Sunday, July 10, 2011

Alienware M17x R3

The M17x is now in its third iteration with the R3 edition. Unlike its predecessors, the R3 has a single graphics card; to get a dual graphics card setup (AMD CrossFireX or Nvidia SLI), you need to step up to the monstrous 18.4-inch M18x. Still, the M17x R3 packs serious firepower as configured.

Options include the slightly faster i7-2720QM processor (the i7-2630QM is standard), AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics card with a whopping 2GB of its own memory (a 1GB HD 6870M is standard), the upgraded Intel 6300 AGN wireless card, and the 1.5TB RAID 0 hard drive array.

Our Alienware M17x R3 review unit is configured as follows:

  • 17.3-inch glossy "edge to edge" full HD display (1920x1080 resolution)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-2720QM quad-core processor (2.2~3.3GHz Turbo Boost, 6MB cache, 45W TDP)
  • Intel HM67 chipset
  • AMD Radeon HD 6970M w/ 2GB GDDR5 dedicated video memory
  • 8GB DDR3-1333 (4x 2GB; supports up to 16GB - 4x 4GB)
  • 1.5TB RAID 0 hard drive array (2x 750GB 7200RPM; Seagate ST9750420AS)
  • Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 AGN wireless network adapter
  • Internal Bluetooth 3.0 wireless
  • Integrated 720p webcam
  • Slot-load Blu-ray reader/DVD burner (HL-DT-ST DVDRWBD CA30N)
  • 9-cell Li-ion battery (90WHr)
  • Weight: 9.39 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 1.76 x 11.96 x 16.14 inches
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Starting price: $1,499
  • Price as configured: $2,369
Build and Design
Alienware notebooks showcase the most unique designs on the market; the M17x R3 is no exception. Its ultra-modern exterior looks like it was based off of a military stealth aircraft. The M17x R3 is also available with a red exterior.

Its AlienFX LED lighting system is seamlessly integrated into the chassis and takes the design to the next level. The colors of every single light on the notebook, even the caps/number lock indicators, can be customized with a dazzling array of colors. The keyboard is composed of four separate lighting zones. For even more fun, the lighting can be set to morph between two different colors or strobe. And of course it can be fully shut off. It's just too cool.

The M17x R3's build quality is good though almost exclusively uses plastic; its predecessor made extensive use of aluminum. I miss the metal, especially on the lid backing. Despite this, the M17x R3 uses rather thick plastic that doesn't make a cheap rattling sound when tapped by a fingernail. In general there are very few flexible surfaces on the M17x R3 save for the media controls area above the keyboard.

The lid is well-supported by a strong hinge connecting it to the chassis. It resists twisting when gripped by the corners though flexes more than the old M17x since it has a plastic backing. On a positive note, the M17x R3 adopts a "soft touch" rubbery surface on nearly all viewable surfaces. It feels great and is easy to clean. The M17x R3 has impressive quality though its predecessor was a few notches more upscale.

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