Dell’s Alienware m14x r2 is the powerhouse of 14” laptops. With plenty of power to spare and styling designed just for gamers, the m14x is sure to fit the bill for the extreme mobile gamer. With a standard Intel Core i7 and GeForce® GT 650M, the m14x packs a punch for gaming in a small package. It can be ordered in both red and black and sports the Alienware logo on the back of the lid. Features like AlienFX lighting allow for a high degree of lighting customization all over the laptop (keyboard back-lit lighting up different colors in different sections). Weighing in at 7+ pounds, the laptop can be a little on the heavy side, but this is only to be expected with so much crammed into such a small package. You have the option to order with Steam, Eve Online, or World of Warcraft pre-installed on your machine, allowing you to get straight into the gaming. Each laptop comes with a custom laser engraved plate, leaving no dispute as to the ownership of the laptop.
Benchmarks show performance of the Kepler core GeForce® GT 650M is between that of the GTX 460M and GTX 560M high end cards from 2011. Battlefield 3 and similar modern games will run fine at 720p with medium or even high settings, with older games running at max setting without a hitch. If you're not fragging or questing, nVidia's Optimus switchable graphics design lets you conserve battery by going to integrated graphics if GPU demand is low. The glossy screen is great for watching movies and high resolution content or playing older games maxed out.
Alienware M14x r2 Higher End Config
The higher end m14x r2 offers all the same features of the lower end model with many of them now coming standard. Upgrades include the more powerful i7 processor, 2GB graphics memory upgrade, an HD+ (1600x900) screen, 12GB of RAM up from 6, and an extra 250GB of hard drive space.
To improve performance further, you can move to a solid state disk. An SSD will provide significant load time improvement in games with quicker response to changing scenery and faster bootup times, making it a very satisfying thing to upgrade (if you have the cash to afford it).
Alienware M14x r2 Lower End Config
The lower end m14x r2 still offers a great lineup of specs for most gaming enthusiasts who want mobility. The base level graphics card will let you play everything out there, and 6GB of RAM is still plenty to run most games without having to close all your open programs. A processor upgrades offers more performance if you must have it, but in terms of overall gaming experience at this price point, your money would be better spent on the graphics card upgrade. The SSD upgrade - although pricey - will offer incredible bootup times coupled with fast game load times for an overall extremely responsive experience. Of course, you'll be sacrificing some storage space for that speed.
The bottom line
Regardless of the model you choose, the m14x r2 offers an amazing gaming experience in a compact, portable package. Options like the HD+ screen and SSD upgrades can really make it shine in more than just gaming. The i7 Quad Core processor makes it a jack of all trades with great multitasking abilities and graphics to excess for things like video and photo editing. At a rate 6 hours, the battery life is unexpectedly good for a gaming laptop, making it a laptop you can take to class - although we wouldn’t expect to reach that figure playing any sort of graphically taxing game. In addition, you get all of the usual Alienware swag with adjustable lights, the Alienware logo, and plenty of bragging rights.