Alienware Area-51m, a scalable Gamer Laptop - The360 Technology

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  • Wednesday, December 25, 2019

    Alienware Area-51m, a scalable Gamer Laptop

    Alienware Area-51m, a scalable Gamer Laptop

    In addition to a satisfying aesthetic refresh of the high-end Alienware, the Area-51m offers many possibilities with the latest Intel Core i chips and the new Nvidia RTU GPUs. The promise of potentially significant scalability.

    When should you stop using the term laptop? Is it with the Acer Predator 21 X, a monster at 10,000 euros with a 21-inch screen? Or with the Asus Mothership, closer to an all-in-one with a removable keyboard? Or is it the new Alienware Area-51m, a 17-inch whose bowels evoke more a desktop than a laptop?

    The return of the evolutionary laptop

    With most laptops, even the upgrade of RAM and storage are uncertain. The Area-51m goes far beyond, with a processor and a graphics card that can be replaced. Although in the case of the high-end configuration in Core i9 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 we tested there is no more powerful at the moment. But you can start with a low-end Core i7-8700 and upgrade it later.

    The RAM and 2.5-inch hard drive are easy to access and level up when you remove a handful of screws on the bottom panel. To access the processor and the GPU, you must first remove other elements and the operation is less obvious. But honestly, you're good for at least a year or two even if you're obsessed with the idea of ​​having the newest and the best, and for a lot, a lot longer if you're just interested in a laptop that will do turn any game at high speeds.

    A renewed but familiar design

    When we first saw the new Area-51m at the end of 2018, our impression was that the Alienware team had a little oversold remodeling in depth. It was a nice-looking, though massive, gaming laptop. The industrial design was quite modern and minimalist to avoid the disgraceful appearance of so many gaming PCs. But he did not reinvent the wheel or show great audacity.

    However, our opinion has changed significantly after spending a few weeks using it. It's an attractive laptop that gives you the impression of not sacrificing space on your desk. The magnesium alloy frame looks almost like ceramic, lacking the usual tendency to catch fingerprints and other soiling. We love the hexagonal design of the fans on the underside and back.

    As is common with large format gaming notebooks, the keyboard is excellent but the touch pad is small and basic. However it is backlit, which is pleasant. Most gaming laptops today have shallow, chicklet-style keyboards, so it's nice to find a classic design with deep, responsive touches. The Alienware Command Center software manages all custom lighting settings, as well as some overclocking, fan speed and toy library options.

    The borders of the screen are thin, except in the lower part which hides the Tobii gaze tracking cameras. The system monitors your eyes as you play and can move the camera in the game for you (or move a cursor on the screen, etc.). Different PC makers have been trying to operate this Tobii device with gaming laptops for years. The effect is usually closer to a horror movie with a shaky camera, and anyone who has tested the 51m Zone with us immediately turned it off. However, eye tracking can have a future with virtual reality headsets, so do not bury it too fast. We will not advise you to disable it on this model because it is the only way for now to obtain the rate of refresh at 144Hz.

    There is another point to consider that is halfway between a design problem and an engineering problem. The system includes two separate power supplies. In the case of the high-end configuration that we tested, it's a 330-watt power supply and a second 180-watt power supply. Depending on the configuration, you will have two 180-watt power supplies.

    The smaller one is perfect for on-the-go use if you do not intend to play while the bigger one proved perfect for most games in our tests. But even try to turn on the system with just one power plugged in and you'll immediately be warned that performance may be compromised.

    In general, we used both feeds at the same time, as recommended, when we were sedentary. But it is still a lot of mass and cables and more on the desk or under the feet.

    Big performances, high price

    What are the performances of the Area 51m? So far, all the Nvidia RTX 2080 or 2080 Max-Q laptops we've tested have performed well and this model is no exception. The benchmarks speak for themselves, but we were impressed by everything from games, 3D modeling, Photoshop and video editing. The only system we've tested that comes close is the new Origin Eon-17X PC, which also has a big desktop processor. If you come to the limits of this material, it is because you probably need a workstation.

    The Area-51m starts at a reasonable price of 2,300 euros with a Core i7-8700, 8 GB of RAM, a GeForce RTX 2060. The ultra high-end version with a Core i9-9900K, 32 GB of RAM, 2 TB storage, a 144 Hz G-Sync display and a GeForce RTX 2080 is at 4.350 euros. It's not outrageous for a high-end gaming laptop, but it's not cheap either.

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