Alienware Area-51 m15x-R1

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now
Alienware Area-51 m15x-R1
  • Alienware Area-51 m15x-R1
  • Alienware Area-51 m15x-R1
  • Alienware Area-51 m15x-R1
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Very fast performance, impressive LED lighting system, Blu-ray writer

Cons

  • Expensive, lacks older ports, small screen, touchpad is slow without Mylar

Bottom Line

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.

Would you buy this?

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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

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.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

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!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

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.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?