Alienware m14x (early 2012) review: Alienware m14x (early 2012)

Typical Price: $2,143.30

Alienware m14x (early 2012)

(Part #: CNETAlienware m14x (early 2012))
4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Next generation CPU and graphics. Even the base model has 1600x900. Usual Alienware fare: backlit keyboard, chunky design, decent port flexibility and upgrade options.

The Bad Deeply set glossy screen is slightly washed out. SIM slot is not active. Design is starting to look old.

The Bottom Line The m14x is now the smallest Alienware laptop you can get. It's a mid-range gaming device both in spec and performance, although at the price involved it will come up against stiff competition with Asus' G55VW.

8.0 Overall

And, so, the great wheel of time turns. At least, a smidgen in this case.

If you've seen Alienware's last generation m14x, you won't be surprised by this new generation: it's the same thing, with different insides. Same goes for the bigger m17x and m18x models. The only real thing of note is that our favourite pint-sized gaming machine, the m11x, is now an ex-parrot. It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.

Connectivity

  • USB 3.0: 2
  • USB 2.0: 1
  • Optical: Blu-ray/DVD±RW
  • Video: VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort
  • Ethernet: gigabit
  • Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Audio: 5.1, Sound Blaster Recon3Di

The unchanging aesthetic could be an issue for Alienware; in the face of increasingly thin and sharp-looking laptops, the gaming company has pretty much kept its look the same — thus, making the company appear stationary for years now.

There are limitations that other vendors don't face, of course — a full powered gaming machine usually requires a certain chunkiness, for one. As a brand that's meant to be pushing the envelope, on the laptop side, Alienware seems to have been content with replacing the letter inside, yet, leaving the envelope where it is.

Take the screen; it's still glossy and deeply set, the colours still slightly washed out. The Australian model does have an advantage though, of running at 1600x900, even at the base level — a huge improvement over the standard 1366x768. Although, ports haven't changed and the old standby of different lighting zones that change colour, gets yet another run. Sound is passable, with the included Creative software helping to raise it up from standard laptop-fare. Still, you'll be better off with headphones or dedicated speakers, and the Alienware's three 3.5mm ports can be repurposed to 5.1 audio, if you're so equipped. Beneath the SD card reader is a SIM slot, but don't get your hopes up: there's no 3G module in Alienware Australia laptops, so, for now, it's just an extra hole for dust to get in.

So, what is different with the new m14x? Ivy Bridge CPUs and Kepler-based GPUs. Specifically, the Core i7 3720QM and GeForce GT 650M in our review unit, a custom configuration that'll set you back AU$2143.30, at the time of writing.

Application performance

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Handbrake encoding (in seconds)

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