Over the years, Alienware's laptops have been many things, a lot of them completely contradictory. Big, small, gaudy, powerful, expensive and even sometimes good value for money.

They've always been distinctive, though. And the new m15x is just about the most unusual yet. With its industrial angles, sloped front and raked keyboard it bears more resemblance to KITT's bonnet than it does to a traditional laptop. Which is a coincidence, because weighs almost as much as a Trans Am too.

On cores

Standing out is no bad thing in this day and age of anodyne design, and you'll be pleased to know there's plenty inside the m15x to justify the price too. For a start, it's one of the first laptops we've seen to feature Intel's latest mobile processor, the quad-core i7 Q720.

It trundles along at a mere 1.6GHz, but will accelerate to nearly 3GHz if only one core is under use.

It's not a massive strain on the battery, either, and we managed to get three hours out of the machine under normal use. Not brilliant, but not bad for a desktop replacement.  

Underpowered graphics

Graphics are provided by NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 260M, which is a decent enough chip but far from the fastest mobile option available.

Combining a mid-weight GPU with a CPU that runs at low clock speeds while multithreading means the m15x is surprisingly half-hearted when it comes to gaming performance. Even with detail settings turned down low, Far Cry 2 is only just playable at native resolution.

The finer details beyond the generic specs are what makes the m15x appealing, though. The screen, while a little too reflective, is colourful, bright and fast, and the keyboard is absolutely brilliant.

Not only is it comfortable and hard wearing, the AlienFX lighting system can divide it up into coloured areas for gaming, so you can see keygroups clearly in the dark.

Evil mouse pad

As good as the keyboard is, though, the mouse pad is its evil twin. Forget any new-fangled multitouch feature, the dimpled surface is sticky, unresponsive and inaccurate at best. You'll almost certainly be using the m15x with a USB mouse if you're at a desk, but the trackpad is just frustrating if you're on the go.

If it's an unstoppable gaming monster you're after, the bigger, faster m17x is probably the machine you want – or one with an older, faster quad-core chip like the MSI GT725. As a distinctive, powerful desktop replacement that is good, but not great, for games though, there's a lot to commend the m15x.


Stuff says... 

Alienware m15x review

A striking notebook with some brilliant extras, the m15x just isn’t as good at games as you'd think