Conclusion: Gaming Just Got More Portable
While we obviously wouldn’t recommend gaming away from a wall socket for any extended period of time, Alienware’s mid-sized Area-51 m15x provides the power to game while plugged in, the reduced weight required for true portability, and the “typical application” battery life needed for everyday mobile use. Even the screen is geared towards visual quality, with the top 15.4” display providing the same 1920x1200 pixel resolution typically found in larger 17” models.
One might argue that a 15.4” display doesn’t really need such a high resolution, since gaming frame rates go up at lower settings. But with the exception of one RTS title, the Area-51 m15x was able to provide smooth frame rates at all tested settings in our gaming suite.
A gaming system isn’t used exclusively for gaming, and our m15x came loaded with multimedia features such as the standard HDMI output and the optional 2x Blu-Ray Disk burner. This is where the huge 1920x1200 panel resolution really shines, since 1080p movies can be played at their native 1920x1080 pixels without scaling issues.
Due to these features, we’d hesitate to call Alienware’s system a portable gaming notebook—a fully loaded m15x is a desktop replacement system on a very successful diet. For all the things the m15x can do, it might better be called a “power system”, one that fortunately has all the portability features needed for daily use on the go.
Alienware targets much of its marketing effort towards university students, and the dorm room might just be the best place for the Area-51 m15x. With optional TV tuner and all the basic functions of a home theater plus gaming console, the m15x becomes a replacement for all of those entertainment devices its owner is often forced to leave behind. But that does raise one question: with an as-tested price of just over $4,000, how many students can afford it? Looks like it’s time to give mom and dad a call...