Alienware M11x bridges gaming, netbooks

The 11.6-inch screen and advanced graphics hardware on the Alienware M11x allow for intensive gaming in an ultraportable.

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    The Alienware M11x gaming laptop tiptoes into netbook territory, despite packing powerful gaming chops.
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File under opposites attract: First came the hybrid Cadillac Escalade. Now we have Alienware's M11x gaming netbook. (Yes, netbook.)

Netbooks and gaming laptops have long been at opposite ends of the portable PC spectrum. Gaming laptops often occupy the lap-crushing "desktop replacement" segment, while netbooks come with such diminutive hardware chops that playing even the most basic current games is out of the question.

Touted Thursday during Dell's press conference at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, the diminutive Alienware M11x throws those rules out the window. With two graphics cards and a super-fast switching mechanism, it packs the battery-sipping characteristics of a netbook alongside the framerate-roasting of a gaming rig. Engadget had a hands-on, and CNET provides the details:

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According to Dell representatives, the M11x will achieve over six hours of battery life in its lower-intensity graphics function mode, and with a hot switch to the faster Nvidia GPU that will take under two seconds and not require logging out, will attain around two hours of "intense gaming."

Now, most games with any sort of detail might get lost on a screen as small as 11.6 inches, but that's where the M11x's formidable display ports come in: it packs HDMI, DisplayPort, and good old VGA. So, it's not inconceivable that an M11x owner enjoy some nice in-flight gaming (with free WiFi for a couple more days on Virgin America), but that he or she could hook the computer to a much larger screen upon arrival.

Intrigued? Dell says the netbook will be available this spring for under $1,000.

Of interest to regular readers: Dell claims the Mighty Mouse-mimicking machine is capable of running Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at more than 30 frames per second. Watch the video below to see the M11x tackle MW2.

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