Review: Alienware Area-51 X-58

For such a supposedly secret location, that Area 51 sure does turn out a lot of computers.

OK, let’s be serious for a moment. Laughing in the face of this “recession” business, Alienware’s latest, the Area-51 X-58, starts at $1,649 and quickly goes up from there once you start piling on the features. The configuration we tested: A stunning $6,373.

The centerpiece here is the new Core i7, Intel’s latest CPU. The i7-965 Extreme installed here is the fastest and most-powerful chip that Intel currently makes, with four cores operating at 3.2GHz. Running the 64-bit version of Vista, Alienware has taken advantage of the lack of the 32-bit 3-GB RAM cap and wedged 12 gigs of DDR3 RAM into the rig.

The lascivious excess doesn’t stop there: Two Radeon HD 4870X2 cards are also installed — giving this computer a grand total of four GPUs. It almost goes without saying that the machine would have four hard drives in it, a variety of high-speed and high-capacity drives that offer a total of 2.25 terabytes of storage space.

Cutting-edge tech like this doesn’t come without some headaches. Expect crashes and frustration as you delve deep into tweak menus if you want to get all your apps to work, especially games, which can be particularly crash-prone with a video setup like this. That said, when you do get things up and running it’ll blow the doors off your benchmarks: The X-58 typically got about double the benchmark scores of anything else I’ve tested, and four or five times the scores you’d expect from a PC released 18 months ago.

But with performance comes price, and all of this once again brings us around to two inevitable questions: Who spends more than six thousand dollars on a computer? And when can we come over to your house to play with your other toys?

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