PC gaming giant Alienware announced a new addition to the company's gaming laptop lineup on Monday, taking a somewhat sharp turn from the recent M17x model. The new M17 (minus the "x") system trades Nvidia graphics for ATI (including a multi-GPU CrossfireX option) and also includes optional Intel Quad Core 2 Extreme CPUs. Those new parts drive the price up quite a bit, but a more basic config is actually very affordable (at least when talking about Alienware), starting at just $1,399.
The M17 skips the recent slab-like redesign of Alienware's laptop line, and goes back to an older chassis, similar to the one we saw in last year's Area-51 m9570model. Also missing is the amusing (but not terribly practical) M17x lighting system, which could illuminate the keyboard, touchpad border, and other parts of the system with different colored lights. This new model has just a simple backlit keyboard.
We just got our hands on a test system that includes a 1,920x1,200 display, dual ATI Radeon HD 3870 GPUs, 64-bit Vista, 3GB of RAM, and a 7,200rpm 160GB hard drive for $1,999. We're running some initial tests right now, and will let you know how it compares to the $6,000 M17x we looked at, as well as our recommended budget gaming laptop, the $1,399 Gateway P-7811FX. (If you're curious, our CPU is a Core 2 Duo P8400. Upgrading to a Core 2 Quad Q9100 would be an extra $850, and upgrading to a Core 2 Extreme Quad QX9300 is a $1,200 upgrade).