The M15x is a result of Dell's overhaul of PC and laptop gaming manufacturer Alienware, which it obtained in 2006.

Taking design cues from the larger M17x this is another fantastic gaming system which boasts very strong graphics power, excellent styling and fast everyday performance - and offers it all at an affordable price.

Unlike many of today's gaming machines, a custom design has been used. It's one of the best looking laptops available on the market and is incredibly well built with plenty of metal and hard matt-plastics used in its construction.

This isn't a laptop you'll want to travel regularly with, however. It weighs a hefty 4.3kg and offers just 164 minutes of battery power with a 9-cell battery on board, and so is much better suited for use as a desktop replacement system.

The 15.6-inch screen features a 1600 x 900-pixel resolution. It is very sharp and provides vivid colours. It isn't the brightest panel we've seen, however, and a shiny Super-TFT coating has been used, creating noticeable reflections in bright light.

Considering how firm the chassis is, it's a surprise to find a bit of flex in the keyboard, but it is minimal and doesn't detract from the otherwise excellent typing action. Keys are nicely spread out, tapered, travel a comfortable distance and are also all backlit, making them ideal for typing and gaming in low-light conditions.

Alienware's Command Centre software lets you customise the colour of the laptop's many backlit Alien heads, logos and sections of the keyboard. It's easy to use and the results can be astonishing.

Core i7

Intel's latest processing technology is used, in the form of a Core i7 chip. As our MobileMark benchmarking software isn't configured to the Core i7's specifications, results were initially disappointing. We ran further evaluations, however, and found the laptop to be extremely powerful, so you'll have no problems concurrently running resource-intensive programs.

The single Nvidia GPU used here is a high-end solution. It's not the most powerful available, but still allows for the latest games to be played without issue while allowing costs to be kept down.

Networking connectivity is top-notch, with both 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet included. There are three USB ports, a mini-FireWire port, VGA and – instead of HDMI – a DisplayPort for hooking up to high-definition (HD) monitors.

The M15x is one of the best gaming laptops we've seen. Its great design is perfectly complemented by decent performance and it's also very reasonably priced – not something we can say very often about gaming systems.

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