Alienware Area-51 m15x-R1
- Very fast performance, impressive LED lighting system, Blu-ray writer
- Expensive, lacks older ports, small screen, touchpad is slow without Mylar
Once you get over the fact that you could buy several PCs at this price, the Alienware Area-51 m15x-R1 is an extremely capable desktop replacement for the keen gamer.
Price$ 5,870.00 (AUD)
For any serious computer gamer, the name "Alienware" is instantly recognisable. When you glance at the specifications of the m15x-R1, you'll see why. It delivers very high performance, but for $5870, it's at the top end of the price scale.
The m15x-R1 sports the trademark Alienware skull on its lid. Under the lid is a touch-sensitive control panel for managing sound and wireless connections. The touch-sensitive power button is an alien skull whose flashing eyes indicate system activity. LEDs beneath the keyboard provide illumination in one of 12 different colours, ranging from white to hot pink.
The notebook is powered by a 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 CPU with a 6MB L2 cache and a front side bus speed of 800MHz; it's the latest 45 nanometre offering from Intel. It features four gigabytes of 667MHz DDR2 RAM and 1GB of Intel Turbo Memory, which is designed to reduce start-up times (though this is barely noticeable on such a powerful system).
The graphics card is a 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTX, which can run all the latest games on the market. The notebook's 200GB Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive spins up at a desktop-worthy 7200rpm. A secondary 160GB SATA hard drive is included and can be swapped with the Blu-ray burner in the Smart Bay.
The 15.4in widescreen offers 1920x1200 resolution, which will display Blu-ray movies in all their glory. However, the high resolution makes normal Windows operations difficult due to the small text and icons. Its viewing angles are very wide and reflections are minimal, but the screen can be too dark at times.
When it comes to speed, this notebook is a rocket! In WorldBench 6 tests it scored 106, meaning that it'll easily handle almost anything you throw its way. In our iTunes test, where we convert 53 minutes worth of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s, it recorded a blistering time of 64 seconds.
In 3DMark06 it scored 9127, and card-munching games such as Crysis can be played without noticeable frame lag, except at high resolutions.
After any period of use, the unit becomes warm, and while playing games the temperature rises even higher. To combat this, Alienware has introduced binary graphics. By pressing the Fn and F7 keys, the system switches between the GeForce 8800M GTX and the integrated graphics, thus saving energy and reducing heat when working on things that don't require high-end graphics power.
Another usability issue is the touchpad, which is made out of the same plastic as the palm rest. This leaves it feeling too slow. Alienware's solution is to include a Mylar sticker that is placed on the touchpad to make it more slippery.
Our model also suffered a production error that removed the GeForce drivers. The solution was to re-install the drivers that were included on the system drive. Alienware says this problem won't effect the majority of its machines. We also found that watching Blu-ray movies wasn't possible out of the box. The activation code required to use the bundled player was buried in a folder on the hard drive.
Thanks to the power-intensive nature of all these components, in our worst-case scenario battery tests, where we loop a DVD, the m15x-R1 lasted a low 59 minutes.
For device connectivity, the m15x-R1 offers one HDMI port, three USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire B port. It's a modern unit with modern ports; you won't find D-Sub, S-Video or modem ports on the chassis. An IR receiver is built-in, which means it's ready to be used as media centre, although a remote control is not supplied.
The unit offers Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi for the fastest possible networking at LAN events. A four-in-in card reader (MMC, SD, MS, MSPro) is standard. Expansion is handled by the ExpressCard/54 slot. The single microphone port, built-in array microphones and one optical audio-out port facilitate sound; a 2-megapixel webcam can be used for online rendezvous.
This notebook is too heavy for use while on the move — it weighs 3.5kg without its power supply and 4.3kg with it — but with so much power under the hood, the Alienware m15x-R1 is the perfect desktop replacement.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® Portable SSD
Huawei Mate 9
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Google Daydream VR headset
Acer Swift 7
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
- 5 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
Latest News Articles
- Everything we think we know about Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3
- Lenovo's ThinkPad P71 will work with HTC, Oculus VR headsets
- Lenovo's Yoga A12 Android 2-in-1 has futuristic touch panel keyboard
- In PC comeback, ARM will battle Intel in Chromebooks and Windows 10
- Dell: Mainstream laptops with wireless charging are still years away
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTLead PMONSW
- FTMicrosoft ProgrammerSA
- CCGun Java Developer wanted...VIC
- CCSQL Database AdministratorQLD
- TPOrganisational Change Manager | Enterprise Information SharingQLD
- FTConsultant Business AnalystQLD
- CCMDM Consultant/DesignerVIC
- CCCommercial Contract AdministratorNSW
- CCService Desk Analyst - TelcoTAS
- FTL1 Application SupportWA
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer - Tivoli Storage SpecialistNSW
- FTOracle Forms PL/SQL Analyst ProgrammerQLD
- CCPMO ManagerNSW
- FTMid-Level Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)VIC
- FTFull stack Developer - Senior (Java or C# and AngularJS) x 3QLD
- TPAgile Business AnalystQLD
- CCDevops EngineerNSW
- FTFull Stack Developer (Front and Back end)QLD
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)ACT
- TPBI & Report Developer (SQL Developer)QLD
- FTDigital Sales Account Manager - Global BrandNSW
- CCBPM Technical AnalystVIC
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)NSW
- TPSenior Business AnalystQLD
- CCIT Senior Business AnalystNSW