Alienware Area-51 m5700 notebook

Written by Wil Harris

December 21, 2005 | 13:15

Tags: #7800 #area-51 #benchmark #centrino #gaming-notebook #laptop #pentium-m #performance #resolution #review #widescreen #wsxga #wuxga

Companies: #alienware


Now that we're starting to build up a backlog of tested gaming notebooks, it's appropriate to do some across-the-board comparisons. We've compared the Alienware notebook here to the Rock Extreme CT in our suite of system testing benchmarks.

General performance

Alienware Area-51 m5700 notebook Benchmarks

Alienware Area-51 m5700 notebook Benchmarks

Alienware Area-51 m5700 notebook Benchmarks
The Alienware shows interesting performance. In raw CPU terms, it has a faster Pentium M chip, so it's no surprise to see it doing better in SuperPi, which is basically a raw CPU benchmark. However, in the next two benchmarks - which stress the memory and the whole system respectively - it performs slightly worse. The indications are that whilst the two run the same 533MHz bus speed, the Rock is a little more tweaked, with the memory just a smidgen faster.

Gaming performance

Testing gaming performance is a little difficult here, since the two machines run at different resolutions. With a 1680x1050 screen, the Rock runs optimally at 1024+ vertical resolutions. This Alienware can't handle that, with a maximum 900 vertical resolution meaning that you're looking at 768+ vertical resolutions. Consequently, we're back into our 'best playable' tables, much like our graphics card reviews.


Alienware Area-51 m5700 notebook Benchmarks

Alienware Area-51 m5700 notebook Benchmarks

Need For Speed Most Wanted

Alienware Area-51 m5700 notebook Benchmarks

Alienware Area-51 m5700 notebook Benchmarks

Obviously, the 6800 isn't going to offer performance as good as the 7800, but what is cool is that, for the resolution it's running, the gameplay is smooth. On the Rock, we're cranking up the resolution up to avoid scaling issues on the LCD panel; here, we still have to avoid scaling, but we don't have to go so high in terms of resolution. This is one benefit of a lower resolution LCD display (although the downside is less room to work with in Windows). We found that the LCD struggled to pass the FEAR 'OhMyGodIt'sSoBlack' test, with colours looking a little muddy in some patches.

Overall, gaming performance is good: a little slower than a desktop 6800, as you'd expect, and certainly slower than a 7800 mobile chip. The extra resolution afforded by the 7800's superior performance allows graphics to look a little crisper and gameplay to be smoother.

Battery life

This is one area where the Alienware really shines. For notebooks, the display is the biggest drain and models with 17-inch screens have the worst battery life of all. In contrast to this, we found that we could get 2 hours of DVD playback out of the battery, which is astonishing for a 17" notebook. This means that, on a plane, you could really get through a decent film before it died.

With general productivity, we were pushing 3 hours, which is brilliant, and is right up there with a lot of smaller notebooks. Granted, if you're the type of road warrior who requires 6 hours of work between wall sockets, there are better options. However, the m5700 gives you a unique combination of speed for gaming - you will no doubt be 'plugged in' at your LAN party - and useful battery life when no wall socket is available.
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