My Alienware Experience - Amazing gaming system!

My Alienware Experience - Amazing gaming system!

Summary: OK, I've just spent a good few hours gaming on the Alienware m9750 system and to say that I'm impressed by the performance of this notebook is a massive understatement. If you want portable gaming, this is the system for you.

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OK, I've just spent a good few hours gaming on the Alienware m9750 system and to say that I'm impressed by the performance of this notebook is a massive understatement.  If you want portable gaming, this is the system for you.

My Alienware Experience - Amazing gaming system!OK, a few specs.  The Alienware m9750 is powered by an Intel T7600 CPU delivering 2.33GHz, which is backed up by 2GB of DDR2 RAM.  But it gets better than that, a lot better.  The hard drive is a 64GB solid state drive, which not only means excellent performance, but also low power consumption.  The graphics system is equally impressive - the 17” Wide Screen WUXGA 1920 x 1200 Clearview screen is being fed by dual 512MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX GDDR3 cards.  This system scores a 4.7 on the Windows Experience Index (a score let down by the fact that the system only has 2GB of RAM).  The CPU scores a 5.2, the graphics a whopping 5.9, the gaming graphics a very robust 5.8 and the hard drive scores a 5.4.  To get this kind of performance from a desktop you'd have to spend some serious cash and choose parts wisely.  To get this performance from a notebook is simply staggering.

My Alienware Experience - Amazing gaming system!

And the spec really does translate into pure raw performance.  This machine just chews through everything I've thrown at it so far.  For example, I loaded both Doom 3 and Quake 4 onto the system and stared playing Doom 3 and thought that the performance was simply breathtaking.  Then, when I exited the game I realized that in the background I had a remote desktop session and three Internet Explorer windows open.  And Doom wasn't "just barely" running, this notebook was running the game at 1024 x 768 at high detail with no problem whatsoever.  There was no feeling that the system was struggling at all.  Later I'm going to experiment to see just how high I can push the graphics quality on these games.  I'll also put together some basic benchmarks.

The m9750 is a really nice notebook to use.  The glossy Clearview screen is an absolute joy (I normally don't like glossy screens but this one is a beauty) and the colors are bright, vivid and accurate.  Whites are clear and blacks are deep and rich.  Perfect just isn't a good enough word to describe this screen.  I just love it.

I'm also impressed by other aspects of the rig.  They keyboard is nice and positive and thoughtfully organized, while the touchpad is accurate and intuitive.

Also, for a notebook, the sound system on the Alienware is far better than I had expected.  Tinny sounds with little or no base are the norm on notebooks, but the m9750 doesn't fail to impress and has one of the best sound systems that I've come across on a notebook, in fact the only system that I've used that comes close to it is Apple's MacBook.  The quality if the sound system plays a huge part in generating the appropriate atmosphere when gaming, and the speakers on the m9750 really deliver the goods. 

The system is also impeccably set up.  Everything works and I've not had a single problem with the system yet.  It's pretty obvious that the folks at Alienware have put in a lot of time and effort making sure that all the hardware, software and drivers all play together nicely.

I'm also impressed with the thought that Alienware have put into the cooling system on this notebook.  Despite having a powerful CPU and a dual graphics cards, it's not like having a pile of thermite going off on your lap.  Yes, it's warm, but you don't get the feel that the system is going to burn its way through your lap and onto the floor.  Most of the heat it directed out the back of the system by fans which so far have been quietly unobtrusive.  Given the number of hours I'm planning to put in on this system I'm not risk heat damage to my vitals and so I'm running the m9750 on a notebook cooler (one which is far too small of the system, but does the trick). If you're going to be putting in long gaming sessions you might want to invest in a cooler too.

I also like the styling.  The deep black construction combined with the alien ribbing on the lid (which is very H. R. Giger) has really grown on me.  I even like the light-up alien head logo on the lid.  Not only is the construction stylish (which you'll either like it or you won't) but it seems very durable too. 

I know that I'm probably not supposed to say this, but I'm already starting to dread the day that the Alienware has to go back.  It's very nice to be able to play games anywhere in the house without having to be tied to a desktop - having a really powerful notebook is a very liberating feeling.  Unless something changes I can see myself buying one real soon ...

Thoughts?

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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72 comments
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  • Price? Weight? Battery life?

    Ok, a great rave for what seems like a great laptop, but just a few details on price,
    weight and battery life would have been nice. I look forward to actual benchmarks
    and full details.
    Fred Fredrickson
    • Don't worry ...

      ... more details will follow. Soon ... real soon!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Prices

      I've seen prices range from a base of $2099US to $4600US for a decked out model. From what I saw AKH's machine is fairly decked out. The solid state drives come in at around the $800 mark.

      Not sure I want to pay those prices to play a game or 2. Others may have differing opinions.

      For those really interested, I did see one 4 months old second hand for $2000US.
      A Grain of Salt
      • Even better

        Alienware sells their demos and refurbs on eBay "Buy It Now" for considerably less than retail. Keep an eye on them when you return it and you just might get it back for a lot less.
        SanityClause
    • Dude.. It's a Dell

      Ever since Dell bought Alienware in March of 06, they have gone downhill... It's like when Ford bought Jaguar and Volvo... You don't see Volvo rated top in safety anymore, and todays Jags just plain suck. The pre ford jags with their sick 12s had tons of power and they handled beautifully.. Now they are just crown victorias with a Jag emblem on them. The older Volvo's were sweet luxury cars with plenty of power and the top safety rating in the industy... Now they are glorified escorts with a volvo emblem. Same goes for Alienware... They are just a dell with cheep dell components and piss poor quality control. For me... Gaming on a portable is only done if I can't get to a desktop... I'm not about to carry a full sizes keyboard and mouse around just to plug them into a portable.

      For a portable, I'll stick to my 13.3" widescreen macbook thank you. It is the perfect size and weight for travel and gives me everything I can want (including performance) while on the road, plane, train, etc. including playing every mac and PC game available. Why on earth would I want to lug around an akward 50 lb albatros of a laptop??? Spend any time changing planes in Phoenix and you will understand what I mean. I usually have to walk a mile to get to the other terminal, and in todays cramped airplane seats, the macbook fits perfectly.
      i8thecat
      • Ahhh! I thought it looked familiar...

        I thought it looked a lot like a Dell. As I was reading the specs, it sounded just like the XPS laptop I nearly purchased almost a year ago now. Interesting the specs don't seem to have changed much in that time. I hope the price has gone down. At that time it was nearly $3,500 for the options I wanted (basically the same as reviewed).

        I have been REALLY happy with my Dell laptops. I've owned 3 Latitudes now for the last 4 years I think it's been, maybe longer. A C840, D800, D810. Only reason I replaced them was due to damage. Thank god for the complete care option.

        Yes, it's a bit big, but for my purposes, one of them being a business which involves flight simulation, they've been great for me. So good I just couldn't justify the upgrade. I bring it everywhere and use it every day, and they've never failed me. But, it's getting to be about time. 1.86 GHz Pentium M is starting to show its age regarding speed.
        FlyingsCool
        • Three in four years ??

          So you must really put those Dells through the wringer?

          Or was it cumulative damage that wore them out every fifteen months?


          I'm starting to see the real value in my MacBook Pro's aluminum construction. No
          plastic bits to break.
          Jkirk3279
    • who cares about batt life

      I and almost everyone I see finds a plug in, and camps at the coffee shop or wherever for 2 to 3 hours etc.

      Unless of course your planning an expedition to the top of mount everest.. then i can see the potential issue.
      pcguy777
  • Does it come with car battery?

    The price starts at $1699 but the one you tested goes for about $4249. This was going to Alienware's website and configuring it the way you described and using what Alienware recommends on what you left out.

    I think I will pass on this, for laptops are suppose to be mobile and you will be plugging this in the wall socket a lot. This is like a 426 Hemi with a 5 gallon fuel tank. I would be more forgiving on weight but the heat I would not. But the number one turn off is the price plus the short battery runtimes and this is more like a portable computer rather than mobile one which describes a LAN party requirements.

    I think gamers will look to other alternatives to save a lot of money and still go faster. This might be a AutoCAD setup for design work in the field, that only the supervisor will have.
    osreinstall
    • I'm giving the battery a few days ...

      ... to come to nature before I test battery life ... I'll have more to say on that later.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Battery Life

        Excellent, I look forward to that review. Would help me make up my mind where to buy a laptop from!
        LordPringle
      • That will be interesting.

        Check out how long the battery will last under full game power. I will give it 120 minutes tops.
        osreinstall
      • Fuel cell

        I can hardly wait for a Methanol fuel cell to be available for laptops.


        All this nice computing power isn't as impressive if the battery life isn't at least three
        hours.

        Put in a methanol FC and you could end up with DAYS of power.
        Jkirk3279
  • For a permanent system...

    Consider the Dell XPS M1730 instead. It has newer GeForce 8-series video in SLI, a newer Core 2 Duo architecture, and even Ageia PhysX for the games that support physics acceleration.

    Be absolutely sure to get an extended warranty though, as with a system that expensive you don't want to find yourself owing several hundred dollars for a single repair.
    jonfingas
    • Complete care option

      I totally agree about getting the complete care option. Being a laptop, if you travel a lot or even just carry it all over the house and/or have kids, it is totally worth it.

      "Oops - sorry Dad."
      FlyingsCool
  • Had to chuckle just a little bit

    at the line where Adrian says you'd have to fork out a load of cash to get a desktop
    with that performance. Like you're not going to fork twice as big of wad to get a
    laptop with that kind of performance.
    frgough
    • indeed

      $3,449 at the Alienware site for the gaming configuration. Alot to pay, but then I've seen gamers spend alot more.
      Badgered
    • Haha

      Like he didn't just fork out a ton of cash for what he's playing with. That's just funny
      Darkgeek
      • re: Haha

        Darkgeek:

        "Like he didn't just fork out a ton of cash for what he's playing with. That's just funny"

        He didn't. It's an evaluation unit that Alienware sent to him for review. It has to go back.

        BTW, my current desktop rig, which has a Windows Experience Index of 5.4, cost 1/2 the retail price of the Alienware lappy that Adrian is reviewing.

        So much for having to fork out a ton of cash for an equivalent desktop...
        M.R. Kennedy
  • I use my laptop for journalism and image editing*

    * when hooked to an external monitor, obviously. :)

    Games can be a diversion, but all too often they become addicting. Fortunately, I prefer role playing and strategy games, but those are the worst kind - and not a profitable venue except for that of the company I bought the game from.

    My laptop's specs:
    Gateway MX8739
    * Windows Vista Ultimate (pity Bitlocker won't work under any conditions)
    * 2GB DDR667 RAM
    * 120GB HD
    * Wi-fi disabled (don't need it for internet access and I prefer the battery life)
    * 17" TFT TN LCD monitor (not the highest quality, but for $700 and what I NEED it for, it's exceptional for my ancient eyes)
    * Intel T2080 @ 1.73GHz dual core CPU
    * Stock Intel brand video card (Intel 950, 224MB shared RAM, runs Aero just fine)
    * 7.4 pounds weight

    I wish the SD card reader would fit the SD card all the way in it; so I wouldn't have to remove the card when packing up to leave. (What a sad oversight or design flaw...)
    HypnoToad72