I purchased this laptop as a replacement for my outdated black-friday version 15" HP DV6000. I bought this laptop for use in college next year, mainly for word processing, CAD modeling, and light gaming. I was weary to purchase an Alienware because of the reputation of having overpriced computers, but after researching other laptops in the size range, the price tag was acceptable compared to what I was getting. I was very confident before purchasing this laptop that it was going to suit my needs perfectly.
What's in the Box:
- Power Block
- Felt sleeve (somewhat durable?)
My first impressions of the laptop in person were nothing short of what I expected based on what I read online. The "Soft Black" touch color is gorgeous, soft to the touch and somewhat easy to get finger prints on. The overall construction of the laptop is VERY sturdy, which is possibly one of the reasons that I love it so much. It feels right in your hands, and nothing feels like it's going to break if you push it the wrong way. Everything is extremely solid, and seems like it will last a very long time.
There is talk everywhere about the quality of the m11x screen being horrible, too glossy, too reflective, shiny, and ugly. I must admit that I do not use lighting in my room that emits light at an angle to make a glare (if you do, why?), so I might be a little bit biased. The screen is shiny, and I can understand where the glare would come from if you bring it in the sun or somewhere with very harsh lighting. The colors are good though, everything on the screen looks as it should.
I got used to the size of the keyboard within minutes of using it, and I think I could type for hours without getting annoyed. The keys are the perfect size and have a smooth pressing motion, and are very quiet as well. The AlienFx lighting for the keyboard in particular is very useful at night. The build quality and durability of the laptop definitely carries over to the keyboard.
There are some very unique function keys on this laptop that I have never seen on any other brands, such as a key to switch between external monitor only, lcd only, and both. There is a function key that displays "battery enabled" on my screen when I press it..not sure what it means. There's a button to turn on and off wifi, and then standard brightness and volume control ones as well. There is however two buttons after f12, one that launches the alienware command center and one that enables/disables AlienFx. The arrow keys are a little small, but I'm sure my little cousin wouldn't mind playing gold miner with them.
The touchpad is made out of the perfect material for a touch pad, it isn't too soft and does not remind me of a slice of cheese like on some laptops. It does not get clammy, sticky, or hard to move on like I have experienced on other brands. Very responsive, and with a simple updated synaptic driver install I now have two finger scroll and pinch and zoom just like a mac (which I love).
NVIDIA Optimus is sort of a hit or miss for some people. Personally, I love it. Having two different graphics processors is great, the Intel HD chip and the NVIDIA 335m GPU. Optimus (which is NVIDIA's new technology) determines if a program should be run on the Intel HD chip or the NVIDIA 335m. Unfortunately, with this being a new technology, there are some bugs with it. There are drivers being released that are not being tailored specifically to the m11x, which require some modification before installing (which really is NOT that difficult at all, just a simple replacing of a .txt file in the installer). Optimus sometimes will not utilize the NVIDIA card for certain games or programs, but fortunately there is a way to "whitelist" certain executables so they always use the NVIDIA card.
I think everyone knows how awesome the AlienFx LEDS are. Fully customizable colors, able to map individual colors to each cluster of lighting (keyboard, front lots, alienware logo, alien head [inside, not on lid (which is lit by the screens backlight so you CANT change the color)]. It is really impressive in person and easily disabled with a function key.
The wifi connectivity on this laptop is seemingly better than my other laptop. I'm not sure if windows 7 has anything to do with it, but I have had better signal reception and overall everything seems faster. I run my xbox360 connection through my laptop (by bridging the ethernet port and wifi) and always experienced slight lag and intermittent disconnects with my HP, and I no longer have that problem with the m11x!
I usually use my Klipsch speakers when I'm at home, but I unplugged them to try out the build in 5.1 surround, and I was VERY impressed. It really was like surround sound, I could tell which side sounds were coming from and everything sounded very crisp and clear.
Two AlienFx colored grilles, and it they do NOT seem as bulky as they do in pictures they're actually quite small.
Seems like any standard built in webcam, nothing special here.
Two USB ports, two headphone jacks and one microphone jack.
Display port, HDMI port, one USB port, ethernet connection, firewire and SD/MMC/MS PRO(?)
Power connection, fan vent
The customizable alienware nameplate! And a pretty cool battery indicator, press the button and there are 5 led's that show you the level of the battery.
Insert Benchmark Scores and Pictures Here
Please read the benchmark section above to run common benchmarks.
Size and Weight
VERY light laptop. Easily one handed, picked up, moved, flipped, and it feels durable. It's not going to break.
Heat and Noise
Fan's are quiet at loudest, and heat depends on the amount of processing you're doing. The i7 can throw out some heat, but nothing that you're not able to touch after an hour or so gaming session. The keyboard does not heat up much, just the area where your palms rest.
While streaming a video off of hulu (with the Nvidia GPU active) I was getting about 3.5 hours off of the battery. Once I turned off the GPU and the laptop was idling, the battery life went up to almsot 5 hours.
AlienFx for LED colors, I would reccomend Aliensense facial recognition, it seems like a gimmick to me.
A felt sleeve that the laptop comes in, I have read reports of people using them as a laptop protector in a bag, but It's a tight fit and I can't see myself doing it. I'm more of a neoprene sleeve kind of guy.
- Small form factor
- Ease of use
- Screen (for some people, depending on lighting)
- NVIDIA Optimus drivers (need updating, some users might not be up for the task)
There is something that I have fallen in love with on this laptop that I didn't mention beforehand, and it's the material where your palms rest on the computer. It almost seems old, sort of like something you would find on a 1990s laptop, but somehow modern at the same time. I like it, it feels and looks nice, and I think it's perfect.
But really, in conclusion, I can see myself loving using this laptop for as long as I keep it, the combination of the power and the small form factor are very pleasing. This is a laptop you can see yourself using everywhere, in your house, at a coffee shop, on a plane, at school, it fits every environment perfectly. The build quality and sturdiness of the laptop are superior to any notebook I have ever used in the past. This laptop just feels right, for surfing the web, gaming, typing, and anything else you can imagine yourself using your laptop for.