Dell’s Alienware series of gaming rigs have been a favourite amongst gamers for years, and it’s only recently that other companies like Asus and MSI have entered this segment, and are actually doing well we may add. Still, Alienware remains a household name in the gaming fraternity and no one has truly been able to beat them in terms of design and finesse. Till now, we had limited choices for Alienware notebooks in India and until recently we had just two models to choose from, the mighty M17x and the more portable M11x.
Dell filled the void when they launched the M14x, which provides a perfect balance of performance and portability. Two preset configurations are on offer out of which Dell has sent us their flagship offering. So, let’s take the fully pimped out M14x for a spin and see what it's like.
Design and Build
This is one area where the Alienware notebooks never fail to impress and this ones no exception. The materials and attention to detail is impeccable, one look at it and you know that it means business. The matte black finish oozes style and the surface barely attracts any fingerprints of dust making it very easy to keep clean. The angled wedge-like design gives it a very striking look when closed. Although it’s a 14-inch notebook, it’s quite chunky and heavy, with its weight slightly above 2kg.
The front portion bares a back-lit honeycombed grill and the lid can easily be opened with a single finger due to the weight of the base. We have a total of three USB 2.0 ports (no USB 3.0), DisplayPort, HDMI, 7-in-1 memory card reader, dual headphone jacks and microphone jack, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet port and finally a slot-loading DVD burner. The charging port and exhaust vents are placed in the rear. Flipping the notebook over, we find there’s no easy way to swap the hard drive or memory without unscrewing the entire base. There are two large intake vents at the bottom with bower-style fans. These are meant for the graphics card and only kick in once the discrete card is active, the rest of the time they are off.
No USB 3.0 is a bit of a downer
The 14-inch screen sports a higher 1600x900 resolution and is LED back-lit. The entire screen has a glossy finish, which makes the pictures pop, but also introduces reflections. The keyboard is back-lit, as well as is many other parts of the notebook and you can customise the lighting effects to virtually any colour your heart desires. Overall, we were very impressed with design and build quality of the notebook and even though we’ve seen the fancy lighting on their larger models, it just never gets old.
Dell has gone all out on their flagship version of the M14x. Powering the beast is a Intel Core i7-2860QM quad-core processor running at 2.5GHZ with the ability to Turbo up to 3.6GHz. For memory, we have 8GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1600MHz. The third and most important component, the graphics card is a Nvidia GeForce GT 555M with 3GB of GDDR3 memory. The card also has Optimus technology, which should help with the battery life. Other components include a 750GB hard drive, Bluetooth and Intel Wi-Fi ‘n’ module.
Go crazy with unlimited customization options
Dell bundles along a bunch of software applications and their own utilities. We have a 15 month trial version of McAfee Security Center and Roxio DVD creator. Dell’s own bundled software includes AlienRespawn, which is a system restore utility and Alienware Command Center, which let’s you customize the lighting on the notebook, change and create custom power profiles and adjust the sensitivity of the mouse, all through a single interface. Next, let’s see how this performs in our tests.