Alienware M18x Intel Core i7 2630QM 2.0GHz (2.8GHz w/Turbo Boost review: Alienware M18x Intel Core i7 2630QM 2.0GHz (2.8GHz w/Turbo Boost

In our performance tests, the Alienware M18x was, not surprisingly, an impressive piece of hardware. It was the only gaming laptop to come close to the Origin EON17-S we recently reviewed, which had an overclocked version of the same CPU, as well as an overclocked single GPU. The two systems traded places in our tests, but both are about as fast as laptops can get right now.

But, you're probably more interested in gaming, which is the main selling point of an Alienware system. We tossed in a few high-profile recent games, including Metro 2033, Dragon Age II, Street Fighter IV, and Civilization V (we're literally still waiting for the 10GB file of The Witcher 2 to finish downloading). All the aforementioned titles played smoothly at the full 1080p resolution, with the graphics details set to the highest settings (Metro 2033 could get a little chunky in places, however).

The M18x ran Metro 2033 at 1080p at an average of 29.7 frames per second, which is impressive, as that particular test can be brutal at the highest settings. The Origin EON17-S actually ran the same test at 39fps, thanks to its aggressively overclocked parts. The easier Street Fighter IV test ran at 59.7fps on the Alienware at 1,920x,1080 pixels. While gaming laptops may still be a step behind the highest-end gaming desktops, our overall gaming experience on the M18x was nothing short of awesome.

Juice box
Alienware M18x Average watts per hour
Off (60%) 0.61
Sleep (10%) 1.48
Idle (25%) 44.16
Load (05%) 111.93
Raw kWh number 209.6
Annual power consumption cost $23.79

Annual power consumption cost
Dell XPS 17 3D
$9.50 
Origin EON17-S
$18.08 
Alienware M18x
$23.79 

In terms of battery life, even unplugging the M18x to walk it closer to your television in order to use the wireless HD capabilities is a roll of the dice, depending on how long the movie or TV show you plan to watch is. In our video playback battery drain test, the M18x ran for 1 hour and 56 minutes. That's not the worst we've ever seen from a desktop replacement, but other 2011 models have shown impressive gains in battery life, thanks to Intel's current line of efficient CPUs and Nvidia's Optimus graphics switching. This SLI model doesn't turn off the GPUs automatically as needed; to do that requires a button combo and a reboot. Still, we don't expect this system to spend much time away from a wall outlet.

Alienware includes an industry-standard one-year parts and labor warranty with the system, which also includes in-home service. Upgrading to a three-year plan will cost an extra $299, and several other options are available for purchase, including an "advanced care" plan, which is $418 for three years, and includes accidental damage protection. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Metro 2033 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,366x768, High, DX11, AAA, 4X AF  
1,920x1,080, High, DX11, 4X AA, 16X AF  
Origin EON17-S
49 
39 
Alienware M18x
46.7 
29.7 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Alienware M18x
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-2920XM; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; (SLi) 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M (x2) + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 3000; 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm (x2)

Origin EON17-S
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-2920XM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M; HDD #1: 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm + HDD #2: C300-CTFDDAC128MAG 128GB SSD

Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G-9600
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 555M; 750GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Toshiba Qosmio X775-3DV78
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560M; HDD #1 - 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm + HDD #2: 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Dell XPS 17 3D
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 3GB Nvidia GeForce GT 555M; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Alienware M18x Intel Core i7 2630QM 2.0GHz (2.8GHz w/Turbo Boost, 6MB Cache)

Part Number: DKCWKV1M_2

MSRP: $1,999.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Installed Size 16 GB
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.