology and Hi-def capabilities all in a devilishly sleek design. Sit back and enjoy the ride Ė gaming will never be the same.
The Future of Processing
The new Intel Core i7 mobile processors will take you even further with features like Intelís Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost technologies that power through games, multimedia applications and your daily routine all at the same time.
[bFaster and Smarter[/b]
Destroy and conquer with DDR3 1333MHz memory, engineered to support the next-generation quad-core processors that are designed to bring you faster speeds and higher bandwidths.
The Alienware M15x is the most powerful 15-inch laptop/gaming laptop Alienware has ever created and it deserves only the best graphics. Max out your game settings with optional NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260M graphics cards that can deliver the high frame rates and great resolutions on a 15″ laptop. Theyíll never see you coming, because youíre always a step ahead.
The M15xís case design protects your world with aggressive lines and an in-your-face attitude that quickly dissipates system heat and looks good doing it. And you can personalize your machine from a selection of three colors: Metallic Red, Metallic Silver or Metallic Black.
Quicktouch System Control Pad
Run your fingers above the keyboard on your M15x and you wonít feel a thing. Your laptop, however, will. The Alienware QuickTouch control pad uses touch-capacitive sensors to access and manage power and volume controls, wireless connectivity and both Command Center and Stealth Mode launch functions. Illuminated by the dramatic AlienFX lighting control system, QuickTouch renders mechanical buttons and control knobs obsolete.
Alienware M15x With Personalized Plaque. Turn over your new Alienware M15x and check out the laser-etched nameplate that proclaims your custom-built M15x is unique to only you.
The 2.0MP webcam and digital microphone array let you broadcast across the web, while wireless capabilities keep you up and running anytime, anywhere.
Your Command Center
Alienware Command Center provides intuitive, user-friendly access to exclusive applications and controls, including AlienFX lighting effects software and the AlienFusion power management system. Updates and new releases download directly into Command Center, creating a constantly evolving tool for modifying and personalizing your M15x.
This facial recognition software identifies numerous distinguishing features, utilizing the M15xís webcam to read and verify biometric measurements that cannot be faked or stolen like a typed password.
While in Stealth Mode, discrete graphics cards are turned off and the CPU and GPU are throttled back to achieve a 65W power limit and decrease noise. To engage Stealth Mode, simply use the Stealth Mode odometer, conveniently located above the keyboard with the touch-sensitive controls. If you are on the go and need to run on battery life alone, select Stealth Mode to reduce power consumption.
*Courtesy of Alienware
To get this out of the way, the specs of the machine I got are as follows:
Lunar Shadow Shell
Intel i7 Quad Core 1.73GHz 8Mb Cache Processor
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
1GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 260M Video Card
15.6-inch WideFHD 1920x1080P WLED Screen
6GB of DDR3 at 1333MHz
500GB SATAII 7200RPM HDD
Slot Loading DVD/DVDR
Intel WiFi link Card
All said and done this is a roughly $2600.00 USD, shipped, rig, something I begrudgingly spend but Iím gunning on two things; hardware seems to be plateauing to a degree, or at the least not advancing by the leaps and bounds it had in the past, and that hardware requirements weíre plateauing as well as requirements are not vastly higher than they were two years ago and a 3 year old computer can still play, not in a flashy way, new games.
I opted out of the Blueray Burner as having been to last few Consumer Electronic Shows in Vegas, I am unsure that HD DVDís are going to survive as it seems that entertainment home media is shifting towards soft-media rather than hard media (as in downloaded/streamed entertainment vs. discs) so I instead shifted the $300 for the Blueray drive for the improved display and stepped up processor (I got the mid-level of the three i7 Quad Cores).
Something needs to be said of ordering. When ordering an Alienware computer you customize basically everything, from the color of the computer, the hardware installed, even youíre stock background and whether or not automatic updates are on or not. Unfortunately, with all the customization there is a price; time. I ordered this laptop on February 21st, it wasnít finished being built until the 3rd of March, and it did not arrive at my door until March 5th. Not the longest wait in the world I suppose, better than the estimate (which was 15 days longer than it ended up taking) but not the overnight delivery of most premade machines. But then you donít order an Alienware with the same mindset of a factor built, mass produced machine but rather a custom, hand made machine all your own.
Anyway, getting this hulking box in the mail was a great way to start the day. And when I say hulking, I mean hulking. This box is huge. Looking online about the M15X I found dozens of videoís about the simple act of unboxing. I can see why, All totaled thereís about 5 boxes one has to deal with to finally get to this computer free and out in the open.
Additionally there is a "support" box which has the manual, mouse pad, charger, cables, and boot discs should you wish to do a clean refresh of the system. Also included is a free Alienware Hat and a "pooffy" sticker.
Once itís free of its boxes and clear of its plastics, the M15X is a monolith to behold. By far the thickest laptop Iíve ever encountered and by far the heaviest. In the box, which is and odd task to complete, I went right for the power button and started her. Of course I couldn't do much right now as I had to wait for all the new Windows 7 info to do its thing and the computer to configure itself... and then it was a few hours of installing every little thing I needed to be on there but I managed to break away from the task to play one game and... oh Dear, well I'll get to that later but suffice to say, this thing FLIES.
Iíve had a couple of laptopís over the years, all from different brands as well, Dell, Tobisha, HP to name a few, so I think, as far as laptopís are concerned, I have a decent feel for what they tend to get right and wrong when it comes to laptop computers, and there are a few things.
Just as another note Iíll say I did get this as a desktop alternative. While I rarely take a laptop out and about, I do move around quite a bit and having to ship around a desktop, screen, mouse, keyboard, speakers and such is just out of the question and a timing nightmare, thus a laptop lets me just pack it up in a carry on and bring it wherever as needed. Additionally this let me save another $100 USD by opting out of the 9-Cell Battery. From what Iíve read about testing the battery options with the M15X, the 9-Cell only adds about a half hour to forty-five minutes of play time outside of Stealth mode. With that in mind and considering that to me, this is a desktop station alternative, I actually remove the battery and never put it in the computer, thus keeping the battery fresh and free of any damage from constant recharging/half discharging. This brings me to another point, you do let the computer work a little bit better as most laptops, when plugged in for long periods of time, for some reason, alternate between AC power and battery power. Obviously in the process this discharges the battery a bit and once it switches back to AC power it has to recharge the battery. This takes some power away from your processor and lets your laptop chug for a few minutes while it gets back up to speed. Yes, a minor issue but for members of the PC Gamer Master Race, it can drive you up the walls to lose even 1 FPS sometimes .
Oh and one other sidenote: If you order your computer with Steam pre-installed they give you access to Portal (the game) for free.
Generally speaking I, and Iíll go on a limb and say most consumers, donít give much thought or care into what their laptop looks like. However, as most know, when it comes to Alienware products, this is not the case. The look of youíre machine is almost (and I mean almost) as important as what you put in it. So much so that there is a whole list of features dedicated to just how it looks (more on that under Aesthetics).
I choose the Lunar Shadow shell, however it can also come in all back and a supped up Red look (which costs about $100 USD more). Additionally you can choose what background the computer comes with (the rest can be downloaded from Alienwareís site), likewise the systemís avatar, and what the Alien FX, the LED coloration of the keyboard and other hard zones, the computer comes with, which can be changed to various combinations and other colors on your own. While all these options can be later modified once you have your laptop, itís kinda nice to have the computer come somewhat preset up.
With that in mind once you get your laptop you can truly customize it to reflect you exactly how you want it to. As said, all the hard points can be customized to be colored in a wide range of different shades. There are ten hard points; the two front ďGrills,Ē the Alien head on the top of the lap top, the Alienware log, four zones on the keyboard, the outline of the touchpad, and the command control bar above the keyboard. You have a choice of twenty different colors to choose from, and can mix and match.
On my laptop Iíve decided to go with all green look but I find myself changing it out sometimes just for fun. It might be a gimmick, but it's a cool looking gimmick.
Another nice part of the M15Xís appearance is the customizable, laser engraved plaque on the bottom of the machine that you can get engraved with whatever you want, name, date, gamer tag, anything. Its little things like this that make an already cool and customized computer feel even more personal.
The overall look of the laptop has a rather classic car-esque feel to it. A design function which I feel works quite well and reflects the muscle-car feel to how powerful this computer is.
Look Grade: 10/10
To me this laptop sets the bar for what a laptop, not just a gaming laptop, should strive to look like. That isnít to say every laptop should emulate this to the letter, but having the ability to have a somewhat unique looking piece of equipment is a small, but noticeably nice addition to an already over-the-top machine.
Aside from the most basic outward appearances, the M15X has many features that add a unique feel and look to youíre laptop. This section will take into account hardware and proprietary Alienware software, not Operating System functionality or hardware ability as that will be covered later.
The most outstanding of these is of course the famous Command Center. In the Command Center you can control the numerous hard zones previously mentioned. Additionally Command Center controls the facial recognition software. The facial recognition software, when enabled, allows you to log in to your computer simply but sitting in front of it. Over time and use it better recognizes your face and if you choose to enable the feature, can forgo passwords and such for logging in and get right into the action. The Command Center also controls the various mouse and touchpad options as well as power control pending on the power source.
Hardware wise this computer is a beast. While not everyone will set the sliders to maximum and shell out $2700-$3000 on a laptop, doing so does let you outfit this beast with some pretty serious stuff. For example this is one of the few laptops out there offering the i7 processor allowing for unmatched speed (outclasses most Desktops on the market now). On PCMark Vantage my M15X puts out a score of 6543, the average for desktop replacement being 3885. Likewise when decked out with the i7 and Nvidia 260M video card the M15X is, unquestioningly the best single card computer on the market today, about to achieve frame rates double that of even other high end gaming computers.
That said even with lower spec parts the M15X is a bird of a different feather. Even at its lowest ability it still scores higher than most other laptops out there and about equally with a half decent desktop. But I will say this, for $1400 base price, it doesnít score that much higher than equally priced laptops to warrant itís purchase so if youíre not going to put some serious parts into it, I wouldnít advise even wasting your time.
One thing I appreciated with this laptop is that it is very easy, for a laptop, to disassemble. Iíve hand upgraded to laptops in the past and itís a pain in the *** every time. Not so with the M15X. On the bottom there is a very simple sliding door, of sorts, that's removed by unscrewing the four screws holding the plaque in place. And while by no means does that mean upgrading this laptop will be easy to do. Matching parts, knowing whether or not a new component will fit in the first place, and if that new part wonít blow up your whole rig in the first place can drive you nuts and make the task of upgrading a laptop a game at best, and mind numbingly annoying at worst and whatís more, the simple process of disassembling a laptop is so far the most annoying disassembly of any electronic device Iíve ever encountered.
Taking the M2300 for example, figuring out the crazy method of removing all the screws and parts of the laptop to take it apart, which doing so without breaking something, can seem impossible for the most part. With the M15X it seems you could replace the major parts such as the processor, video card, and both RAM chipsets (on most laptops one is easy to remove, the second one buried deep inside) with comparative ease.
Also a nice point, this laptop is comfortable to game with. For one the keys are much more responsive and don't feel as "springy" as other laptops do. Also the entire surface area of the laptop is covered in a nice soft textured paint that is comfortable to rest your arms on for the hours of gaming coming your way.
I do have a few complaints as far as feel is concerned though. For one this computer is a brick. At almost ten pounds this is by far the heaviest laptop Iíve ever used in the 15 Inch range and weighs a little bit more than my roommates 17 inch Gateway. This wouldnít be as big of an issue if you let it always live on a desk but if you plan on bringing it to class or to work or something be sure you put it in a bag that can truly hold it and wonít wear out. Quite frankly I use my 5.11 Day Pack since Iím sure it wonít randomly break for no apparent reason.
Another feature I was a bit unhappy with was Alienwareís shift from using an Aluminum body to a magnesium alloy based body. Most computer nerds donít understand why thatís bad but airsofters, who pay attention to their metal bodies know, Aluminum is always the way to go and magnesium alloy, or better known as a common pot metal, is a step backwards from Aluminum which tends to be both stronger and lighter for its size. Also it tends to conduct heat much better which is something a gaming laptop should consider heavily as heat is the biggest killer of components.
The only other feature I dislike about this laptop are the touch controls. I personally prefer buttons to these "finger sensitive controls" and I have found these ones to work about as well as they tend too; sometimes they realize your pressing, usually they don't. Thankfully the only three useful controls are the eject and volume controls, still, I feel if they had just used a regular old button this could have been avoided.
Feel Grade: 9/10
A few little niggles take away from the feel, but gimmicks or not, this computer looks as cool as a laptop can be and I wouldn't want to ever go back.
For purposes other than gaming (which will be covered in depth in the next section) this is an interesting platform. Needless to say programs like Word, Excel, Publisher, and Visio fly thanks in large part to the super fast Quad Core processor. What I really wanted in this department was a good station to do video and sound editing. Quite frankly I find that computers start to chug more on video and sound editing than on anything elseÖ even Crysis .
With that in mind I startup my video editing program of choice, a 2007 copy of Pinnacle Studio 11. I happen to like this program and find it very user friendly however on just about every computer Iíve used it on so far it takes a good 10 minute load time to fully save a completed movie of oh say, 5 minutes in length (DVD quality) which is better than Windowís Media Movie Maker (which generally doesnít churn out decent quality videos as is) but the same task on this computer takes less than a minute. I was blown away by the speed
Another quality I have issues with when using laptops or computers in general is overheating. My last laptop, a Dell Precision M2300 fried its motherboard, a pervious laptop (a Toshiba) fried the integrated video chip, and a desktop I had owned fried the Nvidia chip when the cooling fan on it broke. All of these happened without over clocking the computers. Needless to say, these issues tend to drive me up the walls and when I was looking for a new computer this time around it was a chief requirement of mine that it run cooler than the normal rig (without resorting to some over-sophisticated cooling mechanism) and from what reviews on the top three, it seemed that Alienware won in that category quite ahead of the competition. Even still Iíve invested in a cooling slab for my laptop just as a precaution as spending close to $3000.00 on anything to me demands some degree of preventative maintenance.
Any who, without getting too much into the pros or cons of Windows 7, the overall functionality of core tasks on this laptop seem to handle well. Thanks to the boosted up processor and 6GB of high quality RAM you neednít worry about having a few side tasks like weather forecasters, music, or browser open while running a usually high profile task.
Use Grade: 9/10
About the only reason I give this a 9/10 is in large part of Windows 7 outdating many of my old favorite programs which won't work on a 64bit system. While yes, that's not Alienware's fault, you can't order this, or any computer I think, without it, so it is part of the system.
Well this is where it all counts right? This is as close to a console that a PC can be so if it canít function here what good is that $2600? Not much right :D .
The first real game I tried out on my new laptop was the newly released Battlefield Bad Company 2. For control sake, I did so in single player first. I started off with every setting at the maximum level, and the resolution set to 1088x612 (the res Iím most comfortable at with all my games). Howíd it fair? Well comparing it to my first attempt on my loner computer, an aging Dell with 1GB of RAM, a sub-7000 series Video card, and only a 2GHz Duo processor, in which the game crashed without exception in MP and Single Player was something that closely resembled watching someone making a stop animation cartoon, the game on my new M15X faired much better. Much better. Game glitches (EA's fault) aside, I was easily able to run it on top level setting with no clipping an a high (72 AVG) frame rate. Multiplayer was just as good but for the sake of my internet connection I did drop some of the graphics settings down.
The next test was the obvious competitor of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. Now with MW2 I had played it previously, rather just fine, on my M2300 so I was looking forward to the comparative results of the hardware improvement. I had my M15X come with Steam pre-installed so once my game was ready to place I jumped right into SP at the same resolution as BC2 and all options set to the highest level. The results? Much nicer. In fact it game me new respect for the SP level and character designs as I had not be able to see just how detailed it is. I won't touch MP in MW2 but the single player was seamless and ran smooth as could be.
I've installed and played now just about every game I could (my older ones like Ghost Recon sadly don't work on 64 bit ) and all of them run flawlessly at the highest settings. I'm looking forward to the next big release just to see how long this computer can keep this up :D .
Gaming Grade: 10/10
What more could you ask for? Able to run all games at 60+ FPS without over clocking is to me the standard for a top notch gaming computer and this one delivers in spades.
Easy to use
Over the top Hardware choices
Command Center is pretty sweet
WellÖ the Alienware name definitely gives you some bragging rights
Fast as mofo
Best Gaming computer I've ever used
Top notch screen
AlienFX is really cool
Fairly straightforward design
Price, if youíre not prepared to break the bank, donít waste youíre time
Battery lasts, at best, 2 hours outside of Stealth mode, which basically bricks the machine
Wonít fit in most 15 inch Laptop Cases, aim at the 17 inch area
There is a wait while they build your machine
64 Bit won't allow older program use
Loud DVD Drive
Overall Grade: 10/10
So would I say an Alienware is worth all that cash it one has to shell out to get one? In short, yes. This is the perfect machine for gamers in my opinion. I can't imagine in the next few years that changing. Even in its current state it should remain top of the line for at the least a few years to come. With it's tanklike build it should be able to last and go where you go, and with the right features installed your computer will let you play games the way they were meant to be played.
Never argue with a gun, it may argue back...
United States Corps of Cadets, USMA
Cadet, United States Army
2012 "For More Than Ourselves"
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