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Advice - Alienware M15x


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I have a nice gaming rig, it's getting on a bit but eminently up-gradeable and I'm happy with it.

 

I'm about to buy a laptop, I'm lucky in that I can afford a decent one and I've always been curious about getting an Alienware rig. Anybody have any views or advice. I'll be using it for writing and internet access too.

 

FWIW I'm aware of people's love / hate with Dell but personally having had one or two I've had a pretty good experience.

 

Cheers in advance,

 

MC

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As a fan of Alienware computers, I have to agree with Gorgon if you just want a simple internet and word processing rig. You can pick up a decent one for a few hundred bucks.

 

But if you are looking at a gaming laptop, the M15x is top-notch. It is also worth the price. It might be a little more than the average gaming laptop, but all the reviews are good, and Alienware laptops are known for lasting longer than normal. The only drawback is that they are a bit bigger, but that is by design because the more compact, the more heat problems.

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As a fan of Alienware computers, I have to agree with Gorgon if you just want a simple internet and word processing rig. You can pick up a decent one for a few hundred bucks.

 

But if you are looking at a gaming laptop, the M15x is top-notch. It is also worth the price. It might be a little more than the average gaming laptop, but all the reviews are good, and Alienware laptops are known for lasting longer than normal. The only drawback is that they are a bit bigger, but that is by design because the more compact, the more heat problems.

 

Thanks, I'd rather pay a bit extra and have a little future-proofing.

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I don't know enough about laptop video cards, but I prefer ATI over Nvidia, so I might spend the extra 60 pieces o' eight on the ATI 5850. 4 gigs of Ram is also a solid choice for future proofing it, and that is just an extra 40.

 

edit: I'm looking at the 17 inch version of this for myself in a year or so. I have to pay off my wife's upgraded wedding ring to keep her happy first, and then I can pick one up.

Edited by Hurlshot
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Thanks, I'm going to order one on Monday after a bit more research, I'm going for more memory as per your suggestion, a faster processor and some other minor upgrades. I'm a bit disappointed that on a rig like this you actually have to pay extra for a Bluetooth module.

 

I've not used Windows 7 yet, my gaming rig is still Vista. Any views / advice with regards to games and backwards compatability. For example, it seems inconceivable that I wont be installing some old Infinity Engine games on this rig.

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I'm an nVidia guy, so I'd say to get the 260, but I'd also suggest waiting until they upgrade to the 4xxM series...

In 7th grade, I teach the students how Chuck Norris took down the Roman Empire, so it is good that you are starting early on this curriculum.

 

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Thanks, I'm going to order one on Monday after a bit more research, I'm going for more memory as per your suggestion, a faster processor and some other minor upgrades. I'm a bit disappointed that on a rig like this you actually have to pay extra for a Bluetooth module.

 

I've not used Windows 7 yet, my gaming rig is still Vista. Any views / advice with regards to games and backwards compatability. For example, it seems inconceivable that I wont be installing some old Infinity Engine games on this rig.

 

I love 7, I prefer it to Vista. I believe they are very similar in terms of running software though, so if you can get it to work on Vista, it should be fine on Windows 7. But you might want to do research, I'm still using Vista until my next upgrade. I've only used 7 on a work computer.

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A pity I didn't see this sooner. Yes, Alienware make great computers, however, that is accompanied by a similarly great markup in price especially since being bought by Dell. A neat trick pulled by many of the major computer manufacturers is to markup the price then give you an instant discount of a few hundred dollars. You think you're getting a great deal, but that discount only offsets a portion of the initial price markup.

 

At the moment, for my money, I'd recommend either a MSI GX740 (~$1400 US) or an ASUS G73JH (~$1500 US) for a gaming laptop, depending upon your price range and need for portability. They are among the most powerful gaming laptops available at a quite reasonable price. The GX740 is a bit lighter at 7lbs vs 8.5 (that's a little over 3kg vs a little under 4 for you), but both fall under the DTR (Desktop Replacement) category of laptops similar to Alienware, so for their power they are quite portable. They both come standard with an i7 720QM CPU and a 1GB DDR5 ATI Radeon Mobility 5870 HD (basically the top mobile GPU available and the first that supports DX11). Both have fantastic sound for laptops. The MSI has a 500GB HD and 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 RAM, the ASUS 2x500GB (for a total of 1TB) and 8GB 1066MHz DDR3 RAM. Other than that, the only real differences are that the GX740 has a screen resolution of 1680x1050 (16:10) and a 3 year warranty while the G73JH has a higher quality 1920x1080 (16:9, i.e. true Widescreen) LED screen with a 2 year warranty and that the A1 version of the latter has a Blu-Ray reader disc drive for about $100 more. Both MSI and ASUS are known for having the best warranties in the industry. And unlike Alienware, they don't charge you an extra $300 for it. Also, the G73JH comes with a free Razer (top gaming input device manufacturer) mouse and a backpack.

 

As far as looks, the GX740 has a bit of a retro futuristic vibe with red and black coloring and the G73JH has a "stealthy" matte black look and is supposedly inspired by the F-117 Stealth Fighter.

 

MSI GX740 at Newegg

ASUS GX73

 

This last one links to the ASUS catalog of a reputable custom laptop reseller. The one I mentioned is either the G73JH-A1 which includes a Blu-Ray reader for a $100 more or the G73JH-A2.

Edited by Archmonarch

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I've played around with the m11x,and might upgrade my laptop to one sometime soon -seeing as I have a desktop for heavy gamng-, and it's a very nice machine - if your m15x is as good quality you'll be happy. o:)

Edited by Deadly_Nightshade

"A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation."
-H. H. Munro

 

"Geez. It's like we lost some sort of bet and ended up saddled with a bunch of terrible new posters on this forum."

-Hurlshot

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been playing around with the machine for a couple of days now.

 

It's awesome. Fast, responsive, quiet and loads of memory and eats Crysis for breakfast. I even love the leather-bound manual (really). It's a totally self-indulgent purchase, from the control centre to the facial recognition but I am completely smitten with it.

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Yes, the webcam recognises your face in lieu of a password, it's part of this alienware control centre thingie that lives at the centre of my machine like HAL in 2001.

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...eats Crysis for breakfast.

What does this mean? Have you actually tried Crysis on it? At what resolution? And what fps did you get?

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Another dividend is, ironically, the small screen size (15").

 

I installed Baldurs Gate 2 / ToB tonight. On my desktop rig I use the widescreen mod which can cause issues with BG2 / ToB and especially other mods. On my laptop BG2 looks fabulous on the unlocked, maxed out resolution that comes with the vanilla config programme! Am busily building v. modded BG2, Windows 7 has none of the crappy Vista issues with compatability, it loves IE games.

 

Company of Heroes looks great and runs smoother than a smooth thing in a velvet bag. For some reason I can't autopatch, suspect it's an anti-virus firewall issue as opposed to the rig itself. Still, I can play offline skirmish and campaign games.

 

Crysis, which I installed purely as a performance test then uninstalled, was fine. Apparently the Alienware notebook will run this fine too, I've seen one and it's freaking tiny.

 

Medieval Total War 2 / Kingdoms, with a load of mods, installed with no problems. Have yet to play but if it runs CoH and Crysis.... and I've still used only a fraction of the available memory.

 

I have to take my hat off to the designers, the dynamic power use and stealth modes mean that the thing doesn't heat up and is very quiet. I'm amazed theyve packed this much performance into a lappie and made it so elegant and quiet.

 

If I have small criticisms it's that (1) there are only three USB ports and (2) the speakers aren't as Gucci as I'd hoped. These are minor issues, I'm going to buy some small but sublimely expensive travel speakers and / or headphones. The MX17 I would suggest is a viable desktop replacement, the MX15 for me is almost there and a fantastic addition to my home tech / gaming set-up.

 

All in all I am delighted with the product, bravo Alienware. I know it's expensive, but if you were thinking of going down this route then I'd say do it. I'm too old to wear baseball caps but there was one in the box :wowey: !

 

Cheers

MC

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  • 2 weeks later...

An update.

 

The infinity engine games look and play beautifully on this rig, which says more about Windows 7 as an OS than Alienware I guess. Nonetheless, for me it's good to have a machine that loves old games, some of my favourites are pretty creaky now. I'll be putting JA2 on it soon.

 

Company of Heroes was great. Now it isn't. I'm getting like 4.5 FPS. It sucks. So I've installed FO3 and Men of War to see if it's the machine of CoH. No real problems with either, MoW has a helluva lot going on but runs beautifully, the only performance compromise was for me to switch down to the middle shadow setting (big deal). With a few minor performance tweaks FO3 is very nice. On a 15" laptop.

 

It might be that I can't update CoH on my machine, for some reason the auto-updater won't work so I'm a bit bummed because it's one of my fave games. No biggie, though, seeing as it's going to be free imminently as CoHO so I'll just download it then.

 

Cheers

MC

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