We've looked at Alienware systems twice previously. The first time, back in July 05, we saw a machine with a 4400+ and 7800 GTX SLI. Last time around, it was an FX-60 with 512MB 7800 GTX SLI. Today, Alienware has upgraded it's top specification again, shipping an FX-60 with 7900 GTX SLI.
The deal is still the same with this type of system - it's a 'money no object' affair, designed for those who prize styling, build quality and brand cachet over value. Say what you will about the price, we've always found Alienware's systems to be the best of anyone in terms of internal engineering and build quality.
Because this machine is so similar to those we've seen before, we're going to keep this down to the nuts and bolts. Let's dive in.
The machine sports the same case that we've seen previously and almost exactly the same setup inside. The full specification is as follows:
AMD Athlon FX-60
GeForce 7900 GTX SLI
2GB Patriot RAM (4x512MB)
150GB Western Digital Raptor and 500GB data drive
Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic
ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard with passive northbridge cooling
The specification is obviously high end, but one thing strikes us - is it really high-end enough to justify the price tag? We've been staunch defenders of Alienware's right to charge through the nose for quality in the past, but we can't help but feel that in this case, those forking out the large amount of cash required will be a little disappointed. Most of the major boxes are checked - the FX-60 and the 7900 SLI are clearly big winners. However, the 2GB of RAM is on four 512MB sticks, which reduces the speed - this is a rookie system building mistake, and is an unnecessary bottleneck in what should be an explosive system. Likewise, there's a Creative X-FI inside, but it's the low-end Xtreme Music card, rather than the gaming-oriented Fatal1ty FPS. For the price, this is inexcusable.
The motherboard chosen, the Asus, only has room to put in one PCI card with the pair of dual-slot graphics cards, meaning you have a choice of either/or when it comes to PhysX and X-Fi, rather than both. This is a little annoying.
Alienware includes two optical drives so that you can avoid having to swap out your favourite game disc every time you want to install or burn something else, and also gives you both a lightning fast system drive in the form of the Raptor as well as a massive data drive. Little touches like this make the system appear well thought out, which make our previous two niggling issues even more inexplicable.