Alienware M14x Review: Giving Portable Gaming Another Go
Performance - Competitors, Processor, General, Hard Drive
Overview and Competition
Our review unit is a well-equipped version of the M14x with a Core i7-2630QM processor, but the Nvidia GT 555M GPU is the only available option. You do have a choice between versions with 1.5GB and 3GB of RAM (our versions came with 3GB). The 3GB version seems like overkill considering the capabilities of the GPU and the resolution of the display.
Though this is our first experience with the M14x, we’ve tested a laptop similar to this before. Last year we reviewed an ASUS N55 that was equipped with a Core i7-2630QM processor and (drumroll please) a GT 555M with 2GB of RAM. Including the N55 as a competition in the performance section is an obvious choice.
We’ll also include the ASUS U36S, which was equipped with the Nvidia 520M, and the ASUS K53T, a desktop replacement with surprisingly competent graphics performance thanks to an AMD Fusion APU. Finally, we’ll include the M17x. Though it’s no longer available, it’s the last high-end gaming laptop we reviewed. Its performance can serve as an example of the gap between the M14x and a larger, less portable model.
Let’s get to it.
SiSoft Sandra’s well optimized processor benchmarks allow the quad-cores to run away with the show. They all perform almost identically, which is what we’d expect – they all have identical processors. The ASUS K53T is way behind and the U36S is also far behind the quads.
7-Zip once again shows the quad-core Intel processors creaming everything else. Peacekeeper, which is less well optimized for multiple cores, shows a more modest advantage – though the AMD A6 in the ASUS K53T still gets its lunch money stolen. We don’t have results for the ASUS N55 in the most recent version of Peacekeeper.
Our general benchmarks aim to round out our reviews with some data from real-world programs. Let’s start with Windows Live Movie Maker. We so far have limited data on these benchmarks, which are new to our reviews. As such, we’ll be using the Lenovo ThinkPad T420 for comparison instead of the laptops used in the rest of the performance section. Here are the specifications of the ThinkPad T420.
Now let’s have a look at the benchmarks.
It appears that the quad-core processor was an obvious advantage in Movie Maker, providing the Alienware M14x with a significant advantage. This may be a gaming machine, but it’ll handle productivity nicely as well.
Here we see the opposite result – the T420 easily outruns the M14x. Why? Our experience with BatchBlitz so far shows that the program tends to prefer two quick cores to four slower ones, and it doesn’t allow Turbo Boost to kick as aggressively as you’d expect.
There’s not much to comment on here except that the 7200RPM drive doesn’t give the M14x any advantage when it comes to boot times. Not that it’s a major issue.
Hard Drive Benchmarks
Once again, we have fairly limited data. We’ve been recording ATTO benchmark results, but aren’t able to present them yet because of limited data for comparison. So we will rely only on HD Tune for this portion of the performance results.
The Alienware M14x offers good performance compared to the drive in the K53T, but that’s not much of a sample size. Generally, these results are better than average for a laptop with a mechanical hard drive. That’s most likely because the drive included in the M14x is a 7200RPM model.