The Fastest Ultraportable on the Block

Alienware's M11x R3 gets a big, big improvement with Sandy Bridge. Never mind the i7-2617M our review unit is equipped with, the minimum spec Intel Core i5-2537M has a higher nominal clock and faster turbo clock than the overclocked i7-640UM in the previous generation; it also has a slightly lower TDP and substantially improved performance clock-for-clock. Likewise, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M paired with it should bring equally notable improvements in performance--gaming and otherwise.

The M11x R3 may be packing a low voltage processor, but it certainly isn't slow. High turbo clocks and a fast GPU allow it to hang well with the rest of the pack and consistently beat out the old i3-380M, itself a faster CPU than the i7-640UM in the M11x R2. It's a shame we don't have PCMark 7 results from the earlier R2, but we do have results for other benchmarks, which we'll see below.

In every metric where the M11x R3 can be compared to its predecessors, it wallops them soundly. In fact it's consistently more than twice as fast as the overclocked Core 2 Duo SU7300 in the first generation unit, launched just 16 months ago! The U41JF posts unusually high scores, but it's worth pointing out that its i3-380M's nominal 2.53GHz clock speed has been ramped up by ASUS out of the factory to a robust 2.91GHz.

The Alienware M11x R3 proves absolutely monstrous in its weight class in 3DMark, and again demonstrates a substantial improvement in performance over the preceding models. With Sandy Bridge it definitely seems the M11x has finally gotten away from being heavily CPU-limited. The Dell XPS 15 sporting the same GPU but with a quad-core CPU only checks in a scant 4% faster in 3DMark 11, but let's see how that translates over to actual games.

Introducing an Ultraportable Demon 4.4 Pounds of Gaming Performance
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Tchamber - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    This is a lot of performance for a 11" computer. When i look at laptops at my local electronics superstore, i always think that 1080 resulution on even a 15.6" screen is too uch, everything is so small i invariably change to lower resolutio. If you need that though, hp offers it on their website. And this is written on my ipad, and it's no substitute for my m17x :) i hate typing on this thing.
  • sviola - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    Well, you should look into Sony Vaio's line of notebooks. My wife has a SR model (the updated line is call SB now, if I'm not mistaken) and its screen is very good. Rivals with Apple's offering.
  • werewolf23 - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    Try the Lenovo W520, 15" and beats the M11 in every regard.
  • plewis00 - Saturday, July 23, 2011 - link

    I had the M11x R1 and it was pretty good apart from the hinges snapping three times in a year (in a lawsuit with Dell over that), but the screen was utterly appalling, it actually hurts my eyes it's that bad.

    Then while we're told that there are no good 11" 'netbook-sized' screens, as much as I hate to admit it, the screen on the Macbook Air 11" is truly stunning - in fact one thing Apple is worryingly consistent with is the quality of their screens, sure you pay a premium for it but just as when I moved from the Dell XPS 15 with base 768p screen to one with the B+RGLED 1080p one, I'm starting to think the difference is justified.

    I wonder if anyone fancies trying to replace the M11x screen with one from a Macbook Air 11"? As long as Apple hasn't pulled off any proprietary rubbish with the screen, which I guess is unlikely as they're almost all industry-standard. Any ideas?
  • S0me1X - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    4.4 pounds and 1.3 inches thick? For comparison:
    - Macbook Pro 13 is 4.5 pounds and 0.95 inches thick.
    - Thinkpad T420s is 4.0 pounds and 1.05 inches thick.
    - Macbook Air 11 is 2.4 pounds and 0.68 inches thick (the only ultraportable in this list)

    Ultraportable should be reserve for notebooks under 3.5 pounds (preferably under 3) and 1 inch thick.
  • Sazar - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    It is a gaming ultra-portable. None of the items you have listed are gaming products. Apples and Oranges.

    Btw, if you want the thinnest ultra-portable out there, get your hands on a Dell Adamo XPS.
  • redchar - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    I disagree. There aren't really any laptops out these days that are thick enough that they would cease to be portable. It's not like decades ago when they used to make brick-thick 'portable' computers. 1.3 inches does not stop the m11x from being portable, in the same way that the macbook air being .68 inches thick does not make it any more portable. Whether or not someone is able to carry their laptop with them should never come down to whether or not it can fit in a manila envelope. What IS important, I believe, is screen size. 17" mammoth laptops are hardly portable, as screen dimension really makes laptops a lot less portable than simply a fraction of an inch difference in thickness. Likewise, I own an m11x r1, and sure, it is relatively heavy for its size, but only relatively. It is not heavy to the point that it is unportable. If someone is unable to carry it around simply because it weighs 4 pounds then that's a real problem - and I'm no body builder.

    So for me, I consider laptops around 12" screen size or under to be 'ultraportable', as screen size ultimately decides whether you can or cannot stuff it in whatever luggage you have, or how comfortably it will fit under your arm on-the-go. Companies should be less worried about thickness - to a point - as with the m11x that thickness goes to good use with performance and battery life.
  • Guspaz - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    That's the problem, though, this isn't really an 11.6" laptop. The chassis could easily fit a larger screen; a 12.5" screen should be no problem. It's not as bad as some laptops (like the ridiculously enormous bezel on the Lenovo X1), but it underscores how silly the screen in the m11x really is. Not only is it smaller than it should be, it's a TN panel. Not only is it a TN panel, it's a *bad* TN panel.

    Is 1366x768 enough for an 11.6" (or 12.5") screen? Probably, but with Sony putting 1920x1080 screens into 13.1" laptops, it wouldn't be unreasonable to see something slightly higher. 1600x900? Or something a bit less, but still more tan 1366x768?
  • redchar - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    The resolution is perfect as is. You want to keep the framerate of games decently high, and thats one way to do it.
    I notice that the bezel is pretty large, and I feel that it could fit a 12.x size screen in it, but I don't mind -too- much as I can't think of a better laptop for the size, at least for my purposes. The 11.6 is probably there either because its popular, or for the ability to claim it as the fastest 11.6 laptop.
    Sure, a TN is disappointing, but alienware doesn't really target people that care about screen quality. It's not that there is no reason to have a nice display to match the laptop, but it's not on alienware's priority list. Personally I don't care too much, either. It's a portable device, and so I'm not expecting perfection.. so if I had to choose, I would put up with bad screen quality over bad performance. The m11x is a powerful little machine, so I am willing to put up with the poor display after everything else it gives me.
    But as the review did say, since everything else is nearly perfect, it's not too much to ask for a better display in the future, huh?
  • LordanSS - Saturday, July 23, 2011 - link

    I always see people complaining about the screens being TN on these gaming notebooks... some asking for IPS or some other higher quality option. But these are gaming notebooks, and I ask you: what about the screen response times?

    3ms-5ms GTG response times are common on TN panels, but ISP ones usually are on the 10ms+ range (like that Apple Cinemadisplay they just released, 12ms). Ghosting becomes a real issue at that point, if you are *playing a game*, like a First Person Shooter, with very fast-paced action or image movement.

    I'm sorry, but as far as *gaming* goes, TN is much more than adequate. If you want to do work or watch movies, I agree that a different tech would be more apropriate, but like I said before: this is a *gaming* notebook.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now