If you been a geek as long as I have you would have at some point lusted after an Alienware product. These were the first major brand-name high performance gaming oriented computer systems. They were built with the latest and most powerful components and often over-clocked to give a market leading gaming experience. They featured custom ‘Alienware’ design cases and were immediately identifiable to those in the know. Walk into a LAN game with one of these bad boys and people knew you were serious. They also knew you had too much money. There is a significant premium to pay for these factory built gaming laptop and desktop computers. Alienware have since been taken over by Dell who position the brand as their ultra performance consumer systems.
Right now I’m typing on a Alienware M11x Revision 2. This is an 11.6″ notebook system running Windows 7 on a Core i3 processor. This is one powerful little machine. At 11.6 inches its almost a netbook size and weight with only 1.9k kgs on the scales. At first I was unsure that the screen would be large enough however I had grown accustomed to using my iPad which is only 9.7 inches.
This laptop has some amazing features, not only does it pack a full power processor into a small chassis, it’s main tour de force is the graphics. It comes with a 1Gb nVidia GT335M which makes it capable of playing the latest fast action 3D games such as Call of Duty, Battlefield or Half Life. Alienware have used nVidia Optimus technology to switch between a low power integrated Intel graphics chip and the dedicated GT335M. This gives the laptop the ability to lower its power consumption and vastly increase battery life (4+ hours).
For the record, I wont be using this laptop to play games, my attraction was to the backlit keyboard. Residing under the nicely sized keyboard is a set of multi colour LEDs which can be configured to display a range of colours. I often work at night in dark rooms so the keyboard backlight is invaluable. It small and light enough to sit on my lap and type away while in the darkened TV room with the family. It’s also perfect for typing in bed or on a plane. The one dislike I have with M11x is the glossy screen. It’s so glossy & reflective I can almost see into the future.
The chassis is strong and rigid, being closer to that of a 13″ laptop. While I would not say this laptop is ‘thin’ its compact size does make it easily portable. There is some minor fan noise, as would be expected when running a full power processor, but nothing overly distracting.
While this system is pitched at gamers it can be a very useful business machine. The great performance, small package and backlit keyboard make this a contender for the mobile professional. To my knowledge there is not any other similarly sized laptop that features a keyboard backlight.