CNET First Look
Alienware M14XThe latest Alienware laptop manages to pack amazing performance into a smaller-than-expected body, with plenty of configuration options.
-I'm Dan Ackerman and here we are taking a very first look at a brand new laptop. That is the Alienware M14x. Of course, Alienware is Dell's high-end gaming brand. They have a lot of big laptops like the 15-inch M15x or the 17-inch M17x, and last year, they even had a very small 11-inch version, the M11x. Now, they're kinda splitting the difference. This is a 14-inch model, hence the M14x. And you know what? We always say the difference between a 14-inch laptop and a 15-inch laptop, it's kind of slight, although we usually prefer the 14-inch ones. But when it comes to a big, bulky, gaming laptop like this, the difference is actually much more pronounced. The M14x is a laptop we could actually see sort of picking up and taking with us every once in a while. The big 15-inch Alienwares, forget about it. Those are pretty much meant to just stay rooted on your desk. So with the new 14-inch M14x, you do get a lot of the latest technology. It's got a-- this particular one here has a quad-core Core i7 from Intel's newest line of processor. It's got the latest NVIDIA GeForce GPU for laptops. If you combine all that with a WiMAX (which is an option); USB 3.0; some Intel Wireless Display, which you use an external dongle box for in order to send the signal wireless to your big screen TV--pretty much all the bells and whistles. Our review unit here comes in at about $2200. Obviously you can cut stuff out and-- and tune it down to make it a little bit more affordable. If this design looks familiar, that's because we've seen basically the same look and feel from Alienware laptops for a couple of years now. It's got kind of this thick but angular design, the sort of automotive grills in the front, although on the 14-inch side, these are strictly decorative. There's no airflow through here or anything. You've also got that tapered key keyboard, which Alienware is one of the only laptops you could still find that on. They claim that that means the space between the keys are wider and that's better for playing first-person shooters who are using that WASD key combo all the time. And of course, the keyboard and the logos and the touchpad, these all light up and they've got an Alienware FX app package, which we've also seen in the last couple of Alienware laptops that we've reviewed, and that lets you change the lighting scheme. You can make the keyboard one color or different sections of the keyboard, or the little ring of light around the touchpad, and you can also make them morph colors and pulse. You know, if you wanna setup a whole kind of disco theme there in your darkened room while you're playing a video game, I guess you could do that or you could just turn them off if you find them annoying. When playing games, the display is especially key. On a 14-inch display, you'd usually see 1366 x 768 as the native resolution. At least on this guy, it bumps it up to 1600 x 900, which is a lot better, I suppose, for the amount of money you're spending on this. You might say, "Oh, well, I really want 1920 x 1080." Although on a smaller screen like this, that would probably mean text and small details would get lost on the smaller actual screen. So overall, not a lot of surprises here, pretty much all the things you'd expect from the larger Alienware models shrunk down a little bit into this slightly more portable 14-inch size. I could see putting this in a bag and taking to a friend's house or on a family vacation or a business trip and still being able to do regular laptop work on it. However, do keep in mind you're going to pay for the privilege. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the Alienware M14x.