Gaming goliath that now boasts an Intel Ivy Bridge
Before I proceed with my review on this beast let me share the details of my machine.
Please note I bought this System from Dell US and not from Dell India
PROCESSOR 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i7-3740QM (6MB Cache, up to 3.7GHz w/ Turbo Boost 2.0)
OPERATING SYSTEM Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit
MEMORY 12GB (2 X 2GB, 2 X 4GB) Dual Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz
HARD DRIVE 1TB RAID 0 (2x 500GB SATA 3B/s 7, 200 RPM)
LCD PANEL 17.3-inch WideFHD 1920 x 1080 120Hz NVIDIA 3D Vision Bundle
INTERNAL OPTICAL DRIVE Slot-Loading Dual Layer Blu-ray Reader (BR-ROM)
Primary Battery 90WHr 9-Cell Primary Battery
VIDEO CARD 2GB GDDR5 NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 680M
WIRELESS CARD Intel® Centrino® Wireless-N 2230 With Bluetooth 4.0
SOUND OPTIONS Creative Sound Blaster Recon3Di with THX TruStudio Pro Software
Alienware is back with a bang - with a threefold attack on the PC gaming arena.
The combination of the latest generation Intel CPU technology and the latest graphics cards makes the Alienware M17x a colossal gaming machine that is more than capable of smashing through the latest blockbuster titles such as Diablo III, Batman: Arkham City and Sniper Elite V2.
Combine this with a seriously powerful GPU punch courtesy of a 2GB GDDR5 NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 680M configuration and you're looking at a top-end gaming machine more than worthy of its hefty price tag. There's also Intel HD 4000 graphics as part of the Ivy Bridge package, meaning DirectX 11 support.
The impressive spec sheet doesn't end there, however. You can select up to 32GB of RAM. The 17.3-inch display is of the Full HD 1080p variety and there's a 2.1 megapixel webcam. It also has a slot-loading optical drive on the side.
You might think that all of this rugged power may result in an explosion of noise, fan activity and a heat overload but, as with previous Alienware notebooks, this is not that case, thanks to its large heat sinks and dual rear exhausts that provide dedicated cooling for all threads and cores of both the CPU and GPU.
If you've not laid eyes on one of Alienware's gaming rigs before, prepare your peepers for an assault of colour and gare. The Alienware M17x certainly doesn't shy away from extravagance with its unique sci-fi-esque casing and its (in)famous AlienFX lighting system that enables you to set the back-light colors for the keys, speaker grills, buttons, ports and logos.
If you want a nice, calming, cool blue effect then you can have it. Equally, if you want your Alienware M17x flashing bright red neon lights at you continuously, like a panicking air traffic control warning system, then that's an option too. With 512 trillion distinct lighting combinations, we'll stop with specific examples now.
And you'll not be found wanting when it comes to connectivity and port-based fun. As well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, you've also got access to four USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI 1.4 port, a mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet action, an SD card reader, a VGA socket, optical digital output, separate headphone and microphone jacks, and a dedicated headset output. It leaves no boxes unticked.
Travel-friendly the Alienware M17x is not, however, despite the improved battery life on previous generations of 133 minutes under stress. You'll not only need a big bag to slide the M17x into, since it measures a chunky 410 x 304 x 44.5mm, you'll also need a strong back to handle its 4.4kg weight.
As you'd expect with the hardcore engine room, the Alienware M17x had little or no trouble dealing with any task that you throw its way. HD video was handled with a buttery smoothness, recent games titles caused it no signs of despair, and high-resolution photo editing was done with hardly any fuss.
Most people who decide to splash their hard earned pennies on the Alienware M17x will be doing so with some hardcore gaming sessions in mind. And those buyers won't be disappointed, since it has no issues with the top settings of graphically demanding titles and you'll comfortably get 60fps+ if you turn things down just a little.
There's also a plethora of on-board configuration settings at your disposal, including the AlienAdrenaline feature that enables you to customize your M17x's software behavior when certain games are running; AlienTouch, which gives you complete control over the track pad's sensitivity and means less annoying accidental movements; and AlienFusion for souping up the performance levels (or indeed, toning them down) at the touch of a button.
You can configure the hard drive setup on your own Alienware pretty much any way that you choose, with an array of RAID and high-speed mSATA caching configurations available.
The audio quality of the Alienware M17x is fantastic, thanks to the Creative Sound Blaster THX 7.1 setup and the stereo speakers designed by audio specialist Klipsch. There are a number of pre-set equalization installed for you to get the most out of this setup - we particularly liked the Crystalizer mode.
The keyboard keys, whatever color you choose to have emitted from them, are soft to touch with a comforting rubber-like bounce that makes them not only great for gaming but also for more day-to-day tasks such as browsing the web, tapping out an email or knocking up a quick spreadsheet.
The track pad, which is offset just to the left of center, also has a smooth rubberized finish, and you'll not hear a peep from either of its buttons, such is the soft travel that is provided.
If you've been waiting for a next-gen Intel Core gaming machine to land then there's really no need to hang around any longer. The Alienware M17x is a significant improvement on what was already a brilliant machine.
The Ivy Bridge CPU boosts performance to almost unseen-before benchmark scores, and the latest Nvidia and AMD graphics tech packed in means that you'll have no hassle when it comes to playing the latest must-have games.
Its bulky frame and ostentatious exterior may make the M17x a specialist laptop but, within the 17-inch gaming notebook market, when it comes to the functions that it specializes in there are few, if any, rivals that come close.
What You will Like
The Alienware M17x's gaudy chassis screams high-tech performance, and you won't be disappointed when you fire it up and get it purring.
It handles HD media and high-end gaming with aplomb, and the build quality is a reassuring reminder of the impressive tech that's hidden deep within the rugged chassis.
It's difficult to get lost in a laptop like you can with a big screen TV, but the Alienware M17x manages to completely absorb you using a combo of its lightning-fast, vibrant HD display and the incredibly loud surround sound setup.
What You will Dislike
Although falling into the category of a mobile PC just by virtue of being a laptop, you wouldn't want to be carrying the Alienware M17x around with you for a long period of time. Tipping the scales at a shade over 4.4kg and measuring almost 5cm at its thickest point, it would be the equivalent of lugging around four Ultrabooks with you, or seven iPads.
Battery life still isn't great, despite the Ivy Bridge update - although you're likely to want to be near a mains socket when using the Alienware M17x, anyway.
Despite its chunky frame and weighty anatomy, the Alienware M17x is the perfect gaming machine and While not cheap, its price tag is certainly comparable to its main rivals, such as the Ivy Bridge-packing MSI GT70, and buyers will be investing in one of the best laptop gaming experiences.