Friday, June 17, 2011

Alienware Area-51 M9750

The Area-51 M9750 is a top-of-the-line gaming notebook from Alienware. It features an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and is available with dual Nvidia high-performance video cards. The M9750 is based on Intel’s previous Centrino Duo platform. Even though it does not use Santa Rosa, it is still more than capable of handling any task.

Our review unit has with the following specifications:
* Intel Core 2 Duo T7600 (2.33GHz/ 667MHz FSB/ 4MB L2 cache)
* DUAL Nvidia GeForce Go 7950GTX video cards with 512MB DDR3 each (1024MB total) – SLI enabled
* 2GB DDR2-667 RAM (4GB available)
* Two 160GB 7200RPM Hitachi Travelstar SATA hard drives in RAID 0 (RAID 1 available)
* 17” WUXGA (1920x1200) glossy display
* Windows XP Media Center 2005 with TV tuner
* 8X DVD dual layer burner
* Intel PRO/Wireless 4965AGN WLAN
* Internal Bluetooth

Our system as configured is $4,448 with a one-year warranty. Two- and three- year warranties are available for $200 and $300 respectively.

Build & Design
An Alienware is like a high-end sports car; pictures do not do either of them justice. The M9750 has Alienware’s famous out-of-this–world case design which instantly sets it apart from every other notebook in its class.

The M9750 is entirely of one color - black. The machine looks extremely sleek, like a stealth aircraft. Personally, I find the look to be visually stimulating and attractive. No matter where this machine is taken, it will turn heads. I took the M9750 to a local coffee shop and everyone there took a long, hard look at it.

Alienware nailed build quality on the head with the M9750. The machine is constructed from high strength plastic. I was not able to detect any flex in the chassis. Even though the palm rests are quite expansive, I could not get them to budge applying any amount of pressure. There might as well be two-by-fours lining the inside of the chassis.

Usually, notebooks with 17” displays flex quite a bit when twisted from side to side, which is understandable given they are so large. However, the M9750’s 17” display hardly moves when twisted. The strength of the display is commendable; I believe Alienware’s unique lid design has something to do with this.

The surfaces of the M9750 with the exception of the area surrounding the screen and just below it are pleasing to touch as they are soft and rubberized. Fingerprints do not show easily. I did not get the usual “sweaty palm feeling” like I do with glossy-surfaced machines. The area around the display and just below it are glossy black plastic which does show fingerprints; however, this area is unlikely to be touched often.

Customers can choose between a WXGA+ (1440x900 pixels) or WUXGA (1920x1200 pixels) display; our review unit has the latter. Both displays have a glossy coating.

The picture quality of the display is excellent; images have crisp detail and colors look vivid. Blacks look like blacks and whites look like whites. I did not notice any hints of ghosting while gaming. Our test unit had a pixel-perfect display.

Viewing angles are generally good; from the sides, the picture does not lose anything; from above, colors appear slightly washed out but the colors are still there. From below however, the image gets darker than one would expect and the viewing angle is not the best.

The high resolution of the 1920x1200 WUXGA display is amazing for gaming and general tasks. There is so much real estate for multiple windows and multitasking. Since the display is so wide there is basically no side-to-side scrolling.

This is a true high-definition resolution – the M9750 is available with a Blu-ray disc player and based on the beautiful quality of the HD clips I watched, I can only imagine how awesome a full high-definition movie would be.

On the whole the 17” WUXGA display on our test unit is phenomenal for gaming, movies, and generally anything one would do on a computer. It is very enjoyable to use and look at.

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