We loved Alienware's previous gaming laptop - the Alienware M11x was crowned T3’s laptop of the year in the 2010 T3 Awards - and that shows no sign of abating with this glowing bad boy. When you pay for a dedicated 3D gaming laptop from a dedicated gaming vendor, you are spending around £500 on the brand before you've even ordered the laptop. But boy it's worth it.
Here we are reviewing the 17.3-inch M17XR3, whcih is Alienware's third iteration of it's M17x range (in Base Stealth Black) and it get's better with every incarnation. This version is the best of best thanks to the tweaked re-design that looks much nicer and an excellent keyboard, it also has a longer battery life and it's cheaper than its predecessor.
In fact, there were only two problems with this model that could set it back. It only has 4GB RAM, which is the minimum for a 3D gaming laptop, but the other specifications are so good that it didn't have the impact on performance we thought it might.
It also includes Intel's new flagship "Sandy Bridge" Core i7 2630QM processor at 2GHz. Of which there was a big product recall, (including this model), because of the processor issues, but we didn't have any problems to report at all when we were testing.
Alienware M17X: Screen
The centre-piece for us is the edge-to-edge 1920x1080 full HD screen. Colour and detail on 2D and 3D entertainment playback offers one of the best laptop screens we've seen so far. What's more impressive is that the rich colour and pin sharp detail is viewable for a room of people thanks to the ultra-wide viewing angle.
Alienware M17X: Performance
The 17.3-inch Alienware M17x packs in Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, Intel's newest Intel Core i7 2630QM at 2GHz, 4GB of memory, a superfast 256GB SSD drive and Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M graphics, with 1.5GB RAM. There are laptop graphics card out now, which have 3GB of memory but NVIDIA's GTX 460M graphics are optimised for gamers so it has more bells and whistles under the hood.
Durning our testing the M17x maintained high frame rates for HD 3D gaming on next-gen games despite only having 4GB RAM. We installed Call of Duty: Black Ops and maxxed all settings at 1080p. In 2D we got 36FPS and that hardly faltered in much more demanding 3D at 3D.
Battery life is impressive too, we clocked a longer battery life, we clocked at 192 minutes thanks to a 9-cell battery.
Alienware M17X: Build quality
As with other Alienware laptops, you get the ability to mod nearly every feature, so you can adjust the underlit keyboard to any colour you like. The finish itself it a great non-slip rubberised black makes in interacting with the M17XR3 a delight. That also goes for the high-grade plastic that feels like it'll cope with all night gaming sessions without breaking. We were also impressed with the stealth design, leaving the back of the laptop dedicated to the massive batman car look exhaust fins. By all rights, especially given the massive power requirements of the M17XR3, it should been like a jet taking off but it purred like a kitten and didn't get hot - even on long 3D gaming sessions.
The other sides contained the comprehensive array of ports. You get four USBs, HMDI port, Display port, three audio jacks, one SDPI, one VGA, your LAN connection and one eSATA. Only firewire is missing and there’s a really nice HD webcam and slot-loading Blu-ay player for your HD movies.
We’re really impressed with the latest version of Alienware’s laptop range. We held off from five out of five because the M17XR3 isn't quite perfect but it is as close as it gets - a portable 3D gamers dream if you have back up funds.
Alienware M17x R3 lauch date: Out now from Dell
Aliemware M17x price: £1499