While this was slightly disappointing, it was offset by firing up Oblivion, which over a year since its release is still one of the most demanding tests to which you can put a gaming rig. The m9750 passed this test admirably, which is something beyond most laptops. I played with very high graphical settings at the native resolution and achieved around 30fps in quiet scenes. It did stutter a little when the swords came out and the action heated up, so you would need to take the graphical settings down a little but if you do you’ll get a great gaming experience. If you play a less demanding title you should have no problems at all. The high resolution on a relatively small screen produced produced a smooth, clear image that looked just fabulous.
Still, with DX10 games such as Crysis looming the 7950s could seem to be a limitation so I was relieved to confirm that Alienware will offer an upgrade path to mobile 8800s when they appear, though there is absolutely no information at present on when this might be or how much it might cost. It’s vital to know this though, as if you’re going to spend around £2,500 you need to know that your investment won’t be completely obsolete by the end of the year.
Along with two cores in the CPU, and two GPUs, this fully loaded machine also sports two hard disks, both offering 250GB of hard disk capacity. This means that you can set up RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration – for extra capacity and speed, versus security – it’s your choice. If you go for RAID 0 – that’s 500GB – not bad for a notebook, though we’d recommend an external backup, as with two disks there’s two points of potential failure. The disks provided were spinning at 5,400rpm though faster 7,200rpm models are available. When we received our review sample, SLI drivers for Vista were not ready so Alienware shipped the machine to us with Vista on one disk and XP on another. As a result our 3D tests are done in XP. However, Vista SLI drivers are here so that’s what all shipping machines will have.