Introduction, LAN Fest, Game Demos, Future of Gaming panel
Check out our video coverage of the SXSW Screenburn Arcade!
The 19th Annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival kicked off on Mar. 9 and wraps up Mar. 12 in Austin, Texas. While most of the event featured interactive workshops and panels of experts from within the web development and social media communities, I focused most of my efforts covering the SXSW Screenburn Arcade at the Palmer Event Center. This is where most of the PC and console gaming enthusiasts attending SXSW converged to watch pro gamers from the IGN Pro League battle in League of Legends, Starcraft II, and check out several game demos like Lollipop Chainsaw for the XBox 360 and Quantum Conundrum and FireFall for the PC.
Intel LAN Fest
I also had the opportunity to visit the Intel-sponsored, non-profit LANFest where event visitors could jump on one of their Alienware systems and play a variety of PC games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Team Fortress 2, MineCraft, Half Life 2 Death Match, WArsaw, Alien Swarm, Portal, World of Tanks, and Left 4 Dead 2 . LAN participants paid a $5 donation to play, which helped raise funds that will be sent to the city of Bastrop, Texas that lost more than 400 homes because of wildfires last September. They also raffled off a new ASUS Ultrabook to raise money for the United Way non-profit organization.
Introduction, Design, User Interface
Gaming. Laptop. Portable. These may well be the three most contradictory words in the PC industry. It’s been possible to game on laptops for years, but making a high-quality gaming experience portable is a goal rarely achieved.
Alienware made a stab at resolving the contradiction in 2010 when it released the M11x, but the result was questionable. No one can argue that the M11x isn’t portable, but its gaming performance is no better than a 15.6” laptop with mid-range discrete graphics. There simply isn’t enough room in the chassis to cool a larger, more powerful GPU. Worse, the M11x is simply too small for most people to use every day.
Enter the Alienware M14x. The larger display size of this laptop makes it possible to equip a more powerful GPU as well as a full-power Core i5 processor rather than a low-voltage model. Let’s look at the full specifications.
We can already see that the M14x will easily outperform its smaller cousin. The better hardware increases price as well as size, however – the base is $1099 and our review unit, featuring upgrades like a quad-core processor and 1600x900 resolution, rings in at $1274.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | January 18, 2012 - 07:25 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: GTX 555, GT 545, dell, alienware
Alienware has been long known for two things: having interesting case designs, and being prohibitively expensive. For the last five years or so, Alienware has been a subsidiary of Dell to displace their gaming XPS product line into a non-gaming higher-end line. They have recently announced their X51 product line as Jeremy noted earlier, but what does that mean for someone interested in PC Gaming?
Like how it looks? Dude, you’re getting a Dell!
Jeremy’s post went through the range of base models and their associated prices. The main product page listed the features of the higher-end base unit along with two other points: the chassis can be vertically or horizontally mounted; and you can upgrade your core components easily. While the latter statement is great to make, it should also be noted that with a maximum 330W power supply, your upgrade options -- while potentially easy -- are quite limited.
The choice in video cards is split between the GeForce GT 545 and the GeForce GTX 555: these are both OEM-only GPUs and thus benchmarks are at this time difficult to find. The GT 545 contains 144 CUDA cores clocked at 870/1740 MHz with the memory clocked at 1998 MHz. Should you opt for the higher-end GTX 555, your GPU contains exactly twice the CUDA cores (288) clocked slightly slower at 776/1553 MHz and a slightly lower memory clock of 1914 MHz.
Dude, you regretting a Dell?
In terms of Alienware-specific perks, Alienware has developed the “Alienware Command Center”; this application allows you to customize the lighting on your chassis as well as control programs and tweak your system. While a nice value-addition, it is obviously more gimmicky than practical; but really, isn’t that a large portion of why you are purchasing an Alienware computer? At least they look to be decent gimmicks. The price also does not appear to be too high compared to what you are getting from what I can tell. You would obviously be in a better position to assemble a desktop yourself and probably even commission your local small business computer store to do it for you, but the Alienware’s price does not appear to be in a distant galaxy.
So what do you think?
Subject: Systems | January 18, 2012 - 12:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: X51, dell, alienware
(edit: the models were corrected)
The base model is $700 and features:
- 2nd Gen Intel Core i3-2120 3MB 3.3GHz, 4GB DDR 1333Mhz Dual Channel memory
- 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GT 545 video card with 280W PSU
- Slot-loading Dual Layer DVD Burner
- Integrated Wireless LAN card (standard)
The high end model is priced at $1149 and features:
- 2nd Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB 1333Mhz Dual Channel memory
- 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555 video card with 330W PSU
- Slot-loading Dual Layer DVD burner
- Integrated Wireless LAN card (standard)
You can go bigger than that with the X51 so if you are looking to buy a boutique PC check out Alienware's X51.
Also, check out Scott's complimentary article to this one.
Introduction and Design
In the realm of hulking, powerful gaming laptops, Alienware remains king by popular vote. Whatever you think of their laptops (as always, popularity attracts criticism) there is no denying that the Alienware name stands for something among gamers. And to most, they're a dream machine, the laptop equivilent of a Ferrari 458 Italia.
The purpose of a review, of course, is to move past reputation and judge the true capabilities of a product. And in the case of the Alienware M17x, there's a lot to judge. We’ll talk about its bulk later, but I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that this laptop has big bones as well as serious hardware.
One paper, the stars seem to align. But this market remains competitive, thanks to not only to boutique outfits like Origin and Maingear but also to ASUS, which is still on its gaming laptop war-path, producing affordable rigs that can be had for surprisingly little dough. With competition on all sides, can the Alienware justify its $2500 price of entry? Let’s find out.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | November 7, 2011 - 01:16 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: m18x, m17x, hd 6990m, gtx 580m, alienware
If you read our recent mobility GPU comparison using the Alienware M17x, you might have wondered why the price on the GTX 580M was $300 more than that of the Radeon HD 6990M when performance was so close. Well, I guess you can no longer say we didn't do anything to help the consumers (you wouldn't say that, would you?) because today Alienware has dropped the price of the GTX 580M by $225!!
It looks like Alienware and NVIDIA have listened to our feedback and decided to drop the price on the GeForce GTX 580M on the M17x, M18x and others - and by quite a bit! As of this writing you can go to the Alienware.com website and now upgrade from the HD 6990M to the GTX 580M for only $75 - that is a $225 price drop compared to last week.
What does this do for our opinions and thoughts on the battle between the HD 6990M and the GTX 580M? I think it makes the added benefits of the NVIDIA ecosystem (Optimus, 3D, Verde driver updates, PhysX) much more attainable and in my book well worth the additional cost. With this price change, Alienware has really shifted my view on the mobile GPU of choice.
I am going to update my award from the Gold to the Editor's Choice for NVIDIA's GTX 580M for this specific reason - be sure to read the full review if you haven't already! Happy gaming!
The Alienware M17x Giveth
Mobile graphics cards are really a different beast than the desktop variants. Despite have similar names and model numbers, the specifications vary greatly as the GTX 580M isn't equivalent to the GTX 580 and the HD 6990M isn't even a dual-GPU product. Also, getting the capability to do a direct head-to-head is almost always a tougher task thanks to the notebook market's penchant for single-vendor SKUs.
Over the past week or two, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of Alienware M17x notebooks, one sporting the new AMD Radeon HD 6990M discrete graphics solution and the other with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M.
AMD Radeon HD 6990M on the left; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M on the right
Also unlike the desktop market - the time from announcement of a new mobile GPU product to when you can actually BUY a system including it tends to be pretty long. Take the two GPUs we are looking at today for example: the HD 6990M launched in July and we are only just now finally seeing machines ship in volume; the GTX 580M in June.
Well, problems be damned, we had the pair in our hands for a few short days and I decided to put them through the ringer in our GPU testing suite and added Battlefield 3 in for good measure as well. The goal was to determine which GPU was actually the "world's fastest" as both companies claimed to be.
Subject: Mobile | October 18, 2011 - 02:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: alienware, Alienware M18x, 18.4, crossfire, hd 6990m
Why shouldn't you stick a pair of HD 6990M's in an 18.4" laptop, as long as you don't mind lugging around a 12lb laptop from power outlet to power outlet. Seeing as just a few years ago 12lbs was not an uncommon weight for a laptop that does represent a great design on Alienware's part. The comparison that AnandTech was most interested in was between NVIDIA's GTX 580M and AMD's 6990M to see who can hold onto the dual GPU mobile performance crown. Who shall triumph? Read on to see.
"In our first run with the Alienware M18x, we sat down and took a look at the notebook itself along with NVIDIA's current top shelf mobile graphics part, the GeForce GTX 580M. We came away from the experience with mixed impressions of the M18x itself, a notebook that is by all means incredibly powerful but also seems to lose a lot of the balance that made the M17x R3 so desirable. On the other hand, the GeForce GTX 580M wound up being the fastest mobile GPU we'd yet tested, made only more formidable through the SLI configuration the M18x enables."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Alienware M14x Gaming Notebook Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Sony VAIO Z Series Review @ TechReviewSource
- ASUS Slider Android Tablet (SL101) Review @ HardwareHeaven
- TechSpot's Smartphone Buying Guide: Q4 2011 Update
- id America Gasket iPhone 4 Case Review @ ThinkComputers
- iPhone 4S: A Siri-ously slick, speedy smartphone @ Ars Technica
- Apple iPhone 4S (Sprint) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Apple iPhone 4S Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Apple iPhone 4S Siri Demo @ Tech-Reviews
- Gaming on the iPhone 4S @ Tech-Reviews
- How not to wipe your Iphone when upgrading to IOS 5 @ The Inquirer
Subject: Mobile | October 4, 2011 - 03:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: razer, razer blade, alienware, alienware M17X
While you probably have the same reaction to the question of which $2800 + tax laptop is the best one to chose as hardCOREware, the fact remains some people will buy them. At that price range, a lot of the price is for show and not for value. Having a laptop resembling a UFO or Italian racing car might make it look fast but has no effect on the actual performance of the laptop. With so much focus on the exterior and the reasonable assumption by the manufacturer that anyone willing to pay that price tag has little knowledge of what components make the fastest gaming machine the question stands; if someone has their mind made up to spend this money, which laptop should you recommend. Read on to see how the internals of Alienware and Razer's gaming laptops compare.
"I was recently asked on Twitter what I thought of the Razer Blade, a 17" gaming laptop which will become available later this year for a staggering $2800. My first thought was "LOL" but then I realized that some people really would spend $2800 on a laptop.
The question is, if you were to spend that on a proper gaming laptop and not a hyperbole-inducing showcase piece to get blogs to drool all over your brand, how much better will the specs look?"
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7 laptop @ The Inquirer
- Asus U36SD-A1 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Alienware's M18x, Part 1: NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580M in SLI @ AnandTech
- Amazon Kindle Fire: A $199 Kindle Tablet @ AnandTech
- MSI WindPad 110W Tablet + Windows 8 @ Techspot
- Hornettek Rotating iPad 2 Case Review @ ThinkComputers
- Choosing a new smartphone: Blackberry or the others? @ t-break
- Innergie mCube Slim 95 @ XSReviews
- Third Look: LG Optimus 3D – Tri-Dual Technology @ t-break
- iPhone 4 App Review - Megastunt Mayhem @ t-break
- Motorola Atrix Cell Phone Review @ Hardware Secrets
- A look at Windows Phone Mango update @ t-break
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | September 23, 2011 - 05:07 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: pcper live, m17x, hd 6990, alienware
UPDATE: Shows over folks! Thanks to those of you that stopped by and we'll be doing more of these types of things in the very near future. Feel free to watch the reply hosted on YouTube if you want.
So, here we go. After weeks of screwing around with a complely new studio setup at the PC Perspective office, we are going to try something new. Consider this an ultra-alpha-beta if you will. Come stop by our Live Stream channel below to watch us unbox and play around with the new Alienware M17x gaming laptop complete with Radeon HD 6990 graphics! You can even use the Justin.tv chat located at http://justin.tv/pcper to talk with us live and ask questions, etc.
Oh, and we are going to give away some random stuff sitting around the office to those of you that comment in the Justin.tv chat too, so there is that as well. :)
Just as a side note: this is our first attempt at something like this so it might be perfect but it is more than likely going to be a bit rough arond the edges. I am most curious though to get some feedback on what you liked, didn't like or would like to see additional or changed in this kind of process. We aren't going to focus only on "unboxings" and stuff - far from it. Instead expect to see live demonstrations of hardware, overclocking attempts, multi-display gaming setups and more. If you can, please leave some feedback in the comments below!!
Note: We should be underway by 5:25pm ET or so!