User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:Excellent for gaming, customization options, name plate.
Cons:Not worth the money unless you're going to game hard.
The Bottom Line: While it was an investment it is something that has impressed me and made my Acer Aspire more than a little jealous.
Recommend this product?
I could make an anal probe joke but I won't.
Reliable laptops can be found for under five hundred dollars these day; but if you want something that is going to keep up with you when gaming then you are going to have to spend more. In the case of the M17X, a lot more. Some people are not going to want to spend this kind of money on a laptop, it's the middle child of the M family sandwiched in between the M14X and the M18X priced in the $1,500.00 to $1,800.00 range but the extras and features you pick can and will dramatically impact the end price. This was a big step up from the Acer Aspire and as much as I hate to say it, using the Acer now is almost painful. It still operates perfectly and serves me well but the lid on it has been closed for a while now. When I take this out with me I always see people looking at it, the extremely curious will ask what kind of a laptop it is but the gamer geeks just snicker and nod.
I am impressed with how this has performed so far but not everyone is going to need "this much" from a laptop. You have the chance to "build" your laptop when you order direct from Dell but not all of the Alienware models are available all of the time. The M17X can be ordered in the following manners: 6 GB memory, 500 GB hard drive, 6 GB memory, 750 GB hard drive, 8 GB memory, 1 terabyte hard drive. You also have the option of choosing the type of processor you want, there are price differences to them so not everyone is going to end up paying the same price when ordering from Dell. If you are buying this from another site or in auction you are going to want to be a complete stickler about the details of what you are getting.
When you order you get the 3.3 GHz Intel Core Processor but there are two other choices you can make; one will take on another $150.00 and the big daddy will set you back another $350.00. You also have choices when it comes to which version of Windows you want to go with, wireless card, the amount of memory you want or think you will need, preinstalled software and gaming software, video card, accessories like power surgers and case, your hard drive choice, if you want the 3D option, DVD options and the color of your laptop case. There are about twenty screens to go through when customizing and I had to get help with most of them from my friends. I have no idea what some of the "things" mean or the impact that they could have on the system. I took them to some of the sites that I visit most often and let them see what I would be using the laptop most for and they said that the basic configuration would be more than enough for me. You get a one year warranty with the purchase from Dell; you can opt to add on a two, three or four year plan in either the basic or advanced tier.
How did I know I made the right choice? When I went to Neopets for the first time to play Key Quest. If you've ever been frustrated with "Flower Frenzy" and the slow tipping water buckets, give this laptop a try and I you'll know exactly how everyone else gets done with four flowers in the time that it takes you to water and cut one of them. Sure, that's a pretty generic example but for long running tower defense games there is no lag. Another problem you can have at online gaming sites is slow loading game screens; some of that can be the site, some can be your connection or the number of people playing it but your processor does have a lot to do with it too. I am not a techie, I break things more often than I fix them but so far the M17X has been a dream.
If you watch movies or videos online, the screen on this will blow you away. I had some options when picking out what I wanted inside it, I don't need anything even remotely close to 3D or HD viewing but even without it this is still a great laptop. I had to ask a couple people about which M version would be the best pick, there's about a five hundred dollar difference between the three models [without add on items] so I didn't want to get something that wasn't enough or something that was too much. The M17X had what I wanted and needed; it's more than enough to play the games that I play and if I ever get into things like World of Warcraft or run Sims all day I know I can. I can run Habitarium at Neopets for two or three hours at a time without having to reload the game screen. I could do that with the Aspire but my Neopets would end up freezing up or not executing the actions I want. The built in webcam and mic are nice, the Aspire has a built in mic but no webcam so getting something that is "right there" and doesn't need to be hooked up or removed when the lid is closed is a real perk.
One of the cooler things about the Alienware laptops is the Command Center; I was really intimidated by it when I was first going through the features of it. A couple of friends walked me through it; one of the things that I like best is the "adrenaline" feature. I think this makes the biggest impact when it comes to online gaming regardless of whether you are at a site like Neopets or playing one of the "real" online games. Once my friends set up the Fusion configuration to turn off programs that I wasn't using when I was gaming I felt a little better about the purchase. The first couple weeks I handled it with kid gloves because I was terrified that I was going to break it or screw up a configuration. While most of the online gaming I do is at Neopets and a couple of similar sites, I like having the option to go as far as I want with the graphics.
My M17X weighs around eight pounds; it is thinner than the Aspire but weighs about the same. It slides into the laptop pocket of my backpack perfectly so I can take it with me but I am super paranoid about it overheating so I power it down about five or ten minutes before I pack it up. I've never felt this get hot; it does get warm but the upcoming summer will be the true test to see how hot the bottom will get. I do have a chill pad that I can use if that becomes a problem but when I asked my friends about it they said that the only time they got concerned with it was when it was humid out. There is an Alienware chill pad that you can get for about sixty dollars; if I want one I can order one from the site.
There are some slightly creepy things about the M17X; I wanted something with a fingerprint reader for protection in case of theft but I was told that there are ways that people can get around it. While I have never used it, the technology behind it is pretty cool. I was warned that it doesn't always recognize your face but if it fails to "notice you" you can use an established password to get into the laptop. I have a set password for when the laptop is started up, put into hibernation or sleep or when the screen saver is activated. For now that is enough but if I am going to be taking this with me when I travel I am going to have to hunker down and figure out the facial recognition software. I didn't pay extra for it but it sort of seems like a waste to not give it a spin.
My Acer does not have a full keyboard meaning a key pad; that can be troublesome when entering a lot of numbers so I am happy to have one with this laptop. The layout is almost the same as other keyboards but there are programmable hotkeys and of course they are backlit. Can you type in the dark? You could if you had to but I wouldn't want to be forced to because while the keys are bright enough to see it is tough to type more than a basic Tweet or text message. The only possible downside to the keyboard is an eventual key failure; I can see this costing a couple hundred dollars to get fixed if there is ever a problem with it and with my luck it is something that will happen just outside of the one year warranty. You do have the option to have the keys illuminated in red or blue or a combination of colors but I usually use blue because it is a lot easier on the eyes especially in low light situations.
There are ports on the side and back of the M17X; I know I will never have a use for some of them but the card reader has come in handy. The touchpad is super responsive but you can adjust the sensitivity of it. I am old school, I like the feel of a mouse so the wireless one is plugged in an working perfectly with it. It's not loud; that was another fear of getting something that was so widely known for gaming. It is a beast but it is no louder than my Acer; it is quieter than a desktop though. The ports I use the most are the firewire for my almost prehistoric MP3 player and one of the USB ports for the wireless mouse.
This comes packaged with Windows 7 and takes about fifteen minutes to get up and running. My Acer took longer, a lot longer. I haven't used the DVD player that much but when I did slide in Type O Negative "Symphony For The Devil" I was impressed with the view but the glare from the screen does get in the way if you are watching in a room with a light on. The sound is what really impressed me; I do plan on hooking this up to external speakers and turning off the internal ones because of the chance of vibration damage. When I asked about this everyone said that it wasn't a problem but the way I see it is why take a chance? It is loud but if you are gaming and want to hear the clanking of swords or the sounds of limbs being ripped from bodies chances are you are going to want to get external speakers. If you like to listen to music with headphones you will love the sound that this provides as well as all the ways you can tweak it with the Command Center.
There are so many great things about the M17X but I have to smile when I see the customized name plate. It's riveted into place but I am sure if someone wants to get it off they can. It will make it a little harder to sell to someone if it is stolen but it will be a lot easier to recover it when they see the name on the bottom of it. When someone asked me how much one of these could cost you they almost fell over. He said, "For twenty dollars you could get a plate engraved and glue it to the bottom". That might be true but there are so many perks to it that it was a sound investment.
^V^ ©Freak369 - 2012 ^V^
Things I've bought, broken or lost:
Apple iPod Touch - Apple 8 GB iPhone
Apple iPod Case - Apple Ear Buds
SanDisk Cruzer Micro Flash Drive
Compaq Presario 1610 Notebook Computer
Acer Aspire 5515 Laptop
Hewlett Packard D1660 Deskjet Printer
Ultra 2.0 USB Hub Adapter
Amount Paid (US$): see review
Operating System: Windows
Screen Size: Greater than 15 inches