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Alienware Area-51 m9750
There was a time when if you wanted to play games you didn't buy a notebook. Notebooks were fine for spreadsheets and shopping lists, but fire up an up-to-date 3D game and you were entering a world of painfully slow frame rates. It's all different these days of course, with everyone from the likes of Rock, Evesham and Dell offering pimped out powerhouses designed to give you portable gaming pleasure that you can easily slip into a cupboard when you're done. If that's the sort of thing that appeals then you really can't buy without considering Alienware. It prides itself on producing gaming PCs and notebooks for the masses and based on previous efforts, we know it does a pretty darn good job. Inevitably, a fully loaded Alienware system is going to cost the proverbial arm and leg, but it's still always going to be more affordable than truly custom boutique suppliers of true exotica such as Vadim. After all, this is a company owned by Dell.
Good news then that Alienware has launched a new top-of-the-range gaming notebook. The system we were sent was pretty loaded specification wise, which accounts for the full on £2,462 price tag, compared to the rather less eye watering £1,198 that the system starts at. Coming under the Area-51 umbrella, our sample m9750 features an Intel Core 2 Duo T7600 running at 2.33GHz, backed up with 2GB of 667 RAM. This is combined with nVidia SLI graphics. Just to be clear, SLI is nVidia's dual graphics card technology, so you're not just getting one GeForce Go 9750 GTX in this notebook, you're getting two. In case you're not up on your graphics technology, that’s a good thing, potentially offering up to twice the performance in certain games. Along with this you're getting two hard disks, which can be set up in RAID 0 or 1 configuration offering either 250GB of secure storage or 500GB of ultra fast storage. You also get a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution display, which is quite something on a 17in display - you won't see this resolution on anything smaller than a 23in external monitor.
There are two aspects to the Alienware that make it stand out when you first see it; its physical size and its design. It's actually quite compact for a notebook with a 17in screen - I guess black really is slimming. The traditional Alienware ribbed effect is present on the notebook lid along with the Alien head and I was delighted to see the squinty eyes light up blue when the notebook is powered on. I know it's rather shallow to be impressed by such small things but then it's the little things that make the difference. If you want your machine to stand out from the crowd at Lan party or when friends come over, this will do the trick. It's not just the look, but the feel too. The new 'Stealth Black' finish is well named, not only looking good but having a slightly weird absorbent, slightly oily feel to it. If Alienware claimed that the m9750 was radar resistant, I'd probably believe it.