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Alienware Area-51 m15x gaming laptop

Out of this world - or the laptop that fell to Earth

You pay a surcharge of around £318 to step up from GeForce Go 8600M GT graphics to GeForce Go 8800M GTX, but that’s nothing compared to the extra £575 that you have to pay for the Core 2 Extreme X9000. While the X9000's 2.8GHz clock is welcome, we’re none too sure about the value of an unlocked Extreme Edition CPU in a laptop.

You might have plans to overclock your laptop by a few hundred megahertz, but you’ll pay a steep price for the privilege, and if it was our money we’d very likely choose the 2.5GHz Core 2 T9300 that's £400 cheaper than the X9000.

Alienware Area-51 m15x

All the ports you could possibly need?

The rest of the specification of our review sample is less controversial than the processor. For instance, we’re reasonably happy to pay £127 to step up from the 720p screen to a higher resolution, 1920 x 1200 WUXGA screen that has the same 15.4in diagonal size. In a similar vein, 2GB of RAM is a necessity with Windows Vista.

If you fancy, you could specify Windows XP instead of Vista for – get this – a premium of £32 in which case you might consider 1GB of RAM, but it would be a bizarre move that would kiss off the possibility of DirectX 10 gaming.

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Top-line GPU and CPU tech

The slimline optical drive is a Sony NEC Optiarc 8x DVD writer so you can't expect to play Blu-ray movies, even though the screen supports 1080p, unless you splash out another £190 for a BD-Rom or £253 for a Blu-ray writer. We’re not sure that’s such a good idea as the two cooling fans for the CPU and GPU get a bit noisy when the m15x gets to work, and the headphone support from the Realtek HD audio is no better than average.

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