A friend of mine wanted a high-end gaming laptop; I’d just seen an impressive-looking MX11X in JB Hi Fi, and suggested he look at Alienware kit.

He found the bells and whistles of the Alienware M17x were compelling. So, he clicked through to buy it, and had the sexy, beautiful box delivered to his house.

We unboxed it tonight so I could do some networking and file transfer magic from his old XP laptop, and the thing is just amazing. Beautiful 1920x1080 screen, i7 processor, 8 cores visible in Task Manager (on a laptop! Eek-yay!), and game performance that’s just brilliant!

Except the touchpad.

The touchpad looks and feels like its refresh rate is running at 10fps. Windows dragged across the screen judder and falter, but it’s not the graphics adapter or the CPU - using Aero Flip on the keyboard (Win+Tab) is a silky smooth 60fps.

Scrolling becomes a maddening game of “can you move your finger less?”, which I’m going to attribute to the poor polling rate, because it loves to superspeed scroll to the bottom or top of a document with the slightest provocation in the (hard to detect) scrolling zone (“hey look! the finger was there, and then it was 100px up the screen instantly! That must mean they want epic fast scrolling!”). Perhaps that’s why it was turned off in the Synaptics interface out of the box.

I wondered if I might be imagining it, but no, there’s a night-and-day difference between the old XP laptop and the shiny new Alien with the glowing eyes.

Doing some post-emptor research, it looks like this is something being noticed a bit. Being partially responsible for the choice of the Alienware, I’m on the hook for a bad recommendation.

My friend is largely going to use a mouse for actual game playing, but uses the trackpad a lot in casual use… it’s really disappointing when you get a brand new, just-built high-end box, and something as seemingly-trivial as the input device takes the shine off the experience.

Here’s hoping they fix it soon.

Update: Mid to late July, says the forum.