Alienware Area 51m full review
Alienware has been a staple of the gaming market for almost two decades, setting trends in both design and engineering that other manufacturers attempt to follow. The brand new Alienware Area 51m (2019) has been announced at CES 2019 and Dell are certainly moving this product in a direction that is closer to Alienware's performance-hungry roots.
The Alienware Area 51m is big, beefy and incredibly powerful. It has specs to rival most high-end gaming desktops but is still (just about) a laptop. The gaming laptop industry has been focusing on getting the most power into the smallest form factor possible for several years now. While this is an area of the market that does need to be addressed and served, Alienware is providing a product that provides desktop performance that consumers can pick up and walk around with.
Price & Availability
The Area 51m will release in late January to the tune of around $2,500 (we’re not sure on UK pricing just yet) for the basic model. If you’re going to want something more powerful the price will easily push the $3,000 mark.
The important point to keep in mind here is that you will be able to get inside this laptop and replace the CPU/GPU as you see fit. If you want to upgrade your specs to run the latest games in a couple of years then you will be able to do that without purchasing an entirely new laptop.
Design & Build: A beast
The design language for the Area 51m sees a change from the traditional Alienware looks we’ve been familiar with for several years. The new theme, called Alienware Legend, will offer a sleeker, more stylish tone that will lose some of the aggression of the previous design - but will still be instantly recognisable as an Alienware device.
Alienware and RGB lights, just like love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage - they were never in any danger of being lost in the new design, lets face it. We’re glad though because they do look stunning against the new white colour the Area 51m is now available in.
The matte black finish and assertive RGBs have been synonymous with Alienware for a long time, so the jump to a white laptop is a strong move but certainly not unwelcome - as the demographic of gaming laptop buyers has changed from predominantly males in their late teens and twenties to something far more diverse across age ranges and genders, the aesthetic customisation options have moved to reflect this.
The build quality is exceptional as you would expect from Alienware. The trackpad response is extremely solid while being nice and smooth, and the keyboard gives impressive feedback with a little more tread than you may expect. We were perhaps expecting to see a slightly more mechanical feel to the keyboard here, but what we got feels great none-the-less.
Perhaps the most prominent feature of the body is what only can be described as the rear-exhaust port, which along with the slightly raised position the device rests in, is present to provide sufficient cooling to the monstrous amount of power contained within this relatively small space.
You can make up your own mind on how you think it looks, but the surrounding RGB ring and the hexagonal design certainly makes it stand out from other competitors. It also looks like it could take off and zoom out of the window at any moment.
If you are in the market for something a bit more portable than make sure you take a look at the Razer Blade 15.
Specs & Features: Desktop power
The Area 51m will feature desktop processors. Yes, you read that correctly. Not only will it feature desktop processors but it will house some of the most powerful consumer processors currently available including the 9th generation i7-9700k and the i9-9900k.
It also has the ability to house Nvidia’s 2000 series cards - the RTX 2060, 2070 and 2080. Combine this with up to 64GB of RAM and some other goodies including a 2Gb Ethernet port and you’ve got a portable device more powerful than most people’s desktops.
You will also be able to overclock the CPU and GPU on this device. The headroom has been increased to allow for 180 watts and 119 watts for the GPU/CPU respectively, although you will need two power-cords plugged into the device to access the overclocking features.
At this point you’re probably wondering how Alienware plans to keep this device cool, considering desktops suffer from cooling issues with an overclocked CPU and GPU and while this laptop is big, it is not a 30 litre tower.
The answer is with a vapour cooling system, 7 massive copper heat sinks and two giant fans at the back along with some minor exhaust out from the sides of the device. All this accounts for a lot of the weight of the device, which comes in at 8.54 pounds for a fully-specced version.
Display, Battery Life and Ports
There's no sign of slacking on the display front here either. The Area 51m has a 144Hz or 240Hz 1080p FHD 17.3in display, with Nvidia G-Sync included as well as an integrated eye-tracking setup courtesy of Tobii.
The battery life isn’t going to be great but that’s hardly a surprise. The battery that can power an eight-core desktop processor, an RTX 2080 and a 144Hz screen for more than a few hours would probably double the weight of the device - and good luck taking that on a plane.
The port array includes the dual-DC power jacks, three USB 3.1 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0, ethernet and a Alienware’s own Graphics Amplifier Port.
Alienware Area 51m: Specs
- 17.3in FHD (1,920x1,080) 60Hz Anti-Glare IPS display Windows 10 Home (64-bit) 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8700 (6-Core, 12MB Cache, up to 4.6GHz w/ Turbo Boost) processor Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB, 2x4GB, DDR4, 2400MHz 1TB (+8GB SSHD) Hybrid Drive •90Wh Lithium-ion battery 2x USB-A HDMI Mini DisplayPort RJ45 Ethernet Alienware Graphics Port Thunderbolt 3 2x SuperSpeed USB-A SuperSpeed USB-A with PowerShare technology 3.5mm headphone jack Alienware TactX keyboard with per-key RGB LED AlienFX lighting Alienware Sound Centre via Alienware Command Centre Alienware HD (1280x720 resolution) camera Bluetooth 5.0 410x402.6x27.65-42mm 4.4kg