Great Looks, But Some Things Shouldn't Be Universal

Undoubtedly some of you may disagree as you did with my assessment of the M17x R3, but I'm still a big fan of Alienware's styling. It's the kind of thing that really has to be seen and felt in person to be appreciated. If you read that review, you're going to find the design of the M14x extremely familiar.

Alienware eschews glossy plastic everywhere except two places: the speaker trim and the screen frame. Everything else is a smooth rubberized plastic texture that's very pleasant to the touch. Where that glossy plastic is employed at least makes some sense: the speaker trim isn't liable to see a lot of action, and the screen is a single glossy surface from edge to edge with no bezel. Undoubtedly some will complain about the glossy screen itself, but gloss on consumer grade products is here to stay and next to impossible to avoid, and unlike dismally low screen resolutions it can at least make a case for itself.

The keyboard and touchpad have a very similar texture to the rest of the notebook, although there's a little too much flex in the keyboard for my liking. Those of you who aren't happy with the modern trend towards chiclet-style keyboards will be right at home here, as the M14x's keyboard is a more traditional style. The layout itself is a good one, too, bog standard for 14" notebooks. Some things don't need innovation.

Unfortunately, some of the design decisions that worked well for the M17x R3 make much less sense in a more portable notebook. Having the fan intakes on the bottom of the M17x was fine; that notebook is enormous and should be spending its life on flat surfaces. But the M14x is small enough to be used as a laptop proper, and putting the fan intake on the bottom of a notebook like this is unwise.

By the same token, while Alienware is undoubtedly proud of the personalized metal plate on the bottom of each notebook, that metal plate is a heat factory, and a lot of the heat the notebook generates is going to get absorbed into it. As a result, it gets incredibly hot to the touch when the M14x is running full bore.

Finally, the powerful hardware inside takes its toll in one other area: sheer uncompromising bulk. The M14x may be one of the fastest 14-inch notebooks ever made, but it's also one of the heaviest, tipping the scales at 6.45 pounds. This comes with the territory and you can't entirely fault Alienware for it, but it's worth mentioning.

The M14x is, at least in this reviewer's opinion, a very attractive notebook, but the powerful hardware comes at some cost in the design and the bottom intake potentially curtails the kind of laptop gaming something like this should be well suited for.

Alienware's Medium-Sized Monster Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • etamin - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    just curious, where can I find out more about this 4 GPUs with the same name business?
  • Hrel - Saturday, July 23, 2011 - link
  • lunarx3dfx - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    The m14x isn't available with the other GT555M. I have a feeling that it would be significantly slower though.
  • AlexKitch - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    My friend has one of these and struggles to even play Minecraft without the machine becoming so unbelievably hot that it has to de-clock itself, turning his games into more of a slideshow than a game. This happens in my (fairly cool) apartment, on a solid desk with no obstructions to any of the fan intakes/exhausts.

    Personally, I don't like the styling of Alienware machines either. It's all a little over the top and immature.
  • kevith - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    is NOT a lot! It´s terrible to keep on reading, that notebooks that weighs like this one, are heavy!

    I´m 50 years, and I´m working in the woods, and the chainsaw I use weighs around 22 lbs. And not only shall I carry it around for 8 hours every day, I have to toss it arond all the time to obtain access to sawing area.

    I´ve read reviews, where the reviewer has used words like "chiropractor", "immoblie", "desktop only" etc.

    Come on man, I don´t know what kind of workout You do - if any - but I will recommend You to spend more time doing it or find a more effective system.
  • Hrel - Saturday, July 23, 2011 - link

    Yeah, that always annoys me too. Basically as long as the things under 10lbs I'm fine with it. And that's only because of all the other stuff I keep in my notebook bag. But then again, if you're talking about burly men that's totally different than if you're talking about 5'4" women.
  • solracd - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    Can someone explain why the 1.5 upgrade to 3Gb video memory is not useful? Is is not helpful 'today' but possible useful in a year or two? The same applies to the CPU option. I would think getting the most is the best (although clearly not the most cost effective).

    I buy laptops and keep for a while so I'm puzzled how more is not better.

    Thanks in advance!
  • Habshockeygrl - Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - link

    I love my M14x, I don't mind the louder rapid cooling although my husband when sitting near me sometimes complains about the loudness of it. My problem as been the sound system. I paid extra for the premium sound package and have had multitudes of problems with it. They tried to have tech support remotely reset drivers, which made the surround sound stop working. They sent a tech to my house, upon taking it apart he somehow destroyed the motherboard and the mouse track pad. So he had to come back with the new parts. Second trip, he brought brand new speakers because he could see a visible problem, replaced the motherboard and the tracker section. Now only either front or back speakers will work separately but not together. Nobody has been able to figure out this problem and I continue to feel I was ripped off in the sound department. Good luck to anyone purchasing the upgrade!

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