In a small back room at E3, Alienware was showcasing its current line-up of gaming notebooks “meant to accommodate all players,” according to Alienware rep Raymond Watkins, who gave me the rundown on the four machines on display. The machines range from shockingly portable for gaming laptops to unsurprisingly gigantic, but all four notebooks are powered by the new Intel Sandy Bridge chips, lending credence to Watkins’ assurance that these are legitimate gaming rigs.
First up was the Alienware M11x R3, with the “R3” indicating that this particular model is the third revision of the M11x. With such a tiny profile — it’s barely larger than a textbook when it’s closed and weighs in just under 4.5 pounds — the M11x is obviously not the most powerful machine on the planet. But in addition to its portability, it supposedly features excellent battery life on account of the Nvidia Optimus technology that’s under the hood. In an especially clever design, Nvidia Optimus automatically switches between the machine’s integrated graphics when doing less intensive work (like internet browsing) and the Nvidia graphics card once you begin gaming, which increases power efficiency.
Also present was the Alienware M17x R3, which we got our hands on at PAX East this year and enjoyed thoroughly, especially because of its wireless HD feature, allowing the machine to fling any on-screen gameplay onto an external display without the need for any cables. While previous iterations of the M17x featured SLi and crossfired cards (multiple graphics cards), the R3 is now only single graphics, but this of course allows for a thinner, lighter machine.
It wasn’t all repeat performances, however, as two brand-new models made appearances: the Alienware M14x and the Alienware M18x, which are, as their names indicate, 14-inch and 18-inch models, respectively. Alienware’s M15x model is now discontinued, and in its stead, the company has introduced the M14x and the M18x. The M14x sports a much slimmer profile than its predecessor, while also packing a meaner punch in terms of specs, since it’s a more current model: powered by the second generation Core i7 processor, it sports 1600 MHz DDR3 memory and 3 GB Nvidia GeForce GT555M graphics memory. In addition the M14x, like the M11x, features the Nvidia Optimus technology and like the M17x, it also has wireless HD technology.
The M18x, meanwhile, is anything but compact. A straight-up beast of a machine that embraces its choice to eschew portability for more powerful specs, it has a roomy, 18.4-inch screen and, in a first for Alienware notebooks, 10 programmable macro buttons on the included keyboard. Aside from thermal flow and the ability to overclock, the M18x also packs Extreme Edition Intel Core i7 processors, up to 32 GB of high performance memory, and dual graphics and HDD options.
Despite the fact that its notebook lineup continues to grow and evolve, it seems that not too much has changed for Alienware. It remains at the top of its game, fine tuning and tweaking its machines, while the wide range of sizes proved that Watkins was right in saying that Alienware is looking to suit the needs of any gamer.