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Alienware m15x: True Gaming Portability?

Alienware m15x: True Gaming Portability?
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In last year’s battle-of the behemoths, Dell’s M1730 took on Alienware’s m9750, and with the exception of a few quirks, came out on top. But not everyone is ready to lug around a notebook that weighs nearly fifteen pounds with its power adapter.

Alienware’s advantage in portability among 17” gaming notebooks was still noteworthy, even if the Area-51 m9750’s battery life didn’t lend itself to truly mobile computing. The company now looks to extend its portability lead, with a smaller, lighter 15.4” unit that maintains the high resolution of the former 17” model without sacrificing battery life.

There’s another key difference in Alienware’s 15.4” model, though. While the 17” test unit contained an SLI set of graphics cards, the Area-51 m15x has only a single graphics card. Does the new configuration deliver enough horsepower to qualify as gaming-ready?

For comparison purposes, we continue to use an XPS M1730, which retains its SLI muscle. In fact, Dell has upgraded this unit with a new CPU and graphics processor, and changed a few smaller parts as well. The exterior remains unchanged from last year’s review.

The Dell XPS M1730 still looks like an Alienware design, but the Alienware m15x is clean, smooth, and dare we say, business-like? Of course the real business is gaming, so let’s take at look at the “business” inside.

(Editor’s Note: Check out our Quick Look: Alienware Area-51 m15X Notebook video of the m15x for even more up-close detail on the notebook)

System Hardware and Software Configuration
Model Alienware m15x Dell XPS M1730
Dimensions and Weight
Width x Height x Depth 14.5" x 1.75" x 11.75" 16" x 2" x 12"
36.83 cm x 4.45 cm x 29.85 cm 39.37 cm x 5.08 cm x 27.94 cm
Unit & Battery 7 lb 15 oz / 3600.4 g 11 lb / 4990 g
Charter & Power Cord 1 lb 11 oz / 765.5 g 3 lb 8 oz / 1588 g
Total 9 lb 10 oz / 4365.9 g 14 lb 8 oz / 6578 g
AC Adapter & Battery
Battery I Capacity Li-Ion 6 Cell 5200mAh Li-Ion 9 Cell 85 Wh
Battery II Capacity None None
AC Adapter 120 W 230 W
Display & Graphics Controller
Display Size 15.4" 17"
Display Resolution 1920x1200 1920x1200
Graphics Controller nVidia GeForce 8800m GTX 2x nVidia GeForce 8800M GTX SLI
System
BIOS Phoenix vX32 P3A33 (04/11/08) Dell A06 (02/04/08)
CPU Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000
2.80 GHz, 6 MB L2 Cache, FSB 200 2.80 GHz, 6 MB L2 Cache, FSB 200
Chipset Intel 965PM Intel 965GM
Memory 2x 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 2x 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2
Hard Drives
Manufacturer & Model Seagate ST9200420ASG Seagate ST9250421ASG
Size 200 GB 250 GB
Performance (SATA / 7200.2 / 8 MB / 11 ms) SATA / 7200.2 RPM / 16 MB / 4.17 ms
Other Devices
Optical Drive MATSHITA BD-MLT UJ-220 Blu-Ray Burner PBDS DVD+-RW DS-8W1P DVD Burner
Floppy Drive None None
Pointing Device(s) Touchpad Touch Pad
Audio Chip Realtek ALC885 @ Intel 82801HBM ICH8M SigmaTel STAC9228 @ Intel 82801HBM ICH8M
Modem None None
WLAN Intel Pro/Wireless 4965AGN Intel Pro/Wireless 4965AGN
Connectors
PS2 None None
USB 2x Left, 1x Right 2x Right, 1x Left, 1x B
IEEE1394 / Fire Wire 1x Right 1x Left
Serial Com Port None None
Parallel LPT Port None None
Microphone Yes Yes
IR Port Yes None
Bluetooth None Yes
VGA / DVI / HDMI None / None / 1x Right None / 1x Left / None
TV Out None 1x Left
TV In None None
AC Power Yes Yes
PC/Express Card Slots 1x Right 1x Right
LAN 1x Left 1x Back
Audio Connectors 1x Mic, Headphone Left 1x Mic, Headphone, Line In Left
Card Reader 1x Multi Card Reader Right 1x Multi Card Reader Left
Fingerprint Security None None
Manufacturer Docking Socket None None
System Software & Drivers
OS Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Microsoft Windows XP Professional
DirectX Version DX10 DX9.0c
Platform Driver Intel 9.0.0.1008 Intel 8.2.0.1014
Graphics Driver 7.15.11.6755 - nVIDIA ForceWare 167.55 6.14.11.6757 - nVIDIA ForceWare 167.57

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  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 8, 2008 12:32 PM
    portable laptops can never be gaming PC.

    what's portable?
    small laptops that can be easily put onto trail table.
    hand hold device that can be easily carried around and have at least 5 hours of battery life.

    what's a gaming PC?
    a PC that can handle all game you throw at it
    a PC that can provide constant performance, not 2/3 performance when on battery mode

    so you see, there is no such thing as gaming laptops, all you going to get is a half way house where it's neither really a laptop (in sense that it sucks at battery life and weights a ton) and isn't really a gaming PC (in a sense that it won't perform and doesn't allow easy upgrade of graphics card)

    best solution for university students is like what i've done: a beast of a gaming PC, and an iPhone for portable entertainment. (or Asus EEE, MSI Wind, etc)
    PC's go outdated very fast, so just sell the uni. PC when moving away.
  • 4 Hide
    fudgeboy , August 8, 2008 12:39 PM
    unfortunatly unlike you're situation, there is people out there who have to move around ALL the time. i have a family member in the australian defence force who has a mid-end gaming laptop. sure he cant have the settings turned up all the way but the important fact is he still has something to play games on. thats what the gaming laptop is here for. two different things - gaming laptop - gaming pc. now STFU and GTFO my internets =D (kidding)
  • -4 Hide
    tim851 , August 8, 2008 1:23 PM
    Quote:
    what's portable?
    small laptops that can be easily put onto trail table.
    hand hold device that can be easily carried around and have at least 5 hours of battery life.


    Who made you king and let you decide what portable means?
  • 0 Hide
    jeb1517 , August 8, 2008 1:34 PM
    I announce wyx as King of definitions of portable.
  • 0 Hide
    bobwya , August 8, 2008 2:00 PM
    +1 jeb seconded!!

    I got out my old 15" Pro-star (Clevo) P4 heater/laptop on the train earlier this summer. The guy across from me had a 13" Mac with a newer processor, etc. Boy was I embarrassed since my laptop looked like a chunky breeze block compared to his!!

    But really if you want a gaming laptop you are going to get something similar to my old laptop more akin to a portable PC (I mean 4kg+ of heft, etc. is not for the feint of heart!!) This won't change until fuel cell technology becomes mainstream...

    Personally my next machine will be a lightweight laptop with a 15" or smaller screen. As long as it can playback 720p x264!!

    Bob
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 8, 2008 2:35 PM
    what's with these tiny pictures, I can barely see anything
  • 3 Hide
    hoofhearted , August 8, 2008 2:38 PM
    I think I'll opt for the Sager NP8660 15" model. Much more bang for your buck.
  • 2 Hide
    Kaldor , August 8, 2008 3:40 PM
    hoofheartedI think I'll opt for the Sager NP8660 15" model. Much more bang for your buck.


    I second this.
  • 7 Hide
    Mach5Motorsport , August 8, 2008 3:41 PM
    I'm waiting for Tuan to hype the Mac Airbook Gaming Laptop as superior in his next insightful article on toms.
  • 0 Hide
    njalterio , August 8, 2008 4:27 PM
    A score of around 13,400 in 3dmark06?
    What a joke. With my q6600 @ 3.0 and an HD3870 I get a little bit lower than that at around 13,000. I wonder how much more that laptop costs.

    Unless you have money to blow and/or the need to be extremely mobile just get a desktop computer. Hopefully you will build it yourself, but even buying a high end desktop would be a better deal than getting these kinds of laptops. I know too many people who think they need a laptop, and it just sits at their desk anyways.
  • -2 Hide
    ereetos , August 8, 2008 5:37 PM
    Mach5MotorsportI'm waiting for Tuan to hype the Mac Airbook Gaming Laptop as superior in his next insightful article on toms.


    LOOOOL

    hey at least he fessed up to most of the comments. It was a great (comedy wise) week for articles here on toms :) 

    i know i had a good chuckle at work readin comments
  • -1 Hide
    liubros , August 8, 2008 5:41 PM
    with Q6600 OC to 3.0, and GTX280, I got 15000+ 3DMark06 scores. feel bad for people who need to spend 4k+ for a gaming laptop
  • 1 Hide
    Mach5Motorsport , August 8, 2008 5:57 PM
    ereetosLOOOOLhey at least he fessed up to most of the comments. It was a great (comedy wise) week for articles here on toms i know i had a good chuckle at work readin comments



    He did? Must have been lost in the sea of feedback. Any reply I saw was him attempting to rebut (in a glorious lost cause) most critical comments. I didn't see a reply by him after page 25.
  • -2 Hide
    pogsnet , August 8, 2008 7:40 PM
    PUMA design is still better with external gaming GPU. You dont need SLI during typing or browsing mode, its a waste of battery. PUMA is more practical in design.
  • 3 Hide
    ravenware , August 8, 2008 8:01 PM
    "Looks like it’s time to give mom and dad a call..."

    Looks like a little brat needs to get a job...
  • 4 Hide
    bobwya , August 8, 2008 8:09 PM
    RAVENWARE"Looks like it’s time to give mom and dad a call..."Looks like a little brat needs to get a job...


    Or more like "Time to max out those credit cards... !! "

    Bob
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , August 8, 2008 8:33 PM
    $4000 is out of my price range, and I haven't got "parents to call." Even if I did I'd feel a bit ashamed asking mom and dad for that kind of cash. I wouldn't want to be a spoiled brat or anything.
  • 0 Hide
    bobwya , August 8, 2008 9:32 PM
    JonnyDough ... I wouldn't want to be a spoiled brat or anything.


    Depends whether your mom and dad is Mr & Mrs Hilton or not I guess!! :crazy: 

    Bob
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 8, 2008 9:49 PM
    totally agree with liubros here. that kind of performance is what gaming machines should get! (have my £400 right here to upgrade my 8800GTX when gtx280+ or 4870x2 comes out)

    people on the move all the time? isn't there something called a CAR?
    i go home every holiday from university, and i bring my gaming rig home every time, now i've also moved my gaming rig to summer placement (internship for Americans) all done using a car! they are great creations to move heavy objects ;) 


    so for those who like idea of gaming laptop, tell me this:
    you are stuck without any way of charging for 5 hours, what do you do with the brick?

    i only carry an iPhone around when travelling. its got 4 pages of game, 10 hours of video and gameplay/wi-fi time of 6hr+, so i think i'll be happily occupied without being weighted down. and at destination (say to stay for a week) i still have internet access and enough games to last until i get back.
  • 0 Hide
    skywalker9952 , August 8, 2008 10:02 PM
    Umm hasn't this laptop been out for like 6 months now? Since when did THG review 6 month old hardware?
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