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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution

Powered by Alienware (AKA How Alienware Made An All Day Sucker Out Of ME)

June 25, 2010 - I stepped up to the Alienware booth proud and confident, a respected member of a prestigious gaming website (after all, we are big in Europe!) but I left that booth completely and hopelessly sold. Growing up as a semi-tech savvy gamer I always knew just enough of what I needed to know to get by. I couldn’t tell you what hyperthreading was, but if you needed to find and implement to patch to get some naked game characters, that was something I could figure out. And the one thing I always knew for certain was that Alienware just made overpriced, overhyped, designer crap. It was the Lois Vuitton of the high end PC world.

I stepped into that booth a healthy skeptic when I asked what they were showing off at E3 this year, and I unexpectedly began to salivate at what I was shown. The M11X…now better than ever. Do a quick search for reviews on this beastly little gaming laptop. They say things like “works pretty great, but the processor isn’t up to par…” well that’s been changed with the latest models offering the i5 and i7 mobile processors. I had a brief chance to check out the latest Need for Speed title and it looked…flawless. I couldn’t get over the fact that this itty bitty laptop had so much horsepower behind it, but I couldn’t argue with results.

The price point for these little guys starts at $799, but if you really want to enjoy your games to the fullest, you are going to want the i5/i7 processors which start at around $1,000. Aside from that the system offers a discreet 1 gb Nvidia 335M video card which works together with the integrated graphics chip to provide both high end gaming, and battery saving thriftiness. You see, your MX11 doesn’t act like an MX11 until you boot up a high end game. Until then, the computer acts like it doesn’t even have a video card- running off of the integrated graphics chip and offering up to 8 hours of battery life! It’s not just the video card doing this dance, the processor does the same thing with the new Intel Speed step and Turbo mode features. All things considered, this is pretty amazing – a high end gaming laptop I can actually afford, I never dreamed Alienware could make one.

Now then, from one extreme to the next, I saw the fully tricked out M17 – the beast. This thing is simply massive. This is not a laptop you carry with you all day (unless you are the Hulk), this is meant to replace your desktop and leave a nice heavy dent in your table. It’s is made of anodized aluminum (they were very adamant I wrote about ANODIZED aluminum and not just “aluminum”) and altogether I think it weighs about 1 metric ton. Okay, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but all jibes at its girth notwithstanding, this thing is a powerhouse; basically more sexy and capable than most desktop computers. And best of all… it’s portable(ish). Take it to your friend’s LAN party a blow them away- just don’t try to carry it around too much.

I also had a brief look at their desktops. Nothing really new there- just the same old ridiculously high end computers you’ve come to know and love and wish you could afford. One that did catch my eye was their sleek and spiffy chassis. It would seem my preconceived notions were shattered by these magical fins at the top of the tower. I always believed Alienware systems focused too heavily on form over function but here I saw the perfect melding of the two. Yeah they look cool, but the reason they pop up like that is to add further ventilation to the sweltering insides. This combined with their always liquid cooled interiors should stop even the most heavily used gaming systems from melting on you.

Lastly, I should also mention Alienware was showcasing their beautiful accessories. 23 inch high definition monitors, and TactX Headphones and peripherals. All great stuff, but that little MX11 really stole the show for me…

Follow-up: Alright guys, I’m not getting paid to say this. I really…really wish I was. I even asked if Alienware offered press discounts- they don’t. I ordered one the day after E3 and let me tell you, that was the longest week EVER. It arrived this morning and I’ve been messing with it ever since.

Right – the only inconvenience: there is no optical drive so you have to buy an external one. Naturally, Steam players have nothing to worry about! As for us folks that like hard copies and collector’s editions, I was able to register Dragon Age and LEGALLY download a version that no longer required disc authentication. Finally, there are also various “gray area” softwares that resourceful gamers can use to bypass any disc-required blues.

Imagine going straight from VHS cassettes to Blu Rays. That’s how big the upgrade felt for me! I admit, it took some getting used to, and I cried softly to myself every time I looked back at my beautiful huge old laptop monitor then back at this adorable little one. But once I booted up Dragon Age Origins on max settings, I immediately though **** that old monitor- this was worth it!!!!!

I’ve heard other people on message boards saying they get the best frame rate on medium or high, but I had EVERYTHING, including anti-aliasing maxed out. I even got in a crowded battle and started popping off graphic-effects heavy AoE spells and there was not so much as a hiccup through my earthquakes, cones of cold and fireballs.

Never again will I be forced to play on the lowest specs, my reviews from here on out will be Powered by Alienware.

Maybe now they can give me a discount…

Written By: Anthony Cara

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