We have reviewed a notebook from Alienware for the Geek Gift Guide every year and we didn't want to break the streak for 2011. With that said, with the m14x, we may have actually found the sweet spot in gaming computers that lies between portability and power.
- Product: Alienware m14x notebook
- Company: Alienware
- Processor: Intel Core i7 2760QM 2.4GHz (3.5GHz w/Turbo Boost, 6MB Cache)
- Wireless: Killer Wireless-N 1103 a/g/n 2x2 MIMO for Gaming & Video
- Memory: 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz
- Video Card: 3.0GB DDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M using NVIDIA Optimus technology
- Hard Drive: 750GB 7200RPM SATA 3Gb/s
- Display: 14.0 inch HD (900p/1600x900) with WLED backlight
- WirelessHD & Mobile Broadband: Internal 60GHz WirelessHD Transmitter and VIZIO XWH200 Universal Wireless HD Video and Audio Kit
- Optical Drive: 8x SuperMulti DVD±R/RW Slot Load Optical Drive
- Audio: Internal High-Definition 5.1 Surround Sound Audio
- Weight: 6.45 pounds
- Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
- Cost: Reviewed unit, $1899 (base model $1099)
- Photos: TechRepublic's Alienware m14x cracking open gallery
What I like
- Power: Take a look at the specifications above - that is some serious power packaged in a 14-inch notebook. There is currently no game that the m14x cannot handle, especially with the 3GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M. By comparison, my gaming desktop has two GeForce 480 video cards that together don't have 3GB of DDR3 memory.
- WirelessHD: The future for top-end notebooks is going to be all about built-in wireless HD transmitters. The ability to send a full HD signal, video and sound, wirelessly to a big screen television connected to a surround sound system is nirvana for a computer gaming geek. This concept is so great I can't imagine why it hasn't happened before now - this is so much more useful than 3D.
- LED Keyboard: I enjoy the LED-keyboard, which allows you to game in a darkened room and thereby increase the immersive experience. After all, Zombies are scarier in the dark.
- Portable: The Alienware m14x is portable, which means you can carry it from room to room or place to place with ease. However, it does way over 6 lbs., so I don't think you'd want to use it as your traveling notebook.
What I don't like
- Battery life: This more a complaint against all gaming notebooks and battery manufacturers. You cannot do any serious gaming on the m14x unless you have an outlet to plug it into. Some day we will have better battery systems so that this is a non-issue, but not anytime soon unfortunately.
- LCD resolution: With a 14-inch screen, the resolution of the LCD display is limited to 1600X900. While that is a very good resolution, I would like to see a true 1080p native resolution. However, the m14x is capable of pushing higher resolutions via HDMI outputs.
Bottom line for geeks
The Alienware m14x is a fine gaming notebook that fits squarely in that sweet spot between portability and power. When the time comes to replace my gaming desktop computer, I will strongly consider a gaming notebook that has this kind of power. For the money, such power in such a small package is hard to beat. (Yes, for a hardcore computer gamer, $1899 is not unreasonable for a computer with this power.)
Geek Gift Score
- Fun factor: ****
- Geek factor: *****
- Value: ***
- Overall: ****
For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2011.
Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.