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Alienware or Apple

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September 17, 2003 9:53:13 PM

Which is the better laptop at present, Alienware's Area-51m or Apple's 17in Power Book? Also, does getting a 64bit laptop make sense? At present laptops cannot accept more than 4GBs of memory, but is that not one of the advantages of 64bit processors: the ability to address more than 4GBs of memory? And lastly, does it appear that Apple's 17in Power Book sacrifices anything? The 17in Power book has everything from Bluetooth to a 64MB Radeon 9600. Does Apple sacrifice anything to include all of those extras?

More about : alienware apple

September 18, 2003 2:36:17 PM

well one thing will depend on what OS you want. The Alienware has the upgradeable 128MB NVIDIA Card. Within a couple months they will have the 128 ATI card as well. The ALienware won't have much battery life in comparison to other notebooks (2hrs at norm) and might run hotter. Also they will be heavy. However they do what they are suposed to do, and that is raw speed for playing games.

I'm a Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Student, not English, nor will I ever claim to be.
September 18, 2003 3:14:51 PM

But is the choice really between OSs thor1182? Supposedly, Vitual PC 6 enables Mac users to run almost any Windows program. Granted running Windows on a Mac through Virtual PC will be slower than running Windows on a PC, but at least Mac users can run most Windows programs. So if that is true, than the choice really comes down to: how important is raw graphics power? Is having the best graphics card worth the ten pounds? Tough call.
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September 18, 2003 8:19:40 PM

Ok man, there is a lot of confusion in this thread. First, if you want to buy a laptop, check your budget. Then, decide what you want it for (games? document writing? movie editing? internet surfing? 3D modeling?). Also, for now, 64bit laptops dont exist, so forget about it. Apple powerbook uses motorola's G4 processor and Alienware area51m uses P4 and the area51m sentia uses pentium m. What is better, Apple's computers or PC's? (PC's as in intel or AMD based computers). That is a hotly debated topic that not even god knows whats better. Its about preference and choice. Apple's 17 inch powerbook has a radeon 9600 of 64 mb while the alienware has the fx5600 of 128mb. Note that there are other laptops other than Alienware, like voodoopc.com, dell.com, toshiba.com, hypersonic-pc.com, etc...
eurocom.com, voodoopc.com, hypersoni-pc.com and others carry the new radeon 9600 with 128mb.

what do you want the computer for?

gaming - go for an normal Intel processor laptop.
word processing - you can go for either alienware or apple
web surfing - either.
movie compositing or editing - depends on the software you use.
a mix of everything - I would go for an intel based laptop.

Think also about portability. If its important to you, go for a Pentium M (note that Centrino is basically pentium m but with other portability technologies). If portability isnt important, a Pentium 4 laptop is fine, as long as you dont care that it gets hot.

An apple powerbook has good performance, but an alienware or a voodoopc for example, can be customized up to the point where it can be comparable to a high end PC performance. you can have ddr400, P4 3.2 ghz, 128mb radeon, and even a 7200rpm hd. An apple powerbook cant be customized that much and offers less performance.

Conclusion, do the following:
-determine your budget.
-determine your needs.
-do you need portability?
-choose a brand.
-go to their website, choose a model and customize it to fit your budget.
- and in my opinion, dont get an apple, they are more expensive, offers less software flexibility and diversity, less hardware choices. People will say how powerbooks and apples are more reliable and safe, that is true, but intel is getting better everyday.

good luck and keep us updated, sorry if i sound unorganized.


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My computer is so fast it proves the theory of relativity wrong... :eek: 
September 19, 2003 3:02:02 AM

I am afraid that I disagree with you grassapa. Actually, I do agree with you on the PC vs Mac debate. However, Apple at the moment makes the most portable computers. Despite all the advantages of Centrino, I do not believe that there is a PC Centrino equivalent to Apple's 17in and 15in Power Books. It seems that Centrino systems go one of two ways, either they have everything and cost more than $3000 or they have nothing and cost about the same. For instance, Dell's D800 when fully equipped is similar to either the 17in or 15in, but it costs about the same. But Alienware's Sentia Extreme costs $2800, but it comes with a small screen, a bad graphics processor, no Bluetooth capability, and so forth. But for $3000 or $2600, Apple's Power Books have practically every feature a desktop does. As for customization, while PC laptops may be very customizable, except for one or two instances it is not possible to get a PC equipped with a DVI port, 1000Gbit, 1394b, built in Bluetooth, and so forth. And as for what I want to use a laptop for the answer is, everthing. I want a laptop that will be able to play any game I throw at it, I want a laptop that will allow me to connect to almost anything and everything, I want a laptop that will do e-mail, but the laptop also must be light. It does not necessarily have to be thing, on top of all of that, it also has to be light. I think the maximum amount of weight that I want to carry is about 8lbs. Finally, I am aware that VoodooPC and Alienware are not the only laptop makers. However, it is my belief that those two companies are the best PC laptop makers. Of course, those two happen to make some of the most heavy laptops, which presents me with a delimma if I go with either of those two companies. Besides, is it my imagination or has quality in laptop makers like Dell gone done? To me, current Dell laptops seem more flimsy and seem to have lower quality components than laptops two or three years ago. Like I said, it may just be me. Next Tuesday AMD is suppose to unveil 64bit chips for both desktops and laptops. So, technically 64bit laptops do exists, despite the fact that most people on this planet cannot buy them yet. Did not THG show a laptop at Million Man Lan with a 64bit Athlon a little while back? But I suppose what I really want to know is, how practical would it/is it to get a 64bit laptop? And I suppose what I ultimately want to know is, am I over looking anything? I am not sure if I can be more precise than that. I mean, I am very, or at least I would like to think I am, aware of what the laptop offerings are from PC makers. And I am, I believe, very aware of what Apple is offering. But could it be that I have not considered all of the possibilities (SP)? Am I over looking a feature, a company, anything? By the way grassapa, I followed your response all the way through so I think it was organized.
September 19, 2003 2:46:42 PM

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Apple at the moment makes the most portable computers

Portable as in what sense? Because Dell makes a laptop that are tiny and weigh less than 3 pounds, that is more portable than the smallest Powerbook out there.

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I do not believe that there is a PC Centrino equivalent to Apple's 17in and 15in Power Books

ok, equivalent in what sense? price? performance? size?

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For instance, Dell's D800 when fully equipped is similar to either the 17in or 15in, but it costs about the same

Ok, you lost me here tell me how you configured the D800 and the 15 and 17inch powerbooks because I cant follow you here. By the way, you know dell has a lot of good deals? you can even go to passwird.com and get 10% off discount cupons that can easily take 200 - 300 dollars off the price? An this D800, it shows you that PC laptops can have 1000gig ethernet.


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But Alienware's Sentia Extreme costs $2800

Buddy, look for other laptops, alienware doesnt reflect the other laptops that are out there, you will be surprised how much the price can change. here is an example, I was looking for a laptop a few weeks ago, i found out that a voodoopc laptop which was configured the same (I MEAN SAME) way as a hypersonic-pc laptop was worth around 1000 bucks more. 1000! bucks for no reason. and they were the same equal laptop with same parts, motherboard, even chasis!

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Apple's Power Books have practically every feature a desktop does

Err.... not quite, not even close buddy. dont over exagerate your comments.

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it is not possible to get a PC equipped with a DVI port, 1000Gbit, 1394b, built in Bluetooth, and so forth.

You can get 1394b firewire and built in bluetooth for sure. And judging by your laptop needs, I doesnt seem to me that you need a DVI output. First off, to buy a DVI monitor, it will cost you so much, you can almost buy a computer with that money. Those are used for movie composition and edition where color and image quality is very important, plus, since you want portability, the DVI output is useless, since you will be using your own laptop screen.

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the laptop also must be light

Trust me, look harder and you will find lighter and better laptops than those powerbooks, dont get me wrong, they are fast and nice but they come in handy in really specific tasks, but for general stuff, they are bad. Not to mention all the software available to PC laptops. You dont like PC laptops because they are unstable? take windows off and put linux and use wine to run office, games, etc... and since linux doesnt have to emulate a x86 processor because its running on it, its better than emulating windows programs on a powerbook.

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Finally, I am aware that VoodooPC and Alienware are not the only laptop makers. However, it is my belief that those two companies are the best PC laptop makers. Of course, those two happen to make some of the most heavy laptops

SOrry buddy, u are completely off here, they arent the best pc laptop makers and they can be as light as a powerbook. Just look harder.

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Besides, is it my imagination or has quality in laptop makers like Dell gone done? To me, current Dell laptops seem more flimsy and seem to have lower quality components than laptops two or three years ago. Like I said, it may just be me

Its just you, Dell is one of the best OEM manufacturers out there regardless what other people say about their "bad" support. They build high quality products. If rapture was here, he would support my argument.

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Next Tuesday AMD is suppose to unveil 64bit chips for both desktops and laptops. So, technically 64bit laptops do exists, despite the fact that most people on this planet cannot buy them yet.

I never said they would NEVER exist, I said they dont exist now, and for now, my statement is still true. You cannot buy one yet. I dont even know why you bother looking after those 64bit anyways, your needs dont show that you have to buy a 64bit laptop anyways. First, you would need 64 bit applications to take advantage of it, second, you would need a 64bit OS also to take advantage of the chip and programs, third, they would be expensive now and since they are new chips, noone knows what could happen to them, they could be very hot? they could suck a battery out in 30 minutes? who knows? And just because they will announce it (which according to AMD's site, it was announced today then 19th) that doesnt mean all companies will carry it right away. It will take time for companies to assimilate new chips

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And I suppose what I ultimately want to know is, am I over looking anything? ... And I am, I believe, very aware of what Apple is offering

I believe you are overlooking the PC laptops and concentrating on the powerbooks too much. Just a few facts:
- Powerbook's faster memory is ddr333, where PC laptops can reach DDR400
- Powerbook has a crappy Radeon 9600 which is not the Pro version and uses agp 4x. Where a PC laptop can reach a Radeon 9600 pro with 128mb and agp8x, and yes the chipset supports it which means it will take advantage of it.
- Powerbook's fastest hard drive is 5400rpm, where the PC laptops can have the 7200rpm ones.
- PC laptops can have 1394 firewire, 1000gig network and bluetooth
- PC laptops will have way more software than powerbooks.
- If you want portability, a PC laptop can be configured so they can be cheaper and lighter.
- If for any reason, you dont like the pentium m, have you heard of the Pentium 4-m? they are another alternative you know, they can be faster too, and offer good mobility.
- Apple is now known for their deceit and cheats. IF you havent read their problem with the G5's and their unfair comparison to Intel's chips, then you should. It might give you a new view on Apple. They might have used the same tactics while benchmarking their new powerbooks to make them look as gods, when in fact, they arent anything more than just good performing and good looking machines.

At the end, the choice is yours.

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My computer is so fast it proves the theory of relativity wrong... :eek: 
September 19, 2003 4:22:22 PM

You know grassapa, I think that you are over looking at the sacrfices PCs make a person make hardware wise. For instance, if I did get a hypersonic-pc, then I have two options. Go with the Aviator ZX7 and forgo a Radeon 9600, 1000Gbit, and 802.11g or a while being burdened with a unnecessary floppy drive an internal video camera and so forth. Second option is to go with the Aviator GX6, but then I have to forgo a screen larger than 15in, 802.11g or a plus I with the GX6, I will have to get a HyperThread processor. Do you not agree that that sounds like to much sacrifice when compared to Apple or even Alienware?
As for Dell, I do not see the option to get 1000Gbit. Where do you see that feature? As for Dell's quality, how can you say that they sell quality laptops? For instance, now Dell only offers AC97 audio. I have listened to sound produced by the AC97 codec and I am not impressed. And, if I am not mistaken, Dells currently come with a Samsung DVD drive. But do not Sony and Toshiba make the best DVD drives and Samsung some of the worst? I just do not see Dells being built today with the quality that they were two or three years ago. Also with Dell a person must make sacrfices. If a person gets a D800 then that person must forgo a Radeon or FX graphics card, PC 2700 or higher RAM amoungst other things. But if a person goes with the Inspiron 8600 then a person must forgo 1000Gbit and quality parts. Actually, the 8600 considering all things is not that bad, but it does pale when compared to an Alienware.
As for 64bit, I suppose the best thing about owning a 64bit laptop would be the bragging rights. Beyond that, you are right.
By the way, I do not know of any PC company that offers 1394b. 1394a yes, but not b.
As for Apple and its benchmarks and lack of Radeon 9600 Pro, no comment.
I suppose now my point is is that PCs seem to make consumers make too many sacrfices hardware wise. What do you think?
September 19, 2003 5:49:05 PM

Fido, you said yourself that you are looking for a notebook that is light, and portable, but can still run any game you throw at it. You don't have to look that far, I mean a 'mere' Dell D800 with a 'slow' GeForce 4 Go 4200 will run everything you throw at it. I know, I have one, and I have yet to find a game that does not run at its maximum settings. The D800 also comes standard with at least a 5400rpm HDD (7200rpm if you wish - that Apple does not offer), Gigabit (1000Mbps) Lan, IEEE1394 Firewire, and optional bluetooth. If you wish for more graphics either wait a month or two, or take a look at the Inspiron 8600. The notebook is constructed out of a tri-metal polymer of steel, magnesium and aluminium covered in plastic, with the back of the LCD being completely magnesium. I assure it is quite rigid, even if it is not quite as 'solid' as the 15" Apple (the 17" is a bit more flimsy in my opinion). If a DVI port is that important to you, and you can afford a DVI monitor, then you can surely afford a port-replicator/docking station wich offers 2 DVI ports and even 2 or 3 PCI slots for upgradability. Where the 17" Apple has a bigger screen size, the 15" Dell has a greater screen 'real estate' due to its higher resolution (of course, some people do find the resolution too high for comfort, I am not one of those so it really boils down to personal preference).

I use my notebook to do sound at parties (in combination with decks etc.) - I am talking about 2000W combined speaker power, and it is perfect. The only problem I have found is that the DVD-drive 'leaks' static unless you mute it. But anyway, none of the Apple notebooks have dedicated sound cards, they still use onboard Northbridge sound and thus a generic driver that would not be dissimlar to AC97. The DVD/CD-R/RW combo does its job perfectly, I have never had a single coaster or glitch with it. It is a Matshita, not samsung, but it makes little difference to me, it is in fact faster than the Toshiba DVD in my old Inspiron 8200 even though they are rated the same speed.

The quality of this Dell is vastly superior to that of previous models dating back to 1999. The Pentium-M 1.7GHz will give you plenty of power, seeing that it compares to a Pentium 4 2.8GHz and is upgradable - that is the one thing that the Apple doesn't have in its favour upgradability.

So what I am saying is that the Dell Latitude D800 / Inspiron 8600 is not the highest performing, or even highest spec'd notebook around, It will still run everything you throw at it with relative ease and yet has a battery life of almost 5 hrs at a push (up to 7.5 with the second battery). Frankly I wouldn't be able to lug around a 17" notebook all day, even if it was light, the sheer bulk would deter me.

As nice as the Apple notebooks are [can be], they don't offer enough to swing me from PC notebooks and, for that matter, Dell. Don't get me wrong, I am not a Dell "fanboy", they have just always had the right product for me at the right time.

RaPTuRe

P.s. Sorry about the jumbled post. It's bad I know - try to make sense of it if you can.

Who's General Failure and why's he reading my disk?
September 19, 2003 7:43:54 PM

Ok man, you seem too be stuck with that Dell D800 model. It's a good model, but there are more. And, as i said before, look harder, a hypersonic Gx6 can have wireless ethernet, and if you dont like the 15 inch screen, get the zx7 which in fact does have a bluetooth and wireless ethernet LOOK HARDER! Also, for those little things, there are thing called PCMCIA cards where they can compliment missing stuff. Note that a pcmcia card cant compliment faster graphics or faster memory speed. Just as there are bad things about PC laptops, there are more about powerbooks, let me list them, again...
- It has a radeon 9600 of 64 mb, which really has no difference from a radeon 9000 64mb unless you play Dx9 games. (which you probably wont because you will be using a powerbook). You couldnt see any difference in today's games between a 9000 or a 9600. And if you plan to play upcoming Dx9 games, your powerbook would do you no good.
- memory ddr333 is a powerbook limit. a pc laptop can have ddr400
- a powerbook is not upgradable
- the fastest HD in a powerbook is 5400 rpm, where a pc can be 7200rpm
- they arent upgradable
- they have a small software diversity.

you complain about Dell's sound, well powerbook's sound is not better.

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I think that you are over looking at the sacrfices PCs make a person make hardware wise

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I suppose now my point is is that PCs seem to make consumers make too many sacrfices hardware wise

AFter all, I think you made 2 mistakes man, instead of the word "PC" i think you meant to say "apple".

you can choose to loose small things like bluetooth or DVI outputs but get bigger benefits like a better graphics card, faster memory or faster hd, stuff that are more important.

Im not sure about the difference between 1394a and 1394b, but make yourself this question, are your needs that extreme where 1394a cant satisfy you and you need 1394b? that wont make your computer of programs run faster, where the PC laptops benefits will.

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My computer is so fast it proves the theory of relativity wrong... :eek: 
September 19, 2003 7:46:18 PM

oh and what do you mean by:
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I with the GX6, I will have to get a HyperThread processor

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My computer is so fast it proves the theory of relativity wrong... :eek: 
September 20, 2003 6:22:09 AM

I want to make a few quick comments to some of your points grassapa. First, very few PC companies offer laptops with DDR400. Second, the performace difference between 5400RPM and 7200RPM laptop HDs is not that great according to a comparison done by THG. Third, I do not see why you keep on saying that Macs have "small software diversity." If the software is not made for the Mac, Mac users can still use Virtual PC to run to program. Fourth, one of the advantages to getting a Mac is the ability to get away from PCMCIA cards, since Macs have most everything built into them. Fifth, the advantage of 1394b is distance. Sine 1394b is essentially a fiber optic strand, it enables much longer distances between computers. Six, the Aviator GX6 can only be equipped with a hyper thread processor and not many good things can be said about processors with hyper threading. Finally, as for upgradability, at this point in time it is a rather unimportant option or at least it seems that way. We are on the verge of crossing over into the 64bit world. So, even if a computer is upgradable, it would make more sense to buy a new laptop in two or three years than to upgrade the hardware and software of a 32bit system to that of a 64bit system. I mean, if for no other reason I would go in the future with a 64bit AMD or Apple laptop for the bus processor ratio. Currently, Apple G5 systems have a very small MHz gap between the processor and the bus. And most likely AMD systems will also have a very small gap, especially when compared to Intel systems. In the end, it really does not matter if a computer has DDR400, Radeon 9600 with 128MB of RAM, and a 7200RPM HD if the bus is five to ten times slower than the processor. That last statement is not saying that I am for sure going to get a 64bit laptop, but I am saying that having a small gap in processor and bus speed is a very nice thing.
By the way, I have not made up my mind about which laptop I am going to get. Actually, I am learning from and enjoying this debate. Do not know quite why I felt the need to say that.
September 20, 2003 1:36:42 PM

sighs..... again, youre not looking hard enough.

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First, very few PC companies offer laptops with DDR400

just to list a few, voodoopc.com, hypersonic-pc.com, eurocom.com, sager... that is a good ammount, and im not naming them all cuz i dont remember.

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Second, the performace difference between 5400RPM and 7200RPM laptop HDs is not that great according to a comparison done by THG

According to THG "The latter (7200rpm) also dominated every benchmark. With almost 40 GB/s of capacity, it certainly poses a challenge to the average desktop drive running at 5,400 rpm" It certainly poses a challenge to the AVERAGE desktop drive running at 5400 rpm. First, yes, the 5400 rpm drive was good too, but, notice that THG chose a very good 5400rpm seagate hard drive, something that you arent guranteed when you buy a laptop, usually, you'd get a crappy IBM hd. But, if you do choose the 7200rpm, you will be guranteed to the the Hitatchi one since they are the only ones making it right now, and the best performing laptop hd

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I do not see why you keep on saying that Macs have "small software diversity." If the software is not made for the Mac, Mac users can still use Virtual PC to run to program.

as i have said before, the macs DO have a small software diversity. The fact that you can use virtal pc, it doesnt mean its made for macs. Virtual pc has to emulate a pc, so it runs software slower. for example, try playin a game not made for macs on virtual pc, its not as good as playing it on a pc. Sure, you can run office decently, but ultimately, whats the point of getting a powerbook? its not like they have good software exclusive to them that is worth switching to macs and powerbooks.

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Fourth, one of the advantages to getting a Mac is the ability to get away from PCMCIA cards, since Macs have most everything built into them

why have everything built in? what if sometimes you only need one thing, and sometimes need the other? Why have to carry all the built in things? why not use pcmcia cards to switch in and out what you need and dont? Why dont you like pcmcia's anyways, they are just normal pieces of hardware that have the ability of being removed in case you dont need them, that for me is an advantage.

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Fifth, the advantage of 1394b is distance. Sine 1394b is essentially a fiber optic strand, it enables much longer distances between computers

you havent answered my question yet buddy, are you in dire need of that extra distance? are you some kind of professional movie compositor? if you are, you shouldnt even get a laptop.

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Six, the Aviator GX6 can only be equipped with a hyper thread processor and not many good things can be said about processors with hyper threading

this is just another example of ignorance. No offense but those things you've heard about HT arent true. HT enhances programs that support multiprocessing like photoshop, maya, etc, and sometimes it does slow single processors programs like games. How do you solve that problem? simple, turn it off. No reason to bitch and moan about HT, if you dont need it, turn it off.

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We are on the verge of crossing over into the 64bit world

Buddy, we are not on the verge of anything. First off, 64 bit computing has been out there for a while. Second, for consumers and software developers to ultimately assimilate 64 bit computing, it will take years since all the consumer computers are still 32bit. Also, you can get a 64bit amd laptop if you want, but check out THG benchmarks on the AMD64bit and its nothing close to the fastest, best performing processor up to date. Which is sad because its the newest chip out and it had a lot of talk. so why downgrade by getting an amd 64bit laptop?

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In the end, it really does not matter if a computer has DDR400, Radeon 9600 with 128MB of RAM, and a 7200RPM HD if the bus is five to ten times slower than the processor

ok man, if intels bus were to be 10 times smaller, then the processor would be of 8ghz. 800mhz bus is only 200mhz lower than the "fastest personal computer" G5 therfore it has a good bus, and enuff to take advantage of ddr400, radeon 9600, and the 7200rpm hd. Plus, the bus isnt everything, the chipset that the pc laptop companies i mentioned above, uses that mobile chipset by intel that supports all that stuff and that is important too. ie. agp8x, ddr400, etc. I wouldnt recommend you something that has incompatible hardware. Ive done research, trust me.

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having a small gap in processor and bus speed is a very nice thing

It doesnt matter the small gap between processor speed and bus since thats determined by the multiplier of the processor, what matters is the bus speed.

look man, im not gonna convince you. so it really comes down to what you want. Im givin you facts here to help you choose, im not here to make you change the way you think.


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My computer is so fast it proves the theory of relativity wrong... :eek: 
September 25, 2003 12:25:46 AM

if you want a desktop replacement the sager/alienwares are fast but realize that they are heavy as hell and have low battery life, apple should not even be considered. Honestly apple is dying, fewer and fewer people are using apple machines and for good reason! PCs are so much better and have much greater compatibility. In notebooks you do not really need ddr400 but I would recomend the 7200rpm hdd you will see a significant increase in speed over the 5400 and 4200rpm drives. Dell makes great desktop replacements that you can actually pick up without breaking your back and they have good battery life as well. The inspiron 8600 has the option of the geforce fx 5650 if you need directx 9

Join the TomsHardware IRC channel <A HREF="http://skulls.sytes.net/tom/ " target="_new">http://skulls.sytes.net/tom/ </A>
September 25, 2003 1:23:15 PM

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In notebooks you do not really need ddr400

why is that?

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My computer is so fast it proves the theory of relativity wrong... :eek: 
September 26, 2003 12:20:01 AM

honestly ddr400 doesn't supply much extra bandwidth over 333, for what most people use their notebooks for it's unnessecary and should not make or break your buying decision.

Join the TomsHardware IRC channel <A HREF="http://skulls.sytes.net/tom/ " target="_new">http://skulls.sytes.net/tom/ </A>
September 26, 2003 5:02:34 PM

thats a good point, although if you belong to the minority group like me, i wouldnt mind ddr400, even if it sucks a bit more power and a bit more of my wallet

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My computer is so fast it proves the theory of relativity wrong... :eek: 
!