Dell Alienware Area-51 M17X
The coolest notebook in the galaxy
- Great looks, illuminated keyboard, HDMI, Blu-ray, SLI graphics, RAID 0, high-definition screen
- Blu-ray drive sometimes had problems closing, touch buttons didn't always work, indicator for 'stealth' status isn't immediately clear, no e-SATA, expensive
High frame rates and fast performance are hallmarks of this high-definition notebook, but it also looks fantastic. If you don't already have the funds for it, you might want to start saving like you've never saved before!
Price$ 6,995.00 (AUD)
When the gaming stakes are high, you need a laptop with components that can deliver a high level of performance. Alienware's Area-51 M17X is one of those laptops, but you'll need to empty your mattress of your life savings in order to buy it.
It's a high-definition laptop equipped with a bright, 17in, 1920x1200-resolution screen, a Blu-ray player, an HDMI port and an optical audio output. But it's the Area 51's looks that'll garner most attention. It has a smooth matte black finish, a backlit keyboard and an outlined touchpad, as well as illuminated shortcut buttons and logos.
You can customise the colours of the illuminated areas using the supplied AlienFX Editor software, so you can give the unit a fresh look every time you get bored of a particular combination. The unit's illumination is sure to turn heads at LAN parties, giving you an advantage over those who are distracted by it; it's also a practical design for using the laptop in a dark environment, as the lights won't tire your eyes.
But for $7000 you want a lot more than a cool-looking keyboard and touchpad, and below the surface of the Area 51 lie components that are almost of the highest order for a notebook. An Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 is the CPU of choice; this is a dual-core CPU that runs at 2.8GHz. It's partnered with 4GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, but this isn't quite fast enough to match the 800MHz front-side bus speed of the CPU. Still, in the Blender 3D rendering test these components combined to finish a two-threaded rendering job in 1min 4sec; in iTunes they took 1min to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s. Both results are on the money for a 2.8GHz CPU such as the X9000, so you'll definitely get a lot of grunt out of this notebook when it comes to content creation.
With two NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTX graphics cards installed in SLI mode, you'll also get a lot of zip when gaming. The unit scored 12,348 in 3DMark06, which is about 25 per cent higher than it would have scored with only one graphics card. In Battlefield 2 it averaged 80 frames per second, while in GRID it averaged 27fps. GRID was very smooth during regular gameplay, so the slightly slow rate didn't hinder the movement and control of the cars. These results were obtained while playing at the native 1920x1200 resolution of the monitor, so you'll get even more performance if you play at a lower setting.
The unit's keyboard is comfortable to use, but does feel a little wobbly towards the middle. The touch-button shortcuts above the keyboard are a little hard to manipulate, and it sometimes took us a few goes to get them to change settings. The shortcut buttons can be used to toggle the unit's Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules, as well as bring up the editor for the colour schemes and notebook performance profiles.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- MSI Wins Computex Best Choice Award 2017 for a Record-Breaking 5 Products
- Surface Pro is Microsoft's long-awaited Surface Pro 4 upgrade, restyled as a laptop
- Google explains why Android apps still aren't on Chromebooks
- HP's Spectre x2 may be the Surface Pro killer we've been waiting for
- Asus ROG teases the world's first AMD Ryzen laptop
PCW Evaluation Team
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.
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.
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.
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.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Asus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming motherboard review
- The simple RAM buying guide
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTSenior Project ManagerNSW
- FTDigital Marketing Executive / Content ProducerNSW
- CCSenior Project ManagerNSW
- CCSenior Business AnalystNSW
- FTAppian DeveloperQLD
- FTSenior UX/UI DesignerNSW
- CCSenior Data EngineerVIC
- FTSenior PHP Developer / Technical LeadQLD
- FTIT Support EngineerNSW
- CCGIS Consultant/ Developer - BRISBANENSW
- FTSenior System AdministratorNSW
- FTProject Manager / Web DeveloperVIC
- TPUAT CoordinatorQLD
- CCIdentity Access Management - Business AnalystVIC
- FTDIRECTOR PROJECT DELIVERY, WELLINGTONNZ
- FTFrontend DeveloperNSW
- CCPega DeveloperWA
- CCInfrastructure Test ManagerNSW
- TPSenior .Net DeveloperQLD
- FTGraduate Technical ConsultantACT
- TPWeb DeveloperSA
- CCProgram ManagerVIC
- FTService Implementation Manager BIMNSW
- CCSenior Systems Engineer - WintelNSW