CES has come and gone, but Dell's announcement to launch the world's most powerful 11" gaming laptop seems to have created quite a buzz in the blogosphere. During the show, the M11x won CNET's coveted "Best of CES" award in the gaming category. Shortly thereafter, IGN awarded the M11x with its own Best of CES award for "Best Computer." It is undeniable that the M11x's small form-factor is a big leap for PC gaming, especially when it can play hardware-intensive games like Crysis flawlessly. Beyond gaming, the M11x is like the Mighty Mouse of ultra-portable computing, making it a great option for students and professionals who like to play as hard as they work.

Since the M11x coming soon, I thought it would be interesting to give a little background on it. When I joined Alienware in 2005 (about a year before Dell bought Alienware), I remember hearing whispers in the hallway about a small form factor concept called "Phantom." At the time, the best gaming notebooks were equipped with desktop processors and traditional desktop gaming (with a monitor, mouse and keyboard) reigned supreme. As much as Alienware's engineering team wanted to bring "Phantom" to market, the reality of the situation was that the technology needed to develop the platform wasn't available at the time. For example, CULV processors hadn't hit the market yet and digital distribution, through avenues like Steam, hadn't reached prime time, which made optical drives a necessity. Alienware has always had a long history of innovation, so I knew that I'd hear more about the mysterious "Phantom" when the time was right.

Fast forward to 2010 and "Phantom" is almost here in the form of the M11x. Recently, I had a chance to play with a pre-production unit at Dell's engineering lab in Austin and was beyond impressed with its ability to play Left 4 Dead 2 with ease.