Dell Alienware Area-51 M17X
The coolest notebook in the galaxy
- Great looks, illuminated keyboard, HDMI, Blu-ray, SLI graphics, RAID 0, high-definition screen
- Blu-ray drive sometimes had problems closing, touch buttons didn't always work, indicator for 'stealth' status isn't immediately clear, no e-SATA, expensive
High frame rates and fast performance are hallmarks of this high-definition notebook, but it also looks fantastic. If you don't already have the funds for it, you might want to start saving like you've never saved before!
Price$ 6,995.00 (AUD)
Another button can put the notebook into 'stealth' mode. This reduces the speed of the CPU and, in turn, of the cooling fans, making the system much quieter (and slower) to run. In stealth mode, the two-thread Blender 3D test took 3min 47sec to complete — a whopping 2min 43sec longer than it did when running at full speed.
For storage, the unit's hard drive system not only provides plenty of space, but also plenty of speed. It comprises two 250GB hard drives, which are installed in a RAID 0 array and which both spin at 7200rpm. They combined to produce an average transfer rate of 48 megabytes per second in our tests, which is a very fast result.
If you want to add more storage to the unit, you can plug in external USB 2.0-based, or even FireWire 800-based hard drives. The fastest external interface of all — e-SATA — is disappointingly absent.
Still, the Area-51 can brag about its wealth of ports: four USB 2.0, one FireWire, one FireWire 800, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, S-Video, TV-in, optical audio, and headphone, microphone and line-out ports. You also get a webcam, 802.11n wireless networking and an ExpressCard/54 slot. The ExpressCard slot will be handy if you want to add an e-SATA card later on.
As for its size, the 4.9kg Area-51 is big enough to be a landing strip for a Super Hornet, or a resting place for a half-eaten Hungry Jacks Quad Stack burger. It's not at all suited for travel, especially if you will be using public transport. It's approximately 42cm long, 30cm deep and 4.5cm thick, and it has a huge power adapter (20x10x5cm) so it'll need a huge laptop bag or backpack for safe travels. If you'll be taking it to a mate's place for a LAN session, it's best to drive or cab it there and back; carrying $7000 worth of equipment on a bus or train is just not recommended.
The overall build quality of the unit is of a very high standard. A lot of care has been taken to make it look good as well as feel sturdy. The only gripe we have is with the Blu-ray player/DVD burner, which sits in a modular bay and sometimes didn't close properly. As we mentioned previously, we're also not fans of the touch buttons at the top of the keyboard, as they sometimes required more than one press to work properly; they sure do look good, however.
The unit's base is decked out with two speakers and a subwoofer (even though it looks like it has four speakers), but they're no substitute for external speakers. In fact, they are quite weak considering the large size of the notebook. The Realtek audio chip is also a bit of a let-down; it would be nice to see a Creative Audigy-based chip in a high-end system like this one.
Away from an outlet, the unit will last approximately 50min, so it's not something that can be used extensively while outdoors, for example. However, its large size and vast features make it ideal as a high-end desktop replacement or even a media centre unit — albeit an expensive one, even for the most dedicated and cashed-up enthusiasts.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Review: TCL C1 series 4K TV
- 2 Mazda MX-5 (2016) review: Absolute driving purity
- 3 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 4 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
Best Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- Galaxy Note 6 rumors hint at IR autofocus, USB-C connectivity, new Snapdragon SoC
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare goes full sci-fi with space-based gunfights
- HP's new Chromebook 13 has features to match top-line Windows PCs
- Acer's new Predator gaming systems are powerful beasts that will also run your VR headset
- Apple updates MacBook with new processors, adds Rose Gold
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCProject ManagerQLD
- CCChange Lead/Senior Change Analyst - Transformation projectNSW
- FTInfrastructure Project ManagerACT
- CCContract Programmer (JAVA/HTML/SQL) 160421/P/903Asia
- CCFull Stack Developer - Java - Blue Chip CompanyNSW
- CCBusiness Analyst, Loyalty projectsNSW
- CCSenior Project Manager, Portfolio Services ManagementNSW
- CCSolution Architect / Data ArchitectNSW
- CCMS Biz Talk ConsultantNSW
- CCHyperion ConsultantNSW
- CCITIL Environment, Configuration, Release Manager- Banking/GovtNSW
- CCJava Developer / DevOps | FINEOS Application | Long Term ContractNSW
- FTSolution Delivery Manager ( RTTM)NSW
- CCAzure DeveloperNSW
- CCAWS ArchitectNSW
- CCApplication Migration ArchitectACT
- CCWindows Automation EngineerVIC
- FTDigital Sales Manager - Online MediaNSW
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/Oracle/Unix) 160509/AP/395Asia
- FTSupport AnalystQLD
- FTProduction ConsultantVIC
- CCIntegration Delivery Project ManagerNSW
- CCWebOps EngineerVIC
- CCAnalyst Programmer (Lotus Notes/Networking) 160504/AP/781Asia
- FTSenior Application SpecialistACT