Pricing And Conclusion
No doubt, the four contenders in our lab don’t stack up evenly. Rather, they’re for completely different customers. This is a roundup of high-end gaming PCs, though, and Killer Notebooks’ Odachi is unquestionably the fastest solution that we received.
Now, let’s factor pricing into the picture here.
|Alienware Area-51 m17x||$6,168|
|Eurocom M860TU Montebello||$2,813|
|Killer Notebooks Odachi||$4,090|
That’s quite a substantial spread on the prices of these premium notebooks. However, those figures reaffirm the Odachi as an attractive buy. It’s hard to compare the prices of Killer Notebooks’ hardware choices to desktop equivalents without factoring in the Clevo chassis. But we did price another D900C with similar components from XoticPC and ended up with a $4,017 price tag—without an operating system or Killer’s in-house tweaks. If anything, Killer is able to do what its VAR competition can do, with the added value of hardware optimizations and software tweaks specially developed for enthusiasts able to appreciate the hours of work that go into each of Killer Notebook’s systems.
Where the Odachi comes up short is sex appeal—call it whatever you want. But this is where Alienware’s Area-51 m17x steps into play. Hands-down the best-looking notebook we’ve ever seen, the company’s all-black shell, tasteful application of LED lighting, and user-customization help it stand out amongst its whitebook competition. It’s hot—but not $6,000+ hot, especially given our performance benchmarks where the m17x is routinely routed by the Odachi. The one advantage Alienware does leverage, other than its early access to go-fast hardware, is the muscle of a tier-one, which lets it offer on-site support should you run into trouble. We applaud the innovative use of Nvidia’s bridge chip to enable SLI on the road, but the premium on good looks and an on-site support plan is too steep in this case.
At the other end of the spectrum is Eurocom’s Montebello, which is aesthetically plain in almost every way. And yet, this little workstation seemed to stand out in many of our productivity tests. We would have liked to look at a sample more apropos to this gaming comparison, but its single GeForce 9800M GT, plucky Core 2 Extreme, and individual hard drive still managed commendable performance. We wouldn’t recommend this one as a gaming platform. But as a desktop replacement workstation, Eurocom’s Montebello gave us the biggest surprise (and least trouble) of the four contenders. It’s amazing that the company crammed so much speed in a 15.4” shell able to last as long as it did away from an outlet.
In between Alienware’s flair and Killer Notebook’s software tweaks sits the ASUS G71V. As with the Eurocom, we aren’t going to recommend this one as a gaming platform. Its processor and graphics card both lag the competition, and we didn’t see playable frame rates in any of the gaming tests, save Unreal Tournament 3. But again, this is another example of a reasonable desktop workstation based on Intel’s Centrino 2 platform. It includes all of the latest technology wrapped into a package priced just over $2,000, making it the least expensive option here. And the company’s software extras show its desire to add value. While we like the G71’s rugged paint job, this one’s not quite muscular enough to be one of ASUS’ lauded Republic of Gamers offerings.