My Alienware Area-51m 7700

Intro

I have been contemplating getting a new computer for some time now. My Class of '05 issue computer has never been what one would consider "top of the line," and games like Half Life 2 were almost unplayable on it (it took several minutes to load anything, and all detail levels had to be bottomed out). So, when I went to upgrade, I had a few requirements in mind. First, I wanted to get a laptop, since I'm going to be on the move quite a bit over the next few years and I will be living in confined spaces. Next, I wanted a machine powerful enough to run the current generation of games at top speeds, so that it will go a while before I need to update it. Speaking of which, I wanted some sort of upgradeability, which can be hard to get in a laptop. Price was really a secondary concern, since I had a sizeable chunk of my loan and nuke bonus to play with.

After a bit of looking around, I decided to go with Alienware. As a brand, Alienware has a lot of people who stand by it, and some who just abhor it. However, I felt that the company's products best  suited my needs. The 7700 I purchased was expensive, yes, but then again an equivalent machine from Dell costs as much or more. And, I have to admit, I like the "cool" factor of Alienware computers, which is odd since I'm otherwise a fairly non-pretentious person (witness my car).

Ordering/Arrival

Alienware has this interesting Phase system in place where you can track your order through 14 different steps, from ordering to shipping. From what I have gathered from various forums and other reviews, this process can take months. Luckily, my system was ordered on 23 March and arrived on Monday 11 April. While far from a speed record, this wasn't bad at all. The system was shipped by FedEx, and I might have gotten it on 9 April if it weren't for having to work around the Academy's express office being closed on the weekends. However, I got it Monday afternoon. My order came in two boxes, one with the computer itself and one with peripherals.

My computer was very well packed. There were a few dents on the outside of the box, but the system was acutally in an inner box and surounded by foam.

Thanks to all that packaging, my system arrived in mint condition, with no marks, scrapes, or any other damage. As you can see above, it also came with a free carrying case, which was a pleasant surprise. This item was mentioned no where on any of the invoices.

The System

As I mentioned earlier, I purchased an Alienware Area-51m 7700. I ordered the system via the Alienware website, configured with the following:

Area-51m 7700

Warranty: 1-Year AlienCare Toll-Free 24/7 Phone Support with Onsite Service
Operating System: Microsoft(r) Windows(r) XP Professional with Service Pack 2
 AlienRespawn: Alienware(r) Respawn Recovery Kit
Case: Area-51m 7700 Case with 17" WideXGA+ 1400 x 900 LCD Display - Xeno Grey
Processor: Intel(r) Pentium(r) 4 Processor 530J w/ HT Technology 3.0GHz 1MB Cache
Motherboard: Intel(r) 915P Chipset Supporting PCI-Express
Memory: 1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SO-DIMM at 533MHz - 2 x 512MB
Video Card: Area-51m 7700 ATI MOBILITY™ RADEON X800 with 256MB of DDR 3 memory
Sound Card: Intel(r) High-Definition Audio (24-bit, 192Khz) with 7.1 surround sound
Hard Drive: Single Drive Configuration - 60GB 7200 RPM ATA100 - Hitachi
Optical Drive One: 8X Dual Layer DVD+/-RW / 24X CD-RW Combo w/Software
Floppy Drive: USB Floppy Drive
Ethernet NIC: Integrated 10/1000Mb Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Wireless Network: External Wireless 802.11a/b/g PCMCIA Card
Modem: 56K Modem with V.92 Technology
Security Software: Norton™ Internet Security ™ 2005
Mobile Power: Belkin(r) AC Anywhere 300W
Headphones: Zalman ZM-RS6F Surround Headphones
Optional Display: No Monitor
Free Alienware T-Shirt: Free Alienware(r) T-Shirt - Black
Desktop Enhancements: Exclusive AlienGUIse Theme Manager
Home Video Editing: Pinnacle(r) Studio MovieBox USB 9
Free Alienware Mousepad: Free Alienware(r) Mousepad

One Week Impressions

While I haven't had as much time to play with my new lappy as I would like, I have to say that I am very impresses so far. This system is everything I was hoping it would be. It runs Half Life 2 lightning fast, it runs and opens programs with no hassle, and has been as stable as a rock. While the system is large, heavy, and has a short battery life by laptop standards, I have no trouble with that. I am  I am not really planning on taking this on the road a whole lot. It will mostly be a at-home computer, but I need a compact computer like this since my home is going to be a small one bedroom apartment. This laptop looks very sharp, and has so much functionality that I have only begun to scratch the surface. The only issue I am having is that I can only get sound out of two of the speakers, but I have heard that this is a common software issue that can be resolved fairly easily.  I've read how some people have had negative experiences with Alienware, but so far my experience has been nothing but positive and I am very satisfied with my purchase

Andy Rucker