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Alienware Ivy Bridge laptop refresh announced

M14x, M17x and M18x all see upgrades, M11x conspicuously absent

Alienware, Dell’s gaming division, has finally unveiled its 2012 laptop line-up. The refreshed M14x, M17x and M18x have all been upgraded with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs, as well as better dedicated graphics and more storage options than ever before.

Although each chassis remains visually unchanged from last year, the new Ivy Bridge processors bring a welcome performance boost and significantly better power consumption than Sandy Bridge. Both the M17x and M18x start with Ivy Bridge as standard (a 2.3GHz Core i7-3610QM) but the M14x is still kicking along with a Sandy Bridge Core i5-2450m unless you spend extra.

All three models now support M-SATA SSDs, letting you choose between a single hard disk or SSD or a combination of the two using Intel’s Smart Response technology.

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Graphics have also been upgraded, with both Nvidia and AMD options for the M17x and M18x. The smaller machine has the choice of either a GeForce GT 660M or GT 675M, as well as an AMD Radeon HD 7970m, but the big guns are reserved for the larger M18x. As well as the GT 660m or 675m, you can also opt for two HD 7970m GPUs in CrossFireX or two GTX 675Ms in SLI for extreme gaming performance. The entry-level M14x has the choice of 1GB or 2GB of dedicated video memory for the Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics card.

The M14x finally has a slot-loading Blu-ray reader option, as opposed to the lowly DVD drive it had last year, and all three models have seen other improvements including a Creative Recon3Di sound card and a KillerNIC wireless N card with Bluetooth 4.0.

Sandy Bridge versions of the new laptops were launched last week, but due to Intel’s over-complicated non-disclosure agreement we weren’t allowed to talk about the Ivy Bridge variants until today. We were also a little disappointed to hear the M11x won’t be upgraded at all, with no plans to continue production once the current run of machines has been sold.

Prices start at £999 for the M14x, followed by the M17x for £1299 and the M18x at £1699, but once you start adding extra hard disks or graphics upgrades you should expect that amount to jump significantly. If you’re after a gaming laptop and don’t mind splashing the cash, you can configure one now at Dell and Alienware.

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