Heat and Noise
The M17x R3 jets hot air out vents on either side on the back of the chassis. The two large intake vents on the bottom of the notebook provide the air for cooling. At idle the cooling system hardly makes any noise. Once under full load, however, the noise level increases significantly; it sounds like a very fast rush of air, like the high-pressure ventilation nozzles in commercial airliners. Fortunately the fans lack any sort of whine or motor noise.
The top of the chassis remains lukewarm only on the keyboard area; the rest is room temperature. The bottom center of the chassis gets hot but not alarmingly so. Overall the M17x R3 has a well-designed cooling system, though its predecessor was much quieter. The exterior temperatures shown below are listed in degrees Fahrenheit.
During our standard battery rundown test (Windows 7 Balanced power profile, 70% screen brightness, wireless active, and refreshing a web page every 60 seconds), I squeezed a rather impressive 3 hours and 4 minutes of battery life from the M17x R3’s large 9-cell battery. This is a definitive improvement over its predecessor, which struggled to make two hours. The M17x R3 features switchable graphics and ran off the integrated Intel HD graphics on battery as opposed to the beastly AMD Radeon HD 6970M. I left the AlienFX lighting system on during the test, which negatively affected the battery life without a doubt. The high-performance RAID 0 hard drive array is also not battery-friendly since both drives need to be running at all times. Despite all this, the three hour time is respectable – it’s a good minimum number.
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
The Alienware M17x R3 is a class-leading entrant into the 17.3-inch gaming notebook market. Its outstanding design, AlienFX lighting system, and excellent performance make it ideal for gamers and multimedia enthusiasts. Other highlights of the machine include a great keyboard and touchpad, nice-sounding speakers, and good build quality. Speaking of build quality, that is the one area where Alienware could have improved. As it stands the M17x R3 has good quality, but it is not up to par with its aluminum-clad predecessor. Furthermore, the cooling system works well but is not as quiet as its predecessor’s either.
In short, the Alienware M17x R3 is an easy notebook to recommend for the above-stated reasons.
- Fantastic performance
- Unique design
- Excellent keyboard and touchpad
- Great speakers
- Build quality not as good as old M17x
- Gets noisy under full load