The Alienware M11x looks like a cross between a fighter jet and a muscle car. It is burly, ripped, and eager to show off its guns. There are few laptops that stand out from the crowd as clearly as this one, and few observers are likely to have any doubt about what this laptop is for. Showing up at a local coffee shop with this laptop in your bag lays down the gauntlet. Yea, I’m a gamer. So what?
Like all Alienware systems, the M11x comes with the company’s AlienFX feature, a nifty extra that lets you alter the color of the LED lights glaring through various parts of the laptop including the keyboard, the power button and the faux air vents on the laptop’s front. This lighting is useful when trying to play games in a dark room and looks damned cooler otherwise. The included AlienFX Editor software makes it possible to choose between a wide variety of colors. The lighting can even be programmed to change color when you open certain applications.
Yet the design of the Alienware M11x isn’t overtly flashy. The only part of this laptop that succumbs to the allure of gloss is the display and the area immediately around it. Every other surface of the laptop, including the lid and the palmrest, is made of textured black plastic that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Lenovo ThinkPad.
Not everything about the M11x is perfect, however. This is a rather chunky laptop, a trade-off that isn’t surprising considering the hardware crammed inside. Although the display measures 11.6” inches the overall footprint of the laptop isn’t as small as that would suggest. The M11x is actually just as deep as most 13.3” laptops and only a couple inches narrower. The laptop is 1.3” thick and weighs nearly five pounds, as well.
The M11x’s thunder thighs do result in a robust chassis that refuses to flex no matter how it is handled. The lid is attached to the chassis by two thick plastic hinges that hold the display firmly in place, and the lid itself seems strong enough to protect the LCD from heavy objects. The palm-rest feels as if it is forged from a single 1.3” thick hunk of plastic – most likely because this laptop completely lacks an optical drive. There is also a fair amount of metal in this laptop, which no doubt improves the overall strength of the chassis.
Gaining access to the guts of the Alienware is a bit more difficult than expected. The battery is hidden alongside the rest of the laptop’s hardware underneath a large bottom panel. This panel is easy to remove, but not before you remove a whopping eight screws. Once you do remove the bottom panel you have complete access to most of the laptop’s hardware, but only the hard drive and RAM are meant to be user-serviceable, so the point of this isn’t clear. Most laptops offer a single, small panel that covers only the hard drive and RAM that is removed with one or two screws, and this solution is generally better than what is offered by the Alienware M11x.