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Alienware m17 Does ATI Crossfire

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 8 comments

When one thinks of 17-inch "portable" gaming machines, the words laptop and notebook are a pretty big stretch to make. Often weighing over 8 pounds and barely contained in a backpack or briefcase, these desktop replacements pack the power to run today’s graphically demanding games and even the most resource-hungry software.

For over a decade, Alienware has brought high-end gaming machines to the public, and for the last half decade, many of those computers have been "laptops". Now, after years of using Nvidia and SLI graphics almost exclusively in its portable line, the Miami-based boutique manufacturer has introduced a new ATI Crossfire-based desktop replacement. The Alienware m17, very similar to the powerhouse m17x, has two 512MB ATI 3870 GPUs in a Crossfire configuration, allowing for up to an 80% performance boost in some areas (says Alienware), compared to one 3870.

For its $1400 starting price, the options are typical. The bottom-end configuration lands you a Core 2 Duo P8400, running at 2.26GHz with 3MB of L2 cache. This combined with one 512MB ATI 3870, 2GB of DDR3-1066 memory, 160GB hard drive spinning at 7,200rpm, a 1440x900 17-inch screen, and the usual assortment of wireless and ports leads to a notebook that is more expensive than the Gateway 7811-FX, but with less horsepower.

However, if you have the greenbacks to drop on a completely tricked-out portable gaming platform, then the "recommended" upgrades will suit you well. For a total of just under $4,000, you can add an additional 3870 for Crossfire, illuminated keyboard, Core 2 Extreme QX9300, a total of 4GB of DDR3 memory, 1920x1200 screen, BD-ROM drive and 500GB of storage (2x 250GB @ 7,200rpm.

As per the norm, Windows Vista Ultimate is recommended, and is available in 32 and 64-bit flavors. If you are too lazy to make your own, don’t forget to purchase the $49 Vista recovery DVD. As for the warranty, the m17 comes with one year of onsite service standard, and an extra two years on top of that will run you an additional $300 (no word on if that includes accidental damage).

While the $4,000+ number represents the top shelf version of the m17, some tweaking will get you a solid notebook for around $2,500 (Vista Home Premium, Core 2 Duo T9600, no BD-ROM and one 250GB HDD). Again, if you plan on sticking with the low-end configuration, there may be better options, but if the best of the best is what you seek, Alienware may have a winner on its hands.

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  • 3 Hide
    titdoctor , November 3, 2008 7:43 PM
    Why is alienware so expensive?
  • 3 Hide
    ckthecerealkiller , November 3, 2008 8:09 PM
    Because of the silver logo that they put on their systems. And because they are owned by Dell.
  • 2 Hide
    San Pedro , November 3, 2008 8:49 PM
    Definitely expensive, but that would be a pretty nice laptop, except for not being a practical laptop at all. I wouldn't mind having a laptop with a blu-ray on a laptop with an HDMI output though.
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , November 3, 2008 10:38 PM
    The 7811-FX was crippled with problems, is now discontinued and was simply a over-hyped POS. Best Buy probably had more returns and RMA's on that unit then they did sales. I went through 5 bad units before I decided I would never buy Gateway again. The company cut too many corners with quality control, stability and reliability. Sure, there are folks out there with working units, but I doubt they'll be keeping them for long. If anything, Gateway used all the 7811-FX owners as test dummies for the replacement 7801u.

    Now if Toshiba could sell a X305 with WUXGA display for $2200, that would be worth a serious look.
  • 0 Hide
    darkbob87 , November 4, 2008 1:37 AM
    LusciousThe 7811-FX was crippled with problems, is now discontinued and was simply a over-hyped POS. Best Buy probably had more returns and RMA's on that unit then they did sales. I went through 5 bad units before I decided I would never buy Gateway again. The company cut too many corners with quality control, stability and reliability. Sure, there are folks out there with working units, but I doubt they'll be keeping them for long. If anything, Gateway used all the 7811-FX owners as test dummies for the replacement 7801u. Now if Toshiba could sell a X305 with WUXGA display for $2200, that would be worth a serious look.


    Devin here,

    I actually own a Gateway 7811-FX (bought it myself from best buy, not a gift or anything like that), and I have had zero problems with it. My only real complaint is that they partitioned the 200GB HDD into two halves. A reformat or purchasing a bigger HDD, and this would be the perfect portable gaming solution for me.
  • 0 Hide
    251A , November 6, 2008 1:30 PM
    I also own a Gateway 7811-FX and have had zero problems with it. For what you pay the thing is an incredible value.
  • 0 Hide
    sweFisch , November 6, 2008 9:41 PM
    It's not the bang for the buck and its not the best:S

    My friend just bougth the "SAGER NP9262 Ultimate Custom Laptop (Built on Clevo D900C / D901C)"
    at:
    http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np9262-ultimate-custom-laptop-built-clevo-d901c-p-2273.html?wconfigure=yes

    and got the biggest meanest laptop i have ever hear of. we kompered it to the ailienware and the ailienware is just shit in comparison:p  and more expensive preformance wise;)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 11, 2008 12:47 PM
    Not true, SweFish. I just used your provided link, and a comparable Clevo configuration is $2,543, VS the M17 at $1,999. This is with the 9800M GTX, which isn't going to push the framerates that ATI 3870's in Crossfire configuration will. When compared side by side, the Clevo D901C has lesser graphical performance for ~$550 more. Also keep in mind that the Clevo is a barebones system that will come with NO operating system, which must be provided and installed by the user.

    That being said, if you can afford the 9800M GTX SLI and the Core 2 Quad Q9650 that the Clevo offers, the M17 loses hands down.

    You have to compare apples to apples, my friend.