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Review: Alienware M11x Gaming Netbook

Unlike Any Other Netbook

When Alienware first showed off the M11x at CES, we were interested, but not entirely convinced. An ultraportable gaming laptop, the size of a netbook, designed to compete against netbooks? It sounds too far-fetched to be possible.

Then again, the concept of a netbook sounded just as strange to us when we first heard about it. The difference here is that Alienware has created the ultimate small light-weight gaming PC that more than moonlights as a business-class laptop—while netbooks have such limited computing power. In all of our tests, we were blown away by the M11x, not because it uses unique technology or is incredibly powerful, but because it’s so capable while remaining relatively inexpensive and tiny. The M11x is available now.

The model we tested costs $1,099, but the M11x starts at $800, and can be internally customized to cost nearly $2000. Our model includes what we consider to be the best parts-per-price ratio.

Specifications

Size (inches)11.25 x 9.19 x 1.29
Weight (pounds)4.39
Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
CPUIntel Core 2 Duo SU7300 1.3GHz (3MB Cache) Overclocked to 1.73GHz
RAM4GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 800MHz
Hard Drive500GB SATAII 7,200RPM
Videocard1GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M/Mobile Intel GS45 Chipset
Display11.6-inch WideHD 1366x768 (720p) WLED
Other1.3MP Webcam, AlienFX lighting, a/b/g/n Wi-Fi

The M11x features both integrated and discrete graphics, and users can switch between the two. All M11x models also come with an overclocked dual core processor, which can easily be returned to its original clock speed of 1.3GHz, the standard for laptops this size and smaller.

So why is the M11x one of the best small machines we’ve ever tested? Read on to find out.

  • welshmousepk
    Desktop users with a gtx 240? Might want to fix that.
    Nice review though, if a little late.

    I still think this is the best product alienware offer. Excellent value for money, and perfect for somelike me who attends alot of LANs. Shame I can't afford one.
    Reply
  • JohnnyLucky
    "....beast shatters every preconceived notion we had about tiny laptops."

    Wish I could actually see one try it out for myself. When I think of netbooks I think of tiny screens.
    Reply
  • warezme
    It is a small portable machine but can really only "game" at low resolution (limited by screen resolution) with low settings in game settings.

    Compared to GT 240?? I don't think so, more like 9600 at best.
    Reply
  • Doctor-boom
    Warezme, you might want to check your fact before talking. This thing played everything I threw at it :dawn of war II, ddo unlimited, dragon age, warhammer online. on medium-high settings (very high for ddo-U). There is no comparison between the mx11 and a laptop with a 9600 (I have both, I can compare). And why would you want a higher resolution on a 11.6" inch screen? The human eye isn't going to see a difference.
    Reply
  • pffff...this is not a netbook...but an ultraportable,and a great one.
    Reply
  • jamezrp
    warezme, we didn't test on an external monitor, as explained, because it's a laptop and most users will not play on an external monitor. That doesn't mean that because it can play games at 1366x768 at high spec that it's a weak GPU. On the contrary, the fact that a small laptop of it's size can do that is quite amazing. No other laptop can do this today.

    While I'm still testing the machine (and am in fact using it as a desktop and laptop replacement, a story for another time), I can say without a doubt that it is awesome. And I don't mean awesome like people use today, like finding only green markers in the store on Saint Patrick's Day. I mean Thor jumping out from the sky and hand delivering dinner awesome. Why? Because it can do anything both a laptop and desktop can do, for a low price and a most excellent size and weight.

    Sure, the CPU is pretty slow (and as we showed with GTAIV), and that stinks. And sure, the keyboard and trackpad isn't perfect. And it doesn't have Optimus. But you know what? There is nothing like it around, and for the price, it's a no-brainer.

    I'll see about getting some more benchmarks up as well.
    Reply
  • drizzt396
    meh, I can play Morrowind and WoW on my Eee with my 360 controller so I think I'll just stick with that...
    Reply
  • airborne11b
    The perfect gaming laptop is the Sager 15" with the GTX 280. It'll play just about every game on max setting, screen is big enough to enjoy gaming but not too small like the 11" junk. Graphics, ram, and CPU in the new 15" sager are top notch. I've owned a sager for 2 years and never had any problems rocking games. UT3, L4D2, CoH, and Assassin's Creed run at max settings on my 17" 9262 I bought over 2 years ago. BTW, incase you don't know, Clevo/sager make the base parts that are used in alienware laptops. Pay for the hardware, not the name imo.
    Reply
  • jamezrp
    airborne11b, Sager may make a good laptop, but a 15" laptop is larger than most people want today. Hell, it's more than we want. There's a reason netbooks have succeeded against all the criticism against it. Size matters.

    So, while our DSi XL review proved that bigger is better, indeed Alienware has proven here that smaller can be pretty darned good too.
    Reply
  • playingwithplato
    jamezrp,
    I do think Alienware hit a home run with this model.
    Do you think the m11x can run Sims 3 well? My wife's birthday comes up next month and she likes this a lot. Her only requirment: Sims 3. EA states that with Vista/7 you need a 2.2 Ghz CPU, so this makes me sad. What do you think? Also, how long till Alienware puts a i3 or maybe i5 in this? And if it had a ATI 5xxx DirectX 11 low voltage GPU it would be perfect. ha ha You can't have everything.

    Good review, I appreciate Tom's staying involved with their readers
    Reply