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When we think of elaborate high-end gaming computers, there is one name that always comes to mind, inevitably it has to be Alienware.
For years Alienware has been producing machines that cater to gamers and enthusiasts desires, coupling some of the industry's most radical designs with top of the line PC hardware. You could easily spend thousands of dollars in one of these machines, an idea which has not always appealed to the enthusiast crowd, but as a prove of how viable Alienware's business is, it was acquired by PC manufacturing behemoth Dell in 2006, about ten years after its foundation.
We have been fortunate enough to test some of these computers over the past few years. Back in 2005 we tested the Aurora ALX desktop which prominently carried its Athlon X2 badge, at the time one of the fastest desktop processors on earth. Then in August 2006 we checked out the Aurora m9700 gaming notebook, the first notebook to ever use Nvidia's SLI technology.
Unfortunately as impressive as this looked on paper, the Aurora's SLI implementation that relied on two GeForce 7900GS graphics cards was crippled by an underpowered processor. At the time the 2.4GHz AMD Turion64 processor was simply not fast enough to push FPS near the level of a desktop system.
Since then little has changed on the notebook gaming front, as we are yet to see a product that can deliver an outstanding level of performance, or at least enough to match a moderately powerful gaming desktop PC.
Then there is the issue of heat, which affects all notebook computers, but particularly those intended for gaming. And we have tested quite a few that suffer from stability issues for that reason.
When Alienware introduced the Area-51 m15x we were obviously keen to check it out, while remaining skeptical at the same time. Like past Alienware products the Area-51 m15x specifications are impressive, really impressive, making us even more eager to see how it performs.
Our review sample came configured with the new Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 "Penryn XE" mobile processor and a GeForce 8800M GTX (512MB) graphics card.
In short, this is the combination of the fastest possible mobile CPU and the fastest mobile GPU out there. Of course, this won't come cheap as the retail value of our review sample was $4770, but as we found when reviewing the Aurora m9700, there is much more to the Area-51 m15x than just impressive specifications (as a side note, Alienware quotes $1,499 as the base configuration price for the Area-51 m15x).
The build quality of a laptop is just as important and this is typically an area where we typically haven't seen Alienware products falling short. Furthermore, there are details on the inner and exterior design that a product in this price range better have. Having that said, let's take a closer look...