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Alienware M14x gaming laptop submits to our hands-on test

We're the first geeks in the UK to put the newly announced Alienware M14x through its paces. Click through to see how it handles gaming.

Alienware recently added two brand-new models to its roster of high-end, glowing gaming laptops -- the M14x and M18x. We're the first geeks in the UK to go hands-on with the M14x, and we've put it through its paces in an in-depth preview too. So what kind of performance can this 14-inch monster deliver?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here's a disclaimer -- the model we've been toying with is a pre-production sample, so there's a chance that the final version will differ slightly in terms of performance. That said, we think this unit is still a fairly reliable indication of what you can expect.

The M14x certainly doesn't skimp on hardware. Our unit has a dual-core Intel Core i5-2540M CPU clocked at 2.6GHz. That's one of the latest Intel Sandy Bridge chips. If you've got some extra dough, you can opt for an even more potent, quad-core, 2.3GHz Core i7-2820QM processor.

You can have up to 8GB of RAM. Our unit had 6GB. An Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics card completes the line-up.

We used benchmark software called 3DMark06 to put this unit through its paces. The software runs a series of graphically intensive tests, and then figures out a score for the laptop. The M14x achieved a mammoth score of 11,569 when we ran the test at the machine's native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. To put that in context, the smaller M11x posted a score of 6,359 -- and that's a good score in itself.

The M14x didn't manage to trump the M17x we tested last summer -- that beast mustered up an intimidating 14,457. It also didn't quite best the astonishing -- and more affordable -- Medion Erazer X6811, which scored 13,300.

We also ran the infamously demanding Crysis on the M14x. With the settings at 'very high', this laptop managed to run the game at around 18 frames per second. With the settings dialled down slightly to 'high', it ran at about 20 to 22 frames per second.

We think games should really run at no less than 30fps to be truly playable, especially if you're engaging in fast and frantic multi-player shooting bouts. Still, Crysis is very demanding, and we've seen few gaming laptop perform better.

Overall, then, we think the M14x's gaming grunt will satisfy all but the pickiest of gamers.

Read the full preview for more details, including our gripes about the machine's design. We'll have a full, definitive review up as soon as possible.