Few gaming laptops have charmed us as much as the Alienware M11x. It's a bit bulky compared to other 11.6-inch ultraportable laptops, but absolutely tiny compared to most laptops designed for gaming. It's overclocked Core 2 Duo SU7300 processor and GeForce 335M mobile graphics chip give it the muscle needed to truly play all the latest games at high settings. With most notebooks that size, you have to turn the settings down pretty far to get decent performance. The big eight-cell prismatic battery gives it over 7 hours of working time in our tests, as long as you flip the switchable graphics over to the Intel integrated GPU.
Now, our favorite ultraportable gaming machine is getting even better. Starting later this month, the M11x will swap out the Core 2 Duo processor in favor of ultra-low voltage versions of Intel's Core i5 and Core i7. These chips won't have their default clock speeds raised, as the current version does, but these CPUs feature Intel's Turbo Boost technology that automatically overclocks the chips in certain situations. Alienware representatives tell us to expect a significant performance increase. Battery life should range from "the same" to "maybe 15 or 20 minutes less", depending on how you use the system.
The existing M11x features manual switchable graphics, where you enter a special keystroke to switch between Intel's low-performance but battery-friendly integrated graphics and the high-performance GeForce 335M discrete GPU. The new version will include the fantastic Nvidia Optimus technology, which automatically and invisibly switches between the two based on what application you're running.
The only other real change is a minor cosmetic tweak: The black version will feature a matte finish instead of the glossy black of today's model. The silver version will be identical.