Packaging & Specifications
Alienware products all come in the same big black box. The components in all the Alienware systems I have looked at have been well packaged and the Alienware Area-51 7500 was no exception. The Logitech G5 gaming mouse and the G25 gaming keyboard were packaged in their own box along with the users manual, power cord and SLI connector should you wish to upgrade to SLI.
The system that I am reviewing has just about everything that you can get on an Alienware Area-51 7500 desktop save a second 8800 GTX for SLI and the PhysX card that is of questionable value anyway. The CPU in this rig is the beastly Intel GX6700 Core 2 Quad Extreme edition that I run in one of my test machines which is the fastest quad core CPU around right now. Alienware cooled the CPU in my review sample with tier AlienIce liquid cooling system and integrated their AlienFX lighting system as well.
The AlienIce 3.0 video cooling system sounds like it puts liquid cooling on the graphics card, which it does not. The card cooling comes from vents in the side panels while the CPU gets liquid cooling with an internal radiator that uses ¼” tubing to route water from the radiator through a small CPU cooling block. Those into overclocking know that small-bore tubing on liquid cooling systems limit the performance, but to be honest hard core overclockers are not likely to be shopping for pre-built systems. The AlienFX system is a series of LED lights that illuminate the Alienware case badges, side vents, and the drive area on the front of the case.
This system allows you to change the color of the illuminated areas as you wish between eight different colors with each color having three different shade options. This is a cool system to allow you to personalize the look of your case. The AlienIce 3.0 system with liquid cooling and AlienFX adds $300 to the price of the computer.
Alienware chose the fantastic NVIDIA 680i mainboard for the Alienware Area-51 7500 computer. They also equipped the system with 2GB (2x 1GB) of DDR2 RAM running at 800 MHz. The 680i mainboard will run ram much faster than this set so if you need to upgrade in the future to some 1000MHz or even 1200 MHz RAM the system is up to it.
My test machine was also equipped with dual hard drives. The system drive is a 10,000 RMP WD Raptor 150GB unit with a 250GB Seagate 7200-rpm secondary drive for storage. On the optical drive front, there are two dual layer DVD burners up front. Alienware made a good sound card choice and used the SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme music card in the system.
To power all of the goodies inside the Alienware Area-51 7500 a 700 watt multiple GPU power supply is used. It is important to note here that the reason the 700 watt PSU won’t work with 8800 GTX SLI even though the Alienware site says it is multiple GPU approved is because each 8800 GTX requires two PCI-E power dongles and the 700 watt PSU only has two of them. The 1000 watt PSU has the four dongles required for 8800 GTX SLI.
Now we will move onto the performance aspect of the Alienware Area-51 7500. To test the gaming prowess of the Alienware Area-51 7500 I chose to test with 3DMark06, FEAR, Oblivion, and Quake 4. These games should give a good idea of how well the machine will perform for gaming.
The first test up was 3DMark06, which I ran at default settings in the application and in the NVIDIA control panel. Alienware benchmarks each system they build with 3DMark06 before it leaves from the factory and the total 3DMarks when my test machine was benched at the factory were 12,250 3DMarks. When I ran 3DMark06 on the system, it scored 11,636 3Dmarks total. The details are as follows:
I have seen variance in 3Dmark2006 from run to run before, though I am surprised by the difference in the scores that I saw in testing and Alienware quoted in the documentation supplied with the system. The machine should be configured exactly the same now as it was during their testing. I simply can’t account for the performance difference, I have not seen this big of a score difference on 3DMark2006 between two runs before on the same machine. I have seen gains like this from over clocking the CPU from one run to the next, but the Alienware Area-51 7500 is running box stock right now and I would assume the machine would have been when tested at the factory too.
The next test up was with FEAR which I ran at a screen resolution of 1600 x 1200, all settings on max with 4x AA and 16x AF. Using the in game test loop I recorded the following frame rate performance data.
The next game test up for the Alienware Area-51 7500 was with one of the most graphically challenging games on the market, Oblivion. For testing with Oblivion, I used a screen resolution of 1920 x 1200, HDR, and a texture size of medium. All sliders were set to max and I used Fraps to record frame rate data in a large outdoor environment on the other side of the lake from the exit to the sewers next to the ruins.
This environment offers a combination of all the most attractive and demanding graphics that Oblivions holds form moving trees and grass to water with reflections and ripples, moving clouds and NPC characters. This scene has bought many a machine to its knees while playing Oblivion. Fraps recorded the following frame rate data:
The final game test I ran on the Alienware Area-51 7500 was with Quake 4. I ran the game at 1600 x 1200 screen resolution on ultra quality setting and 16x AA. I used Fraps to record frame rate data on the start level, which I played up to the point where you meet the medic to escort him to the remainder of rhino squad. Fraps recorded the following frame rate information:
Overall, the Alienware Area-51 7500 is a high performance Pc for sure that can play any game on the current market with ease. The cool part about the Alienware Area-51 7500 is that not only can it play all current games, but it is ready to play tomorrows DirectX 10 games as well. It is rare that you can get a machine that excels at current generation gaming that is also so ready for future games without the need to update. However, if you do need or want to upgrade the NVIDIA 680i mainboard and top notch components of the Alienware Area-51 7500 are ready when you are.
If you are looking for a pre-built gaming computer it is really hard to go wrong with the Alienware Area-51 7500 it performs very well, is ready for future upgrades and looks fantastic. The only real drawback is the price, the system I am reviewing here is about $5200, but this machine uses top-notch components, which aren’t cheap, meaning the price isn’t out of line for what you are getting.
Leading our review center, Shane McGlaun (Google) knows technology inside out. His extensive experience in testing computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
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