Alienware m15x: True Gaming Portability?

Conclusion: Gaming Just Got More Portable

While we obviously wouldn’t recommend gaming away from a wall socket for any extended period of time, Alienware’s mid-sized Area-51 m15x provides the power to game while plugged in, the reduced weight required for true portability, and the “typical application” battery life needed for everyday mobile use. Even the screen is geared towards visual quality, with the top 15.4” display providing the same 1920x1200 pixel resolution typically found in larger 17” models.

One might argue that a 15.4” display doesn’t really need such a high resolution, since gaming frame rates go up at lower settings. But with the exception of one RTS title, the Area-51 m15x was able to provide smooth frame rates at all tested settings in our gaming suite.

A gaming system isn’t used exclusively for gaming, and our m15x came loaded with multimedia features such as the standard HDMI output and the optional 2x Blu-Ray Disk burner. This is where the huge 1920x1200 panel resolution really shines, since 1080p movies can be played at their native 1920x1080 pixels without scaling issues.

Due to these features, we’d hesitate to call Alienware’s system a portable gaming notebook—a fully loaded m15x is a desktop replacement system on a very successful diet. For all the things the m15x can do, it might better be called a “power system”, one that fortunately has all the portability features needed for daily use on the go.

Alienware targets much of its marketing effort towards university students, and the dorm room might just be the best place for the Area-51 m15x. With optional TV tuner and all the basic functions of a home theater plus gaming console, the m15x becomes a replacement for all of those entertainment devices its owner is often forced to leave behind. But that does raise one question: with an as-tested price of just over $4,000, how many students can afford it? Looks like it’s time to give mom and dad a call...

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • 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.
  • fudgeboy
    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)
  • tim851
    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?
  • jeb1517
    I announce wyx as King of definitions of portable.
  • bobwya
    +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!!

  • what's with these tiny pictures, I can barely see anything
  • hoofhearted
    I think I'll opt for the Sager NP8660 15" model. Much more bang for your buck.
  • Kaldor
    hoofheartedI think I'll opt for the Sager NP8660 15" model. Much more bang for your buck.
    I second this.
  • Mach5Motorsport
    I'm waiting for Tuan to hype the Mac Airbook Gaming Laptop as superior in his next insightful article on toms.
  • njalterio
    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.