Alienware Area 51 ALX CrossFireX gaming PC
How much does it cost..?!
Review How much would you spend on a gaming PC? Alienware hopes the answer is ‘about four grand’. It has delivered a colossal gaming PC with two AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphic cards, but does the machine's performance match its price?
We’ll get on to the CrossFireX graphics in just a moment, but let’s start with the cosmetic appearance of the Area 51 ALX CFX. Alienware is big on the space theme, so the chassis is available in either "saucer silver" or "space black". The alien face on the front of the case doubles as the power button, and the logos on the front and side of the case are illuminated.
Alienware's Area 51 ALX CFX: out of this world?
When the PC is running you can use the bundled AlienFX Editor utility to change the colour of the LEDs in five case zones independently of each other. It sounds incredibly naff and cheesy, but it works surprisingly well.
The front of the case has one Firewire and two USB ports along with jacks for your headset, and above that there's a door that covers the optical drive. The drive bay flap is an impressive piece of engineering that operates on a pair of articulated arms so the door pulls forward before it swings to one side. Unlike the door on a typical PC case that is usually just a flimsy piece of plastic, the Alienware door is quite substantial.
Inside the case, the Area 51 looks fairly conventional. There are three optical drive bays at the front, with an LG GSA-H55L 20x dual-layer DVD writer at the top, an empty bay under that and a card reader in the bottom bay.
I purchased an Area-51 from Alienware
And I am going back to building my own systems.
I thought, geez, I'm tired of all the research, compatibility testing, tuning, and troubleshooting... Why not pay someone to do that for me? Alienware had a great reputation the last time I checked (that shows how long ago I checked, I guess). So I shelled out thousands of dollars for a fancied-up glowing box with oodles of RAM and an Intel Core 2 Quad processor, with a nice RAID-1 setup. [aside: I don't ever want to live through another hard drive crash. I still back up offsite, even my games, but I'm RAID-1 from here until death.].
After spending over 20 hours of on-phone time, and countless more hours of other time downloading testing software and running long tests, my machine is still unusable. I have used Vista on other machines, and for all its problems Vista is not enough to explain this level of instability. To anyone who has built systems it is obvious that the frequent random bluescreens are a sign of a hardware issue. Even after running Alienrespawn to wipe the drive and reset to factory configuration, it bluescreens. However, Alienware insists that it is a software issue, and will not do anything except tell me to run more tests.
If a company won't stand by their product enough to fix or replace obviously broken systems, I have no use for them. I am contemplating sucking it up and paying the 15% restocking fee (which is enough to buy a nice new laptop by itself!), just to see the back of this nightmare. I hope everyone at Alienware gets warts on their eyelids.
Is there any decent company that makes premium systems, or am I stuck building my own forever? It was fun for a while, but now it is just work.
and people say Apple make overpriced computers!
No sound card??
'There’s room to install a sound card, but as things stand you’ll probably be relying on the integrated SoundMAX audio.'
That comment there is enough for me to never look at an Alienware rig again, a decent sound card is part of a good gaming machine now days, onboard sound just doesn't cut it.
@£3624 I'd expect a top of the range x-fi card.
At that price, it's about 2 grand more than it's worth...
Can we have a NSFM tag on articles like this one? - Not safe for monitors. There's a lot of coffee gonna be spat out at the sight of that price tag.
Mac Pro? Seriously?
Since when has an 8 core Xeon workstation cowered in fear of a Core 2 based gaming rig? That doesn't make even the slightest bit of sense - the Mac Pro and this abomination of good taste are intended for an entirely different market.
And Price wise - the Mac Pro starts at $2,299 US - with a 2.8 GHz 4-core Xeon. The Area 51 starts at $2,099 US with a2.66 GHz Core-2 Duo.
That's just asinine.