With a Quad-Core Intel Core 2 Duo, dual Nvidia GTX 280M/ATI Mobility Radeon 4870 GPUs running side by side in SLI configuration, dual hard drives (or SSDs) in RAID0, and up to 8 gigs of 1366MHz DDR3 RAM modules, the new Alienware m17x is not only the laptop with the most acronyms, but also the most powerful gaming laptop in the world.
Of course, the above example is a maxed out configuration that will drain your wallet for at least $5,000 – not a laptop for everyone’s budget. On the lower end of the pricing scale, you can get an m17x for $1,799, but then you’ll have to settle for a mere GTX 260M GPU (single).
All of the reviews so far have more or less confirmed the obvious – that the Alienware m17x would make short work of most of its competition – at least in the dual GPU configuration. And it looks like Alienware has made a conscious choice to ship the most extreme varieties of the m17x to all the high-profile laptop/tech sites.
Cnet as well as Notebookreview reviews a unit with the dual GTX 280M plus the Intel Extreme QX9300 (quad core) configuration. Undoubtedly the most interesting benchmark for an all-out gaming laptop is real-world gaming tests, but Cnet only chose to run Unreal Tournament 3, in which the unit pushed out 168 frames per second at 1920×1200 resolution.
As usual, NotebookReview opted for a more extensive range of tests. Running Crysis 1.21 at 1920×1200 and all settings at Very High, the m17x churned out just below 30FPS, Stalker: Clear Skies returned nearly 50FPS at the same high resolution. The less demanding Devil May Cry 4 produced well over 100FPS with all of the settings maxed out. In terms of synthetic gaming benchmarks, the m17x scored 5614 in a PCMark Vantage test. The reviewer also ran all of the tests with the CPU overclocked from 2.53GHz to 2.93GHz, but the improvements were very marginal.
In the synthetic PCMark test, the m17x was only beaten by one laptop – the Clevo D900F – but that’s not entirely fair, as the Clevo uses conventional desktop parts (including a desktop Core i7) to boost its scores. Once the m17x is refreshed to include the new mobile Core i7 CPUs, it will almost certainly see another speed bump as well as improved battery life.
It would have been interesting to see how the Alienware would perform in other, slightly less hideously expensive configurations, but it so far I haven’t managed to locate any alternative reviews. Crunchgear, Laptopmag, as well as HotHardware have all reviewed the same unit as the one above.
On the other hand, if you’re actually considering the Alienware m17x, is doesn’t make a lot of sense to choose anything below than the SLI configuration. If you need less graphics juice, you will get a lot more value out of competing (if less powerful) laptops from Asus for example. However, if you want to outshine all of your geeky friends at your next LAN party, there is no substitute for a genuine, maxed out Alienware laptop with the now-classic alien head logo emblazoned on the lid.