Alienware M11x R3 full review
We will be reviewing the newest Alienware M11x R3 which, at least in terms of appearance, is an almost exact replica of its forerunner model that was released in 2010. In terms of the hardware component, the latest M11x has received a hardware boost, featuring a Intel 2nd generation Sandy Bridge processor as well as the Nvidia GeForce GT 540M graphics card. This small sturdy looking ultraportable is supposed to be aimed at gamers who want to be able to game on the move: so let's see whether this laptop brings its A-game to the table.
As I mentioned earlier, looking at the Alienware M11x R3's angular design is like having a déjà vu moment - it inherits the very same form factor that its predecessor model of 2010 possessed. Ditto for the build quality as well - a very solid quality, and you won’t notice any sort of flex on any part of this laptop, which has a magnesium alloy and plastic construction. Given its specs and its miniature form factor, it's not surprising that this laptop weighs around 2.1 kg - a far cry from the Apple MacBook Air ultraportable unit, that we previously reviewed, which touched 1.08 kg on the weight scale. Moreover, despite it being termed as an ultraportable, this unit is quite thick, particularly at the chassis.
The laptop has an angled front and its corner and edges, except the cylindrical hinges and the connector strip between them, have an angular appearance. You will find the now ubiquitous Alienware 'Alien Head' logo located at the top central section of the backlid. Another smaller 'Alien Head' is located at the top central section of the chassis, just above the keyboard - it doubles up as the power button. Both the 'alien heads' are backlit, and so are the keyboard as well as the front side 'headlights'. You can also term them as 'eyes', or whatever other appropriate alternative that might catch your fancy - in my view the 'eyes' could be called 'light exhausts' given its resemblance to exhaust nozzles from certain modern fighter planes like the F-22 Raptor. There is also a lettered 'Alienware' logo - which is also backlit - positioned at the central bottom section of the black glossy bezel that covers the screen.
- See Alienware M17x review
- See Alienware M17x 17in Nebular Red gaming laptop
- See ASUS Lamborghini VX7 review
The whole unit comes in Stealth Black colour, and the outer cover has a smooth matte finish - it won't attract scratches or even fingerprints or smudges. The screen bezel and a single strip at the front side of the chassis that seems to connect both the 'front headlights' have a glossy finish - these areas naturally will attract a lot of fingerprints. The palmrest area has a slightly rubberized textured feel to it, with the touchpad having an even smoother feeling texture - the mouse buttons have the same texture feel as the palmrest.
While I am a fan of the sleek, cool, futuristic design of Alienware units, it would be nice to see Alienware come up with a new design for its products for 2012 - too much of a good thing can at times be bad. Given the attractive appearance of other ultraportables, notably the Apple MacBook Air, Alienware would do good to go in for a design change in its upcoming models - say probably thinning them down a bit?
The Command Centre feature on Alienware laptops allows you to play around with the choice of lights to be used for the backlit keyboard, the Alienware 'Alien Head' logos, and the front headlights. The ability to personalize the laptop is a handy feature, albeit a cosmetic one. Given the number of light sources on this laptop, locating this laptop in the dark would an easy task. So if you ever find yourself feeling bored, go ahead and mix and match the colour options for the backlighting.
Keeping in line with Alienware's policy of allowing owners to customize their laptops, the M11x comes with a nameplate - located at the left section of the base, just above the speakers - that can be engraved with your name, clan and other such 'gamer' details - while a rather cosmetic feature, this is nonetheless a cool way to have your laptop stand out from other laptops and can help avoid confusing it with other M11x units.
The M11x features an 11.6-inch LED-backlit glossy screen which has a native resolution of 1366x768. The screen has an edge-to-edge screen in front of it, and this adds to the overall reflectiveness of the screen. The screen is held in place by two hinges, which provide a stable base for the screen. The viewing angles on this laptop are decent - viewing something like a movie would a comfortable experience for two people, any more people and they will have to deal with the on-screen colours being covered in a darkish hue. The screen can be tilted backwards almost 120-130 degrees - in actual terms, this tilt ability doesn’t really help you to that great an extent in improving your viewing experience.
The keyboard has a total of 82 keys, with the keys quite closely packed together to accommodate the keyboard within the frame size of the M11x chassis. The fact that the keys are closely packed together is not exactly a downside per se, as it just takes some time to get used to typing on this keyboard. The keys have a soft but very firm touch response, which makes typing a comfortable experience on this laptop.
The touchpad, with its textured surface, is highly responsive. While the mouse buttons are also very responsive, their tendency to depress to quite an extent seemed, in my view, to be an irritant and I think Alienware could have done with steadier mouse buttons, that wouldn’t depress to quite this extent - some folks might actually prefer working with this kind of dual-mouse buttons.