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

Better, Stronger, Faster?

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.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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
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
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
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition, OEM
WarrantyStandard 1-Year Warranty (Add $299 for 3-Year Extended)

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?

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Hmmm. Overpriced.
  • wintermint
    wasabiman123I smell a comeback hehe
    Fixed... wtf is wrong with you..
  • unclewebb
    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.
  • gorillateets
    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.
  • Crashman
    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...
  • duk3
    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?
  • braneman
    I like my m11x (i7 r2) sturdy plays most games except for the absolute bleeding edge of cpu throttled applications.
  • tacoslave
    build kickass desktop for 3k and spend 1 k on this

    and laugh at people who bought this.
  • TheStealthyOne
    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.)
  • cinergy
    GTX 480M looks like a big whimper compared to those Radeon dualies.