Alienware Area-51 m9750
It's a laptop, but not as we know it...
Review One word can describe the Alienware Area-51 m9750: big. It's as if the person designing it thought they were in Burger King and decided to Go Large at every opportunity. It's got two hard drives, two graphics cards, two processor cores and a whopping 17in screen. There's another thing that's big about the m9750 - its price.
There's no skirting around the subject - £2,491 is a lot of money to pay for a laptop, no matter how you look at it. If you strip it back to its barest elements it can be yours for £1,197 but you'll have to pare down the specifications to just one hard drive and graphics card and lower the screen resolution, among other things.
There is no denying that Alienware has thrown a huge amount of technology into the m9750. Its 17in screen runs at an HD friendly WUXGA resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels. The screen is fed by not one, but two 512MB nVidia GeForce Go 7950 GTX graphics cards in an SLI configuration, so unlike most portable computers gaming is a realistic option.
It's powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T7600 running at 2.33GHz with 2GB of DDR RAM and comes loaded with a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate. It features two 250GB 5,400rpm Sata drives, which can be configured either as a 500GB RAID 0 disk or 250GB mirrored RAID 1 drive. It features an 8x dual layer DVD writer - with Blu-ray available as an option for £328 more.
Given the amount of technology housed inside the m9750, it's no surprise to learn that its case measures a bulky 39.5 x 29.9cm, although it's not actually as thick as you would expect at only 3.8cm. It's a pretty hefty laptop too, weighing in at 4.3kg - it's definitely not the sort of machine you'd want to lug around for a prolonged period of time.
Quicktime on Vista
Official Quicktime on Vista is still quite remarkably poor - since upgrading from XP my machine won't even play 480p files completely smoothly in it. And yet Nero's player can get the 720p versions of the same files running fine, so it's not an insurmountable problem.
Not much use for iTunes-purchased content, though.
When you can get a mac for twice the price.
Alienware and Dell are not the same.
Dell is it's own ODM, whereas Alienware used Clevo. You can actually purchase an Alienware laptop under a few different names, one of which is Sager.
I've had kind of a mixed exerience, with one Alienware ( a friend's) and one Sager. While both were good enough at the time of purchase to replace a desktop gaming PC, bot had issues related to the hardware.
And by hardware I don't mean the electronics, I mean the actual cases themselves. Both developed stress crack in the corners of screen casing, eventually breaking and needing to be replaced. This is largely due to too-tight screws, and flimsy material. I read on notebookforums.com (I'm not sure that still exists really) that this was somewhat common. For me it was 2/2.
Also, the Sager (a 4380 from 2004 by the way), had very loud fans. It sounded as though the fan was off-center or loose and occasionally slightly scraping the fan casing or something. Rather than send it in to get fixed (work PC, so that was inconvenient), I basically waited it out, and the fan making the most noise mellowed out, although overall it was still loud.
Heat-wise, the Sager is phenomenally hot, such that the case south of the keyboard is permanently satined with wrist/palm sweat...yeah...
In addition, on hot days, the temperature is such that the CPU needs to ramp down, adversely impacting game FPS quite a bit. I have since mostly solved this with a cooling pad, and another fan focussed on the rear exhaust port, but I'm seriously amazed that the components still work after being exposed to those temperatures regularly over the past 2.5 years.
So basically, in terms of bang for the buck, I did pretty well, since Sagers are a fair amount cheaper than Alienware, without the brand recognition. If you really need a high-end gaming laptop, and are willing to work with it a bit, and don't want a Dell, this is the way to go.
If you don't absolutely need a laptop, obviously a desktop is better and cheaper.
...and the other question, which is how anyone's going to take you seriously in a grown-up business context with a klingon-head grey-alien-face laptop.
Having said that, I may be overcompensating for this morning's "standardise-your-email-signatures-individualism-will-be-crushed" round-robin email from HR. Ah, the corporate whirled...
Don't buy from alienware
I myself got an alienware laptop, and I've run into a TON of problems:
-overheating, which caused more problems:
* reboots, shutdowns, blue screens
* slow mode (CPU slowing down a lot to cool)
-graphics card went boom
-DVD burner went boom, I sent it back a month ago, I'm still waiting for the replacement
The support is quite slow and the shipping delays are even more.
I'm very disappointed at Alienware and am having a MUCH better time with my Asus.
Never buying from Alienware again, ever.