The Alienware Aurora mALX is an attractive notebook with a dual-colour airbrush finish similar to what you would find on customized cars. Combine its good looks with the massive 19″ screen, and you have a notebook that will attract computer geeks from a 2 mile radius. Though the glossy finish looks great, it’s a magnet for smears and smudges – Alienware thoughtfully includes a micro fiber cloth for you to use.
The body itself is made from a hard plastic that’s extremely sturdy. When dealing with a laptop of this size and weight, it really does need to be constructed well to withstand the rigors of movement and transportation. It’s like how you wouldn’t design a pick-up truck using the same frame design for a compact sedan.
Opening the mALX reveals, thankfully, a full-sized keyboard complete with properly laid out navigation keys and a full number pad. For gamers, this is great since you can now use the number pad to bind keys instead of using strange maps or having to resort to a cumbersome keyboard peripheral.
The keyboard is soft and not very clicky which makes it a very quiet notebook to play on. The touchpad is a bit small considering you’re dealing with a 19″ screen and a desktop resolution of 1680×1050. You will find that you have to do multiple swipes across the pad in order to get across the screen, so be sure you can increase the sensitivity of the pointer.
Along the top edge of the keyboard are quick access keys for internet functions (Search, Web Browser, Email), a Bluetooth button, and a 3D Button performance button which doesn’t appear to do anything (toggling this button had no effect on 3DMark or FEAR tests). There are two small speakers at each corner (and two more on the bottom) which sound very decent compared to your typical notebook speaker.
The screen is a nice 19″ display with a glossy protective screen. It looks extremely sharp and looks better than the 17″ notebooks I’ve reviewed in the past. We will take a closer look at the screen later in this review. There is also a built in web camera which are increasingly common on mobile systems these days.
Along the left side of the mALX, you will find a slim DVD recorder and four audio jacks for the microphone, speakers, SPDIF output, and line-in.
On the back of the notebook, you will find a S-Video input jack, an essentially extinct serial port, two USB 2.0 ports, a modem jack, Component/Composit output jack, a DVI port, and the power jack. There is also a very large heat exhaust vent which helps keep the notebook cool and relatively quiet.
The right side of the mALX has a CardBus slot, a mini Firewire port, three USB 2.0 ports, a special TV Antenna jack (optional feature, requires a mini-PCI TV tuner card), the MMC / SD card reader, and the Gigabit LAN port. It’s worthy to note that the mALX does not come with Express Card which is a growing standard on notebooks. There are also two heat exhaust vents which can get pretty warm when running SLI and it will blow over your mousing hand on the side.