The latest release from popular manufacturer Dell’s gaming branch, is the ultra-portable Alienware M11x compact gaming laptop which they recently showed off at a Dell-Alienware gaming event after it’s initial appearance at CES 2010.
This is an extremely eye catching machine as it’s really pushing the boundaries of gaming PC’s. Usually, when you consider a gaming machine, you tend to think of either a more bulky laptop with a full size 17 or 18” display (such as perhaps the Alienware M17x gaming laptop), or a bulky desktop roaring away underneath a neon lit desk. However, Dell is out to change that opinion with their latest Alienware branded 11” portable gaming laptop that weighs in at around 4.5lbs.
In terms of specification, this thing is far from a lightweight. Designed for gaming, you expect decent performance and that’s exactly what you get. The processor, just a standard Intel Core 2 Duo (1.3GHz). But the real power within comes when you dig a little deeper. Up to 8Gb of DDR3 memory clocked at 1066MHz will provide extremely good capabilities with regards to multitasking with power hungry applications.
In addition to that, you will find a beastly NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M GPU with 1GB GDDR3 memory. As always with Dell Alienware machines you can customise this to your liking, this is the maximum spec you can opt for. There’s also a choice between a 500Gb 7200rpm hard drive, or a 256Gb Solid State Drive. You can probably tell by now, this is certainly no pushover despite its small stature.
Connectivity comes in abundance. Obviously in terms of networking there is the standard Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) as well as optional internal WWAN. There is an HDMI display port as well as a Displayport for hooking up to an external gaming display. There are 3 USB ports, a media card reader for your SD cards etc. and a FireWire port. All in all, let’s just say there is plenty.
Perhaps one of the most astonishing things about this machine is the battery life. Even with such high spec, this gaming laptop boasts netbook style battery length of up to 8.5 hours. However, this is certainly no netbook. Of course, this is ‘up to’ not ‘always’, presumably you can expect that from web browsing. I very much doubt that you could last anywhere near that long playing Crysis or Modern Warfare 2 without scrambling for ‘an alternate power source’ after an hour or two.
In my opinion, a lot of gaming laptops lack hugely in the aesthetics department. However this isn’t really the case with this one. It follows the Alienware traditions of glowing edges and really an all round ‘alien’ theme. However it is tasteful, fairly lightweight and flush. On the other hand, I must mention that although the display is only 11”, it could be argued they could have squeezed an extra inch out of it when you consider the sheer size of the border surrounding it.
The display itself is of high quality, displaying better than 720p on a glossy LCD widescreen screen, but a lot could have been done to improve its ease on the eye. A nice touch they have added on which not only adds to the aesthetic prowess of the machine, but also the usability, is the backlit keyboard which glows an intimidating blood red, much like the slashes carved into the face of the machine.
The machine starts from a pretty modest £749, but as always with Dell and Alienware, you can take it almost as high as you like with extra add-ons, monitors, software or just a little extra juice.
Overall I believe the ultra-portable Alienware M11x to be a completely capable, yet portable gaming machine which is almost ideal for any gaming enthusiast who moves around a lot. Easily hooked up to an external display (perhaps your big-screen HDTV even), is lightweight and of great quality, good value and pretty good looking too. OK you won’t fit in a New York style coffee bar, or sat at the back in a lecture at uni if you’re a student. No you won’t find any multitouch trackpads, or gorgeous bodywork, but this is an exceptional gaming machine. The Alienware M11x is pure compact gaming laptop.