What is superior gaming ability in a laptop worth? How about unparalleled business performance and high-def entertainment? What if you tossed in a cool light show and a bunch of extras? Give up? It’s just under $5,000 according to Alienware, and that’s just about what the company’s Area-51 m15x costs.
Alienware prides itself on its tower rigs and desktop replacements, but several of its earlier forays in to the midsize laptops were disastrous; the branding was intact but the performance wasn’t. Not so with the m15x. This 15.4-incher is plenty portable, yet it has all the gaming trappings and the performance to back it up.
From the unboxing onward, you can tell that you are paying for the experience as well as the hardware. A baseball cap with an alien head on it may not mean much to many of us, but for those who are purchasing a status symbol, it makes an impression. Other extras in the box, such as an extra battery, VGA-to-DVI adapter, FireWire adapter, and entertainment remote show that Alienware will risk no dissatisfied customers due to lackluster goodies. And serious gamers will love the included Logitech brand gaming mouse, which features an adjustable-weight cartridge with 17 gram and 4.5 gram weights to tinker with the balance and heft of the mouse. No more blaming poor in-game performance on a crappy controller.
A customizable light scheme on the laptop lets you broadcast to your friends that you have the tools (if not the skillz) to own them in the arena. A control panel lets you choose the LED color palette and effects on several different zones of the laptop, including the logos, keyboard, quick-launch panel and trim. But it’s not just a pretty-boy. The keyboard is solid and comfortable, inexplicably radiating quality like the controls of a luxury sedan. Ditto the chassis itself: You’re more likely to fracture your ulna in a frag session than hurt this PC.
With specs that include a 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 512MB nVidia GeForce 8800M GTX, you’d imagine the m15x would be uncontested in performance. And in business performance it goes unchallenged, with the highest PCMark score we’ve ever seen. A hot-swappable secondary battery boosts life from a meager 1:26 to a more acceptable 2:26. But while its gaming score was a blistering 167.2fps in Quake 4, it was narrowly bested by another 17-incher from Gateway. (We’ll have the review of that rig for y’all tomorrow.) Then again, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference at those high frame rates.
But you would notice the difference in your bank account. It all comes down to the loot; this is a luxury item. If you’re the type who drinks Cristal and lives lavishly, snap one (or two) of these up for transcontinental gaming on your jet. For the rest of us, there are far more affordable PCs with comparable performance.
- RAM Size: 3 GB
- Clock Rate: 512 MB