Fun with Alienware, part 1

Posted by NZgeek | Filed under

It's been a long time (at least a year and a half) since I've had a computer of my own to use. I had a few computers (including a rather pricey Toshiba laptop) that all decided to give up the ghost. So I've been making do with what I can, and using my computer at work for what I can get away with. However, this is about to change.

For the last few months I've been saving furiously to get myself a computer that will last the distance. My choice: an Alienware M17x gaming laptop.

For those of you who don't know, Alienware have been around for a number of years, producing high-end gaming systems. They started life as an independent company but were snapped up a few years ago by Dell. This has sadly brought the system quality down a bit, but the prices have followed suit so it's not all bad news.

The single biggest complaint with Alienware is the price. A desktop system will cost about 1.5 to 2 times what it would cost to build a similar system yourself. Yes, the build quality if pretty good, and yes, they're very pretty to look at. But the price is simply too much for most people.

Laptops are a different matter altogether. There are a number of companies that produce what they call "gaming" laptops, but most of these are far from serious gaming systems. They usually have a single low-to-mid-level ATI or nVidia GPU, none of which have the performance to drive new games at full screen resolution with decent detail settings. You try playing Metro 2033 on an nVidia GT330M or an ATI Mobility Radeon 5670 and you'll see just what I mean.

I did a bit of research, and there are only a handful of manufacturers that produce serious gaming laptops. Asus have the well-specced G73JH, which sports an Intel i7 CPU and ATI Mobility Radeon 5870 graphics, but the machine is ugly and it's known to have problems with build quality. You also have the likes of Eurocom and Sager, who make custom laptops. These systems can sport a pair of high-end mobile GPUs, but are also quite ugly and hard to buy in NZ. The only other obvious choice was Alienware, and when you compare pricing with the likes of Eurocom, they aren't that bad.

The M17x is the big daddy of the Alienware laptop range. It supports a high-end Intel CPU (i7 720QM, 820QM or 920XM at the time I write this), up to 8GB of DDR3-1333 RAM, dual graphics cards (Mobility Radeon 5870 with 1GB DDR5), dual hard drives (with RAID-0/1) and an amazing 17" RGB-LED 1920x1200 screen. You've got the choice of black, silver or red anodised aluminium for the case, and a number of different zones with fully customizable backlighting. And it's preeeetttttyyyyy!!!

I've got to wait a little longer before I order mine. I'm going with the i7 720QM CPU, 6GB RAM, a Blu-ray reader, and an extended warranty (after my wife's problems, I'm playing it safe). This will set me back anywhere from $NZ4250 to $NZ4550, depending on whatever hard drive configuration Dell decides is the base (2x 320GB or 2x 500GB).

I'll put up pics when the beast arrives!

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