Making the Case for Bling

Despite every fiber of my being arguing to the contrary, I was unfortunately wholly won over by Alienware's aesthetic with the M17x R3. It's the age old don't want something gaudy, but then you realize you can change the keyboard's backlighting to a wide variety of pretty colors. And even glows out of the vents. And the alien head on the lid, it glows! And you can configure the colors for all of these, choosing from pretty much the entire rainbow! Soon you feel like a gibbering moron and begin to question your own taste.

But there's something to the design of the M17x R3. First off, the entire unit is basically one color, a dark, gunmetal gray (though you can order yours in "nebula red.") The overwhelming majority of the surfaces of the M17x R3 are an incredibly comfortable rubberized plastic surface, with glossy plastic used sparingly and fairly intelligently deployed. The lid has soft contours, a choice that extends to every surface of the notebook.

When you flip it open, you'll see the first instance of gloss, but it isn't too alarming. The screen is a glossy panel, and rather than have a bezel there's simply a single glossy surface from edge to edge. It all winds up being fairly reflective which is no doubt going to disturb at least a few of you, but on a system targeted at gamers (read: consumers with disposable income) it's understandable. The only other glossy surfaces are around the speaker grilles in the front of the notebook, but these are unlikely to see any finger traffic and the mild accent is appropriate.

Honestly, it's when you get to the keyboard, media buttons, and touchpad that you really see Alienware blow Clevo out of the water. The keyboard on the M17x R3 is a very smart design, making effective use of the 17.3" form factor's ample real estate. It isn't cramped and the 10-key is appropriately standardized, and the whole thing is backlit (once again, you can choose the color of backlighting.) The keys also share the comfortable rubberized surface texture of the rest of the notebook. My only complaint here is that there's a little bit of flex under the keyboard that seems to correspond with the three different backlighting zones.

The touchpad is just as pleasant to use. Surface friction is just right, and the mouse buttons offer the appropriate amount of tactile feedback without being audible.

Ultimately the M17x R3 seems a little glitzy or gaudy at first, but actually using it and getting a feel for it pays dividends. There was some clear thought put into the user experience; configurable backlighting may seem silly, but it's one more way for the end user to personalize the notebook for him or herself. Given the overall solid build quality, powerful components, and comfortable keyboard, it's just one more thing that improves the corners were cut.

Introducing the Alienware M17x R3 Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • TEAMSWITCHER - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    Why can't alienware make a laptop that doesn't look like it was beaten all weekend with an ugly stick. I don't care how powerful it is - i'll never buy one - and no-one else over the age of 14 should either. FAIL!
  • therealnickdanger - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    BUT it has 2 l00k leik a 5T34L7H FIGHT3R!!!!1!

    The only thing that holds me back from buying the M11x is that it is hideous. I've been wanting an relatively inexpensive SFF gaming notebook (with balls) forever! But when I finally get it, it's the size of a humidor and looks like a snaggle-toothed pug. Oh well, I'm glad it's a free county and I can choose not to buy it!
  • synaesthetic - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    The LG P330 looks like the best bet for small form factor gaming laptop. It's really not much larger than the M11x and it looks far less ugly. It also doesn't use a ULV CPU either, but a standard mobile i5 SNB processor. Video is the 555M, which should be better than the 335M in the M11x.
  • The0ne - Monday, June 20, 2011 - link

    You're complaining about a company with the name of Alienware making its systems look like an Alien or Alien form? Are you serious or just fooling around? There are other more normal gaming laptops if that's your taste, Asus, Clevo and so on.
  • headbox - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    They don't look alien, they look childish. Or will we be invaded by Hasbro aliens? My kid's Leap Frog toy computer looks more sophisticated.
  • khimera2000 - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    Alienware is to taste, some people like it others dont. I have one it works pritty well. It dosent look that bad. Alienware has always had a distinct look, you can love it or hate it, but it hasent changed that much since i dont know... since alienware wasent dell?

    Complaining about something based on looks is just like complaining a car is slower because its not hotrod red. Its not going to make a differance. People will still get it because it looks neat to them.

    O ya the backlit keyboard is a god send >.<
  • Sabresiberian - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    You're the one that EPIC FAILs here, for telling everyone else what they should or shouldn't like in the appearance of their gaming laptop. You don't like it, fine, but get off the high opinion you have of yourself and quit telling other people how to think and what to do.

    Personally, I think the M17x looks great. I also happen to be 55 years old. Would I carry it into an executive board room meeting? Probably not, but it's a gaming machine, and not intended to look like Mr. Businessman.
  • Astoria85 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Alienware doesn't need you buy one of their laptops ;) I'm 21 years old and I work every day with new guys who ask me where i have found a laptop like my M15x, and if it's as powerful as it looks cool! Obviously your point of view is not the point of view of the major part of the people... FAIL!
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    I agree.

    I was just last night looking for a replacement laptop, and just because of the looks I wont even consider any of these. Useless " features" that add only cost; serving no other purpose.

    Too bad you can not get an XPS with similar hardware, but as it stands looks like I will be shopping with someone else.
  • 5150Joker - Monday, June 27, 2011 - link

    You were beaten with an ugly stick, not the AW.

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