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When it came to performance we had to decide what to compare the machine to. In laptop terms it’s pretty much out there on its own but we felt that the Shuttle SD39P2 system that I looked at recently was a good candidate. After all, aside from a laptop, if you’re looking for a compact system a Shuttle would be the way to go. The luxury a Shuttle gives you is the ability to put a full-on GeForce 8800 GTX inside, As such, in performance terms the Alienware is soundly beaten on the raw numbers front, which hurts it considering that the Shuttle is also a lot cheaper to put together, even if you add the cost of a 24in monitor and speakers.
In raw performance terms then, the Alienware doesn’t make sense – but what you have to take into account is its portability. Sure, 3.9Kg is not light, but you can’t fold up a Shuttle and place it in a draw or carry it around anywhere nearly as easily. The looks and design are also on a different planet. I actually don’t see this machine as quite the complete package – I’d have liked to have seen a dual digital TV Tuner for a start, but it’s still the best gaming laptop I’ve seen. The dual 7950 GTX cards can and will deliver an excellent gaming experience and when the mobile 8800 series do eventually arrive this machine could be something very special indeed. There’s no denying that there’s still ultimately a compromise to be made between portability and performance but the fact that you’ve got an upgrade path if you buy now makes this still an enticing prospect on two conditions – you really want a laptop over a compact desktop and you’ve got the funds to fuel your desire.
Alienware has done its reputation no harm with this wonderfully designed and great looking beast of a machine. Two cores in the CPU, two GeForce 7950 GTX GPUs and two hard disks, along with a TV Tuner, 7.1 output and decent speakers, make it a superb entertainment machine. Sure you can build a faster desktop for less, but for ultimate portable power this Alienware is on another planet.