A powerful but not top-of-the-line Nvidia GeForce GT 335M graphics card with 1GB of RAM is the M11x's real secret weapon, giving it enough gaming power to handle most mainstream titles. The M11x also has "hybrid graphics," meaning that with the press of a Function key the laptop will switch between its GT 335M GPU and less powerful but more battery-friendly integrated graphics, letting the M11x either be battery-conservative or a gaming workhorse. The switch causes the screen to black out for a few seconds, but otherwise is painless and doesn't require logging out or quitting programs. Still, you have to remember to switch, and the hybrid-graphics indictor icon isn't exactly prominent. Sadly, the M11x lacks newer on-the-fly Optimus graphics-switching technology recently announced by Nvidia, which would have been perfect on the M11x, but we have to admit that once you know how to do it, graphics-switching is easy.
The M11x ran Unreal Tournament 3's benchmark test at 69.5 frames per second in native 1,366x768-pixel resolution, which is great compared with any other mainstream laptop with dedicated graphics, and even bested the far more expensive Sony Vaio Z. On the other hand, it can't hold a candle to a "dedicated" gaming laptop such as the M15x, which ran about double the frame rate. We'd best call the M11x a machine that's built to handle most games pretty well, but you shouldn't expect this to be a shrunken-down version of a super-powered rig. At its price, however, it's a pretty good setup.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|1,280x800, 0X AA, 0X AF*||1,440x900, 4X AA, 8X AF*|
In other anecdotal game tests, Batman: Arkham Asylum got a little choppy at times, but was impressively playable. Just Cause 2's open landscapes and zip-lining were smooth and detailed, rarely stuttering. The mainstream-level native resolution of the display helps keep you from pushing the GPU too hard.
The M11x also outputs to external monitors at up to 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. We tried gaming at that size, and though some older games worked well, such as UTIII, others began to get pretty choppy. We'd recommend sticking to 1,366x768 pixels for best results.
|Alienware M11x||Average watts per hour|
|Raw kWh Number||44.57|
|Annual power consumption cost||$5.06|
With its included six-cell battery, the Alienware M11x ran for 3 hours and 25 minutes using our video-playback battery drain test, with Nvidia graphics turned on. That's better than we expected, although it should be noted that this was a test using only video playback: actual game playing would drain the battery much faster. The M11x features a battery-saving mode with discrete graphics turned off, and in that mode battery life should fair much better, more like dual-core ULV thin-and-lights we've tested previously. We'll update this review when we run the M11x battery test under those conditions. This Alienware laptop can survive decently when away from a power outlet.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The Alienware M11x is backed by a two-year basic warranty with 24-7 phone support and in-home service for qualifying basic warranty issues, using remote diagnosis via DellConnect. Options to upgrade the warranty up to four years or switch to an advanced warranty, which includes accidental damage protection, are offered on Dell's Web site. Dell's Alienware support Web site also offers a clear directory of drivers, software, and troubleshooting information.
Find out more about how we test laptops.
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 335M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA 4500MHD; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-920XM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm
Sony Vaio VPC-Z116GX/S
Windows 7 Professional (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 M520; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 330M; 256GB Intel SSD
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce G210M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA 4500MHD; 320GB Seagate 5,400rpm