- Blu-ray player, high-definition 17in screen, 5.1 audio output (analogue and optical), 64GB SSD, SLI NVIDIA 8700M graphics, video and audio input
- No HDMI, the CPU is not the latest 800MHz FSB option from Intel.
The Alienware m9750 is without a doubt one of the most powerful and feature packed notebooks we've laid our hands on, but it comes at a hefty price. Unless you're bent on portability you'd be much better off buying a desktop system for half the price and with considerably more power. That said, if you've got your mind set on a notebook, you need the power and have the cash, then you'll enjoy the broad functionality and classic Alienware style of this machine.
Price$ 7,643.00 (AUD)
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When it comes to Alienware no features are spared, but the same goes for the cost. Spending over $7500 for a notebook is something only an elite few can afford to do, and we have to wonder whether it's really worth the price tag for the convenience of portability. There's no doubt the Alienware m9750 we tested is an entertainment powerhouse, with features packed to the brim, and looks pretty slick, too. However, it lacks a few small perks we would have expected for the price, which marred our view of it minutely.
Before making any complaints it's only fair to take a look at some of the top gear this notebook does have on offer. First and foremost on the list is a 64GB solid state drive that's being used for the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system. Solid state drives are generally considered faster (when reading data), and more reliable as there are no moving parts. Understandably Alienware has also included a regular 7200rpm 200GB hard drive for storage.
Next on the m9750's list of goodies is a pair of NVIDIA 8700M graphics cards in an SLI configuration, providing some reasonable gaming grunt with support or the latest DirectX 10 games, such as Crysis. The last on the list of power features is a Pioneer Blu-ray player with DVD±RW functionality. Considering that the latest news suggests the high-definition media war is almost all but over, with Sony's Blu-ray doing a victory dance, the inclusion of this drive is a very nice addition indeed. The ability to play Blu-ray discs is backed up by a very nice 17in screen running a native resolution of 1920x1200, giving you the full high-definition experience of Blu-ray movies.
The internal speakers aren't quite as impressive, though they do perform far better than many notebook speakers. Still, for the best experience we'd suggest some external speakers. The m9750 has 5.1 analogue audio outputs, and also sports an optical output for true digital surround sound, so it's extremely easy to connect your home theatre speakers or desktop PC speakers for better audio quality. Alternatively you can hook up the included Alienware Ozma 7 headphones.
Although audio output seems to have its bases covered, video output is lacking something important. Sure there are plenty of options, including S-Video, DVI and D-Sub outputs, but no dedicated HDMI port is installed. On the other hand both audio and video inputs are installed, a rare site, allowing you to capture video and audio from an external source. This is coupled with a digital TV tuner, which allows you to watch regular and HD TV stations on the notebook.
At the heart of the beast is an Intel T7600 Core 2 Duo CPU running at 2.33GHz. Unfortunately it's not one of the more recent CPUs from Intel, running a 667MHz front side bus (FSB), rather than the 800MHz FSB found on most new machines. A solid 2GB of DDR2 RAM is also installed, providing plenty of processing and memory power to play with.
In WorldBench 6 the Alienware m9750 scored a healthy 85, enough to handle some video encoding, photo editing and gaming, as well as all of the other usual applications, such as word processing and e-mail. In our MP3 encoding test the m9750 encoded 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files in 73sec using iTunes. The same test with a single threaded application, cdex, took 115sec.
In our gaming tests we saw good results. In FEAR, using a resolution of 1600x1200 and the maximum quality settings, the m9750 averaged 95fps (frames per second). In 3DMark we also got a good result, with a score of 7768 at the default settings.
We also did some hard drive tests to see how the 64GB SSD drive performed. The results suggest that the SSD has slow write speeds, which were evident when copying to the device from another drive, or copying within the drive itself, but read speeds are quite impressive. For example, writing 4.12GB of raw data from the 200GB HDD over to the 64GB SSD yielded poor results; only 16MBps approximately. Doing the reverse, however, saw far better results, copying at approximately 33MBps.
Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.
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