capsule review

Alienware Area-51 7500

At a Glance
  • Alienware Area-51 7500

    PCWorld Rating

Equipped with Intel's Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor and an EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card, the impressive Alienware Area-51 7500 delivers strong performance and excellent features. But at $4954 (as of December 6, 2006), it's the most expensive quad-core model we've tested thus far.

You do get a lot for your money. Our review system carried 2GB of RAM and Intel's 2.66-Ghz quad-core Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor. This combination helped Area-51 7500 to a WorldBench 5 score of 162, slightly better than the marks achieved by other quad-core systems we've tested, but not as strong as those turned in by the fastest dual-core systems we've evaluated. (The dual-core systems run at a higher clock speed, and few of our testing programs take advantage of four cores.)

The Area-51 7500 uses a GeForce 8800-based graphics card--the EVGA e-GeForce 8800GTX, with 768MB of memory--which offers hardware support for DirectX 10 in Windows Vista. including 167fps. The system sustained a frame rate of 167 frames per second on our Doom 3 test at 1280 by 1024 resolution; and a frame rate of 208 fps on our Far Cry test at both 1024 by 768 and 1280 by 1024 resolutions.

Our test system had plenty of storage, too, including three hard drives (two of them in a RAID 0 configuration) for a generous 800GB total. An additional unoccupied internal drive bay can accommodate yet another hard drive.

The Area-51 7700 has Alienware's signature imposing black case, with clean lines and sizable footprint; its shiny plastic tends to show fingerprints easily. Reclosing the side panel entails maneuvering several metal tags into place before the panel clicks back into position.

Among the case's thoughtful design touches are mesh sleeves that neatly keep the cables out of the way. The system also has backlit, front-mounted ports, including two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and a microphone and headphone socket. The fans in the case's removable side are connected by touch contacts instead of cables, so you can easily remove the side panel without having to unplug the fans first.

Our test system came bundled with Logitech's G15 gaming keyboard, which has a small LCD panel for showing game info or song titles, and Logitech's G5 mouse, which lets you add or remove small weights from its underside to get the right feel for your hand. The mouse has three settings for tracking sensitivity, with two buttons below the scroll wheel for attaining fast or precise movement. Our test system's 20-inch wide-screen Samsung 204B LCD monitor produced good images in our tests.

The powerful, full-featured Area-51 7500 is great for gaming; and for the high price, you get Alienware's thoughtful design and attractive styling--and DirectX 10-readiness.

Richard Baguley

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The pricey Area-51 7500 is a stylish, speedy system for those who want top notch performance and future-proofed graphics.

    Pros

    • Has high-end gaming keyboard and mouse
    • Graphics card is DirectX 10-capable

    Cons

    • Expensive
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