Alienware M17xR3 Review

by on March 8, 2011

Model: AlienWare M17xR3

Manufacturer: Dell/Alienware

Price: Starting at £1799

Availability: Currently unavailable*

In concept, a laptop is the best thing since sliced bread. However, to get one to meet your every demand quite often you’ll have to pay the earth for one, and even then it’ll let you down somehow, usually when it comes to the battery life or overall power.

The Alienware M17xR3 looks to change all of this. Buzz surrounding this laptop is that it is the “Ultimate Gaming Laptop” and essentially, the cream of the crop. Genius (and 3D functionality) always comes at a price though, is this Alienware worth the price tag and lofty hyperbole surrounding it or should you put the credit card away for now? Read on to find out.

AESTHETICS: It’s difficult to talk about the Alienware M17xR3 at all without gushing like a drooling fanboy, but for the sake of a fair and balanced review, we’ll make an effort. That said, the M17xR3 is very very nice to look at. Sure, on the outside (when turned off) it’s just a black laptop with a small alien head on, but when you open it and boot the bad boy up, goodness, what a looker!

With fully customisable coloured keys and touchpad, you can make this laptop shine in any colour you want, and it looks incredible for it. The screen itself is as crystal clear as you’d expect for the money and the flash looking lights on the front of the device, combined with the alien logo lit up just adds a cool air of class and sophistication to the device. People will be constantly asking you what make and model the unit is, because the second they see it, they’ll want one.

The only negative with the unit is that the SD card slot is very close to the blu-ray combo drive (slot loading) and it’s concievable that you could accidentally push the SD card into the empty drive and, frankly, trying to get it back out wouldn’t be a fun task!

The unit is also rather heavy, which has come to be expected from the Alienware brand, but it’s not unbearably heavy, simply the case that you might gain some muscle tone from carrying it around!

PERFORMANCE: Way back when PCs came to homes for the first time, laptops were a pipedream, even when they became popularised they were an absolute luxury that were sold to people with the caveat that “they are hard to upgrade and they’ll never be as good as a desktop PC”.

The Alienware M17xR3 is without question, without a single doubt, the fastest and most powerful laptop I have ever experienced. It easily eclipses the majority of desktop PCs, making them look outdated and pathetic whilst it’s keyboard glows in the dark with shiny beauty, pouring salt onto the wounds of any poor desktop that dare look in its direction. “Yes, I can do all this without a plug” it says, not caring that its opponents lay crying, begging for something, anything to fight back with…to no avail.

In a final attempt, the desktop PC mutters “But can you do that fancy 3D without a plug?” and there, and only there, does the M17xR3 cough, shuffle it’s feet and remind everyone how amazing it is, whilst ignoring the question, as it does tend to struggle slightly without the plug. Some tweaking can fix this, even it’s just a case of reducing some of the settings for battery-based playtime.

Performance wise, in my time with the unit, I didn’t experience anything even close to slowdown or “chugging”. This device was an absolute pleasure to experience from start to finish, a true technological joy. The Alienware M17xR3 is also so quiet that at one point I thought it had switched itself off, it is whisper quiet.

Whatever you decide to use the AlienWare M17xR3 for, you can be assured that it won’t let you down in any department. It has a very decent battery life, which you can boost by turning off the 3D or Alienware effects (lights on the keyboard etc).

Bundled with Windows 7 Home Premium and coming with everything you need to get active on the net (Skype, HD Webcam and so on), you’ll be able to access everything you need straight out of the box. Even the included WiFi card is excellent!

GAMES: Unplugged, trying to run a game at full tilt with 3D mode enabled it falters, quite a bit actually! Plug it in and it’s beast like power roars at you, laughing at pretty much anything you can throw at it. The 3D itself though, is a game changer.

If you’ve experienced a game like Dead Space 2, you’ll know that it is a fantastic 3rd person shooter, a genuinely classy title from start to finish. However, the M17xR3 and its 3D capability change the game for the better! Now, it’s not only a fantastic experience, but an incredibly immersive one. Necromorphs literally come at you, environments are fully rendered in 3D, you can move Isaac Clarke around a room and it looks incredible!

Being fully enabled for 3D, Dead Rising 2 also looks wonderful.  Whilst not as jaw droppingly incredible as Dead Space 2, it is still very impressive from a 3D point of view.

The M17xR3 renders every game in 3D, with varying results. Super Meat Boy looks great in 3D but on a more practical level, it doesn’t really need or warrant it, so you may find yourself turning off the 3D effect for that title and just playing it normally. Champions Online (free-to-play) actually looks quite funky in 3D, the comic-book style lends works really well in 3D. Saying that though, this was one of the titles that suffered the quite a bit when the laptop was running from the battery, instead of the plug.

Valve’s fantastic Portal is servicable in 3D, but like Super Meat Boy, it doesn’t really have enough of an effect on things to warrant it. What this all proves is that 3D gaming is incredible, but it is all dependant on the quality of the source material. It’s also worth noting here that the bundled 3D glasses aren’t particularly comfortable, especially to a wearer of glasses such as myself, but that seems to be the norm with 3D glasses at the moment.

Honestly, console gamer or PC gamer, you will be utterly blown away by the M17 when it comes to playing games.


  • Intel Core i7 Processor (2.00Ghz, 6MB, 4C)
  • 17.3 inch 120hz w/3D Bundle WideFHD (1920×1080) WLED LCD Screen
  • Integrated 3.0 Mega Pixel HD Camera
  • 4096MB Memory (2×2048) 1333MHz DDR3 Dual Channel
  • 256GB Dell Mobility Solid State Hard Drive
  • Blu-Ray Drive (DVD+/-RW + BD-ROM)
  • 1.5GB GDDR5 NVidea GeForce GTX 460M w/Optimus Technology
  • European Wireless Dell 1501 Wireless-N
  • European Wireless 375 Bluetooth Card
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64BIT)

VERDICT: The Alienware M17xR3 is an outrageous device. As powerful as you could ever wish for, with a superb battery life and great looks. The mouse and keyboard are as comfortable as you’ll find on a laptop, and whilst the unit is quite heavy, it’s not unbearably so.

Of course, this kind of wonderment comes at a price, but if you can afford it and if you are serious about 3D gaming on a PC then you’d be a crazy mad fool not to buy one, as soon as you possibly can. If you do, you will have a new love in your life, called the Alienware M17xR3.

*The Alienware M17x R.3 notebook launched in January is affected by the design issue in the recently released Intel 6 Series support chip set, code-name Cougar Point.  Effective immediately, we are removing this platform from our website. We will have more information in the coming weeks on when these products will become available again.

(The above is information GodisaGeek.com received directly from AxiCom PR)

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