Alienware m15x: True Gaming Portability?

Alienware Area-51 m15x: The Newcomer

Anyone accustomed to the toy-like trappings of former Alienware systems will be shocked to see the Area-51 m15x gaming notebook. It is now available with only a small company symbol adorning an otherwise clean lid, with the “Skullcap Design” optional. But the m15x holds an even bigger surprise for mobile gaming enthusiasts: its lighter weight.

The term “bigger surprise” is almost an oxymoron, as the unit has been downsized compared to many similarly-equipped units, to better fit a mobile lifestyle. This doesn’t mean the user should expect a lower quality gaming experience, though, as an optional 1920x1200 pixel panel lets the 15.4” diagonal screen reach resolutions that normally would have required a larger display.

Even the interior has been cleaned up stylistically, having only a few special feature buttons, a one-piece touchpad button, and only the lighted Alienware brand name distinguishing it from less-equipped competitors. The optional lighted keyboard adds convenience in dark rooms, but without the gaudy glare of translucent keys.

The left side panel features a power jack, one Gigabit Ethernet and two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, and access to the Matshita (Panasonic) BD-MLT UJ-220 Blu-Ray Burner. All of the connectors are located far back enough to make them easy to use with the unit on one’s lap. The Panasonic BRD (Blu-Ray Disk) optical drive is a spare-no-expense option, providing BD-RE and BD-R writes up to 2x speed.

The right side panel features a mini card reader, an ExpressCard slot, HDMI output, USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394b (FireWire 800) ports, and a Kensington Lock hole. The ports are located near the rear, which makes looping the cables away from a mouse easier.

Of particular interest is the HDMI output, which allows easy connection to modern wide-screen displays. Though typically used in home-theater applications, an increasing number of desktop monitors also support this new standard. Anyone limited to the older DVI standard can find inexpensive HDMI to DVI cables at several online stores.

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.