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Dell Alienware M11X Gaming Laptop
Alienware gaming notebooks are known for their rugged build, powerful hardware, excellent performance, and the most popular belief, their exorbitant price tags. Now, the new Alienware gaming notebook offers all of this, but at a comparatively affordable price, let’s find out how.
Gaming notebooks are a dime-a-dozen, and usually, they are large in size (say about 15-inches), they weigh at least 3 kgs, and offer very little battery runtime. The Asus G51J , and the previous Alienware models, M15X and M17X, are perfect examples, but, the Alienware M11X has changed everything. It weighs almost half as much and is slimmer, hence easier to carry. So gaming is no more restricted to desktop replacements, but even ultra-portable laptops can handle serious gaming, that too at a good price.
This new entrant has a 12-inch form factor with a 11.6-inch screen and weighs less than 2 kgs. In terms of aesthetics, if anything about this notebook is different from other Alienware gaming notebooks, it’s the size and weight. So, it is essentially a smaller version of the M15X. Starting with the lid and screen frame, thankfully, they are the only two things with a glossy finish on the entire unit. Typical of Alienware notebooks, you’ll find lights all over, the keyboard and power button are backlit, then there are lights in the front and even underneath the unit. Speaking of which, turn the laptop upside down and you’ll notice an inlet fan (with LEDs) underneath it. This fan enables effective air circulation, by pulling in air from underneath, which is then expelled from the side-vent.
Ergonomically, it matches up well with other Alienware notebooks. The entire wrist rest and the textured touchpad have a matte finish, and the mouse buttons are quite comfortable to use. All the ports are at either side and the only thing at the rear is the DC power connector. In terms of build quality the chassis, hinges and the overall package is rock solid.
This machine is built around an IGP chipset, an Intel G45 which features an Intel GMA X4500 HD onboard GPU. Then, it also has the discrete GPU, an Nvidia GeForce GT335, so, you can toggle between the two when required. Coming back to the low-voltage processor, it uses an Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300, which is common to ULV laptops . The other hardware includes 4 GB DDR3 RAM, a 256 GB SSD and 11.6-inch glossy screen, with a native resolution of 1366 x 768.
If you notice the hardware, specifically the processor and the absence of an optical drive, it’s hard not to compare it with laptops belonging to the ULV category . But gaming, something that this machine is good at, has is never a forte of ULV or ultra-portable laptops, and perhaps that’s the USP of the M11X.
Onward, the ports on this machine include VGA, 3 USB, FireWire, HDMI and a display port. Connectivity options include 10/100 Ethernet, Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth. The machine comes pre-loaded with Windows 7 Home Premium, and, its bundle doesn’t include much except for an OS recover disc. It’s funny that they supply optical media, when the machine doesn’t have an optical drive to read it!
Typical Alienware features
Common to all Alienware gaming notebooks, this option allows you to manually toggle between discrete and onboard graphics onboard, and it’s very useful especially when you’re using the machine on the go and when you aren’t using it for gaming.
This is another common feature, and it basically puts the machine into a mode that helps maximize the battery runtime.
This is nothing but a separate interface for power management of the laptops, it offers the same functionality that the built-in Power Options feature in Windows.
Alienware Alien FX
This option let’s people, who hate those light effects, to turn of the lights completely using the AlienFX button on the top-right corner of the keyboard. Also, for those of you who love the lights, you can change the colors from the AlienFX control Panel. Speaking of which, there’s a one stop panel where you can access these features, it’s called the Alienware Command Center.
The turning point
Alienware has smartly used a low-voltage (weaker processor) and a good discrete GPU, which is an ideal combination for gaming notebooks, while it also keeps the price in check. Now, it’s very crucial that you configure this machine properly, to get the best value for your money. The M11X with a standard 500 GB hard drive costs Rs 70,000, which is a good price, considering the ultra-portable form factor, and, the gaming and multimedia experience. However, the particular model we currently have with us features an SSD which adds Rs 28,000 to the cost. So the total cost of this machine comes up to Rs 98,000, and, this price tag forces us to compare this laptop with a gaming laptop in the same price range, like the Asus G51J, which costs Rs 99,000, but offers much more than what this baby does.
An Intel Core i7 QM (which is a powerful quad-core processor), 4 GB DDR3 RAM, 2 x 320 GB hard drives and good discrete graphics are some of the hardware specs of the Asus G51. Over and above, its screen is 3D compliant and the machine bundles with it Nvidia’s 3D vision kit . So, here’s the million dollar question, why should you spend so much money on the M11X?
We’d say that the standard M11X variant which costs Rs 70,000 is not very bad, especially because it allows you to play demanding games on the go. On the other hand, it makes almost no sense to spend Rs 28,000 extra to get an SSD in this machine. So what’s your take? Would you save 20K and buy this laptop, shell out about a lakh to get a 3D gaming laptop or brush everything and rather get a 15-inch MacBook Pro?
We started with playing a 720p HD movie on this machine and the playback was awesome, completely stutter-free. Although the sound wasn’t very loud, the clarity was excellent.
Coming to games, if you look at the benchmark scores, we ran most of the game benchmarks at the native resolution and with some settings high. This was mainly to see how the machine performs under stress. In Crisis Warhead, we got playable frame rates in the performance and mainstream modes, and the gamers mode was playable at lower resolutions. Similar was the case with Left 4 Dead, where at 1366 x 768, and medium settings and no AA, we got over 40 fps which is good enough.
This laptop targets a very specific set of audience, it’s only for someone who wants a gaming laptop that’s extremely easy to carry around and can handle demanding games too. But this is also only when you’re opting for the Rs 70,000 variant. The Rs 98,000 machine which we tested is completely over the top, and you obviously have some very good options.
While there are no accessories bundled with this machine, you have the option buy some separately.
Alienware TactX Mouse: Rs 4,000
Alienware TactX Headset: Rs 4,000
Alienware Orion Backpack: Rs 4,000
External Optical Drive: Rs 4,000
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 285.7 x 32.7 x 233.3 mm
- Weight: 1.99 Kg
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300, 1.30 GHz
- Memory: 4 GB DDR3
- Hard disk: 256 GB SSD
- Screen size: 11.6-inch
- Connectivity: 10/100 Ethernet, Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth