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The Area 51 m15x notebook is latest in a long line of quality portable computers from boutique manufacturer Alienware. The m15x is also one of the most powerful notebook computers we ever had the pleasure to review. Of course, we couldn’t resist cracking open the m15x to see what makes it tick.
Touch of class
The m15x comes wrapped in a velvet sleeve to keep it all shiny.
Selling to the enthusiast market means adding little touches to the overall PC purchasing experience. Alienware included a hat and documentation in a nice binder.
The folks at Alienware also sent us the optional spare hard drive and batter pack.
Again, part of the “experience” are the color LEDs that light up the keyboard, touch pad, buttons and the LCD bezel. Software is installed that allows you to change colors to your liking.
The setup for the first benchmark run using 3DMark06.
The score surprised me – I was expecting it to be higher.
As you can see, the m15x did not land very high on the comparative scale. Something was amiss.
The setup for benchmark run number two — I added anti-aliasing.
The extra work lowered the score.
And again the comparison suffered.
The key was the resolution. The other PCs in the comparison were running at a resolution of 1280 X 1024. I ran the previous two tests at 1900 X 1200.
At the lower resolution we achieve a much more reasonable benchmark.
And a much more favorable comparison.
Let there be now doubt, the Alienware Area 51 m15x is a very powerful computer. These benchmarks compare favorable to premium desktops. That’s a lot of performance in a 15 inch notebook.
For additional comparison, consider this chart. The mark for the m15x is 9239, which is much closer to the 11934 that my dual-graphic carded, Quad CPU desktop scored than it is to what the Alienware m9700 scored a couple of years ago.
One of the most pleasing gaming geek features of the m15x is the HDMI out. Who can resist the allure of playing computer games on a 42-inch LCD in full 1080p high definition glory!
My that is a big cable you have
It is sort of strange to see a HDMI cable of this size extending out of a notebook PC.
Unlike the Apple MacBook Air, the Alienware m15x does not skimp on the number of available ports. You have the standard card readers, HDMI out, USB and Firewire.
On the other side you have a plug for the AC adapter, a Gigabit Ethernet port, two more USB ports, and jacks for headphones and a microphone.
The optical drive is a blu-ray DVD reader/writer. This slot can also hold the optional battery pack or a second hard drive. Very clever construction.
This Alienware Area 51 m15x is officially designated for TechRepublic, both in earth-bound English and some form of extraterrestrial language.
There is very little wasted space inside our m15x. Note the two fans and two large heat sinks.
Heat dissipation is obviously important.
Speed to burn
The 8800M GTX is the current performance champion for mobile computers.
All that can be seen
Because of the limitations of the 32-bit version of Windows Vista, 3GB is really all we need in our m15x.
Although, with 200GB already installed, I am not sure we need to add anything.
The label says it all.
Over here we have a second video system from Intel. Using this system should save your considerable battery life, but you won’t play many games with it.
The Alienware Area 51 m15x is another marvel of engineering. Like other modern notebooks we have Cracked Open, the designers and engineers have done an excellent job of getting some extreme performance from a very compact compartment.