The Alienware brand has long been considered the cream of the crop when it comes to portable gaming. That holds true with the fourth revision of the M17x, which packs the latest and greatest processors and graphics cards along with a competitive price point. Most reviewers again name it the best gaming laptop you can buy right now.
Powers through anything you throw at it. The base model of the M17x packs a third-generation Intel Core i7-3630QM processor, 6 GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M GPU. That alone can handle virtually all computing tasks effortlessly, but step up to the $2,600 configuration examined by most reviewers -- which upgrades practically every aspect of the machine, most notably the GPU, to the Nvidia GTX 680M -- and you can play even the most demanding games at totally smooth frame rates, including "Battlefield 3" at Ultra settings. However, with great power comes poor portability; like most gaming laptops, the M17x is plagued by a short battery life.
A beast to lug around, but comfortable when stationary. At nearly 12 pounds including the adapter, you won't want to move the Alienware M17x around too often. Critics say the touchpad and keyboard are full-sized and top-notch, but the keyboard and fan areas can become hot to the touch during extended gaming or watching HD videos. The M17x includes more ports than most notebooks, with HDMI-in and -out, four USB 3.0 ports and much more.
It's a looker. As far as gaming laptops go, critics say the M17x's case is attractive, complete with a fully customizable backlit keyboard. By default, the laptop comes with a 1,600-by-900-pixel LCD screen that reviewers say is perfectly fine, but most recommend upgrading to the true 1,080p display for the best high-resolution results. Audio also gets high marks for its clarity and volume.
Build quality could be better. Dell backs its Alienware laptops with a one-year warranty but fails to win a Readers' Choice award at PCMag.com, which considers reliability. Last year PCMag.com noted a slightly above-average defect rate for Alienware computers, which is fairly common with high-end gaming notebooks. Laptop Magazine has a bad experience with Dell's phone support, but Alienware has a different phone number for support and staffers don't test that one. Historically, Alienware has offered good tech support.
A good value for a gaming laptop. Few notebooks offer this much pixel-pushing gaming oomph for this low of a price, say several reviewers.
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Review Credibility: Excellent The Alienware M17x R4 wins an Editors' Choice award and gets 4.5 out of 5 stars at PCMag.com. "It's ostentatious, audacious, over the top, and strangely enough, more affordable than rivals," Santo Domingo writes.
Review: Alienware M17x R4, Joel Santo Domingo, June 21, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent The Alienware M17x also wins an Editor's Choice award from HotHardware.com at the end of an exhaustive, multi-page review. "In the end, the Alienware M17x is a phenomenal gaming rig that outstrips most of the stiffest competition at a relatively reasonable price," says Colaner.
Review: Alienware M17x R4 (2012), Ivy Bridge and Kepler Refresh, Seth Colaner, July 3, 2012
3. Laptop Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Make it three Editors' Choice nods in a row. "Gamers and those with heavy-duty multimedia needs will be hard-pressed to find a better notebook than the Alienware M17x," Smith reports.
Review: Alienware M17x R4 (2012) Reviewq, Sherri L. Smith, June 25, 2012
4. Computer Shopper
Review Credibility: Excellent It's another Editors' Choice award and 4.5 stars out of 5 for the Alienware M17x at ComputerShopper.com. "There's no denying its bulk and heft, but if you're in the market for a high-end gaming laptop, Alienware's latest M17x pleases on performance and build quality," Safford says.
Review: Alienware M17x R4 Review and Ratings, Matt Safford, June 26, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent The Alienware M17x R4 gets a score of 7.5 out of 10 , a fairly high rating from this notoriously demanding source. "I won't say the M17x R4 is worth every penny, but I will say that it's a powerful desktop replacement -- the fastest notebook we've reviewed to date -- that will likely be sailing through hardware-intensive games long after you've finally paid it off," Ralph writes.
Review: Alienware M17x R4 Review, Nate Ralph, June 22, 2012
6. Notebook Check.net
Review Credibility: Very Good A European version of the M17x R4 earns a high rating and lots of praise from Germany's NotebookCheck.net. "Alienware snatches the gaming crown once again," says Glaser, who likes the abundance of USB 3.0 ports and notes an all-around lack of negatives.
Review: Alienware M17x R4 Notebook Review, Florian Glaser, May 27, 2012
Review Credibility: Good Smith gives the Alienware M17x R4 4.5 stars out of 5 and an Editors' Choice award. He says it stands out for its "outrageous performance," quality build, and hard-core gaming look and feel.
Review: Alienware M17x R4 Review, Matt Smith, June 21, 2012
8. PC Pro
Review Credibility: Good PC Pro gives the M17x R4 a Recommended award, but has a harder time calling the laptop a "value" considering its sky-high price tag. "If you're looking for a multimedia powerhouse to take the place of a bulky desktop PC, this Alienware machine is simply out of this world," Muller writes.
Review: Alienware M17x R4 Review, Sasha Muller, May 18, 2012
Review Credibility: Good Britain's TechRadar.com finds a lot to like in the M17x, giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Its battery life and heft are the only major negatives cited. "Despite its chunky frame and weighty anatomy, the Alienware M17x is the perfect gaming machine and also a fantastic desktop replacement, thanks to its impressive HD media features," Lamkin says.
Review: Alienware M17x 2012 Reviewq, Paul Lamkin, June 15, 2012