The Alienware M14x is a new member of Dell’s range of gaming notebooks, and while it’s a potent little monster it feels like a bit of a lost opportunity.
From the sleek crimson metallic paint job on the outer surface to the rubber coated palm rest, the M14x looks great and feels solid - although the vast number of LED lights may be garish for some. The keyboard is well spaced and has moderate travel that makes it enjoyable to type on. By comparison the touchpad is somewhat unremarkable, but it’s still responsive. The highly glossy 14in (1,600 x 900 resolution) screen has vibrant colour reproduction and a good viewing angle. Despite the small screen the M14x is very heavy, coming in at 2.92kg.
As for the specs, the M14x is generally strong but it only has an NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M graphics card. While powerful, in a $3,000 notebook we’d expect a lot better. To make up for it somewhat there’s a 256GB solid state drive, a fast Sandy Bridge Intel Core i7-2630QM (2GHz) and 8GB of RAM that results in a great PCMark Vantage score of 12,473. For gaming you’d want to plug the M14x into mains, but for productivity applications and some video watching it’ll last about 4 and a half hours.
Windows 7 Ultimate provides better control of system settings and makes it possible to encrypt the SSD. A slot load DVD burner helps maintain the sleek exterior, and there are also plenty of ports including one VGA, one Gigabit Ethernet, one HDMI, one USB 2.0, one Mini-Display and two USB 3.0. A trio of audio jacks and a 9-in-1 card reader are also present along with Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi.
It’s solid, it’s powerful, but the M14x stumbles when it comes to the graphics card which in our view makes or breaks a gaming notebook. We appreciate that the price tag is going to be high given the build quality and SSD, but ultimately there are alternative gaming notebooks that cost the same or less with vastly better graphics cards. Although the M14x won’t disappoint, many will rightly be turned away by the price tag.Available from Alienware, retailing for $2,950 (as reviewed)
.APC rating: 7/10