Alienware M14x Review: The Best or Worst Portable Gaming Laptop?

by Jerry Jackson Reads (176,041)
Editor's Rating
6.29

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 3
    • Usability
    • 8
    • Design
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 3
    • Total Score:
    • 6.29
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Cool AlienFX lighting
    • Runs cool even when gaming
    • Good keyboard and touchpad
    • Decent battery life
  • Cons

    • Horrible glossy screen
    • Thick and heavy
    • Poor performance at this price

Quick Take

The Alienware M14x is indeed "the most powerful 14-inch laptop in the universe" but that doesn't mean much when you can get a much better 15-inch or 17-inch gaming laptop for the same price (and roughly the same weight).

Alienware shocked many gaming enthusiasts earlier this year when the company discontinued its popular M15x gaming notebook and replaced it with the slightly smaller M14x. Did Alienware make a good call replacing a 15-inch laptop with a 14-inch laptop? We took an in-depth look at the M14x to find out if it indeed is “The most powerful 14-inch laptop in the universe.”

Build and Design
Love then or hate them, Alienware notebooks feature one of the best known designs among gaming laptops. The M14x might be a new notebook for 2011 but it incorporates all of the key elements that make the Alienware notebooks unique. Combine a stealth fighter with a H.R. Giger drawing and mix in a generous helping of multi-colored LEDs and you’ll get something that starts to look like an Alienware design.

The build quality of the M14x is very good with a combination of metal and plastic parts. Most of the exterior contact points (lid, palm rests and keyboard surround) are plastic. Nevertheless, the M14x feels solid … in no small part due to the unusually thick design. Alienware’s designers make no apologies for the roughly 1.5-inch thickness of this laptop; this gaming PC needed to take up less space in a bedroom or dorm room. One of the common complaints from owners of the old 15-inch Alienware M15x was that it was as large as most 17-inch laptops. Alienware decided to make a high-performance gaming notebook with a smaller footprint on your desk, but in order to make it smaller they had to make the chassis thicker to accommodate the cooling system needed for the processor and graphics.

And so the Alienware M14x was born: A 14-inch gaming notebook that takes up roughly as much space as a 15-inch laptop.

Despite the unique lines and thickness of the chassis, it’s the AlienFX LED lighting system that most people usually notice first. The colors of virtually every light on the notebook can be changed to virtually any color. In fact, you can even set the lighting to a combination of multiple colors or strobe between the entire rainbow of colors. Of course, you can also shut off all of the lights if you don’t desire unwanted attention.

The bottom of the M14x takes a page from the design playbook of the Alienware M11x with a fully integrated battery and no easy access to system RAM, hard drive or wireless cards. In short, you’ll have to spend some time disassembling the M14x if you want to upgrade it yourself.

Ports and Features
The M14x has a very good selection of ports for a 14-inch laptop; no doubt a benefit of the unusually thick design. This Alienware laptop includes two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, Ethernet, memory card reader and slot-loading optical drive. The only item that’s missing is an ExpressCard expansion slot … but, for better or worse, very few modern gaming notebooks include an ExpressCard slot anymore. All picture descriptions are left to right.


Front: AlienFX lights

Rear: AC power jack and Heat exhaust vents

Left: VGA, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, USB 2.0, microphone jack, two headphone jacks and memory card reader.

Right: Slot-load optical drive, 2x USB 3.0, Ethernet and Kensington lock slot

 


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