Alienware M11x UltraPortable review -
Features & specifications
Features & specifications
So size and functionality wise this laptop actually would fall into the netbook category. Typically a device on which you can do the basics like word processing, internet, email and perhaps watch a movie. Alienware takes this to the next level though, by adding some more powerful components (for an ultra portable) and innovations.
Thus the Alienware M11x is supposed to have been designed as the gaming alternative for the netbook industry, Dell however prefers to call it an UltraPortable gaming machine, which we feel is a valid argument as this product is far from being a typical netbook, or even laptop for that matter.
Now, at roughly 2kg, the M11x is not the lightest UltraPortable, but its combination of dainty dimensions and actual gaming ability make it entirely unique and easy enough to carry around. As the M11x name suggests, this laptop lodges inside a 11-inch housing:
- Height: 32.7mm (1.29 inches)
- Width: 285.7mm (11.25 inches)
- Depth: 233.3mm (9.19 inches)
It packs some of the most performance-capable components for its form factor. Small and easy to carry around, yet it has enough punch for playing games at a resolution of 1366x768.
Dell allows you to configure the M11x with a lot of options to be found in memory and storage. Processors wise they have now added Intel's Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 mobile processors. This is certainly a nice step up from the Intel Core 2 Duo processors that were available on the initial design -- do bear in mind we are talking net-top here so your performance definitely is good, but limited compared to say a desktop PC of course.
In addition, the M11x will take advantage of NVIDIA Optimus technology, which is expected to increase battery life, without compromising on performance. Basically, the graphics subsystem will switch quickly between the energy conserving Intel solution, and when you game an NVIDIA GPU will kick in (GeForce GT 335M). Dell will put Windows 7 64-bit Home edition on this ultra portable as standard, optionally you can upgrade of course, at added cost.
So, on the M11x you will now be able to actually get a decent gaming experience on a portable computer that comes with a 11.6-inch display. Oh yeah, and you can configure it with a nice phat Samsung SSD as well, which we did.
But let's talk through some of the components.
Chipset; this ultraportable comes with the QS57 Intel chipset, Ironlake-M for the freaks. It offers all the decent connectivity you'll need and then some more. This chipset has support for 14 USB 2.0, PCIe 2.0 8X and 6 SATA 3Gb/s ports along with Arrandale integrated graphics support. The new chipset supports Intel AMT 6.0, Brainwood memory support, Intel rapid storage technology and Intel AP-p. Our sample has an SSD installed running shweeeet over AHCI mode, we'll show you some numbers later on though. One downside, Ethernet wise up to 100 Mbit/sec is supported, so no gigabit Ethernet connectivity is to be found here. And if memory serves me right that actually is a restriction set by Intel for Netbooks.
Processor - Keep in mind that we are discussing netbook performance, that's typically Intel Atom or ION level. This UltraPortable is however equipped with an Intel Core i5 520UM processor. The Intel Core i5-520UM is an Ultra Low Voltage dual-core processor for small and light laptops. It is clocked at 1.06 GHz normal speed and 1.86 GHz when Turbo Boost kicks in. Each core is based on the Nehalem (Westmere) micro-architecture.
Hyperthreading enables the Dual Core CPU to handle 4 threads at once but thus has two physical cores. This i5 processor offers only 3MB Level 3 shared pool cache (i7 has 4MB), 256 L2 cache per core and carries a lower maximum Turbo Boost frequency.
We test and review the Alienware M11x UltraPortable. Recently Alienware released the M11x UltraPortable laptop which you can configure with Core i3/i5/i7 and next to that it received the royal NVIDIA Optimus treatment. Basically you have two graphics processors inside the laptop. One embedded Intel IGP for the regular 2D stuff and the minute you start up games, an NVIDIA chip will take over and manage your accelerated gaming experience.