You don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to be an admirer of Alienware’s computers but there’s no denying their otherworldly designs make the hairs rise on the back of your neck when you take the machines out the box.
The Area-51 m9750 is the Alien Queen of notebooks: black, striking, immensely powerful and bristling with unexpected weapons, er, features. For a start the colour is described as Stealth Black, a matt finish that cleverly resists leaving the mark of your fingerprints after you’ve touched it. The lid follows tradition with raised ‘ribs’ pointing towards the trademark ET head that glows blue when switched on and the entire case features magnesium alloy which is 75 percent lighter than steel and more rigid than plastic.
Unfortunately every Alien Queen has an acid side and m9750′s is the layout. The base is broad enough to contain a full-size keyboard but for some unaccountable reason it has been shunted up the top half with most of the foreground given over to the touchpad and rest area. Operating the keyboard thus becomes awkward if you don’t want to accidentally brush the touchpad, and when are people going to stop designing keyboards with miniature Del keys in the top right corner?
On the plus side, the 17-inch widescreen LCD display has a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 which means that games and DVDs have a pin-sharp clarity. A rotating 1.3-megapixel Web-cam is built into the lid above the screen and there’s a range of touch-sensitive media control and quick-launch buttons above the keyboard. A couple of handy extra touches include a volume wheel on the right side, a front-mounted DVD writer flanked by two stereo speakers and an integrated sub-woofer.
Other peripherals include three USB 2.0 ports, 5.1-channel analogue surround sound jacks as well as optical audio, separate DVI and VGA outputs, coax and S-video inputs, SD card capability, Ethernet and so on.
But the main reason you’ll be attracted to this machine is for power of performance. This is the first time two mighty graphics cards (Nvidia GeForce Go 7950GTX) have been linked to an Intel motherboard with a Core 2 Duo processor (the T7600 running at 2.33GHz with 2GB RAM) and when you add two storming 7,200-rpm hard drives with a maximum 500GB capacity and RAID options to crank up the speed, you know you have the ability to make a Space Marine weep. If you don’t believe us, install F.E.A.R. and start pumping rounds.
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