Remember the Alienware M11x? Back at CES 2010 it won the Best of CES: Gaming award, simply because we were pretty impressed by its compact combination of nearly Netbook size and mainstream gaming-readiness. Months later, we finally have our hands on the final version.
The compactness, especially in terms of width and depth, still struck us upon removing the M11x from its box. It is, however, pretty thick, especially considering that it lacks an optical drive. While this thickness-to-size ratio keeps its Alienware look intact, it's chunkier than most other ultraportables.
A sturdy-feeling frame and slightly compressed but otherwise Alienware-quality keyboard are much better than average, as is the comfortable, large touch pad. The M11x's 11.6-inch, 1,366x768 screen looked good behind its edge-to-edge glossy veneer, but there was quite a bit of glare and colors weren't as bright or rich as we expected under bright lights. The audio, however, is astounding for the M11x's size--built-in 5.1 speakers are crisp, loud, and good enough to enhance the gaming experience on their own.
The U7300 Core 2 ULV processor on the M11x is a processor we've seen on thin-and-lights and ultraportables. It offers a close-to-Core-2-Duo experience, but in the wake of faster Core i3 and i5 processors, it's a little less impressive. Nvidia hybrid graphics switch easily between integrated graphics and a powerful Nvidia GeForce GT 335M graphics card with 1GB of memory, allowing the M11x to either be battery-conservative or a gaming workhorse. This system lacks the on-the-fly Optimus graphics switching technology recently announced by Nvidia, which would have been perfect on the M11x. Still, even without it, graphics switching is pretty painless. … Read more