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Alienware's M17x: Mobility Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire Is A Go

Alienware's M17x: Mobility Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire Is A Go
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The second incarnation of Alienware’s M17x is creating lots of excitement amongst mobile gaming enthusiasts, but does it really beat a field of premium models? We put it up against solutions from Eurocom and AVADirect to find out what CrossFire can do.

A lot of folks in the press cheered about the release of Alienware’s second-generation M17x notebook a year ago. But more than a few enthusiasts spurned its use of G92-based graphics (alright, you can count us among those disappointed enthusiasts).

And yet, the new chassis was just one step this formerly cutting-edge brand took to rebuild its reputation in the enthusiast notebook market. The company left plenty of room to grow as mobile technology advanced. As such, we now get to welcome AMD's Mobility Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire update.

We like Alienware’s special-edition Nebula Red finish, in spite of our notions about alien spacecraft always being grey (since uncharged paint stays behind during transdimensional shifts). Of course, we wouldn’t even bother discussing the finish outside unless hardware inside made a compelling case for a full system review. Not surprisingly, it does.

Alienware M17x Component List
PlatformIntel PGA988, PM55 Express, MXM-III Discrete Graphics
CPUIntel Core i7-920XM Quad-Core 2.00-3.20 GHz
2.5 GT/s DMI, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 45 nm, 55 W TDP
RAM4 GB (2 x 2 GB) Samsung M471B5673FH0-CH9 SODIMM
DDR3-1333, CL9, 1.5 V, Non-ECC
GraphicsDual ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870, 1 GB GDDR5, CrossFire
Display17" Glossy TFT, 1920x1200
Webcam2.0 Megapixel
AudioIntegrated HD Audio
SecurityFace Detection Software
Storage
Hard Drive2 x Seagate ST9500420AS, 500 GB, 7200 RPM, SATA 3Gb/s, RAID 0
Optical DriveLG CA10N Blu-ray Reader / DVD Writer Combo Drive
Media Drive8-in-1 Flash Media Interface
Networking
Wireless LANIntel Ultimate-N 6300, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, 11/54/450 Mb/s
Wireless PANInternal Bluetooth V2.0 +EDR Module
Gigabit NetworkBuilt-in 10/100/1000 Mb/s Ethernet
IEEE-1394Integrated IEEE-1394 FireWire 400 controller
TelephonyIntegrated 56K V90/92 Fax/Modem
Peripheral Interfaces
USB5 x USB 2.0 (One shared with eSATA)
Expansion Card1 x ExpressCard 54
HDD1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
AudioHeadphone, Microphone, Line-In, Digital Out Jacks
VideoVGA, HDMI, DisplayPort
Power & Weight
AC Adapter220 W Power Brick, 100-240V AC to 19V DC
Battery14.8 V 4650 mAh (68.82 Wh) Single
WeightNotebook 12.3 lbs, AC Adapter 2.1 lbs, Total 14.4 pounds
Software
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition, OEM
Service
WarrantyStandard 1-Year Warranty (Add $299 for 3-Year Extended)
Price$3,883


Delivered more than two months ago, Alienware’s Mobility Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire update languished while we collected hardware that'd serve as a suitable comparison. The new M17x looks great in both photos and specifications, but does it really outperform its $3000+ rivals?

Display 63 Comments.
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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    scook9 , September 28, 2010 2:31 PM
    One huge facet of this laptop that was completely not mentioned is the RGBLED screen. Outside of the IPS DreamColor screens offered by HP in their Elitebooks this is easily THE SINGLE BEST SCREEN on a laptop (pretty much, ever). Screen quality should always be included in reviews because the screen is what you look at the whole time regardless of other hardware.

    unclewebbWhen you review a product like this, why not go over to the Notebook Review forums and ask the experts there about the M17x R2? The Core i7 Extreme mobile processors are absolute beasts when they have been unlocked and fully overclocked. The turbo throttling that is common to the Core i7 mobile CPUs when loaded can easily be corrected by raising the turbo TDP/TDC values for a simple yet significant increase in performance. Do your readers a favor and show everyone what the M17x is really capable of. With the help of a program called ThrottleStop, you can completely transform the performance of these CPUs.

    I tried to tell you in the forums, people here are not rational about notebooks like we are lol. I could show them that I bench my M17x at 4 GHz on a quad core and they would still be unimpressed and tell me I am stupid because it is huge and has no battery life and I wasted all my money

    hotsacomanHmmm. Overpriced.

    Compared to what? The Clevo was more.

    TheStealthyOneAlienware? No thanks.Although you definitely are paying a superflous price premium, you're at least getting power (the same can't be said for MACs.)

    How superfluous was it? This entire laptop uses less power than a Desktop 5870 (by itself, not counting screen, motherboard, drives, ram, cpu, etc). Don't expect it to cost the same. Do I even need to mention the portability?

    americanherosandwichOutdated within a year.

    And what desktop is not? That statement means nothing in the computer world and you should know that.

    Shame this will get thumbed down so no one will see it :( 
  • 10 Hide
    wintermint , September 28, 2010 4:26 AM
    wasabiman123I smell a comeback hehe


    Fixed... wtf is wrong with you..
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    hotsacoman , September 28, 2010 4:12 AM
    Hmmm. Overpriced.
  • 10 Hide
    wintermint , September 28, 2010 4:26 AM
    wasabiman123I smell a comeback hehe


    Fixed... wtf is wrong with you..
  • 3 Hide
    unclewebb , September 28, 2010 4:40 AM
    When you review a product like this, why not go over to the Notebook Review forums and ask the experts there about the M17x R2? The Core i7 Extreme mobile processors are absolute beasts when they have been unlocked and fully overclocked. The turbo throttling that is common to the Core i7 mobile CPUs when loaded can easily be corrected by raising the turbo TDP/TDC values for a simple yet significant increase in performance. Do your readers a favor and show everyone what the M17x is really capable of. With the help of a program called ThrottleStop, you can completely transform the performance of these CPUs.
  • 8 Hide
    gorillateets , September 28, 2010 4:49 AM
    It'd be nice if Tom's would review some of the more midrange gaming laptops from around $750-$1000. I got a great deal on an Asus G60 with respectable specs and can run any modern game at decent settings. Who here can really throw down that much cash on a laptop? Either way, nice review.
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , September 28, 2010 4:53 AM
    gorillateetsIt'd be nice if Tom's would review some of the more midrange gaming laptops from around $750-$1000. I got a great deal on an Asus G60 with respectable specs and can run any modern game at decent settings. Who here can really throw down that much cash on a laptop? Either way, nice review.

    It's a tough problem because I wouldn't game on a weak GPU. Since I can't afford any notebook over $2000, I wouldn't game on a notebook. Since I wouldn't game on a notebook, I went in the opposite direction with a notebook that has integrated graphics and around eight hours of battery life. Of course, I also have desktops...
  • -3 Hide
    duk3 , September 28, 2010 5:07 AM
    Bang for buck at $4000? Not so much.
    The problem with big heavy expensive laptops is that a desktop does everything they do and better at a third of the price.
    How much are you really going to be taking a $4000 laptop out of your house?
  • 2 Hide
    braneman , September 28, 2010 5:25 AM
    I like my m11x (i7 r2) sturdy plays most games except for the absolute bleeding edge of cpu throttled applications.
  • 8 Hide
    tacoslave , September 28, 2010 5:36 AM

    build kickass desktop for 3k and spend 1 k on this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834152207

    and laugh at people who bought this.
  • 2 Hide
    TheStealthyOne , September 28, 2010 5:39 AM
    Alienware? No thanks.

    Although you definitely are paying a superflous price premium, you're at least getting power (the same can't be said for MACs.)
  • 7 Hide
    cinergy , September 28, 2010 6:19 AM
    GTX 480M looks like a big whimper compared to those Radeon dualies.
  • 6 Hide
    rohitbaran , September 28, 2010 6:19 AM
    TheStealthyOneAlienware? No thanks.Although you definitely are paying a superflous price premium, you're at least getting power (the same can't be said for MACs.)

    What do you want to say? Your second statement is way out of context of the first!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 28, 2010 6:37 AM
    Never but it i have the m17x r2 and dell has replaced the motherboard and both the video cards and thats only in the first one i had, they gave me a new laptop and it had the same xfire flicking problem even after the vbios update and newer drivers disable vsync and anyone that has played games on it will find out even if you don't notices it at first it will give you a headache i have tested world of war craft hawx css tf2 the only way to fix it is to disable xfire great job dell lost my business.
  • 0 Hide
    americanherosandwich , September 28, 2010 6:58 AM
    Outdated within a year.
  • -3 Hide
    Luscious , September 28, 2010 7:20 AM
    "...more significant “killer app” is the possible addition of a 3G ExpressCard modem."

    Dude, are you still living in 2008??? Somebody throw a MiFi at this guy's head!
  • 3 Hide
    pinkfloydminnesota , September 28, 2010 9:58 AM
    the 1500$ asus with one 5870 still works for me
  • 9 Hide
    madass , September 28, 2010 11:46 AM
    rohitbaranWhat do you want to say? Your second statement is way out of context of the first!


    The average $3K mac has the features of a $1.5K notebook.
  • 0 Hide
    amstech , September 28, 2010 12:35 PM
    A 5870M is equal to a 5770.
    So, this unit is about equal to a 5870, or around there.
  • 1 Hide
    Maziar , September 28, 2010 12:37 PM
    Great review
    Waiting for Clevo X7200 review with 2 GTX 480Ms(compared to 2 5870s)
  • 2 Hide
    mchuf , September 28, 2010 2:10 PM
    CrashmanIt's a tough problem because I wouldn't game on a weak GPU. Since I can't afford any notebook over $2000, I wouldn't game on a notebook. Since I wouldn't game on a notebook, I went in the opposite direction with a notebook that has integrated graphics and around eight hours of battery life. Of course, I also have desktops...


    I too have the Asus G60 (the Best Buy model). And it comes with an i5, and a NVidia GTX360M. Not that shabby and I've been able to play Just Cause 2 and Metro 2033 just fine on (not too) reduced settings in DX10. I can play plenty of newer games at max settings. It's not a beast like the Alienware, but it works fine for gaming on the road. The M17X is basically a desktop replacement (that you can take from room to room). And I would rather have a desktop instead of a laptop in that price range.
  • 0 Hide
    theblade , September 28, 2010 2:23 PM
    CrashmanIt's a tough problem because I wouldn't game on a weak GPU. Since I can't afford any notebook over $2000, I wouldn't game on a notebook. Since I wouldn't game on a notebook, I went in the opposite direction with a notebook that has integrated graphics and around eight hours of battery life. Of course, I also have desktops...


    It would be quite proper to get to that conclusion in a review of a couple midrange gaming laptops from around $750-$1000 with all the benchmarks and charts to back it up, so that it get´s clarified, you're probably right but that's what a hardware review and tech news site is for.
    It would be nice to see some numbers that will help us see just how much of a limitation would that weak GPU impose.
    Great article by the way. Keep up the good work!

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