October 8, 2012
- Comfortable keyboard
- Beautiful 18-inch 1080p display
- Best-in-class performance
- Above average battery life
- High-end configurations are expensive
- Mouse buttons are mushy
The Alienware M18x R2 is definitely one powerhouse of a computer. It has a fantastic 1080p display, top-of-the-class performance and good battery life. While quite expensive, it makes a great gaming laptop and will handle anything you throw at it.
We reviewed the original Alienware M18x laptop in August 2011 and were very impressed by its outstanding gaming performance, gamer-friendly keyboard and the massive 18-inch display. The design of the original M18x did seem a bit aged and the high-price definitely wasn't for everyone.
The design of the M18x R2 is very sturdy and solid as it is made of anodized aluminum and a raised panel that adds some depth to its overall look. There's also a backlit chrome alien head in the middle of the lid. It measures 17.2 x 12.7 x 2.1-inches (wdh) and weighs 12.6-pounds, which is very heavy for a laptops yet expected since this is a gaming powerhouse laptop.
The beautiful 18.4-inch display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080-pixels, which is full high-definition resolution. The screen looks absolutely stunning, similar to the original M18x from last year. Streaming HD video looked fantastic on the display as well as the many games that we tried out. The screen also has very wide viewing angles, which is great to have while watching movies with more than one person.
Alienware designed the keyboard with gamers in mind, as it should be with a laptop like this one. The keyboard has a set of five macro keys with the ability to switch between different configurations to allow up to 15 macros for gamers. The keys provide solid feedback with little flex, which is always the goal. The keyboard deck is made of a soft-rubber material, which really helps to make things comfortable. A full numeric keypad is also included to the right of the keyboard.
Keeping with Alienware tradition, the keyboard is backlit in a full array of colors. There are preloaded affects for the backlit as well, which can be selected and customized via the AlienwareFX software that comes pre-installed.
The touchpad provides a lot of room for navigating and multitouch gestures. However, the two discrete click buttons seemed mushy and didn't provide much feedback much to our dismay.
For ports, the Alienware M18x R2 gives you four USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, HDMI-out, HDMI-in, VGA-out, mini-DisplayPort out, gigabit Ethernet, S/DIF, the usual audio ports and a 9-in-1 memory card reader. The HDMI-input allows you to use the big, beautiful display for things like a cable TV box or a video game system.
There is also a Blu-ray and DVD+/-RW optical disc drive and 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
The most expensive configuration, which was the one we were given, has a third-gen Intel Core i7-3820QM (2.7GHz) CPU, 16GB of RAM, dual 256GB solid-state hard drives and dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M SLI-enabled graphics with 4GB of dedicated video memory. There are lesser configurations available for much less money too.
We got top-of-the-class performance with the Intel Core i7 and 16GB of RAM combo. A PCMark 7 benchmark scored 5495, which is about 1500 ahead of the desktop replacement category average. Gaming performance is about as good as it can get. Today's 3D games run perfectly on this laptop set at 1080p resolution and high graphics detail. There's no doubt that performance with M18x R2 is the best you can get and for the money you'll spend, that better be the case.
Battery life comes in at about 3-hours with the discrete dual graphics enabled, which is about an hour or so longer than we expected. With only the integrated graphics enabled, expect to get closer to 5-hours, which is great for a desktop replacement.
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