Hands-on With The Alienware m15x: Penryn Power, Quite the Light Show

Alienware m15xWe just got our lucky paws on Alienware’s shiny new Area-51 m15x, arguably the most powerful 15.4-inch notebook on the planet. It’s the first mobile rig with this screen size that boasts Intel’s blazing 45nm Intel Core2 Extreme mobile processor X9000. And it’s the first laptop in this class to cram in Nvidia’s GeForce 8800M GTX graphics card, complete with a whopping 512MB of dedicated video memory. (Take that, Crysis!) We’ll be bringing you our first 3D and gaming benchmark results ASAP, but in the meantime we wanted to share some hands-on impressions of m15x’ unique design. Namely, the rad color changing effects have us singing Karma Chameleon. At first glance the Area-51 m15x looks a bit understated for a mobile gaming rig: It has a silver paint job and blue key backlighting—nothing too flashy and certainly more refined than the over-the-top ribbed look of previous Alienware notebooks. Do a little digging and you’ll be wowed by how much you can customize this machine on the fly. The Alienware Control Center lets you serioulsy tweak the system’s back lighting using one of ten colors (or black and white) for each lighted area of the laptop. You just have to see these pictures we snapped. Red Gold and Green…Red Gold and Green…. The following locations can have custom illuminations: the lid’s alien head, the quick-launch buttons, the power-button alien head, the volume sliders, the keyboard, the area around the track pad, and the Alienware logo on the display. There’s even a “light pipe” along the entire border of the display, but it’s hard to see and isn’t that bright. Using pre-installed software, each of these locations can be set to display a solid color, flash a color, or blend from one color to a new one; flashing and blending can be looped. You can even create and save themes and set certain color schemes to launch for certain applications—or have the power button be red when the m15x is plugged in and blue when it’s not.

Alienware m15x Keyboard

Not only is the full-sized keyboard backlit, it’s large and incredibly smooth. A mylar trackpad sits flush with the palm surface. The only discernible line between the palm rests and the trackpad is a backlit square outlining it. Above the keyboard are a few touch-responsive quick-launch buttons for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (the unit supports 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N) Alienware’s AlienFX Command Center, and a button to launch the laptop into a power-saving Stealth Mode. To the left of these buttons is a touch-sensitive and glowing Alien-head power button, as well as touch volume controls.

Alienware m15x Keyboard and Touchpad

Yes, we know all of this is just a tease. You want to know how this beast performs. Stay tuned for the first results for our lab.

Alienware m15x

 Alienware m15x

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  1. tFlow Says:

    Excellent review. I was torn on getting one until Todd described how awesome the customization is. Good work, Todd… now, to spend some money!

  2. Frank Says:

    I clicked on their website to ask presales questions and after about 8 mins, someone in India came on the line, attempting to diagnose some preconceived technical problem. I never got any presales questions answered, as the company evidently didn’t make arrangements to answer any presales questions.

    So, I guess I will be looking at other more attentive vendors of high end laptops, like those listed in the Laptop magazine ads….(I didn’t mention names as I didn’t want to distract from my experience being reported as it happened)….

    nice pictures, though

  3. Will Says:

    Great review man! But Frank, come on brother, their pre-sales chat window does NOT tell you where they are from. It amazes me that people will take time out of day to bash something they obviously didn’t test or experience.

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