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June 25, 2012
- Comfortable keyboard
- Solid construction
- HDMI-in, four USB 3.0 ports & Blu-ray
- Outstanding performance
- Heavy and bulky design
- Reflective screen
- Short on battery life
For users looking to get gaming performance, the Dell Alienware M17x R4 definitely has it thanks to the new Ivy Bridge processor and accompanying Nvidia graphics. It also benefits from a Blu-ray drive, four USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI-input, which is more than other similar laptops have to offer.
Gaming laptops seem to be making a comeback after a short time of stagnant development. The release of new Intel third-generation processors and Nvidia graphics have really spurred new development and we've seen some really good results. The Dell Alienware M17x R4 is one example of this.
The design of the M17x R4 is no different than the previous M17x system: it has a gaming-style design with a lighting system that provides a flashy experience. It does feel very sturdy and able to withstand the bumps that might occur while moving it to your next gaming destination. It does weigh 9.6-pounds, so it's definitely hefty and not easy to carry around.
You get a full-size backlit keyboard with a full numeric keypad to the right. The keyboard felt really good and provided a comfortable typing experience. The keys offered a good amount of feedback, which is a must, especially for gaming. The trackpad supports multitouch gestures and has two physical mouse buttons for left and right clicking.
The 17-inch display has a native resolution of 1080p, which is full HD quality. Now while this falls short of the resolution of the Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (2880 x 1800-pixels), it still looks fantastic, even while watching Blu-ray movies. The only disappointment is the glossy display, which shows a lot of reflections which might be trouble while gaming.
Connectivity includes four USB 3.0 ports, one eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, HDMI-out, VGA-out, HDMI-in, a Mini DisplayPort, the usual audio jacks plus S/PDIF, gigabit Ethernet and a 9-in-1 memory card reader. There are plenty of video-related ports, but the HDMI-input is a definite rarity. You can use the system's 17-inch display for viewing media from external sources, like cable boxes or video game consoles.
The internal specifications of the Dell Alienware M17x R4 includes a new, third-generation Intel Core i7-3720QM quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive, a 32GB mSATA solid state drive for caching and Nvidia GeForce GT 680M graphics with 2GB of dedicated video memory. There is also 802.11n Wi-Fi and a DVD+/-RW and Blu-ray combo drive.
Performance with the M17x R4 is definitely one to marvel at. It easily competes with other gaming laptops that are also powered by the new Ivy Bridge Intel CPUs, if not beating them at times. It earned a PCMark 07 score of 4591, which is outstanding. Hardcore 3D gaming performance is outstanding and all games we tested can be played on their high graphic settings.
The Dell Alienware M17x R4 outperformed the Samsung Series 7 (NP700G7C-S01US) 17-inch gaming laptop that we reviewed in late May. It also included a new Intel CPU and was the fastest laptop we we've previously seen (until this Alienware, of course).
Battery life, however, comes up short at just over 2 hours of life, which is a little understandable but could come up short if you want to watch a DVD while on the go.