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Cracking open the Alienware Area-51 7500

The good folks at Alienware recently sent TechRepublic one of their Area-51 7500 gaming desktops for review. We take a look inside this super-performing premium gaming system and drool over the components.
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By Mark Kaelin on
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The good folks at Alienware recently sent TechRepublic one of their Area-51 7500 gaming desktops for review. The configuration of this system includes the overclocked Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad CPU and the 768MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra video card. Both the CPU and the GPU are liquid cooled -- believe us when we say, this is not your office PC. We take a look inside this super-performing premium gaming system and drool over the components.

This system was supposed to be overclocked, that is what I asked for, but I'm not certain that it is. I'll investigate.

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While the Alienware ""="" href="http://www.techrepublic.com/contents/2346-10877_11-30410.html">laptop PC we reviewed earlier this year shipped in an ordinary FedEx box, the desktop system came in a box with the familiar company logo.

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Even the box inside the box has the logo.

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The peripherals box contains the T-shirt, owner's manual, mouse, keyboard, and various video connection cables.

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One thing I noticed right away is that machine was wrapped in soft cloth instead of Styrofoam paper like so many other manufacturers use.

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The case is a glossy jet black that reflects everything in the room.
By the way, it is a well-known fact that your reflection on a personal computer case will add at least 10 pounds.
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Oh yeah!

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There are a plethora of connections on the pack of the case. The on-board sound includes enough connections for 7.1 audio. There is also an optical connection, which is a relatively unusual.

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There are other colors available, but I prefer the black.

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Opening the front door reveals the DVD drive and a couple of open drive bays.

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The plastic pieces covering each bay can be removed and replaced with ease. I wish all manufacturers would catch on to that idea. Upgrading is not a bad thing and should not be discouraged.

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We take off the side panel to expose the inside. Notice how neatly the cables and wires are laid out and tied down.

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A close up look at the cooling system. These green tubes cool the CPU. The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad CPU needs the extra cooling because it is overclocked to 3.2GHz.

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A closer look at the cooling and video card shows you the special cooling applied to the 768MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra (Red arrow). This is currently one of the fastest single video cards available.

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The three drives in the system are set up in a RAID array. Notice the red serial cables -- no bulky ribbons anymore.

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It took me a minute figure out what the circuit board on the bottom of the case was for. It is controlling the LEDs and the fan located on the side panel.

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The side panel with a huge fan.

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Notice the connections are just contacts -- no plugs. An unexpected bit of design engineering.

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A closer look at the I/O connections reveals plenty of USB connections. You just might be able to retire that external USB hub.

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The 1000-watt power supply is also particularly huge. All of this power translates into large components.

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Two DVI outputs as well as S-video.

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The Logitech G5 Gaming Mouse is included with the system. I can personally attest the superiority of this mouse for gaming.

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I really like the Alienware T-shirts that come with each new PC, but they never send me the proper size so I end up giving them away.

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One of the Logitech G5 Gaming Mouse features is the ability to adjust the weight of the mouse to match your preferences. The weights come in what can best be described as an Altoid can.

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The power plug is even larger than your usual desktop. 100 Watts is some serious power.

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The Alienware Area-51 7500 ships with a standard light package. It looks great in the dark. Note the power button.

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The LEDs are even functional -- you can see where to load your Half-Life 2 disk even if it is otherwise pitch black.

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With the LEDs, connecting your headphones to play a midnight match of Call of Duty without disturbing your spouse is a trivial task.

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George Ou recently discussed the "crapware" problem with most new PCs. Alienware ships their desktop systems with the operating system and nothing else. That is how it is supposed to be done.
I was told this PC was overclocked, but I notice that Vista is reporting 2.66MHz. I'll have to investigate.
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Now it is time to add some games and get to the actual review of this system. I have high expecations, so we will see if the system lives up to those. So far, it has been everything I expected. Although it is a little louder than I anticipated, but it is still quieter than my last Alienware PC.

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