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.
Our Alienware M14x test machine had the following hardware:
- Samsung SDI 14.8V, 63Wh Li-ion battery
- Intel Core i7 2760QM 2.4GHz processor
- Intel BD82HM67 Platform Controller Hub (E76639 01 PK5)
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M video chip (40N3X7 1040A1 N12E-GE-B-A1)
- Hynix HMT325S6BFR8C-PB 2GB Dual Channel DDR3 RAM modules (X2 for 4GB)
- Hynix H5TQ2G63BFR 2Gb DDR3 SDRAM (x6 for 1.5GB)
- Parade PS121 HDMI/DVI Repeater (x2)
- Intersil ISL95831 3+1 Voltage Regulator for IMVP-7/VR12 CPUs
- Intersil ISL6264 Two-Phase Core Controller for AMD Mobile Turion CPUs
- ENE Technology KB930QF A1 (clock generator?)
- Realtek RTS5209 card reader
- NEC USB 3.0 controller (D720200AF1)
- Silicon Laboratories C8051F347 High-speed 8051 MCU
- Realtek ALC665 5.1-Channel High Definition Audio Codec
- Eon Silicon Solution cFeon F8075HCP (BIOS?)
- Intersil ISL6251 Low Cost Multi-Chemistry Battery Charger Controller
- Hitachi-LG Data Dtorage 8x Super Multi DVD Rewriter (Model: GS30N)
- 500GB Samsung HM500JJ 7200 RPM SATA hard drive
- Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 WLAN card (Model: 62205ANHMW)
- SiBEAM (Silicon Image) SB9220 Network Processor
- Atmel SAM7S ARM7TDMI Flash MCU
- Winbond 25Q16BVIG Serial Flash Memory
- Broadcom BCM92070MD Bluetooth module
- Forcecon DFS531205HC0T DC280009OF0 cooling fan
Update 12/19/2011: This post originally appeared in our TR Dojo blog.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
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 support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.