Alienware's M15x is a behemoth. While it can be carried from place to place, this is absolutely a desktop replacement at a thumpingly huge 4.08kg. This is the 15.6-inch, 1920x1080 model — the larger M17x is a crazy 5.3kg, so in a way we should be thankful.
Alienware's unique love-it-or-hate-it styling is here: a combination of matte black and metallic red, although you can also choose to have a black or grey exterior. A huge amount of things light up as is the Alienware way, from the alien head on the lid, to the logotype and alien head under the monitor, to the status indicator lights, the headlights on the lip of the laptop, the outline around the touch pad and the backlit keyboard. All of them can have their colours customised through the included AlienFX program, or even turned off if the bling annoys you.
Due to the pure size this thing has everything — VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort out, three USB ports (one with integrated eSATA), ExpressCard 54, FireWire, SD card reader, gigabit Ethernet, dual headphone jacks and a microphone jack that can be re-purposed to 5.1 sound outputs.
The internals are of course insane — a Core i7 Q740 @ 1.73GHz (that can reach 2.93GHz under turbo boost), 8GB RAM, 640GB 7200rpm hard drive and a Radeon HD 5850.
If this doesn't do it for you, this is where parent company Dell's customisation options come into play, with up to a Core i7 940 available, a 256GB SSD, Blu-ray burner, a nine-cell battery and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M all available as options, if you happen to be made of money.
The system runs off Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, with McAfee chosen as the security suite, Steam comes pre-installed as does Nero's Express Essentials. Interestingly, unlike the M11x, it doesn't come with Alienware's hard to decipher Windows theme — perhaps someone finally realised it was more annoying than cool.
This is an Alienware, so performance should be ballistic. It didn't disappoint, clocking 12,008 in 3DMark06, meaning it should be happy with almost any modern game you choose to throw at it. Its PCMark05 score of 7315 means it should decimate most productivity tasks as well.
Battery life of course isn't great, coming in at one hour and three minutes with all power-saving features turned off, screen brightness and volume set to maximum and an XviD file played back full screen. This is a particularly harsh test, but regardless this laptop won't like being away from the wall for long.
Whether or not you dig Alienware's aesthetics are up to you. There is Asus' G73J and MSI's GX660R, both of which offer a much more subtle approach and similar performance, but gaming laptop options are still reasonably slim.
The M15x is an excellent performer and should handle everything you care to put to it — just hope you don't have to lug it anywhere frequently.