Oh – it almost slipped my mind – here’s the link. Have fun, but don’t break anything.
Oh – it almost slipped my mind – here’s the link. Have fun, but don’t break anything.
Let me start by saying this review is more for the casual gamer meaning it will not be filled with charts and graphs and a ton of numbers that most would not understand. There are a ton of super technical reviews on the Alienware M11x r2 that provide every benchmark number and rating score you will ever need, this, is for the rest of us.
Why purchase a gaming laptop?
For the causal gamer one might wonder why you need a gaming laptop. My answer would be that you don’t, but the great thing about gaming laptops is they have the power for everything else you would need to do so why not have the ability to play games as well?
Far too often, we as computer shoppers select a low cost laptop to save money knowing we want one that we will not have to replace within a year and one we secretly wish we could play games on. Perhaps paying $1500 plus for a gaming laptop would not be for us, but at $1000 you are not too far away from laptops you find even on sites like Tech Bargains.
If you know you like to game and especially if you like MMO’s then having the ability to pull out a gaming laptop and play those games anywhere is well worth the price.
Most reviews do not start with the price, but this is not like most reviews. The M11x can be purchased starting at $1000 on the Alienware website. At the price you can get more than enough to run most of the games a causal gamer would playing including FPS, RTS and MMO games.
Do looks matter? Sure, they do just ask Apple, the Alienware M11x does look sleek, like a stealth bomber. The all black styling of the laptop goes well with almost any décor and let’s face it, it looks good either at home or out in public. I have had a number of people comment on the system specifically the neon-like light coming from all over it.
Speaking of lighting there are several zones of the computer that light up from the keyboard to the grills on the front and the little Alienware heads. The great this is using a program built in called Alienware FX, you can change all the colors to what suits you and you can even mix and match them for a funky clown look if you wish.
Let us go into some specifics about the outside. First off, the laptop weights about 4.4 pounds and while that may seem heavy to some in the day of the iPad it is still pretty light. There are three USB 2.0 ports, to connect things like mice, a HDMI and Display Port to connect a monitor, FireWire and a headphone jack for audio privacy. There is also a place for a special Kensington lock, which you buy separately so you can lock your laptop to a desk or somewhere else it cannot be stolen from.
As said, there can be debates on which processor works best with this program or that game, but for the purpose of this review we will keep it simple. For the$1000 version of the M11x you get the Intel Core i5 1.4GHz processor. From what I have found using it, it does the job for the games I play and the programs I use, but I will go into that shortly.
Next you have the memory which at that price you receive 4GB’s. If you really get into gaming big time and you want the newest game on the highest setting then people will tell you to go with an 8GB or higher system. I personally do not have that on my desktop and do fine and with 4GB you have more than enough RAM for most any task you will be doing gaming or otherwise.
As for hard drive space, that decision is made based on how much you store and install. At the $1000 price, you get 320GB’s, which is a lot of space. Considering you have a desktop at home, you most likely do not need all this space. Even if you do not and the laptop is your sole computer, unless you install every game and have a music and video collection out of this world then you should be fine. However, Alienware offers more hard drive options that offer more space.
Video is of course very important not only because of games, but everything visual on your system. Here it can get tricky because there are desktops and even some laptops that offer dual video cards in SLI and all kinds of options. The video card on the $1000 system is the NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M and I have found it works great for the games I play and for watching video in high def.
There are other things of note that come with the M11x like its wireless network card, which is necessary for gaming on the go. The system also has a standard network port to plug it in at home, the office, and school or where have you. The operating system is Windows 7 home premium 64-bit, which I have used on my desktop for quite some time. I personally think this is the third best O/S behind Win 95 SE and Win XP, so you should not have any trouble here.
This is what matters, but it is also, where it depends on what you do. First off, let us talk battery life, with the 8-cell battery under normal usage I have found you get a little over 5 hours of battery life, but if you are playing games, it will be less than that.
As for gaming itself, I tried the Alienware M11x in the game World of Warcraft in its native resolution of 1366×768 and was able to run the game with full graphical features with no issues even in heavy populated zones. Perhaps the key is the smaller screen, which is 11.6 inches, which can seem small when you have a user interface with a ton of icons, but I found I was able to get used to it.
In a game like Everquest 2 that uses more CPU power, I also received good frame rates even in open zones. Now I was not able to max everything out in EQ2 specially the shadows, but I was able to crank up the texture models and general graphics to make the game look great and playable even in a raid.
Other games I have played include Fallout 3, which ran fine, a number of Steam games and emulators since I am a classic gamer. I also played StarCraft 2, which ran fine. I also run various programs like Ventrilo for communication and Digsby, which is an all in one instant messaging client. I also run Firefox with four or more windows open at the same time to check websites and information, all while playing a game usually in windowed mode.
As for sound, it sounds much better than your normal laptop, but we have to be honest that even though it has internal Hi-Def 5.1 audio it does not match what you get out of a good pair of PC speakers. What I found that worked for me was the volume does get high which was an issue on other laptops. Music and games as well as movies will sound good coming out of the M11x and even in a loud room, the speakers are loud enough so you can hear it from the highs to the lows, bass and treble.
The keyboard feels good and types well even when you are slamming the keys crying for a heal. I never liked the touchpad, but this one is built well and does not easily activate when the heel of my hand brushes against it, still, I perfect a USB or wireless mouse.
As for warranty, you receive a 1-year plan, which provides hardware support, and of course phone tech support. I cannot say much here because I have not had a need to use it yet.
I personally like this system, I am sure there are things that could be better, but for most of us this system will perfectly fit your need for work, school and gaming. The laptop itself feels sturdy and well build and the cool look is a nice touch, but most important is the price and how it performance and it does both well.
I you have questions on the m11x r2 from Alienware leave a comment and I will answer them.
Free Stuff: Zophar’s Domain – Home to all Emulators
Many of us grew up playing on many different platforms and systems. Whether you were a computer person or a console gamer, it probably has been many years since that was our main gaming platform. Just because we are now playing on modern computers and consoles doesn’t mean that we won’t get the urge to play a classic game from a dead system of our younger days. That’s where emulators come in, and Zophar’s Domain has EVERY emulator you can think of from any platform to any platform.Zophar’s Domain Logo
Whether you use a Windows PC, a Linux system, BeOS, an Apple, an Amiga, a console, a phone, or a calculator, if there is an emulator for it so that you can run old computer or system like a Commodore 64, a Commodore Amiga, a Sinclair Spectrum, an Atari console or computer, a 3DO console, a Turbo Grafixx 16, arcade (MAME always comes to mind), any Nintendo or Sega system (ZNES and Genecyst always come to my mind when I think of emulators for these), or some rarer ones, Zophar’s Domain will have them if they exist (usually).
As a quick summary, usually when you want to emulate something you need a properly installed emulator and you’ll need a bunch of ROMs (think of them as disk/cartridge images for games/software/etc, depending on the platform). Now, although Zophar’s Domain will give you the emulators you need and you have every right to emulate software that you have already bought before, the legality of sharing ROMs is not as clear. For that reason, you will NOT find ROMs at Zophar’s Domain but it’s really easy to find them, even using google these days or torrents.
So… fire up a good emulator and relive part of your childhood once again! Either click the name Zophar’s Domain above or click here. If you’re too lazy to install an emulator on whatever it is you use or are worried of the legality of it, you can always go to our arcade section and play an emulator directly from Obsolete Gamer.
In the world of virtual consoles and emulators one might wonder why you would need a console system that plays old NES and SNES games and the answer is, why the hell not. The FC Twin is a clone system meaning it copies what the original system did hardware wise, but it is not the original. In the FCT’s case you can play both the 8-bit and 6-bit games on the system. The FC twin can be purchased at major outlets online and sometimes in stores for about $40 USD.
Now the first thing to remember is you will need the original cartridges from either the SNES or NES to play on the FC Twin. The good news is you can find a ton of games on eBay or even your local thrift store. The FCT comes with the following:
Two SNES style controls
The base console itself is really light, but the plastic case seems strong enough to take a little beating. The controllers feel good in my hands even though it is much lighter than the original SNES controller. It may feel like cheap plastic and true enough I am sure it is not the best, but honestly they feel better than the original classic controller that you can purchase for the Wii. Another cool thing about the control input is it can fit the original SNES controllers.
A little bit more about the controllers. The FC Twin is not compatible with the original NES controllers and that includes the guns. The FCT is compatible with most SNES controllers including the light gun and in fact a light gun was release just for the FC Twin.
The AC adapter is pretty standard as is the AV cables. I connected the system to my Vizio television. Don’t expect any differences visually, the system will look the same as if you connected your original SNES to your T.V., so there is no HD mode or anything like that.
On the console itself are two cartridge ports, the upper one is for the 8-bit games and the lower one is for the 16-bit games. There are only two buttons on the console. One button is to reset the system and the second is a switch that goes from Power to 16-bit to 8-bit. What makes the switch cool is you can put in two cartridges and switch between both on the fly.
As for looks and sound I personally did not see a difference between the FCT and the original consoles however, it has been a while since I played the original non-emulated. Other uses have reported that sometimes the sound with NES games are not exactly like the original, but I have not been able to confirm that. You can connect your FC Twin’s audio ports to a stereo even with surround sound, but keep in mind the old NES games were not meant to utilize that technology so it might sound a bit weird.
Compatibility wise there are quite a number of games that are not compatible with the FC Twin, but instead of listing them here you can see the list on the Wiki Page for the FC Twin. Most of the compatibility issues are a result of the Super FX chip found in these games as well as the lack of ability to use the Power Pad and R.O.B.. So far playing a few games on both the SNES and NES side I can tell you it plays just like the original, but I can see how if you are a bit rough on your controllers you could wear them out in time.
All in all if you have the original cartridges and are missing the console system then the FC Twin is a cool way to play them. Sure, you could just get the emulated versions, but why not to both as that is the mark of a collector.
There are those who play video games, those who immerse themselves in the video game culture and then those for who gaming is really a part of them. There are millions of fans, but when you truly have a love for all things gaming it sets us apart from the rest. I was honored to spend a few hours with one such person for whom gaming had touched at an early age and stayed with him throughout his life.
Alex Aguila’s love of all things electronic gaming led him to co-founding Alienware, but his love of gaming began long before. From a very early age he became fascinated with video games, so much so, that after seeing the Atari 2600 in action he saved up money From there he began collecting games from Colecovision to the Commodore 64. Even before the success of Alienware, Alex had an impressive gaming collection that has continued to grow over the years.
I was able to personally view his collection and it was awe inspiring. It was much more than the sheer volume, but the care he took in preserving them and the joy he had in talking about them. Many older games were still wrapped in their original plastic. Others though opened were in pristine condition and we talked about how classic games had a collectors feel long before expensive over bloated collectors’ editions of games became the norm.
What made me smile like a child in Electronics Boutique was that I could hear in his voice that he truly cared about the gaming industry. There was excitement in his voice when we talked about the past and how in the 90’s a golden age of gaming began when there was so much choice in gaming in arcades, home console systems and the emerging PC gaming market.
Simply put when you convert a shower into a display case for your collection of console systems you know you have a true gamer before you. Besides the normal Sega Genesis and Nintendo Entertainment System, Alex also had systems I was not aware of like the Vectrex which is an all in one video game system that used vector graphics. Alex then showed me an Atari that was unopened and joked about how he posted on Atari Age that he was considering opening it so he could play. He told me many people offered to send him opened Atari systems just so he would keep his sealed.
In addition to console systems Alex also had an impressive collection of handheld videos games. Long before the Gameboy, these simple but addictive games ruled the market. Then I took a look at his clone’s collection. Clones are systems made by third parties that can play games from systems such as the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Some, like the FC twin allow you to play both Super and classic Nintendo games on the game console. Another cool device was the Retro Mini portable, a device that used the original NES cartridges, but allows you to take it on the go.
Alex is a complete fan of all things electronic gaming meaning that he can enjoy playing the original Atari 2600 using the original cartridge as well as utilizing modern equipment and technology such as emulators. He stressed the importance of those in the community who work to not only preserve classic gaming, but allow new fans to enjoy games of the past. Using programs such as DOSBox allows many gamers to play classic PC games that just won’t run correctly on today’s operating systems.
When I walked into Alex’s arcade room I almost fainted. It was like something out of my childhood dreams except for the large Dallas Cowboys star on the wall. Right away what caught my eye was the M.A.M.E. arcade cabinet next to the air hockey machine. However, something else that caught my eye was the collection of pinball machines. Unfortunately, there seems to be a disconnect between pinball fans and video game fans and it was good to see that Alex enjoyed both.
On the back wall were several classic arcade cabinets including Defender, Joust and Robotron. The systems were all from Retrocade and Alex explained that originally he wanted to keep the classic original cabinets, but it is truly a lot of work dangerous even to care and maintain due to the circuit boards and electronics used in those older systems.
After my tour I sat down with Alex and we talked about his own gaming history from his first console to meeting game designers and developers with Michael Dell. I was even able to instigate a challenge between Alex and Arthur Lewis, Alienware’s general manager.
This began during my coverage at E3 where I was able to talk to Arthur over at the Alienware booth. In addition to telling me about his own love of gaming he mentioned getting together with Alex to play Tecmo Bowl and that they were scheduled to have a game soon.
Alex tells a story about a classic gaming of Tecmo Bowl against Arthur where the loser would have to walk around the hotel halls in their underwear. Alex lost and believed the underwear thing was just a joke, unfortunately it was not. Alex said that it has been a while since they had played and that if a rematch did come about Arthur would find himself on the losing end. Of course, I plan to press this to see if a rematch will happen though I doubt the loser will have to do anything too embarrassing.
Saying goodbye I felt slightly sad to be honest. Being there and seeing someone love video gaming as much as I do reminded me of my summer days of spending hours doing nothing but gaming. On the other hand it is truly nice to find people who continue doing something they love even as they mature and their lives change. My day with a true gamer, Alex Aguila is not one I will soon forget.