Alienware Bolsters Gaming Portables, Adds Monster 18-inch

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13 too small? 15 too big? Why not settle for 14-inches of portable powerhouse gaming? Or don’t settle at all with the “most powerful 18-inch gaming laptop in the universe.” Or how about just going the ultraportable route with “the most-powerful sub-14-inch notebook in the universe”?

That’s a lot of “universes.” Must be an Alienware press release! Sure enough, the Dell-owned boutique computer hardware maker says it’s bringing three new laptops to the fold, one of which updates the existing M11x, and the other two slotting slightly behind and prominently ahead of the aging M15x in screen real estate.

Alienware launched the M11x (named for its 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 pixel screen) to fanfare a few years ago–a netbook-style ultraportable with the horsepower to run most games at appreciable detail levels without compromising battery life. The “refreshed” M11x replaces older Intel i5 and i7 processors with a “second-generation overclockable Intel Core” i-series CPU wielding Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 (an auto-overclocking architecture set to ramp up clock speed as applications demand it). It also trades the older NVIDIA GT335M discrete video card for a spanking new NVIDIA GT 540M, pitched square in the middle of NVIDIA’s latest mobile GPU pack with 96 pipelines and a manufacturer’s clock of 672MHz. And if you want to crank the memory, you can build up to 16GB at 1333Mhz instead of just 8GB.

If you’d rather go all out, there’s the new (though not yet available) M18x, which sports a mongo 18.4-inch LED screen at 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution. Under the hood: Intel’s new “Huron River” architecture courtesy an Intel Core i7 Extreme Quad Core factory overclocked up to 4GHz, up to 32GB of 1333MHz memory, and your choice of AMD or NVIDIA dual graphics cards. Well up the list of “wow” features, the M18x includes the option to “low latency” stream both high-definition and 3D video content to other displays, including ones that support stereoscopic 3D.

And if you’re all about compromise, there’s the M14x with optional 720p (1366 x 768) or 900p (1600 x 900) 14-inch LED screens. Like the M11x, it packs a second-gen overclockable Intel Core i-series CPU with Intel Turbo Boost Tech 2.0, but steps up to the NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M with up to 3GB of VRAM (perched atop NVIDIA’s mobile GPU pack, the GT 555M has 144 pipelines and a manufacturer’s clock of 590MHz). Curiously, you can only take the M14x up to 8GB memory, though at faster 1600MHz speeds.

It’s been a year since I owned a Windows laptop or paid close attention to the enthusiast mobile market, so I couldn’t tell you how these stack against the latest contenders from boutique alternatives like Sager or Voodoo PC. That said, I have a fairly high-end desktop with a 3.7GHz overclocked i7 processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580, and I’m pretty sure a laptop running at 4GHz violates some law of space and time. Maybe they stole it out of a TARDIS.