Alienware m15x: True Gaming Portability?

Been Here, Done This?

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)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ModelAlienware m15xDell XPS M1730Row 0 - Cell 3
Dimensions and WeightRow 1 - Cell 1 Row 1 - Cell 2
Width x Height x Depth14.5" x 1.75" x 11.75"16" x 2" x 12"
Row 3 - Cell 0 36.83 cm x 4.45 cm x 29.85 cm39.37 cm x 5.08 cm x 27.94 cm
Unit & Battery7 lb 15 oz / 3600.4 g11 lb / 4990 g
Charter & Power Cord1 lb 11 oz / 765.5 g3 lb 8 oz / 1588 g
Total9 lb 10 oz / 4365.9 g14 lb 8 oz / 6578 g
AC Adapter & BatteryRow 7 - Cell 1 Row 7 - Cell 2
Battery I CapacityLi-Ion 6 Cell 5200mAhLi-Ion 9 Cell 85 Wh
Battery II CapacityNoneNone
AC Adapter120 W230 W
Display & Graphics ControllerRow 11 - Cell 1 Row 11 - Cell 2
Display Size15.4"17"
Display Resolution1920x12001920x1200
Graphics ControllernVidia GeForce 8800m GTX2x nVidia GeForce 8800M GTX SLI
SystemRow 15 - Cell 1 Row 15 - Cell 2
BIOSPhoenix vX32 P3A33 (04/11/08)Dell A06 (02/04/08)
CPUIntel Core 2 Extreme X9000Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000
Row 18 - Cell 0 2.80 GHz, 6 MB L2 Cache, FSB 2002.80 GHz, 6 MB L2 Cache, FSB 200
ChipsetIntel 965PMIntel 965GM
Memory2x 2 GB 667 MHz DDR22x 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2
Hard DrivesRow 21 - Cell 1 Row 21 - Cell 2
Manufacturer & ModelSeagate ST9200420ASGSeagate ST9250421ASG
Size200 GB250 GB
Performance(SATA / 7200.2 / 8 MB / 11 ms)SATA / 7200.2 RPM / 16 MB / 4.17 ms
Other DevicesRow 25 - Cell 1 Row 25 - Cell 2
Optical DriveMATSHITA BD-MLT UJ-220 Blu-Ray BurnerPBDS DVD+-RW DS-8W1P DVD Burner
Floppy DriveNoneNone
Pointing Device(s)TouchpadTouch Pad
Audio ChipRealtek ALC885 @ Intel 82801HBM ICH8MSigmaTel STAC9228 @ Intel 82801HBM ICH8M
WLANIntel Pro/Wireless 4965AGNIntel Pro/Wireless 4965AGN
ConnectorsRow 32 - Cell 1 Row 32 - Cell 2
USB2x Left, 1x Right2x Right, 1x Left, 1x B
IEEE1394 / Fire Wire1x Right1x Left
Serial Com PortNoneNone
Parallel LPT PortNoneNone
IR PortYesNone
VGA / DVI / HDMINone / None / 1x RightNone / 1x Left / None
TV OutNone1x Left
TV InNoneNone
AC PowerYesYes
PC/Express Card Slots1x Right1x Right
LAN1x Left1x Back
Audio Connectors1x Mic, Headphone Left1x Mic, Headphone, Line In Left
Card Reader1x Multi Card Reader Right1x Multi Card Reader Left
Fingerprint SecurityNoneNone
Manufacturer Docking SocketNoneNone
System Software & DriversRow 51 - Cell 1 Row 51 - Cell 2
OSMicrosoft Windows Vista Home PremiumMicrosoft Windows XP Professional
DirectX VersionDX10DX9.0c
Platform DriverIntel
Graphics Driver7.15.11.6755 - nVIDIA ForceWare 167.556.14.11.6757 - nVIDIA ForceWare 167.57
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.