Alienware M18x gaming notebook

This 18.4in beast of a notebook is supremely powerful, but has a matching price tag

Alienware M18x
  • Alienware M18x
  • Alienware M18x
  • Alienware M18x
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Hugely powerful
  • Great screen and excellent build quality
  • HDMI-in, USB 3.0, amazing feature-set

Cons

  • Hugely expensive
  • Just huge
  • Clunky process to switch graphics

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a proper desktop replacement -- replacing a gaming desktop, that is -- the Alienware M18x is undoubtedly the notebook to pick. It’s massive and has a price tag that’s painful, but its performance is almost unparalleled.

Would you buy this?

The Alienware M18x is a desktop replacement notebook in the truest sense — it’s powerful enough to replace a desktop workstation, but it’s also as big and as heavy as a desktop PC. It’s exceedingly powerful and has the ability to handle almost any current-day computing task possible. It’s also very well kitted out in terms of integrated ports, and the screen and keyboard are excellent.

Alienware M18x: Design and setup

When we unpacked the Alienware M18x, we were astonished with its sheer size. We’d seen it before on the Area 52 roadshow, but with other laptops like the Apple MacBook Pro on hand as a point of reference the M18x does expose itself as a behemoth. It’s 55mm thick, more than double the MacBook and far, far thicker than the new Intel Ultrabook family.

The Alienware M18x has the most input and output ports we’ve ever seen on a notebook. Four USB ports — two of them USB 2.0 and two 3.0 — and a single combination USB-eSATA socket join an SD card port, ExpressCard/54 slot and DVD-RW (or optional Blu-ray) drive in making up the expandable storage options, while video and audio I/O are covered with HDMI out and in, VGA, miniDisplayPort, SPDIF digital audio output and headphone and microphone jacks. The HDMI input is especially valuable — you could plug in a gaming console or even a second laptop to use the M18x’s high quality screen for display.

The Alienware M18x is exceptionally well constructed. Aluminium and high-quality rubberised plastics make up the majority of the M18x’s body, and there is absolutely no flex when twisting either the screen or the chassis itself. The keyboard is large with spacious, well laid-out keys that are excellently weighted for either typing or gaming, and the multitouch trackpad is large with the best left- and right-click buttons that we’ve used on a laptop.

The 16:9 Full HD screen of the Alienware M18x is glossy, but it’s excellent. It is vibrant and very detailed and has wide vertical and viewing angles, and in anything but direct daylight it performs very well. It’s a slight pity that a matte screen isn’t an option, though.

The M18x comes with Windows 7 Home Premium, although you’ll need to shell out for Ultimate or Professional if you want to use 32GB of RAM. A range of extra Dell and third-party software is preinstalled as well.

Next page: Specs, performance and conclusion

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