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Alienware Area-51 m15x

Alienware Area-51 m15x

Manufacturer: Alienware
UK Price (as reviewed): From £954 (exc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): From $1,499 (exc. Tax)

Normally, a review like this would open with us mocking the name of the product. That’s because most laptops nowadays, especially in the popular gaming and subnotebook markets, have incredibly stupid names.

They call themselves things which are far too easy to structure jokes around, like the MSI Wind, or they bombard you with numbers and dashes like the (deep breath) Rock Xtreme 770 X9000-8800.

With this laptop though, that approach to an introduction just doesn’t work for two reasons. The first is that though ‘Area-51 m15x’ is a bit wordy, it isn’t anywhere near as bad as some and it does fit a theme at least with the whole Area 51 and Aliens bit.

The second reason we can’t pick on it is because Alienware is a consistent little devil and for the longest time now has been seen by the mass market as the king of the hill when it comes to performance PCs and notebooks. Actually in the enthusiast sector (though we are loath to use the phrase) we know that there are competitors – but Alienware itself is so successful that it’s name is universally recognised.

Alienware Area-51 m15x Alienware Area-51 m15x

Alienware itself actually represents something to customers – an integrity that makes reduce joking about the name from mindless humour to petty nit-picking. The good news though is that we still have something to talk about over the article’s introduction.

Alien Autopsy

The people over at Alienware know their stuff, that’s for sure. In an effort to impress us as much as possible they haven’t sent us just the bog-standard base unit that they might hand out to all the other reviewers – instead they sent us one with a swanky skullcap design, as well as all the usual trimmings (right picture above). Check out the system spec below to get the full skinny.

CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 2.8GHz
Memory: 2 x 1024MB DDR2
Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce 8800M GTX 512MB
HDD: 120GB SATA HDD
Bundled Software: Nero 7 Essentials, AlienRespawn
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
Disc Drive: 8x Dual Layer DVDRW Drive
Screen: Hi-res WUXGA 15.4” (native resolution of 1,920 x 1,200)
Extras: Silver Skullcap Design
Battery: 6-Cell Lithium Ion
Weight: 3.2kg / 7lb

Alienware Area-51 m15x Alienware Area-51 m15x

Regular readers will notice that the system spec is almost identical to that of the previously reviewed Rock Xtreme 770, which should bode well for gaming performance. That said, potential buyers will want to be wary of the failure rate on the graphics chip.

The main differences system-wise are the smaller screen and the smaller hard drive, neither of which should dramatically affect anything in particular. In fact, we honestly can’t believe that the screen is smaller – the chassis for the m15x certainly feels quite impressively sized (275x45x370mm, HxDxW) and the screen fills that space nicely.

Still, in the end you can’t argue with the figures and the fact is that, no matter how decent the resolution is, the screen feels a bit too small for gaming on. However, it's either this or a huge 17" to haul around with you - some sacrifices need to be made when you want mobile gaming.

Of course, you can rebuke that with the whole ‘it’s a laptop’ argument, but this is clearly a gaming laptop. Not that that concept makes a whole lot of sense to some. The weight and size of this unit alone already means that it isn’t the most portable of things – it's more of a desktop replacement than a true laptop. Let's see if the overall feel and design of the Alienware Area-51 m15x can rival the feel of a decent desktop...