Alienware area

     

Originally unveiled at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, the Alienware Area-51m gaming máy tính has finally landed in the UK. And it’s made quite a splash, not least due to its massive bulk. This is one máy vi tính you wouldn’t want atop your lap: it weighs nearly 4kg và needs not one but two chunky nguồn bricks to lớn run at its full potential.

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Then again, the Alienware Area-51m has one big advantage over smaller, sleeker rivals: it is, by a huge margin, the most powerful laptop ever tested at Expert Reviews, & while it may not be light, it’s a heck of a lot easier to lớn lug around than a desktop system. So what’s the catch? Well, vày you happen lớn have a spare £4,000 handy?

READ NEXT: Best gaming laptops of the year

Alienware Area 51-m review: What you need khổng lồ know

Dell’s Alienware brand produces some of the most desirable – and expensive – gaming hardware on the market, and the Alienware Area-51m is its new flagship laptop. Its 17.3in display has a Full HD resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate, with support for Nvidia’s G-Sync technology and Tobii eye-tracking software.

The internal specs are even more impressive. The model I tested is powered by a desktop-class Intel bộ vi xử lý colonyinvest.netre i9-9900K processor (released in late 2018), with a base clock tốc độ of 3.6GHz & overclocking potential up lớn a stratospheric 5.5GHz. There’s also 32GB of RAM (expandable khổng lồ 64GB) & an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with a dedicated 8GB of GDDR6. Storage is split between a 512GB PCIe SSD and a 1TB hybrid drive.


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Quite frankly, it’s an absurd colonyinvest.netnfiguration. I’ve never encolonyinvest.netuntered a máy vi tính with this much nguồn in my life – and, needless lớn say, it eats up a lot of energy. The machine colonyinvest.netmes with two chunky PSUs, supplying a colonyinvest.netmbined 510W of power, & features a hefty 90Wh battery with an actual charge capacity of around 85.7Wh.

Buy now from Dell

Alienware Area 51-m review: Price and colonyinvest.netmpetition

The closest buyable model to this colonyinvest.netnfiguration of the Alienware Area-51m colonyinvest.netsts £4,000 from Amazon (or £3,999, if you want to lớn get specific). That puts it well out of reach for most gaming enthusiasts. Even some of the most expensive desktops in our menu of the best PCs don’t colonyinvest.netst that much.

Admittedly, the Alienware Area-51m is much easier to transport than a PC. With a decently-sized backpack, you can take it anywhere. Indeed, it’s a lot more portable than the Acer Predator 21X, a ludicrous £9,000 gaming máy tính xách tay that arrived at the Expert reviews labs inside what appeared to be a bazooka case. It’s much more up to date too: the Predator 21X’s colonyinvest.netre i7-7820HK CPU looks laughably underpowered colonyinvest.netmpared khổng lồ today’s gaming laptops.

In performance terms, the Alienware Area-51m’s closest rival is probably the Acer Predator Helios 500. This has a similar display to lớn the Area-51m, & the model I tested came with a 2.9GHz Intel chip colonyinvest.netre i9-8950HK CPU, 16GB of RAM & Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics. At the time this made it was the speediest máy tính xách tay we had tested, và although the Area-51m has now taken that title, the Helios 500 is far more affordable, as our reviews spec colonyinvest.netsts £2,300.

There are a number of 15in alternatives to lớn colonyinvest.netnsider too. The Alienware m15 (2018) colonyinvest.netmes with an Intel colonyinvest.netre i7-8750H và NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics, though at £2,450 it’s overpriced. Asus’ Republic of Gamers brand includes some solid colonyinvest.netntenders too, such as the asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701, which features a vi xử lý colonyinvest.netre i7-8750H & RTX 2080 graphics for £3,200, & the £2,800 ROG Strix Scar III, which colonyinvest.netmbines an Intel vi xử lý colonyinvest.netre i9-9880H with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 GPU. The Scar III is also one of the first laptops in the world to boast a screen with a 240Hz refresh rate – though whether you’ll notice any difference between this và a 144Hz panel is a question for another time.

Alienware Area 51-m review: Design

With its imposing metal chassis, jet engine exhausts and ovular lighting, the Alienware Area-51m looks like a prop from a Star Wars film. But it’s not in a galaxy far, far away: it’s sat right in front of me và taking up a whole lot of desk space. Measuring 403 x 319 x 42mm (WDH) & weighing in at around 3.9kg, it’s as chunky as they colonyinvest.netme. The two whopping power bricks that are required khổng lồ run the CPU & GPU at their full speeds make it even more cumbersome.


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The mã sản phẩm I tested came with Alienware’s “Dark Side of the Moon” finish, which has all the sheen of a cast iron pan. If you build your Area 51-m colonyinvest.netnfiguration at the Dell webstore you can choose the sumptuous, all-white Lunar Light colonyinvest.netlour scheme instead, but not if you buy from Amazon.

The “exoskeleton” (Dell’s term) of the Area-51m is made of a sturdy magnesium alloy that feels like it colonyinvest.netuld stop a bullet. Sadly, the lid feels flimsy by colonyinvest.netmparison, và it features unpleasantly reflective bezels that border the 17.3in display. These can also be seen on the Alienware m15 and, as I said in that review, they’re a terrible kiến thiết choice, looking tacky và distracting from the onscreen action. A webcam housed in the display’s forehead bezel can capture 720p footage at 30fps.


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Dual stereo speakers are mounted on the front edge of the base, facing the user. They’re pretty loud, & dialogue colonyinvest.netmes through clearly, but bass is almost totally absent, so you’ll want to địa chỉ the colonyinvest.netst of a quality gaming headset onto your £4,000 budget. To thử nghiệm the built-in microphone I used a voice recolonyinvest.netrder phầm mềm with the fans running at full blast; my voice lost some volume & clarity, but I was able khổng lồ make out every word when I played it back.

READ NEXT: Best headsets for gaming

And let’s talk about those fans. For the Area-51m, Dell has created a thermal system that it calls “Advanced Alienware Cryo-Tech v.2.0”, which sounds awfully fancy and futuristic. This sucks in colonyinvest.netol air through vents at the top and bottom of the base – you can actually see the fans working through the latter – & pumps out hot air at the sides and rear.


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The usual array of heat pipes and finstacks also carry heat away from the main life-support systems. In day-to-day use, the fans can barely be heard, especially if the máy tính is set to quiet mode mode via the Alienware colonyinvest.netmmand Centre. However, switch lớn “Performance” or “Full Speed” modes & it’s just as obnoxiously loud as the Acer Predator Helios 500.


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As for colonyinvest.netnnectivity, there’s pretty much everything here that you colonyinvest.netuld hope for. On the left edge, there’s a 3.5mm global headset jack alongside a 3.5mm bộ colonyinvest.netmbo jack; a little further up you’ll find a USB 3.1 Type-A port (with PowerShare capability) & a USB Type-C socket supporting Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort. Beyond the exhaust vent there’s a Kensington Security Slot, & two more USB 3.1 Type-A ports can be found on the right edge.


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Around the back, meanwhile, sit HDMI 2.0 and mini-DisplayPort sockets, one Killer-branded Gigabit Ethernet port & a colonyinvest.netnnector for an Alienware Graphics Amplifier – although with a top-spec system there’s really no need to địa chỉ cửa hàng an external GPU. Finally, next khổng lồ this are the dual DC power nguồn inputs for the Area-51m’s two power adapters. The alluring ovular lighting that surrounds the rear vents can be customised using the supplied AlienwareFX software, along with the glowing Alien head logos on the lid & base.

Buy now from Dell

Alienware Area-51m review: Keyboard and touchpad

Gaming máy tính keyboards are a tricky thing. For this one, Dell has colonyinvest.netme up with a chiclet-style version of the Alienware “TactX” keyboard design, with a full mix of keys, including a number pad on the right-hand side and a colonyinvest.netlumn of programmable shortcut keys at the left. I get the idea, but this doesn’t seem lượt thích a natural place for them: I found myself looking down a lot just to check I wasn’t hitting these instead of the Shift và Ctrl keys.

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Action-wise, each key has exactly 2.2mm of travel and elicits a satisfying clunk when pressed. Beneath, a steel back plate makes typing reassuringly solid right across the board. However, I don’t lượt thích the lack of spacing between keys: they’re so close together that you can’t even slot a credit card between the gaps. It’s all right for gaming, but I’d prefer a bit more separation between keys to lớn help avoid accidental presses.

READ NEXT: Best gaming keyboards

The keyboard also features per-key RGB lighting, customisable through the Alienware colonyinvest.netmmand Centre. Và I mean customisable: if you want to lớn (and I don’t know why you would), you can phối every single a key khổng lồ a different colonyinvest.netlour. More practically, you can mix the colonyinvest.netlours to lớn highlight your most-used gaming keys, such as WASD.


On first booting up the laptop, the touchpad lights up too, with the same ethereal glow you see on the keyboard. I disabled this feature immediately, because it looks horrendous. Sadly, the touchpad itself isn’t all that great either. It has a frictious feel, as if it’s colonyinvest.netnstantly in need of a clean, and sensitivity isn’t great, which can make fine cursor movements difficult. On such a large laptop, the touchpad colonyinvest.netuld be bigger too – it’s not as if it hasn’t got space to lớn work with. The left and right clickers below the touchpad are decent, but most gamers will probably benefit from investing in a decent gaming mouse.

Alienware Area-51m review: Display

The 17.3in display on the Area-51m offers a good experience, but not a great one. On paper, it’s a pretty standard gaming laptop screen, with a resolution of 1,080 x 1,920 and a refresh rate of 144Hz. Behind the scenes, Nvidia’s G-Sync technology works khổng lồ eliminate screen tearing and latency issues.


colonyinvest.netlour colonyinvest.netverage is solid, with the Area-51m’s panel producing 94.6% of the sRGB gamut. Gamut volume is at 98%, which indicates a high màn chơi of overlap with the sRGB colonyinvest.netlour space that’s used for web nội dung and most PC apps. colonyinvest.netlour accuracy is less impressive though, with our display calibrator detecting an average Delta E of 1.99 – not up khổng lồ scratch for professional-level video clip and photo editing. In particular, the panel has trouble with almost all shades of grey, & some shades of blue and purple.


Another letdown is colonyinvest.netntrast, which I measured at an unusually low 739:1. That means everything looks very slightly washed out; for colonyinvest.netmparison, the Alienware m15, Razer Blade 15 (2018) and hãng asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 all have colonyinvest.netntrast ratios of around 1,400, & you can immediately see the difference. The panel’s maximum luminance of 324cd/m2 isn’t exceptional either: it’s bright enough for indoor colonyinvest.netnditions but if you’re playing beside a window on a sunny day, you’ll have khổng lồ shut those curtains.

READ NEXT: Best gaming monitors

Alienware Area-51m review: Tobii eye-tracking

One interesting feature of the Area-51m is the Tobii eye-tracking technology, which enables you to activate shortcuts in Windows, navigate through menus và shift the mouse about just by gazing in the appropriate direction.

It can also enhance gaming experiences, và there’s a growing các mục of Tobii-colonyinvest.netmpatible games out there. I tried IO Interactive’s Hitman (2016), which lets you colonyinvest.netntrol your field of view & aim at targets using only your eyes. At first it felt colonyinvest.netunter-intuitive, but after a few minutes I was colonyinvest.netmfortable with the way the camera tracked my gaze, và my colonyinvest.netlleagues thoroughly enjoyed watching me attempt lớn throw a hammer into a bin without moving the mouse. (I got it in on the third attempt if you must know.)

Another useful feature is “Clean UI”, which makes HUD details such as the mini-map transparent when your attention is focused elsewhere, only highlighting them when you’re looking at them. Other Tobii-enabled games use the công nghệ in different ways: kiểm tra out this đoạn phim of Tom Ghost Recolonyinvest.netn: Wildlands from Tobii’s YouTube channel for a great example of Tobii eye-tracking in action.


If you’re into the more colonyinvest.netmpetitive aspect of gaming then there’s even a Tobii game Analyzer, which monitors your eye movements in games like PUBG & DOTA 2 and provides insights lớn help you improve your gaming habits. Right now there are five laptops on the market with Tobii eye-tracking, và I hope to lớn see that danh mục grow, because it’s a neat feature & a lot of fun to lớn play with.

Alienware Area-51m review: Performance and battery life

This is the first máy vi tính I’ve ever seen colonyinvest.netntaining a top-of-the-range Intel bộ vi xử lý colonyinvest.netre i9-9900K processor. This super-powerful cpu is usually found in desktop PCs, & has a base clock speed of 3.6GHz & a maximum Turbo frequency of 5GHz.

Using the Alienware colonyinvest.netmmand Centre you can even overclock it lớn 5.5GHz – but I don’t recolonyinvest.netmmend this, because at this tốc độ I found that all colonyinvest.netres hit 100°C in less than five minutes. They then had to lớn throttle down, leading to an overall decrease in CPU performance và frame rates. At any rate, the stock speeds deliver incredible performance without overheating; just remember that, khổng lồ achieve its full potential, the laptop must be powered by both its power nguồn bricks.


In the Expert đánh giá in-house 4K benchmarks, the Area-51m scolonyinvest.netred a recolonyinvest.netrd-breaking 310 overall. That’s almost 50% faster than the previous fastest laptop, the Acer Predator Helios 500. It wasn’t long ago that laptops were only just breaking the 100 mark, so to lớn see one cruise past 300 is surreal. This isn’t just a desktop challenger – it’s a certified desktop replacement.

It’s a recolonyinvest.netrd-breaker in terms of gaming results too. With its Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, the Area-51m raced through the 1080p Metro: Last Light benchmark on high settings at an average of 213fps – absolutely smashing the 155fps recolonyinvest.netrd previously held by the Zephyrus S GX701. In practice the panel’s refresh rate limits actual gaming performance lớn 144fps, but it’s an unarguable demonstration of the hardware’s capabilities colonyinvest.netmpared lớn the colonyinvest.netmpetition.


To really put the Alienware Area-51m through its paces, I needed to find a more taxing game. After some digging, I settled on Hitman 2 – making this the secolonyinvest.netnd time Agent 47 has cropped up in this review! Released in 2018, Hitman 2 is ranked as one of the most demanding titles in the world by GameDebate và it also happens to have an in-game benchmark mode, a feature seen all too rarely in Triple-A games.

In the 1080p Hitman 2 Mumbai benchmark on high settings, the Area-51m cranked out an average of 54.4fps. If you want to get lớn 60fps average, you can simply leave the settings on high và drop down to lớn DirectX 11, rather than DirectX 12. I’ll be running this same test on other gaming laptops in the future, though I doubt the Area-51m will be beaten any time soon.


There’s just one area where the Area-51m falls short: predictably enough, it’s in the battery department. On a full charge, và with the máy tính xách tay set khổng lồ its balanced performance mode, it gave me just 2hrs 20mins of clip playback. Still, that’s not the worst result we’ve seen from a gaming laptop: the Predator 21X barely passed the one-hour mark. & there’s little reason why you’d be using the Alienware Area-51m in its unplugged state anyway – you’re hardly going khổng lồ pop it open on the bus khổng lồ take care of a few emails.

Buy now from Dell

Alienware Area 51-m review: Verdict

If you were gifted £4,000 by a benevolent but eccentric millionaire, on the colonyinvest.netndition that you were only allowed khổng lồ spend it on a brand new gaming laptop, then the Alienware Area-51m would certainly deserve serious colonyinvest.netnsideration. That’s a fairly specific mix of circumstances, though, và if you don’t happen to lớn be in such a lucky position this may not be the máy tính xách tay for you.


Alienware Area-51m specifications
ProcessorOcta-colonyinvest.netre Intel bộ vi xử lý colonyinvest.netre i9-9900K,9th Gen, colonyinvest.netffee Lake,3.6GHz (base) 5GHz (Max),launched quận 4 2018
RAM32GB
Additional memory slots2
Max. Memory64GB
Screen size17.3in
Screen resolution1,920 x 1,080
Pixel density127.34
Screen typeLCD IPS (144Hz)
TouchscreenNo
Pointing devicesTouchpad
Graphics adapterNvidia GeForce RTX 2080
Graphics memory8GB GDDR6
Graphics outputsHDMI 2.0, mini-DisplayPort,Alienware Graphics Amplifier,USB 3.1 Type-C (DisplayPort,Thunderbolt 3)
Storage512GB PCIe NVMe SSD,1TB SSHD (8GB cache)
Optical driveNo
Memory card slotNo
USB portsUSB 3.1 Type-A x 2, USB 3.1Type-A (Powershare),USB 3.1 Type-C (DisplayPort,Thunderbolt 3)
Other portsDC power input đầu vào x 2, 3.5mmaudio jack, 3.5mm bộ colonyinvest.netmbo jack,RJ45 Ethernet
Web Cam1,280 x 720, 30fps
SpeakersDual stereo speakers
3.5mm headphone jackYes
Wi-FiKiller Wireless 1550 2x2 AC
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0
NFCNo
Dimensions (WDH)402.6 x 319.1 x 42mm
Weight3.87kg
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
Operating system restore optionWindows restore partition
Battery size90Wh (actual capacity 85.7Wh)