Friday, June 17, 2011

Alienware Area-51 m5790

The Alienware Area-51 m5790 is a 17" desktop replacement style gaming notebook that is available exclusively via This is an update to last year's m5750. The differences are just newly added upgradeable features such as Blu-Ray and the Radeon x1900 video card, along with, of course, Windows Vista in all flavors. Windows XP is, unfortunately, no longer available even as an option. This is a slight problem since it's well known that Vista isn't as good as XP for gaming at this moment. So if you're getting this for gaming, you may want to uninstall Vista and put XP on for the time being.

Following are the specs of the m5790 as reviewed:

* Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T5600 1.83GHz 2MB Cache 667MHz FSB
* Operating System (Office software not included): Genuine Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
* Display: Alienware m5790 17" WideUXGA 1920 x 1200 LCD - Saucer Silver
* Motherboard: Alienware Intel 945PM + ICH7 Chipset
* Memory: 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SO-DIMM at 667MHz - 2 x 1024MB
* Hard Drive: Single Drive Configuration - 80GB Serial ATA 1.5Gb/s 5,400 RPM w/ NCQ & 8MB Cache
* Primary CD ROM/DVD ROM: 8X Dual Layer DVD+/-RW / 24X CD-RW Combo w/Nero Software
* Video/Graphics Card: 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon x1800
* Sound Card: Intel 7.1 High-Definition Audio
* Wireless Network Card: Internal Intel PRO Wireless 3945 a/b/g Mini-Card
* Communications: Integrated 10/1000Mb Gigabit Ethernet & 56K V.92 Modem
* Warranty: 1-Year AlienCare Toll-Free 24/7 Phone Support w/ Onsite Service
* AlienRespawn: Alienware Respawn Recovery Kit
* Order Total: $1,842.28 *

Build and Design:
First off, the laptop looks like no other. I immediately liked the idea of the glowing alien head on the cover along with the shiny silver finish. The paint is smooth, glossy and deep, reminding me of a new car shine. On the plus side, I won't have to spend hours every few weeks to wax it to keep that look.

Opening it up, you have a full-sized keyboard layout, complete with a separate keypad section. While it's a nice feature to have the keypad, it takes some getting used to since I was used to placing my hands in the middle of all my other notebooks, while this makes you place your hands to the left side to find the proper keys to type.

You can see the trackpad isn't centered, but more to the left for that reason. There is a dedicated scroll pad section to act like the 3rd button on your mouse. A nice feature. Several function buttons are placed at the top of the keyboard, which include the power on button. My only complaint here is that the buttons are somewhat more difficult to press than they should be.

They are long, but thin, requiring you to use the tip of your finger or perhaps your fingernail to depress them. Also, the mouse buttons seem a bit harder to depress than all the other notebooks I've been used to. When I use the trackpad, I use my index finger to scroll and my left thumb to click. After an hour of web browsing, the side of my thumb seemed a bit sore from having to press harder than normal. Luckily, I almost always use an external mouse, so it won't have an effect on me for the most part.

The screen is the cat's meow. I decided to go with the WUXGA display which is the higher resolution option at 1920 x 1200. Like I said, I'm a resolution junkie, so this is like cake to a fat kid. The screen is crisp, clean and vibrant. At first, it seemed a bit dull to me, but it's because I'm so used to my SUPER BRIGHT 24" Dell widescreen (known for being overly bright). The colors are rich and set right. Overall, if you are sitting in front of the machine you should have no complaints.

At 1920 x 1200 on a 17" screen, it takes a little playing with to get your eyes used to the small text, but the screen real estate it offers is unbelievable. I run 1920 x 1200 on my Dell monitor, so I didn't want to sacrifice when I'm using the laptop on its own.

Since the DPI is greater on the laptop screen than the Dell monitor, photos and text look even sharper. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. Amazingly, looking from a 90 degree angle, I can still see the screen perfectly. LCD technology has really improved from the first monitor I had some 8 years ago.

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