Review: Alienware Area 51 (2014) gaming PC

Despite the excellence offered by Alienware here, there is one or two solid components missing from the package.

Sure, you get lights, as dictated by pretty much the history of Alienware and its previous computers, but you don’t get much, with a few on the front and sides, and really that’s it.

We think it’s enough, considering the Area 51 is something that will most likely be sitting under the desk, but some gamers may disagree, especially when you consider how bright and colourful Alienware laptops are configurable to be in comparison.

A thoroughly ordinary keyboard.

A thoroughly ordinary keyboard.

But there are no bright lights on the keyboard or mouse, and when you hand over this much money, you’d at least hope Alienware and Dell would go the extra mile and make these included peripherals a little more interesting than basic black bricks that do the jobs you’re telling them to do.

Sadly no, because that’s not the case with the Area 51.

Instead, your keyboard is simple and includes no backlighting, and your mouse feels like it was provided for free from the lot of Dell’s discarded desktops.

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It’s simple, curved, and reminds us of the $5 optical mice people used to buy before we saw those neat faceted gaming mice that now populate the desks of gamers everywhere.

This journalist isn’t a heavy gamer anymore, and he has one. They’re just that good, and offer various weightings, laser tracking, and lots of buttons, which gamers like.

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It’s really surprising, then, that the Area 51 doesn’t come with something better, and that the keyboard and mouse feel like they’re not really part of the package, but rather just tacked on. Maybe Alienware thinks you’ll probably already own a gaming mouse and keyboard, but even so, we’d think the price would warrant a better inclusion.

At least a keyboard with some lights, because these exist and are targeted specifically at gamers. The included keyboard, however, that’s missing lights completely. Sad face.

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There’s also the cost, and we need to say it, because you’re probably thinking it: this is one expensive machine.

That said, it’s when you start to analyse the cost of the machine, you find out that the price isn’t too far off the mark, making it a valid option for people who would normally spend that sort of cash already, and we’re talking a fairly noticeable chunk of change.

The lowest model is actually quite acceptable, fetching asking for $2999 for an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, 2TB storage, and AMD’s Radeon R9 270 graphics card with 2GB RAM, a combination of parts that a gaming rig builder could probably build for less, though without the Alienware specialty case design and lighting, two things that give Alienware its pizazz.

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Our review model is closer to the $6000 mark thanks to what can be found inside, and when we calculate the rough pricing for the pivotal parts — CPU, motherboard, RAM, hard drive, solid-state drive, and graphics card — we get a little over $5000, and just like before, that doesn’t include case, power supply, special water cooling, or copy of Windows, let alone the time needed to put all of this together.

With that in mind, the “expensive” pricing Alienware offers the Area 51 for doesn’t actually seem overly expensive in the long run, because you’re getting a well made system that can be modified by the end-user — like any rig — and not only comes with the specs to play the games, but a design like nothing that can be found in stores.

So is it expensive? Sure. Is it warranted? Yup, it seems to be. At least it’s not expensive for the sake of just being expensive.

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Conclusion

Without a doubt, Alienware’s Area 51 is one machine gamers will definitely want to take a look at, provided they don’t plan on flinching or baulking at the asking price.

If you’re not bothered by that, the machine is one of the better pre-built systems we’ve seen in years, offering lots of room to move and a starting spec sheet that will take care of most of the games you plan to throw its way.

Even at the low-end, this machine looks like a pretty impressive spend, though you’d probably want to spec it up just a little more to make it mind-blowing.

As a general use computer, the Alienware Area 51 won’t be for everyone, and frankly it’s not supposed to be, but those of you that love to game and have a pretty penny to spend will find it’s totally worth the cost, and possibly then some when you decide to upgrade later on.

 

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