Alienware M11X Hands-On: Fast Ride In a Short Machine

According to Dell, the M11X is the most powerful laptop under 15 inches. And, playing CoD at 30fps, with 720P resolution (on what's essentially a netbook), I fell in love with the little machine.

Let me make this clear: The M11X is unabashedly Alienware. I mean, its LEDs behind the keyboard and thermal grates sort of give that away. I'm not crazy about the plastic case, and I wish the 1366x768 screen were covered in glass instead of plastic. As someone who appreciates minimal design, it's pretty much the antithesis of my taste.

Yet, I still liked the M11X.

While it manages to still weigh in at a hefty 4 or so pounds (your brain doesn't anticipate the weight), it's just an incredible amount of power for an 11.6-inch laptop.

Inside, you'll find an energy-sipping Core2Duo alongside a 1GB Nvidia 335M graphics card—which is fairly insane for the size. But playing Star Trek Online and Call of Duty, I didn't doubt the power. You can't run CoD with anti-aliasing on, but otherwise, the experience is sharp, smooth and surprisingly palatable on the tiny display—keep in mind, I was testing it running off a battery.

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The trackpad and keyboard both feel pretty good, too. The trackpad has just enough texture, and the keyboard isn't too cramped with nicely curved keys. The battery is non-removable, but the 8-cell lithium ion polymer lasts 6 1/2 hours casually or 2 hours of full-out gaming. Plus there's a battery meter on the case's underside.

Also of note, you'll find ports galore. 3 USBs, an HDMI, DisplayPort, mini FireWire, VGA and even a SIM slot. Jesus.

But the best news, the news that got me legitimately excited, is that it will be out within a month, specs maxed, for $1000 or under. For that price, you could have an i7 at home, and a little laptop for the road/LAN parties. And why oh why would you ever buy one of those "premium" netbooks again?