Feeds
80%
Dell Alienware M18x

Dell Alienware M18x 18.4in gaming notebook

Playing away from home

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Moveable feast?

The BF3 test did raise one major annoyance, though. While AMD and Nvidia have improved mobile driver roll-outs in recent years, Dell remains notoriously slow. Both drivers are customised to support hot key and power management functions, and suspend/resume behaviour, so you're tied into Dell’s updates. A critical element of PC gaming, it doesn't augur well that, at time of writing, after six weeks and eight weeks respectively, AMD and Nvidia's latest drivers were unavailable on Alienware's flagship laptop.

Dell Alienware M18x

Packing heat

Then there's the issue of the battery. The M18x lasted 1 hour 17 minutes on a looping PCMark Vantage test with everything on, and 1 hour 58 minutes when switched to integrated graphics – which, incidentally, requires a reboot every time on both AMD and Nvidia configurations.

Those durations are understandable, of course. Combined, the CPU, dual GPUs and fans pull around 250W from the 96W/hr 12-Cell Li-ion battery, so you'll only get around 20 minutes of gaming. But even that's not an option here as Dell instead automatically underclocks the GPUs with battery use.

Frame rates drop off a cliff, and games need scaling back to low settings to achieve anywhere near the comfortable 30FPS mark – hardly worth it for the extra 20 or so minutes underclocking provides. It might seem harsh to complain. But it's an important point when you can pick up a more powerful desktop for around £500 less. At 5.4Kgs, the M18x's already slim advantage of mobility is further eroded by the constant need to plug it in.

Verdict

The M18x lives up to expectations. It feels lovingly crafted around gamers' needs, combining superlative design, build quality, aesthetics and scalable power. But it comes at a cost. The review model's price compares reasonably well to other gaming laptops, but component upgrades incur a luxury brand tax, with the top spec costing close to £5k. The real issue, however, is one of positioning. The extra size, weight and power consumption required by the dual graphics cards pushes it into competition with much cheaper desktops. For all it's gaming power, that's one contest the M18x can't win. ®

More Notebooks Reviews...

HP
Envy 17 3D
Toshiba
Satellite P775
Samsung
RF711
Lenovo
Thinkpad Edge
E420s
Apple
MacBook Pro
17in 2011

The essential guide to IT transformation

80%
Dell Alienware M18x

Dell Alienware M18x 18.4in gaming notebook

A gaming colossus whose muscles bulge exponentially with cash injections.
Price: £2565 (review model), £1700 (base model), RRP

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.