Review Alienware M18x Notebook

Florian Glaser (translated by Vinay Pradhan), 06/08/2011

First-class in every way. Tired of having a typical desktop PC sitting on your desk? Want a replacement which offers great performance? The new Alienware M18x fits the bill. This 18 inch model is not only visually impressive, it also packs the latest hardware under its hood. The perfect replacement for the everyday desktop PC?

Alienware M18x

18 inch notebooks do not usually garner a lot of attention. However, thanks to Alienware's simultaneous release of the 14 inch, M14x, and the massive 18 inch M18x, publicity will not be a problem. As usual, the M18x can be extensively configured on the manufacturers website, before buyers make the purchase.

A quad-core CPU from Intel's latest generation (Sandy Bridge) can be found inside the M18x. In the basic configuration, the Core i7-2630QM is installed in the notebook. However, buyers can choose to upgrade to the 2720QM, the 2820QM or, the extremely expensive, 2920XM for a premium. Graphic card: three options are available to buyers. The first is the GeForce GTX 460M, which is a bit slow for hardcore gamers. A dual-GPU configuration would be better suited for such buyers. Picking the Radeon HD 6970M in CrossFire (fastest) or the two GeForce GTX 460M GPUs in SLI, will satisfy even the craziest of gamers.

The DDR3 RAM will not drag the rest of the system down. The RAM amounts range from 4096 MB to over-the-top 32 GB (although 8 GB is more than enough). Which hard disk to choose will be a harder decision to make. Classical HDDs with 7200 rpm fight for the users attention with Hybrid models (which combine magnetic storage space with Flash storage) and modern SSDs (Solid State Drive). Two hard disk in RAID are possible. The 64 bit versions of Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate are available as the operating system. Film fans should pick the optional Blu-Ray drive (burns CDs and DVDs). WLAN and Bluetooth do not require a premium and are already installed in the notebook.

Basically, the M18x is intended for passionate gamers with thick wallets. The basic configuration costs 1999 Euros. Our well-equipped model came to 4449 Euros - upgrades are usually extremely expensive.

Case

Anodized Aluminum
Anodized Aluminum

The Alienware laptop sticks out of the crowd with its luxurious and optically fabulous case (a definite crowd-pleaser). Buyers can choose to order the model in either red (Nebula Red) or black (Space Black).

The case surfaces (notebook cover, sides and bottom) are supposedly made of anodized Aluminum. However, the hand-rest regions have a comfortable rubber coating. All-in-all, the surfaces leave a high-quality impression. The workmanship is overall very good, although it does have some minor flaws. Still those are only noticeable if one takes a magnifying glass to the laptop.

The case will not get dirty easily thanks to its resistant surface. Only the glossy display falls victim to fingerprints and dust particles. The sturdiness of the case leaves no room for critique, even pushing down on the case strongly will not make it bend. Only the very tightly wound hinges could have been designed better. While opening, the base unit swings along with the display and shaking the base unit causes the display to wobble.

Alienware deserves praise for its extensive lighting elements. Keyboard, touchpad and many other elements can be lighted in any possible color. So even working in the dark will not be a problem. Frequent transportation of the case will be impossible due to its size (43.6 x 32.2 x 5.4 centimeters) and its weight (5.64 kgs).

Lighting Elements
Lighting Elements
Lighting Elements
Lighting Elements
Lighting Elements
Lighting Elements
Lighting Elements
Lighting elements of the Alienware M18x

Connectivity and Communication

USB 3.0 Performance
USB 3.0 Performance: Transcend StoreJet TS500GSJ25D3 500 GB USB 3.0 HDD

Connectivity

Alienware has equipped the M18x with the latest ports so as to make it a good desktop replacement. This extensive connectivity includes, on the left side, four sound jacks, three display ports (VGA, HDMI and Mini-DisplayPort), a Kensington Lock, a RJ-45 Gigabit-LAN port, and two fast USB 3.0 interfaces.

The right side offers two USB 2.0-Ports, an eSATA/USB 2.0-combo and a HDMI-in port. Alienware has placed a 54 mm ExpressCard slot and a 9-in-1 cardreader above the optical drive. The front remains free of ports, and the back only has the power outlet. We would have been completely satisfied if a FireWire port had been included.

The positioning of the interfaces is good. As most of the ports are placed relatively further back, the use of an external mouse should be possible without problems. Still, the placement of a few ports on the back would have been nice.

Wireless Communication

WLAN a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0 are installed in the M18x right from the start. The optional Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 module delivers 450 Mbit/s, whereas the cheaper 6200 module offers 300 Mbit/s.

Left side: Kensington Lock, RJ-45 Gigabit-Lan, VGA, HDMI, (Mini-) DisplayPort, 2x USB 3.0, 4x sound
Left side: Kensington Lock, RJ-45 Gigabit-Lan, VGA, HDMI, (Mini-) DisplayPort, 2x USB 3.0, 4x sound
Right side: 54 mm ExpressCard, 9-in-1 cardreader, 2x USB 2.0, eSATA / USB 2.0, HDMI-in
Right side: 54 mm ExpressCard, 9-in-1 cardreader, 2x USB 2.0, eSATA / USB 2.0, HDMI-in
Various Accessories
Various Accessories

Installed Software

The buyer does not have to fear that the M18x will be delivered with tons of bloatware. Thanks to Alienwares decision not to install unnecessary software, the laptop is able to start out of the box at its top speed. The included CyberLink PowerDVD 9.6 can be used to play Blu-Ray discs directly, without needing expensive extra software.

The heart of the software installation is the so-called Command Center. Here, the energy saving options (AlienFusion), lighting (AlienFX), touchpad (AlienTouch), and macro keys (AlienTactX) can be configured.

Accessories

The delivery package includes plenty of extras. The package includes, other than the 330 W power adapter (1.54 kgs) and the 12 cell battery, an in-depth manual, a black cap, a good mouse pad, and a nice sticker. The notebook itself is hidden under a nice cover. The delivery packaged is rounded off by 5 DVDs (incl. Recovery-DVD).

Guarantee

The guarantee life can range from 12 to 48 months. Hardware support on the next work day is also a nice feature. In addition, the manufacturer also offers accident insurance for a premium.

AlienFX
AlienFusion
AlienTouch
AlienTactX
Command Center Alienware M18x

Input Devices

Keyboard

Good input devices are a must for gaming notebooks. An external keyboard will not be necessary for the M18x, as the white bordered keys, with a nice size of 18x18 mm, offer a comfortable typing feel. Pressure point and stroke distance are also good, and the typing noise is acceptable.

The layout is nice. Alienware included 5 macro keys on the left of the keyboard. The user will need some time to get used to these keys as due to their placement, the main part of the keyboard has also shifted slightly. This will cause quite a few errors while typing at first, but the user will soon get used to the displacement. The sturdiness of the keyboard is sadly not good. There are many spots where the keyboard can be pushed inwards.

Touchpad

The minimally sunken touchpad can be deactivated and is of good quality. We really liked the big size (99 x 56 mm) and the smooth finish. The touchpad is very easy to use and comfortable.

Precision is great and vertical and horizontal scroll bars function without a problem. The multi-touch input is not activated by default and must be activated using the system controls. The two mouse keys should also be improved. The clicking method seemed rather undefined.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad
Touchpad

Display

Alienware uses a 18.4 inch WLED display for the laptop with a format of 16:9 and a glossy surface. The resolution of 1920 x 1080 is not surprising and the entertainment branch speaks of Full-HD. Thanks to the big display diagonal (46.7 cms) films and games can really come to life.

210
cd/m²
224
cd/m²
217
cd/m²
221
cd/m²
265
cd/m²
226
cd/m²
196
cd/m²
229
cd/m²
209
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Gossen Mavo-Monitor
Maximum: 265 cd/m²
Average: 221.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 74 %
Center on Battery: 218 cd/m²
Black: 0.36 cd/m²
Contrast: 736:1

The picture quality of the installed SEC5448 panel is great. An average brightness level of 221.9 cd/m² will be more than enough for indoors use. Thanks to the low black value of 0.36 cd/m², dark areas do not have ugly grey stripes. The contrast also beats the competition with a value of 736:1 which is offered by very few devices.

The picture has exceptional quality, and any media can be displayed well on the screen. The color space test of the M18x is also good, the sRGB space is completely covered. Only the illumination was second-class: 74% is rather poor, but during practical use this does not seem to be a problem.

Alienware M18x vs. sRGB (Gitter)
Alienware M18x vs. sRGB (Gitter)
Alienware M18x vs. MacBook Pro 17 (Gitter)
Alienware M18x vs. MacBook Pro 17 (Gitter)
Alienware M18x vs. AdobeRGB (Gitter)
Alienware M18x vs. AdobeRGB (Gitter)
Outdoors Use
Outdoors Use

The glossy display surface may give better color quality, but in turn, the user must deal with a variety of distracting reflections. Bad positioning of the laptop can cause strong reflections. In extreme cases, the user will have to move or darken the room. Personally, a matt display would have been better choice.

However, the good viewing angle stability makes up for reflections. Horizontally, the picture remains perfect even at big angles. Vertically, distortions in the picture appear faster, still most of the competition has poorer stability.

Viewing angles of the Alienware M18x
Viewing angles of the Alienware M18x

Performance

Turbo-Boost
Turbo-Boost

Processor: Intel Core i7-2920XM

"The best possible performance" - this seems to have been the motivation Alienware had when creating this notebook. The wide range of high-end hardware components available for the M18x is proof of this. Alienware completely disregards dual-core CPUs and picks quad-cores from Intels Sandy Bridge generation for future value. The Core i7-2630QM and Core i7-2720QM quad-core CPUs provide good enough performance for most applications. More expensive models bring fewer advantages. Alienware equipped our test model with the fastest quad-core CPU they had.

The Intel Core i7-2920XM is from the Extreme series and is produced, like all other Sandy Bridge processors, in the 32 nm format. The extremely high performance delivered by this CPU is thanks to its big 8 MB L3 cache (normally CPUs have between 3 to 6 MB). Some programs even profit from the "Hyperthreading" feature, which simulates virtual cores in addition to the four real cores. This means that the processor can simultaneously process up to 8 threads.

The best feature in our opinion is the high clock frequency. The CPU runs at a respectable 2.50 GHz right off the bat. As long as the core load and the temperature of the laptop stay within limits, the CPU clock frequency can be boosted up to 3.50 GHz - an increase of 1000 MHz! That is not all: thanks to the extensive overclocking features placed in the BIOS, the Core i7-2920XM can be sped up even further. There are three practical profiles, which increase the speed of the processor, as in our test model, to up to 4.20 GHz. The power usage is also equally high with a TDP value of 55 W. The weaker quad-cores have a TDP value of 45 W.

Super: Alienware did not forget about the integrated graphics chip of the CPU (HD Graphics 3000). A Fn key combination can be used to switch to this chip, which will save power and thus increase the battery life. Unfortunately, the switch will require the restart of the laptop.

System information CPUZ CPU
System information HDTune
System information HDTune
System information GPUZ
System information CPUZ RAM SPD
System information CPUZ RAM SPD
System information CPUZ RAM
System information CPUZ Mainboard
System information CPUZ Cache
System information CrystalDiskMark
System information of the Alienware M18x

Performance CPU

The M18x treated the CPU benchmarks like a walk in the park. In the Single-Core Rendering test of the Cinebench R10 64 bit benchmark, the popular Core i7-2630QM (Alienware M14x) did not stand a chance, with 6346 to 4574 points, the Core i7-2920XM is in the lead by 39%. Even in Multi-Core Rendering, the higher clock frequency played a big role: 23134 to 16545 points - a plus of 40%. Of course, in everyday gaming, the influence of the processor will be less.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
5024
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
19174
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
9723
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
6346 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
23134 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
10197 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
76.11 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
6.79 Points
Help
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage18908 points
PCMark 74579 points
Help
HWiNFO
HWiNFO

Graphics card: AMD Radeon HD 6970M X2

The M18x had to offer an expensive duo of the latest graphic cards in SLI or Crossfire (Nvidia and AMD respectively) to match the performance of the strongest desktop GPUs.

The Radeon HD 6970M CF is currently the fastest dual-GPU combo after the GeForce GTX 485M SLI. AMD's 6970Ms are DirectX 11 ready and they have the codename "Blackcomb XT". They are produced with the latest 40 nm process. The graphic cards have over 960 Unified Shaders and while the core runs at 680 MHz, the memory of 2048 MB GDDR5-VRAM is clocked at 900 MHz. The memory interface is well-dimensioned: 256 bit. This will almost never be used to the full extent.

Dual-GPU configurations offer many advantages, the biggest being the higher performance (up to +100%). However, these high performance configurations also come with a few disadvantages. For example, the so-called "micro stutters" caused by dual-GPU systems (caused by the difference between the two pictures created by the graphic cards), can be quite annoying in some cases. Subjectively, these are not noticeable in the M18x, as the Radeon HD 6970M CF manages to process fast enough most of the time (micro stutters only become clearly visible when the frame rate drops under 30 fps).

Another problem of SLI or CF systems is their high dependence on drivers. This is usually clearly noticeable with the latest games as they still lack the proper drivers. The result: the second graphic card does not increase performance or even slows down the performance. In addition, the power usage and temperature emissions rise, which also leads to louder noise emissions.

SLI or Crossfire systems are usually for buyers with an obsession for the best possible performance, and to achieve this, they are usually ready to put out more money and download the latest drivers on a regular basis.

7.5
Windows 7 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
7.6
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
7.6
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
7.6
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
7.6
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
7.5

Performance GPU

The GPU performance of the M18x is levels above that of other notebooks. The Radeon HD 6970M CF offers amazing performance and currently only the GeForce GTX 485M SLI can beat it. In the 3DMark Vantage bechmark (1280 x 1024), the CF system scored 20126 points, whereas the SLI combo (from the Schenker XMG U700 ULTRA) scored 23082 points with a desktop CPU in the same test (+15%).

Nvidia's "Fermi" architecture enables better "Tessellation" performance (a vital part of DirectX 11). This statement is confirmed by the results of the Unigine Heaven 2.1 benchmark (1280 x 1024). Nvidias GeForce GTX 485M SLI places above the Radeon HD 6970M CF with 78.5 to 63.9 fps (+23%).

3D Mark
3DMark 03106339 points
3DMark 0531864 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
25671 points
3DMark Vantage20881 points
3DMark 115727 points
Help
AS SSD Benchmark
AS SSD Benchmark

Performance SSD

As mentioned before, the case of the M18x can hold up to two hard disks. Alienware offers a wide range of storage solutions: everything, from HDDs, SSDs and Hybrid models, is available for purchase. Buyers can further customize the storage devices by putting them together in a RAID level (0 = increase in performance, 1 = mirroring).

Our test model contained the Samsung PM810, a 256 GB SSD (Solid State Drive). The SSD delivers great performance as attested by the AS SSD benchmark. HDDs can only dream of read and write rates of 253.95 MB/sec and 246.22 MB/sec. The typical access time of a SSD lies around 0.5 ms (HDDs around 20 ms).

Samsung SSD 810 Series
Sequential Read: 254.5 MB/s
Sequential Write: 239.4 MB/s
512K Read: 188 MB/s
512K Write: 230.3 MB/s
4K Read: 15.63 MB/s
4K Write: 37.84 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 114.4 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 44.38 MB/s
DPC Latency Checker: Red value when WLAN and Bluetooth were activated
DPC Latency Checker: Red value when WLAN and Bluetooth were activated

Verdict Performance

The program performance of the M18x will make desktop PCs quiver in fear. Any and all tasks are executed quickly and properly, and pushing the notebook to its limits is incredibly hard. A quad-core processor and two high-end graphic cards ensure top-of-the-line performance and long-lasting value. Thanks to the integrated SSD, the M18x broke quite a few records. 18908 points in the PCMark Vantage are a clear sign that Alienware has done something right. This is what buyers should expect from ultimate desktop replacement notebook!

Gaming Performance

Wie wir testen - Leistung

We have already pitted the Radeon HD 6970M CrossFire system against the GeForce GTX 485M SLI once before:   Detailed Comparison. So, in this test, instead of trying out a variety of games, we checked four of the most popular and latest games.

Crysis 2

The performance-hungry Ego shooter game, Crysis 2, has set many standards and is one of the biggest hurdles for mobile graphic cards. A resolution of 1920 x 1080 and the setting "Extreme" will force most notebooks to their knees. However, the Radeon HD 6970M CF fights fiercely and manages to deliver an average frame rate of 43.3 fps, a very good result. The use of a single Radeon HD 6970M lowers that display rate to 30 fps.

Crysis 2
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080Extreme43.3 fps

Call of Duty: Black Ops

The M18x deals with the slightly outdated graphic engine of the popular Call of Duty series easily. 4x anti-aliasing (AA), 8x anisotropic filtering (AF), Full-HD resolution and details at level "Extra" are no problem for the Radeon HD 6970M CF system:  the laptop runs the game at 94.8 fps. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 485M SLI manages a better score of 119.0 fps (+26%).

Call of Duty: Black Ops
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080extra, 4xAA, 8xAF94.8 fps

Starcraft 2

Blizzards successful sequel can be enjoyed by gamers in its full splendor on the M18x. The intro scene for the mission, "For the Swarm", ran fluidly with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a setting of "Ultra". The Radeon HD 6970M CF performs faster than the GeForce GTX 485M SLI in this game: 82.3 to 65.9 fps (Nvidia's GPUs perform 25% slower).

StarCraft 2
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080ultra82.3 fps

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Even the eternal Call of Duty competitor from DICE did not manage to break the M18x. The game was knocked out of the park with a frame rate of 93.4 fps, despite the high settings: 4x anti-aliasing, 8x anisotropic filtering, Full HD resolution and high details. The SLI competition is slightly faster with 96.8 fps.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080high, HBAO on, 4xAA, 8xAF93.4 fps

Verdict Gaming Performance

Gamers will weep for joy when they see the performance this 18 inch beast can deliver. AMD's Radeon HD 6970M CF has more than enough juice to run the latest games with maximum resolution and details fluidly. Graphic improvement features such as anti-aliasing can be switched on without a problem. The two graphic cards promise to deliver amazing performance for the next few years, so the buyer will not have to worry about future games.

Nvidias GeForce GTX 485M SLI lies in front of the AMD Crossfire solution, but the AMD graphic cards offer a better price-to-performance ratio. Still, potential buyers should take a good look at desktop PCs before deciding on this laptop, as there are many PCs which offer equally good performance for a much lower price.

low med.high ultra
Crysis - GPU Benchmark (2007) 48fps
Crysis - CPU Benchmark (2007) 44.8fps
F.E.A.R. 2 (2009) 157.7fps
Anno 1404 (2009) 140.9fps
Colin McRae: DIRT 2 (2009) 86.1fps
Need for Speed Shift (2009) 64.9fps
Resident Evil 5 (2009) 120.5fps
Risen (2009) 97.6fps
CoD Modern Warfare 2 (2009) 118.3fps
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010) 93.4fps
Metro 2033 (2010) 35.8fps
StarCraft 2 (2010) 82.3fps
Mafia 2 (2010) 90.2fps
Fifa 11 (2010) 328fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) 94.8fps
Crysis 2 (2011) 43.3fps

Emissions

Three cooler fans
Three cooler fans

Noise Emissions

This is one of the few weaknesses of the M18x. Under load (games and 3D applications), the cooler fans operate at a clearly audible level. This high noise emissions can even drown out the sound of quieter game genres (adventure or strategy). Under full load, the M18x is extremely noisy - from a distance of 15 cms we measured around 54 dB(A) (severe).

The notebook is comfortably quiet when less performance demanding programs (Office, Internet, video etc.) are running. The cooler fans even turn off completely from time to time. When the notebook is idle, the cooler fans turns up temporarily only to switch off again. This can be annoying and we would have preferred to have them running constantly, but at quieter level. Noise sensitive users will probably not be very happy with the M18x.

Noise Level

Idle 28.6 / 33.4 / 35.7 dB(A)
DVD 37.8 / dB(A)
Load 43.0 / 53.8 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft SL-300 (15 cm distance)
Full load temperatures
Full load temperatures

Temperature

The M18x performed well in this test. In idle mode (the dedicated graphic cards off), the surface of the base unit warms up to a moderate level of 31°C. Surprising: the average temperature actually sinks when the Radeon HD 6970M CF are active and the laptop is under heavy load. The surface however warms up slightly to around 32°C which is still relatively very low. The hand-rest regions do not warm up much, and so the M18x is well-suited for longer gaming sessions.

The hardware components had to prove themselves in a stability test which latest a few hours (Furmark and Prime). While the processor performed as expected, one of the two graphic cards reduced its clock frequency from 680/900 MHz to 100/150 MHz temporarily. This "throttling" only occurs under unrealistic conditions (full load for multiple hours), so the user does not need to fear a decrease in performance in everyday use.

Max. Load
 34.5 °C35.8 °C35.6 °C 
 30.7 °C35.4 °C33.2 °C 
 26.5 °C27.3 °C25.7 °C 
Maximum: 35.8 °C
Average: 31.6 °C
37.9 °C35.1 °C30.8 °C
27.4 °C29.6 °C29.5 °C
24.8 °C25.3 °C25.6 °C
Maximum: 37.9 °C
Average: 29.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  52.2 °C | Room Temperature 23.1 °C | Raytek Raynger ST

Speakers

The sound system of the M18x was created in cooperation with the company Klipsch. Alienware has installed two speakers (front of the laptop) and one subwoofer (case bottom). The sound quality of this 2.1 speaker system is quite good. In comparison to other laptops, the sound is voluminous and strong. The bass is also clearly audible. The high volume level helps intensify the audio experience. In short: external speakers are not necessary. Any users who still want to connect external speakers, will definitely be happy with the "Surround" sound output (5.1 analogue & 7.1 digital via HDMI or S/PDIF).

Battery Life

Readers Test
Maximum Battery Life (Readers Test)
Classic Test
Minimum Run Time  (Classic Test)

Most gaming notebooks can not deliver high run times. Thankfully, the M18x is not part of this group. Thanks to the strong 12-cell battery (96 Wh) and the automatic graphics switching technology, the notebook can also run free from the wall socket for long periods of time. The battery life, when the laptop is idle, is especially impressive. We used the Readers test from Battery Eater and found a result of six hours and 16 minutes (minimum brightness and all energy-saving options turned on).

The laptop lasts 3.75 hours when used for surfing on the internet via the WLAN module, with maximum brightness and moderate energy-saving options. Mobile film playback is also possible with the M18x. Our test DVD ran a total of 3.5 hours. However, when the Crossfire system is switched on, the battery life sinks immediately. The Classic test from Battery Eater showed a result of 57 minutes with maximum brightness and minimum energy-saving options. So, the use of Intel's HD Graphics 3000 is recommended for users who are not constantly gaming.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
6h 16min
WiFi Surfing
3h 46min
DVD
3h 28min
Load (maximum brightness)
0h 57min

The power usage varies strongly, depending on which of the two graphic solutions is currently active. Intel's HD Graphics 3000 makes the notebook consume 19.2 to 28.2 W when idle and 67.1 to 132.1 watts under load. AMD's Radeon HD 6970M CrossFire system lead to a higher power usage of 39.9 to 53.0 W (Idle) and 182.7 to 315.9 watts (load). This level of power usage is similar to that of a desktop PC.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.3 / 0.6 Watt
Idle 19.2 / 25.8 / 28.2 Watt
Load 182.7 / 315.9 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC-940

Verdict

Alienware M18x
Alienware M18x

In the beginning, we were skeptical of the M18x. Alienware's 18 inch "monster" does not exactly fit into any of the current trends, and most buyers do not go above the 17 inch range. However, after our in-depth testing of this laptop, we have to conclude that the M18x has a lot of potential.

Of course, the laptop is large and heavy (more than 5 kgs!). So a mobile gaming platform is out of the question. Still, the performance delivered by this notebook has no equal in the laptop world. Regardless, of what the task is, the M18x can do it. Thanks to Intel's Sandy Bridge processor and AMD's Crossfire system (two Radeon HD 6970Ms), passionate gamers can play any game at maximum details.

The M18x offers much more than good performance. The display and the sound system are both very good, and the extensive connectivity offered on the high-quality case ensures that the M18x can serve well as a replacement for the everyday desktop PC. Another positive feature is the great battery life, which is achieved thanks to the graphic switching technology.

The M18x has very few flaws. Besides, its heavy weight and large size, the noise emission could be a problem for noise-sensitive buyers. Otherwise, this luxurious desktop replacement laptop has been designed very well by Alienware. The M18x sets standards for other notebooks. However, whether or not the Alienware M18x is more useful than a desktop PC is a question which can only be answered by the buyers themselves.

In Review: Alienware M18x
In Review: Alienware M18x

Specifications

Alienware M18x

:: Processor
Intel Core i7-2920XM 2.5 GHz @ 4.2 GHz (Intel Core i7)
:: Mainboard
Intel HM67
:: Memory
8192 MB, 2x 4096 MB DDR3-RAM (1333 MHz), max. 32 GB, four slots
:: Graphics adapter
AMD Radeon HD 6970M Crossfire - 2x 2048 MB, Core: 680 MHz, Memory: 900 MHz, GDDR5-VRAM, 8.800.6.1000
:: Display
18.4 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, SEC5448, FHD, WLED, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
Samsung SSD 810 Series, 256 GB
:: Soundcard
IDT 92HD73C1 / 92HDW74C1 / 92HDW74C2 @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
1 Express Card 54mm, 3 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 2 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, Audio Connections: 2x jack, 1x Line-out/headphone (incl. S/PDIF), 1x Line-in/microphone, Card Reader: SD,SDIO,SDXC,MMC,MMC+,MS,PROxD,SDHD,SDHC,
:: Networking
Atheros AR8151 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 AGN (a g n ), 3.0 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
HL-DT-ST DVDRWBD CA30N
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 54 x 436 x 322
:: Weight
5.64 kg Power Supply: 1.54 kg
:: Battery
96 Wh Lithium-Ion, 12 cell
:: Price
4449 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 3.0 Megapixel, Power adapter: 330 W, Manual, Mouse pad, Kappe, Samttasche, Sticker(Alienkopf), Recovery-DVD, Resource-DVD, Resource-Media-DVD, Applications-DVD, Roxio Creator Starter, PowerDVD 9.6, 12-48 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The case has great workmanship, but is also quite heavy.
The case has great workmanship, but is also quite heavy.
A separate numeric block can also be found next to the keyboard.
A separate numeric block can also be found next to the keyboard.
Many elements of the laptop can be lighted.
Many elements of the laptop can be lighted.
The touchpad is well-dimensioned.
The touchpad is well-dimensioned.
The keys are easy to recognize even without the use of lighting.
The keys are easy to recognize even without the use of lighting.
Alienware placed the ExpressCard slot and a cardreader above the optical drive.
Alienware placed the ExpressCard slot and a cardreader above the optical drive.
Thanks to the HDMI in port, the display can be used with other devices as well.
Thanks to the HDMI in port, the display can be used with other devices as well.
External monitors can be connected via the VGA, HDMI or (Mini-)DisplayPort.
External monitors can be connected via the VGA, HDMI or (Mini-)DisplayPort.
The left side offers two USB 3.0 ports.
The left side offers two USB 3.0 ports.
The stylish case contains a variety of accessories.
The stylish case contains a variety of accessories.
A soft cover ensures basic protection.
A soft cover ensures basic protection.
The in-depth manual has a thick rubber cover.
The in-depth manual has a thick rubber cover.
The 330 W power adapter is almost as high as three DVD covers.
The 330 W power adapter is almost as high as three DVD covers.
A black cap is also included in the delivery.
A black cap is also included in the delivery.
A mousepad can also be found in the delivery pacakge.
A mousepad can also be found in the delivery pacakge.
The practical multimedia bar might not react now and then.
The practical multimedia bar might not react now and then.
The bottom of the case is adorned by a shining name plate.
The bottom of the case is adorned by a shining name plate.
The "Macro" keys will definitely please MMO gamers.
The "Macro" keys will definitely please MMO gamers.
The hand-rest regions have a comfortable rubber coating.
The hand-rest regions have a comfortable rubber coating.
Very few notebooks are as thick as the M18x: 5.4 cms.
Very few notebooks are as thick as the M18x: 5.4 cms.
A weight of 5.6 kgs is also rare to find in the notebook segment.
A weight of 5.6 kgs is also rare to find in the notebook segment.
The M18x is available in "Nebula Red" and "Space Black".
The M18x is available in "Nebula Red" and "Space Black".
Most of the interfaces are placed on the left side.
Most of the interfaces are placed on the left side.
Alienware supposedly used anodized Aluminum for the notebook.
Alienware supposedly used anodized Aluminum for the notebook.
The 18.4 inch glare display causes strong reflections.
The 18.4 inch glare display causes strong reflections.
The craggy lines may not be for everyone.
The craggy lines may not be for everyone.
The screws for the bottom plate can be found under the battery.
The screws for the bottom plate can be found under the battery.
The surface gives a high-quality impression.
The surface gives a high-quality impression.
The connectivity is extensive.
The connectivity is extensive.
The cooler fan is quite audible during gaming.
The cooler fan is quite audible during gaming.
HDDs, Hybrid disks and SSDs are available for the M18x.
HDDs, Hybrid disks and SSDs are available for the M18x.
The 12-cell abttery has a life expectancy of 300 charges.
The 12-cell abttery has a life expectancy of 300 charges.
Alienware has put in five DVDs for the M18x.
Alienware has put in five DVDs for the M18x.

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Links

Price Comparison

Pro

+Great connectivity
+Extensive lighting
+Very good input devices
+High quality materials
+Fantastic performance
+Long battery life
+Lots of accessories
+Nice display
 

Cons

-Clearly audible under heavy load
-Very high weight
-Fat power adapter

Shortcut

What we like

The excellent program and game performance.

What we miss

Less noise emissions under load.

What surprised us

The high battery life with the HD Graphics 3000.

The competition

18-inch gaming or multimedia notebooks such as the Acer Aspire 8950G.

Rating

Alienware M18x
06/01/2011 v2
Florian Glaser

Chassis
90%
Keyboard
86%
Pointing Device
88%
Connectivity
87%
Weight
40%
Battery
80%
Display
82%
Games Performance
100%
Application Performance
99%
Temperature
88%
Noise
68%
Add Points
88%
Average
83%
88%
Gaming *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Alienware M18x Notebook
Author: Florian Glaser, 2011-06- 8 (Update: 2013-06- 6)