Gaming laptop usually need better performance for game playing. As dell’s new gaming laptop, the Alienware M14x manages to pack amazing performance into a smaller-than-expected body with plenty of configuration options. But the high-end configurations can be insanely expensive, and Alienware’s laptop design is overdue for a refresh.
In terms of gaming performance, for truly portable gaming, you’d want to stick with the popular 11-inch M11x, pretty much the only gaming ultraportable you’ll find. But this new in-between size is enticing for those who want to take their games on a family vacation or business trip and still enjoy a reasonable screen size and generous 1,600×900-pixel laptop screen resolution. On a 14-inch display, we’d expect to normally find a 1,366×768-pixel resolution, but for this much money, it’s only natural to expect more. This model’s native resolution is actually 1,600×900 pixels, which is a step up for gaming. We’d be tempted to ask for full 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution, but on a 14-inch screen text could become hard to make out. The built-in Klipsch speakers are as good as any we’ve heard in a laptop this size, and better than you’d find in many larger laptops.
In terms of the laptop keyboard, it has a more traditional tapered key design, rather than the wider, flat keys many laptop makers are partial to these days. The company has previously said that these tapered keys provide more space between the individual letters, which is better for first-person shooters, which make heavy use of the WASD keys. We’re not sure we have a favorite key design for playing games, but it’s an interesting theory.
In terms of battery life, laptop battery life from a gaming laptop is usually not so good. But when they start getting smaller in size, those expectations change. Add to that Intel’s currently great reputation for helping extend battery life with its new CPUs, and you can’t blame us for expecting a little more. And a little more is exactly what you get, with the M14x running for 2 hours 42 minutes in our video-playback battery drain test. That’s about an hour longer than the most recent 15-inch Alienware laptop we tested, but almost 90 minutes less than parent company Dell’s current XPS 15 laptop.
Taking all the above into conclusion, it’s tough to find mobile PC gaming in a package that’s neither too big nor too small. The Alienware M14x comes very close, with plenty of component options and a size that’s hefty, but not backbreaking.