Review: Alienware M11x netbook
Netbooks, small in stature and big in portability. These pint-sized PCs are perfect for a checking your email or browsing the web on the go, but a machine for hardcore gaming they certainly are not. Well, that was until gaming PC specialist Alienware turned its attention to the portable powerhouses…
The 11.6in screen drops the M11x into the heart of netbook territory, but at 2kg it’s carrying around about 60 per cent more weight than most mini-laptops, despite the lack of an optical drive. That’s because its well-crafted, intimidating shell houses enough graphics grunt to get through the latest games.
The M11x has two graphics processors under the hood, one for gaming and the other for general use. You can switch between the two without powering off, and get six and a half hours of battery life when you use the conservative chip.
Compared to Atom-powered netbooks, the M11x chews through everyday jobs (from web browsing to video coding) at a far greater pace. Its dual-core system gives it grunt when its needed, and battery life when it doesn’t. The power comes from Intel’s Core i5 and i7 CPUs, while the more conservative chipset is powered by Intel’s CULV.
The screen resolution is sharp enough for the size, but the picture quality is a tad disappointing. It’s faded and unexciting, and there’s not enough dynamic range for picture editing. But once a game is up and running however, you won’t notice. When we docked the baby Alienware with an external monitor (in an attempt to get some serious HD gaming done) frame rates fluctuated quite radically. Still, there’s no other ultralight that handles gaming on the go like this.
As we said, build quality is superb. There’s little to fault, and the M11x is one of the most well-built portables we’ve ever seen. The styling won’t suit everyone though and it’s a hefty beast compared to its rivals. But as with desktop PCs, that’s the price you pag for the latest tech.
The basic M11x sells for around US$1,200, but the configuration we’ve looked at here is a good US$650 more than that. For the same price, you could get yourself four decent netbooks, but you still wouldn’t be able to play StarCraft II. And anyway, who needs four netbooks? Exactly.
The screen isn’t perfect, but in every other way this is the laptop that PC gamers have been crying out for
Price from US$1,200
Processor Intel CULV U7300, 1.3GHz
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium
Hard drive storage 256GB SSD
Screen size 11.6in
Graphics card Intel integrated/GeForce GT335M
Screen resolution 1366×768
USB 2.0 Yes
Built-in speaker No