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Alienware M11x (Core i5) review: Alienware M11x (Core i5)

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The Good Fantastic performance; portable for a gaming rig; looks great.

The Bad Still no optical drive; pricey.

The Bottom Line Alienware's updated M11x gaming netbook is just as portable as before, but its gaming performance will melt your mind even more

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.8 Overall

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When we first clapped eyes on the Alienware M11x back in March, it blew our tiny minds. We were hugely impressed by what was a high-spec gaming laptop squeezed into the body of a portable netbook. Now the M11x is back, and it's been kitted out with Intel's Core i series processors, as well as Nvidia's Optimus graphics technology. But how do these tweaks affect the M11x's performance? 

The updated M11x is available now, starting at £850. 

Back in black

On the outside, very little's changed. The M11x still rocks the matte black, aggressive styling that we fell in love with the first time around. Also, being an Alienware machine, the keyboard, speakers and logo all light up in bright, customisable colours.

Weighing in at just under 2kg, the M11x is definitely light enough to carry around with you. Measuring 286 by 33 by 233mm, it's also slender enough to fit in your backpack without busting the seams. This machine isn't as portable as a standard netbook, such as the Dell Mini 1012, but, bearing in mind the heavy-duty hardware buried inside, we're impressed by its portability.

You'll still find an 11.6-inch display, with a maximum resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. That's a pretty high resolution for a machine of this size. While the screen itself is glossy and reflective, it's also sufficiently bright and vivid to cancel out most of the aggravating reflections.

The keyboard is sensibly laid out, and the buttons have plenty of travel and spring, which makes typing for extended periods of time comfortable. Better still is the trackpad. We've had some pretty unpleasant experiences with netbook trackpads in the past, due to their tiny size and unresponsive surfaces. The M11x's trackpad, however, is large, responsive and features two big buttons. Lovely.

The M11x comes with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium by default, although you can upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate if you so wish for an extra £105. Similarly, the base model features a 250GB, 7,200rpm hard drive, but 320GB and 500GB models are also available. You can opt for a 256GB solid-state drive too, although that will set you back an eye-watering £505 extra. 

Seeing i to i

The real changes have taken place under the hood. The M11x now comes with a choice of either Intel's Core i5-520UM or Core i7-640UM processors. Our review unit had the slightly weaker i5-520UM CPU, a dual-core, 1.06GHz chip with 3MB of cache. You can bag yourself the more powerful chip for an extra £180.

You have a choice of 2, 3, 4 or 8GB of RAM. Our review model came with 4GB, which adds £80 to the base price. In our opinion, it's a worthwhile upgrade to get the best gaming performance out of this machine.

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