Alienware's charmingly cheap CrossFireX laptop tested

We just got our hands on Alienware's latest laptop, the 17-inch M17, with dual ATI Radeon HD 3870 GPUs .

We just got our hands on Alienware's latest laptop, the 17-inch M17. It's an offshoot of the popular Area-51 M17X, which impressed us earlier this year with its twin Nvidia GeForce 9800 GPUs and striking new design.

The new M17 (minus the "x") system trades Nvidia graphics for ATI (including a multi-GPU CrossFireX option) and also includes optional Intel Quad Core 2 Extreme CPUs.

We tested a relatively inexpensive (and not terribly exciting) configuration, which for $1,999 (starting price: $1,399) included dual ATI Radeon HD 3870 GPUs and a dual-core, Penryn-class Core 2 Duo P8400 processor. For basic computing, it was about as good as our gaming favorite, the $1,350 Gateway P-7811FX, but the Alienware had better gaming scores, pushing 104 frames per second in Unreal Tournament III at 1,920x1,200 resolution, versus 58 frames per second for the Gateway.

On the other hand, The M17 skips the recent slab-like redesign seen in the M17X, and goes back to an older chassis, similar to the one we saw in last year's Area-51 m9570 model. It's a step backwards aesthetically, and we're not sure what this means for Alienware designs going forward.

Read the full review of the Alienware M17.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.


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