As you'd expect with the hardcore engine room, the Alienware M17x had little trouble dealing with any task that we threw its way. HD video was handled with a buttery smoothness, recent games titles caused it no signs of despair, and high-resolution photo editing was done with hardly any fuss.
In terms of raw benchmarking scores, the Alienware M17x recorded some of the highest totals that we've seen on a mobile PC.
Most people who decide to splash their hard earned pennies on the Alienware M17x will be doing so with some hardcore gaming sessions in mind. And those buyers won't be disappointed, since it has no issues with the top settings of graphically demanding titles and you'll comfortably get 60fps+ if you turn things down just a little.
There's also a plethora of onboard configuration settings at your disposal, including the AlienAdrenaline feature that enables you to customise your M17x's software behaviour when certain games are running; AlienTouch, which gives you complete control over the trackpad's sensitivity and means less annoying accidental movements; and AlienFusion for souping up the performance levels (or indeed, toning them down) at the touch of a button.
Boot times are also quick, thanks to the dual SSD and HDD setup. The machine we tested had a 64GB mSATA SSD to take care of Windows 7 booting, as well as a 500GB HDD for storing your digital life.
You can configure the hard drive setup on your own Alienware pretty much any way that you choose, with an array of RAID and high-speed mSATA caching configurations available.
The audio quality of the Alienware M17x is fantastic, thanks to the Creative Sound Blaster THX 7.1 setup and the stereo speakers designed by audio specialist Klipsch. There are a number of pre-set equalisations installed for you to get the most out of this setup - we particularly liked the Crystalizer mode.
Although of the non-3D variety, the Full HD 17.3-inch display on our review sample impressed us greatly. It's a bit reflective so is better suited for indoor, darker environments, but then the Alienware M17x isn't exactly the type of laptop you'd want to take to the park with you anyway.
Viewing angles are great and colours are incredibly vibrant thanks to the 621:1 contrast ratio and 298cd/m2 maximum brightness.
The keyboard keys, whatever colour you choose to have emitted from them, are soft to touch with a comforting rubber-like bounce that makes them not only great for gaming but also for more day-to-day tasks such as browsing the web, tapping out an email or knocking up a quick spreadsheet.
The trackpad, which is offset just to the left of centre, also has a smooth rubberised finish, and you'll not hear a peep from either of its buttons, such is the soft travel that is provided.
Battery eater: 133 mins