Alienware M11x R3 Review, The Last One
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As most of you are probably aware, the Alienware M11x R3 came out back in 2011 and it is the last version of Dell’s 11-inch laptop as the company has decided a few months ago to discontinue this model. When it came out it had a starting price of $1,099 and came with a second-gen Core i5 processor and a dedicated video card from Nvidia.
This third and final iteration of the model borrows its design from its two predecessors, featuring a similar all-black rubberized lid which holds the Alienware lighted logo, along with two grilles sitting on the front lip which are also lighted, while the keyboard on the inside adopts the familiar Alienware style. If an alien were ever to transform into a laptop, this would be the one.
One cool feature of the M11x R3 would have to be that it offers different colors for lighting up the Alien head sitting above the keyboard, as well as different lighting for the Alienware name located on the bezel, the front grilles and the keyboard as well. There are no less than 20 different colors to choose from for these areas of the laptop, while the configuration is done by using the Alienware AlienFX software which comes bundled with the laptop.
This mini gaming laptop measures 11.2 x 9.2 x 1.3 inches and tips the scale at 4.6 pounds which makes it feel quite bulky and thick for a laptop of this size, but this is understandable given the powerful hardware components sitting inside.
That colorful backlit keyboard manages to provide a very nice tactile feedback that doesn’t show any signs of flex while the placement of the keys is great. The bad news is that since we’re dealing with such a small laptop, the layout of the keys feels a little bit cramped since the keys are quite close to one another so most likely you won’t be able to type very fast. However, since this is a gaming laptop, not many use this to write essays for school.
Below this compact keyboard is a textured touchpad which measures 3.1 x 1.6 inches and manages to offer an accurate navigation, while the multitouch gestures are supported but we have to warn you that by default these are deactivated. This is a Synaptics pad that offers support for gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, but you can’t perform a three-finger flick or a two-finger scroll. Below it are two separate left and right mouse buttons that manage to provide a nice feedback.
The Alienware M11x R3 from Dell is fitted with an 11.6-inch display that has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and is capable of providing sharp images and extremely bright colors. The only drawback we found would have to be the limited viewing angles as the images start washing out at just 45 degrees so for the best image quality available we advise you to look at the screen straight on.
As far as the audio system is concerned, this mini gaming laptop comes with stereo speakers which have been mounted on the bottom and have the power of getting quite loud to fill a room, but we have to warn you though that the audio coming out is quite flat and monotone since the speakers are sitting very close to one another. As a matter of fact, the right one is actually in the middle. To improve the sound quality you might want to use the Waves MaxxAudio software. We should mention that there are a bunch of audio presets available for music, gaming, movies and voice. If none of these satisfy you, there’s also the possibility of using the built-in equalizer to fiddle with the settings.
Despite the fact that we are dealing with such a small laptop, the Alienware M11x R3 has a more than decent array of ports. The left side holds the DisplayPort, Ethernet port, HDMI out, FireWire port, along with a USB 2.0 port, a microSD card reader and an SD card reader as well. The right spine is where you will have access to the two headphone jacks, a microphone jack and 2 x USB 3.0 ports. There’s also a nice two megapixel high definition webcam that can take sharp and bright images.
Under the hood of the Alienware M11x R3 is a second-generation (Sandy Bridge) Intel Core i5-2537M processor running at 1.40 GHz. The graphics power is provided by the dedicated Nvidia GPU, a GeForce GT 540M video card. It comes with a speedy 500GB hard drive from Seagate rotating at 7,200 rpm which is capable of booting Windows 7 Home Premium in approximately one minute. As you would expect, the laptop is powerful enough to handle full HD video streaming, a wide array of productivity tasks, along with some heavy gaming as well. In a PCMark Vantage test, the laptop is able to score about 5,800 points which is a decent score for such a small laptop.
We should also mention that in order to preserve battery life, this Alienware M11x R3 benefits from Nvidia’s Optimus technology which will use the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics chip when running software that doesn’t need the additional graphics power provided by the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 540M.
Speaking of the battery, the one in this compact gaming laptop can provide enough juice for approximately eight hours during the LAPTOP Battery test that consists of doing Internet browsing over a wireless network connection. The drawback would have to be that this is a non-removable battery which means that theoretically there’s no way of replacing it. We do appreciate that the user can easily find out how much battery is left even when the laptop is turned off as on the notebook’s bottom there’s a capacity button which has five lights. Once you press this button those lights will light up in order to show you the battery level (from 20% to 100%). We wish that this feature would be present on more laptops since sometimes we want to find out how much battery a laptop has without having to turn it on.