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SLI & Centrino 2: Gaming Laptops Battle

Alienware’s m17x: Look and Feel

Of the four notebooks included in our roundup, Alienware’s Area-51 m17x is the most professionally put together. It’s all-black design and lighted Skullcap lid offer just a taste of how far gaming notebooks have come.

On the outside, the chassis’ lines are smooth. The ventilation screens in the front and back look similar to what you might find on the grill of a supercharged R-series Jag, be it the XK, XJ, or S-Type. Available bays sit flush with the notebook’s body, and each externally-accessible port lines up precisely, also flush to the chassis.

The 17” screen does not latch to the body when it’s closed, but there’s enough resistance upon opening the screen that you won’t have to worry about the body accidentally falling open as you carry the m17x around.

Once open, the Area-51 is turned on in much the same way as a PS3—with barely-there pressure on the power button, in this case an alien head. Though we despise touch pads, the m17x’s is at least well-integrated, laying flush with the keyboard palm rests. The full-sized keyboard is also welcome. And while the numeric keypad off to the side helps demonstrate just how much room there is on a 17” chassis, you’ll still find common functions like Home, Page Up, Page Down, and End sharing keys, unlike most desktop keyboards.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Alienware’s experience—if you want to call it that—is its AlienFX system lighting, which comes standard on the m17x. When you fire up the Command Center software and enter the AlienFX lighting controller’s setup, a graphical representation of the notebook lets you pick and choose colors for a number of different lit zones. What results is completely customizable lighting that goes beyond a conventional single-color scheme, and if you want something like this, Alienware is your only choice. The closest competitor is ASUS, which lets you control a handful of LED effects but doesn’t yet offer customizable colors.

Weighing somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 pounds, the Area-51 m17x is no lightweight. However, everything about the machine is classy despite its gaming heritage. Solid construction is conveyed by parts that fit very well together. And everything—even down to the quality of the notebook’s onboard speakers—is clearly intended for a premium audience. Early on in the game, Alienware’s m17x is the notebook to beat.

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At-a-touch battery reading

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Sound from the m17x is surprisingly strong

  • kitsilencer
    From a money point of view, it's never going to make sense buying a gaming laptop. Scaled down performance and inability to upgrade are issues.

    But it sure as hell feels good having one ^___^
  • Hey, that aint green...
  • neiroatopelcc,2023-6.html
    "shipped the system with a 64-bit copy of Vista Ultimate (Alienware included x32 Home Premium)."
  • ap90033
    4 Grand? Are you guys nuts? I would say that right there would rule out about 90% of us normal gmaers..

    Besides the gaming scores looked weak imo..

    I personally thought it was a better idea to go get a Gateway P7811FX with a single Geforce 9800GTS. It plays Call of Duty at 1920x1200 max settings around 50FPS. AND it cost me ONLY $1249 (Plus Best Buy let me pick any game I wanted for FREE!)
  • jas39
    what about
  • agree with kitsilencer, gaming laptop is never practical.

    even with a beast graphics card, you'd be pretty hard to get more than 2 hours of shitty performance.

    get a gaming desktop and perhaps an EEE or iPhone for travelling. my iPhone has 20+ games and enough media (don't forget TV connector for watching films in hotels) to keep me busy for more than one week away from my gaming rig.
  • ap90033
    oops cant spell "gamers" lol
  • ap90033
    Not true my "Gmaing Laptop" is great at LAN Parties and I play it for 6-8 Hours straight there...

    I think maybe you had a bad experience with a laptop that claimed to be a "gaming" laptop. I bought one before like that and it have an 8600M Geforce and it Sucked bad... If you get a good laptop with say a 9800gts or so you would be suprised...
  • GlItCh017
    ap900334 Grand? Are you guys nuts? I would say that right there would rule out about 90% of us normal gmaers..99.90%
  • ap90033
    PS gaming laptops hold value much better than desktops. I had one I paid 1250 for, had it for a year, then sold it for $1100 and bought the newer "upgraded" model that just came out for $1250. I got an Upgraded CPU (From Core 2 1.67 GHZ to Core 2 Centrino 2 2.26 GHZ), Memory (from 3 Gigs DDR2 667MHZ to 4 Gigs DDR3 1066MHZ), Hard Drive (faster), Video Card (from 8800gts to 9800GTS), Screen (from 1440x800 to 1920x1200) and OS (From 32 bit to 64 bit). Not bad upgrade for $150 or so!