After Hours

Alienware M14x Teardown: Wireless HDMI portends future without wires

Bill Detwiler cracks open the Alienware M14x for a look at the high-end gaming notebook's integrated wireless HDMI transmitter and other hardware.

http://www.techrepublic.com/photos/cracking-open-the-1800-alienware-m14x-gaming-notebook/6319699

The Alienware M14x isn't your average laptop. Th base model of this portable gaming powerhouse starts at $1,099 (US). Our test model (2.4GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB Dual Channel DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GT 555M GPU) retails for around $1,800. The machine measures 1.49" (H) x 13.27" (W) x 10.17" (D). It weighs a hefty (by laptop standards) 6.45 pounds.

The M14x's stand-out-feature however, isn't any of this high-end hardware. What makes it truly interesting is Alienware's integration of a wireless HDMI transmitter. When paired with the included VIZIO Wireless HD receiver, the M14x offers a glimpse of the future. A world without video/audio cables, where devices (laptops, set-top boxes, game consoles, and the like) stream video/audio to any display.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the $1,800 Alienware M14x gaming notebook

Cracking Open observations

  • Well-built, but heavy: The Alienware M14x is built around an extremely sturdy internal frame. This rigid chassis provides firm anchor points for the internal hardware and gives the notebook a solid feel. The lid hinges are large and secured with equally beefy screws. Unfortunately, the machine's heavy-duty build also makes it quite a bit heavier than your average laptop.
  • Standard Phillips screws: All the components on the M14x are secured with standard Phillips screws. You shouldn't need any special tools to work on this machine.
  • Easy-to-access components: With the exception of the motherboard, all the M14x's major hardware components are easily accessible once the bottom cover is removed. Replacing the hard drive and upgrading the RAM should be a snap for most IT pros and PC enthusiasts.
  • Integrated wireless HDMI transmitter: Although the M14x sports some nice hardware, it's Alienware's integration of a wireless HDMI transmitter that's most interesting. Systems like the VIZIO Universal Wireless HD XWH200 and ASUS WiCast EW2000 provide an external transmitter and receiver to use with existing devices. But, they are just an interim solution. Eventually wireless HDMI technology will be integrated into computers, tablets, game consoles, media players and displays. The M14x is a first step in this direction.

Internal hardware

Our Alienware M14x test machine had the following hardware:

Update 12/19/2011: This post originally appeared in our TR Dojo blog.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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