capsule review

Alienware Area-51 7500

At a Glance
  • Alienware Area-51 7500

    PCWorld Rating

    Speedy but pricey liquid-cooled Area-51 7500 system includes SLI graphics and high-quality Logitech peripherals.

The impressive Alienware Area-51 7500 delivers strong performance and excellent features. At $6007 (as of July 11, 2007), it's the most expensive quad-core model we've tested thus far. You get a lot for your money, though. Our review system carried 2GB of 800-MHz DDR2 memory and Intel's 2.66-GHz Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad-core processor, overclocked by Alienware to 3.2 GHz and kept stable with liquid cooling. It's the first overclocked Area-51 7500 system to come through the PC World Test Center. Alienware began overclocking the line only in March 2007; the company previously reserved such CPU tweaks for its premium ALX machines, in which pricey extras like liquid cooling and 1066-MHz RAM are standard. Alienware's adjustments helped the Area-51 7500 to a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 125, a mark on a par with those of other overclocked gaming PCs and just four points behind the fastest PC we've tested to date, CyberPower's Gamer Infinity Ultimate.

The Area-51 7500 uses two 768MB EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX graphics boards in SLI mode, providing plenty of muscle and Direct X 10 gaming capabilities under its preinstalled Windows Vista Home Premium operating system. The Area-51 7500 averaged 165 frames per second on our Doom 3 test, versus the average of 143 fps set by the rest of the gaming PCs we tested. It averaged 187 fps on our Far Cry test at the same resolution settings, tying with the Gateway FX530XT but falling well behind the 202-fps result of the Dell XPS 720, which was equipped with a 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX board.

Our test system had plenty of storage, as well. Two 150GB, 10,000-rpm Western Digital Raptor hard drives were installed in a RAID 0 configuration, and the PC also had a 250GB, 7200-rpm Seagate drive. An additional unoccupied internal drive bay can accommodate yet another hard drive.

The Area-51 7500 has Alienware's signature imposing black case, with clean lines and a sizable footprint; unfortunately, its shiny plastic tends to show fingerprints easily. Closing the side panel entails maneuvering several metal tags into place before the panel clicks back into position. The fans in the case's removable side are powered by touch contacts instead of cables, so you can easily remove the side panel without having to unplug the fans first.

The system has backlit, front-mounted ports, including two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and microphone and headphone sockets. The system's Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer sound card pairs well with the bundled Logitech z-5300E 5.1 (280-watt) speakers. Our test system also featured 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 24-inch wide-screen Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP LCD monitor produced attractive, bright, and sharp images, and showed smooth motion when playing back a movie DVD (though it needed some tweaking to produce optimum image quality).

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

Richard Baguley and Danny Allen

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Speedy but pricey liquid-cooled Area-51 7500 system includes SLI graphics and high-quality Logitech peripherals.

    Pros

    • High-end Logitech peripherals
    • DirectX 10-ready SLI graphics

    Cons

    • Expensive
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