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Alienware Area-51 7500 Review

Alienware Area-51 7500
MSRP $1,999.99
“Simply put, the Ailenware Area-51 7500 is an excellent all around PC worthy of serious attention.”
  • Solid performance; feature-rich; excellent cooling
  • Case design is hit or miss; loud at times
  • could be quieter


The Alienware Area-51 7500 desktop PC packs quite a punch, even when it’s not stocked to the gills with every high-end option offered. Our test system represents a good balance between price and performance, making it a good pick for anyone looking to buy a new system. Read on to find out how the new P2 enclosure with Core 2 Duo water cooled system stacks up.

Features and Design
One of the icons of the gaming PC community is the Alienware PC. Sure, building your own system might be cheaper, and to some more fun, but nothing earns respect like a huge, honkin alien head for a PC case. The Alienware case has always broken away from the norm, and the most recent case is no exception. You want lights? You got 5 software customizable ‘zones’ of multi-LED goodness. You want cooling? Four strategically placed fans and CPU liquid cooling good enough for ya? Wanna make that case pretty? Choose from a variety of colors, all sporting no less than three alien heads. Now that’s style!
We configured our system with the following:
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 (2.66 GHz)
750GB Seagate Hard Drive
Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 single slot SLI card
The Area-51 7500 uses the Asus P3N32 motherboard with two 16x PCI Express slots. The front mounted ports include two USB 2.0, one FireWire, headphone and microphone ports with backlit labels for easy access in the dark. On the back you have ports galore. 2 PS/2, Digital Optical out, Digital Coax out, parallel, eSATA, 7.1 analog outputs plus microphone in, 2 USB 2.0 ports and 2 gigabit ethernet ports. Internally, there are two 16x, two 1x, and one 4x PCI Express slots, along with two legacy PCI slots. There are four internal SATA on-board that support RAID 0, 1, 1+1, 5, and JBOD, supporting native command queuing. Two extra SATA connectors used by the Silicon Image controller chip. One odd side-effect of this is that in order to add an extra hard drive, you have to configure it to be recognized as a striped array of disk size = 1. There are 4 DIMM slots, meaning a max of 8 GB of memory, though Windows XP will only support up to 4GB, but at least this system is Vista upagradeable. There are two IDE connectors and one floppy connector.
The P2 chassis is truly an innovative leap in case design. Sure, it may take some getting used to, having a gigantic, glowing alien head as your office centerpiece, but once you get past the gaudy exterior, the engineering really shines through. The front drive door pulls forward, then rotates to reveal 5.25” bays with two overhead LEDs for lighting. The Alienware insignia on the door’s front side doubles as the power button. Below the door are the “always exposed” front mounted ports. The alien eye-like front grills hide behind them yet more LED’s and the 120mm intake fan. Along the side, as the ‘eyes’ stretch to the back of the chassis, the grill conceals two more fans. The rear of the unit has the water cooling output fan. Alienware has removed the cord management system found on the P1.
Alienware Area-51 7500
The front door opens to reveal the DVD writer and open bays
The access door has a simple latch opening mechanism, and is perhaps the easiest to use we’ve seen. The door mounted fan uses a clever contact connection system instead of wires to make access even easier. We were amazed by the cable tying job inside the case. You’d think every available connection was used, and all the cables cut to the exact length. But, when we went to install a couple more internal hard drives, we realized that the system builders not only tied a tidy system, but the unused cable leads were located right where they were most useful.
Alienware Area-51 7500
Alienware Area-51 7500 in Grey

Setup and Testing

Alienware bundles two interesting applications with all their systems. The first is a limited version of ObjectDock dubbed AlienGUIse, which changes the appearance of the windows interface. Everything from window borders and fonts, to wallpapers, icons, and sound schemes can be changed. This version only allows switching between the default Alienware themes, which, while nice, add processor overhead and waste screen space. Uninstalling this was easy and resulted in no system problems. The second application is the AlienFX controller, which allows the user to customize the case’s lighting scheme. There are 24 colors to choose from and each of the five zones can use any color. Themes can be saved, and loaded later. We expect more enhancements to be one the way, as the “Advanced” mode is disabled and inaccessible, and the theme idea just wreaks of custom themes for different applications. One small bug we found involved the AlienFX lighting software. The software reports a time out in some cases when then system restarts without power down completely. Closing and reopening the application seems to take care of it, though.

Alienware AlienFX control Panel
Alienware AlienFX control Panel

Our system was configured exactly as we ordered it, and we had only one minor issue out of the box. The installed Nvidia drivers officially supported by Alienware were a couple versions behind the Forceware version. This wouldn’t have been a big issue, if only for the fact that the shipped drivers did not allow the video card to be taken out of SLI mode, as they did not support Nvidia’s new control panel application. This is required in order to drive more than one monitor, and our dual monitor setup wasn’t going to be put to waste due to a driver issue. We installed the official Forceware drivers and installed them. Upon rebooting, any attempt to open the Nvidia control panel resulted in the control panel crashing before it was even visible. In desperation, we uninstalled and reinstalled the driver in Safe Mode, rebooting between each step. This worked like a charm, and we’ve had no other configuration issues to speak of.

So is it fast? We ran 3DMark03, 3DMark05, 3DMark06, and SiSoft’s Sandra. Here’s what we got:

Sandra Dhrystone
Sandra Whetstone
Sandra Integer
Sandra Float

These are some impressive numbers. We ran all tests using the default values on a single monitor with SLI enabled. In real world performance, we have been running FEAR, Battlefield 2, and City of Villains at 1600×1200 with most sliders at maximum values, and we still maintain playable frame rates. We should also point out again that this system is not the highest end you can configure, but represents a second tier gaming system from the venerable PC maker. Needless to say, we were very pleased with the performance.

Alienware Area-51 7500
Enough lights for you?


Simply put, the Alienware Area-51 7500 is an excellent all around PC worthy of serious attention. While a similarly spec’ed self built rig will run approximately $400 cheaper, it’s impossible to ignore the craftsmanship of the internal wiring, the unique bells and whistles, the fine configuration job, and the ease of a single source for support issues, should you ever have any. When the dust has settles, you will welcome our uber-gaming rig overlords, and their glowing eyes of pwnage.


• Impress performance
• Very feature-rich
• Excellent cooling system


• Case can be gaudy looking to some
• Fairly loud, could be quieter

Editors' Recommendations

Aaron Colter
Former Digital Trends Contributor
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