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Dell Alienware M11xR3 review

Barry de la Rosa
1 Jun 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,499
inc VAT

The M11x is unique in its ability to play games and yet last for 11 hours away from the mains, but the screen lets it down and the SSD is expensive

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Specifications

11.6 in 1,366x768 display, 2.0kg, 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-2537M, 4.00GB RAM, 256GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

The Dell Alienware M11xR3 is an 11.6in laptop with a dedicated graphics card capable of playing modern 3D games at high frame rates, and yet using Nvidia's Optimus technology, it can last for almost 11 hours on battery. This is a feat on its own, but in a laptop weighing just 2kg, it's a marvel.

Performance and battery life are at least partly due to the SSD fitted inside. The 256GB model is a great performer and gives you plenty of space for your files; however, it's also incredibly expensive and costs £530 more than the basic 250GB hard disk model. Switching to a regular hard disk will reduce performance and battery life, but it could be good choice to bring the price of this computer down considerably. Be aware that the basic model, comes with 2GB of RAM only, where as our review model has 4GB.

Dell Alienware M11xR3

It's games that this laptop is made for and performance from the Nvidia GeForce GT 540M is stellar; a result of 38fps in our Call of Duty 4 is an improvement on the previous model, and in Crysis - at 1,280x720, High quality and 4x anti-aliasing - it managed 22fps. Turning AA off and quality to Medium resulted in a much more playable 48fps. Needless to say, noise from the graphics card's fan is loud when running games.

Battery life was also incredible. Once you unplug the power cable, the M11x switches to the Core i5's integrated graphics chip, helping it last for almost 11 hours in our light usage test. Of course, the high frame rates and long battery life don't mix: playing Crysis, it lasted for only one hour and 18 minutes on battery alone.

Windows performance wasn't quite as impressive, with an overall score of 37 in our multimedia benchmarks. This is due to the ultra-low-power Core i5-2537M, which runs at 1.4GHz. Turbo Boost pushes this up to 2.9GHz, which explains the much higher score of 61 in the single-threaded image-editing test.