Alienware 18 Gaming Notebook Reviewby Dustin Sklavos on September 16, 2013 12:00 PM EST
If you read the review of the Alienware 17, this part is going to be pretty familiar to you. While the original Alienware M18x looked like they took the M17x R3's chassis design and just stretched it out, the 18 looks like a more proportional super-size of the 17. It's really about as attractive as an 18.4" behemoth is going to get, but users who aren't interested in a 12 pound notebook need not apply.
As with the Alienware 17, we have an aluminum lid with accent lighting, bevelled body with lit trim, and soft touch plastic used on the majority of the touchable surfaces. I know a lot of you don't like how Alienware notebooks look, but I really have to stress that photos don't do them justice. I wasn't a fan either until I actually laid hands on and spent time with the M17x R3, and the same was true of the 17 and now the 18. Once you sit there and use the notebook, you start to dig it. The configurable lighting can be as ostentatious or mundane as you like; I configured mine magenta simply because you never see anyone with a magenta-backlit notebook.
With all that said, my reservations about the Alienware 17's keyboard and touchpad continue to apply to the 18. I'm not a fan of the revised keyboard layout as the programmable keys above the number pad make virtually no sense, and I never liked the column of programmable keys next to the primary keyboard on the original M18x. If you navigate a keyboard by touch, you're used to feeling for the Control key by finding the bottom left of the keyboard. On this keyboard, you'll wind up hitting the 5th macro key instead of Control. If Alienware is going to continue to include these keys, they need to adjust their position so that they're more distinct from the rest of the keyboard.
I'm also still not a fan of the backlit touchpad and vastly prefer the lit trim on the old model. Backlighting the touchpad just creates this giant block of light whenever you use it, and while you can certainly disable it, you can't disable paying for it.
The interior is also a lot less user friendly than it used to be. The primary panel only reveals the drive bay and two DIMM slots. Thankfully, one of the major benefits of Dell owning Alienware is that detailed service manuals for end users continue to be readily available for Alienware notebooks.
I like how the Alienware 18 looks a lot more than I did the M18x and M18x R2, even if it feels even bulkier than those beasts. As far as I'm concerned, something like this is basically an all-in-one in a different shape and without the touchscreen. I'm still more bullish on the Alienware 17 for the majority of users, but at least the 18 is more justifiable than its predecessors were.
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GeneVostok - Monday, September 16, 2013 - linkI wish you'd have reviewed the 14 instead upgraded to 1900x1080 matte IPS and the 765GTX. But you've already done two of them :).
ananduser - Monday, September 16, 2013 - linkSo what? They've reviewed 3 macbook airs one after another. There's nothing stopping them reviewing their 3rd Alienware, the 14"-er.
Sorry for the troll.
stacey94 - Monday, September 16, 2013 - linkBecause the Air is a trendsetting product will have much wider appeal than any Alienware? What's wrong with that?
There's nothing new about this Alienware model...it's just a spec bump. The new MBAs bring some insane battery life numbers, while sporting a better chipset than most competitors.
I'm expecting a very detailed review of the Zenbook UX301 from Anandtech as well. It's the bellwether for HiDPI ultrabooks.
ananduser - Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - linkSilly fanboy: "The new MBAs bring some insane battery life numbers, while sporting a better chipset than most competitors."
Reading Anand's own review, the MBA barely has a chipset that is equally performing to their own last gen version. Where did you get the better chipset from ? It's more frugal but it's not faster.
Oh and btw, Anand didn't review any other ultrabook so you cannot make your comparison, not yet.
Wolfpup - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - linkUgh, that's depressing if the Air actually has wider appeal. I hope that's not the case.
These Alienware systems actually just seem like good mid and high end systems, back before the race to the bottom of everyone offering low end CPUs with no GPU.
gandergray - Monday, September 16, 2013 - linkI second the motion for a review of the Alienware 14. (As always, thank you producing quality content.)
blanarahul - Monday, September 16, 2013 - linkName one person who has bought this Portable Desktop.
scook9 - Monday, September 16, 2013 - linkA lot of people will. Just because you do not see a need does not mean others wont. I bought the original M18X on day one and never looked back. Was a great system for 15 months when a GPU died and Dell refunded the entire thing for me since they would not have a replacement part for a month - extremely high quality customer service. I did not have to fight, bicker, waste time, or anything with them - they just said "yep, we are not getting more for a month so will give you a 100% refund", keep in mind that was on a 15 month old no longer cutting edge system that was heavily used. The Next Business Day On-site warranty on the Alienware notebooks continues to wow me and keep me an Alienware customer (I have my 4th one now).
SniperWulf - Monday, September 16, 2013 - linkMe. Except I went with a Sager for this buy. I bought last years NP9370. GTX 680M with an i7-3630QM, 16GB RAM and all the trimmings. Cost came in at around $1800. Some months later I bought the second 680M for another $600. At $2400 its hard to beat, especially when compared to the Razer Blade (awesome engineering, total waste for the $ if your after performance). Couple that with the fact that I can throw it in a bag and head over to a friends and get damn close to the performance out of this that I do out of my desktop and its a win/win.
stacey94 - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link12 bounds? I think you're going to have some back pain issues later in life.