Screen and Speakers
The M17x R3 has a 17.3-inch display with an “edge to edge” glass covering. The base system has a 1600×900 resolution however our review unit has the much better full HD panel (1920×1080 pixels, or about 44% more space to work with). The M17x R3 is also available with a 3D 1080p panel with a 120Hz refresh rate (the high refresh rate is required to produce the 3D effects with glasses).
The non-3D 1080p display has excellent brightness and is very colorful. Contrast is above average; the Command prompt window is a nice deep black. As a TN-type panel, viewing angles are fine side-to-side however the picture distorts when viewed off-angle vertically. The glassy surface is even more reflective than a standard gloss-coated display; when shut off, it looks like a mirror.
The M17x R3 gets an upgrade in the sound department compared to its predecessor. It features two custom-designed Klipsch speakers integrated below the palm rest. They sound positively fantastic for notebook speakers, boasting full sound with perceptible bass. They have ample loudness and don’t distort up to 90% volume.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The M17x R3 has a traditionally-styled keyboard. It has four-zone customizable LED backlighting via the AlienFX system lighting. The keys have a slight concave shape and a rubbery non-slip surface. Key travel is excellent; it doesn’t feel like the keys should move any further up or down. Keys have moderate actuation force (the amount of pressure it takes to depress a key); resting hands won’t push down the keys, which is a good thing since gamers tend to do that often. There is some moderate flex towards the keyboard’s center, however this does not affect typing feel. Overall the keyboard feels great and makes for a satisfying typing experience. As an added bonus, the keyboard is about as quiet as notebook keyboards come.
The large Synaptics touchpad is responsive and has an excellent matte non-slip surface. The edges are backlit – another part of the AlienFX lighting system. I like how the touchpad is slightly recessed into the palm rest, making it easy to find by feel. The two touchpad buttons are quiet and have very good tactile feedback. Overall Alienware did an exceptional job with the input devices.