Alienware is known for making powerful, sexy and customizable high-end gaming PCs. Without a doubt, the Alienware Area-51 7500 is a beast. It features an Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme Processor, dual NVIDIA GeForce 7900GTXs, two hard drives (250GB and 300GB), 2GB of DDR2 RAM, Creative X-Fi sound card and Alienware’s signature P2 chassis. The 7500 is easily one of the strongest high-end gaming PCs on the market, but is it worth spending $4,000 on? Read on to find out.
Alienware usually gives customers a great looking tower to go with its gaming PCs, but with the 7500, it looks like Alienware may have gone a little too far. The tower is not only huge, but it looks a little on the cheap side. The P2 chassis looks more like it should be in some cheap sci-fi movie, and not something that proudly sits under your desk. The good news is, where the chassis lacks in design, it makes up for with solid features.
There are five different zones of the chassis where LEDs are lit. Alienware lets you customize the color of each of these zones using the AlienFX Editor, an easy-to-use app included with your system. You have a little more than 20 colors to play with, and you can assign each zone a different color giving you numerous possibilities for color schemes. If you’re someone that loves to get inside your PC, all you have to do to remove the P2′s side panel is pull down on a tab located at the back of the PC, saving you the trouble of having to remove numerous screws each time you want to get inside your PC. Alienware does a great job wiring the interior components of the PC. You’ll find the all the power supply cables are neatly tacked down, and you can clearly see where each individual power cable connects to the hardware. As for putting the panel back on, all you have to do to is slide the panel back into place and lift the tab up. There’s also a pivoting panel at the front of the P2 that covers the drive bays. Under the pivoting panel you’ll find numerous USB and Firewire ports, which are convenient when you’re connecting outboard gear like an external hard drive or digital camera into the PC.
As you would expect, the 7500 excels in performance when it comes to games. I tried to do things like playing Company of Heroes while installing another PC game like F.E.A.R. at the same time to see if it would slow the PC down. After numerous efforts, I decided that there wasn’t anything I could do with games that would cause the machine to chug. I even went as far as to run Oblivion and World of Warcraft at the same time, which still didn’t give the PC any problems. You’ll also be able to max out resolution and graphics on the 7500, so if you’re debating over GeForce 7900 GTXs or NVIDIA’s new GeForce 8800s, it’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed with the 7900 GTXs (and you’ll save money).
To test the processing power with other apps, I installed Pro Tools LE and Acid onto the PC to see how the 7500 handled heavy-duty audio software. Pro Tools LE is known for causing even the strongest of machines to chug because you’re not only running the app itself, but you’re also using numerous third-party plug-ins at the same time for different effects and EQ. The 7500 handles pretty well up 16 tracks and numerous plug-ins. After that, you’re going to wait a lot longer to use plug-ins you have open, or loading up any new plug-ins. If your main concern is games, you won’t have to worry about anything, but the machine scores an average when it comes to handling multiple heavy-duty apps.
The Creative SB X-Fi sound card doesn’t only deliver great audio when playing games, it also holds up well when using audio software. I used the card in conjunction to my Mbox 2, Pro Tools Le and Acid, and the result was great. You can blast your speakers and you won’t hear any hiss or distortion. Unfortunately, if you decide to use the on-board audio of the 7500 instead of the X-Fi, hiss and distortion are going to creep through when you turn up your speakers.
The 7500 also features a new liquid cooling system, which quietly keeps the CPU cooled. The green tubes not only look cool, but they also form a little loop right above your GPUs, keeping them out of the way, and neat. For some reason, Alienware hasn’t implemented a liquid cooling system for the PCs GPUs, so there are still a bunch of fans in the P2. With that being said, the 7500 isn’t exactly silent, though, it’s not as loud as many PCs with the same configuration. My CyberPower PC has almost the same setup (AMD 64-FX 60 instead of Core 2 Duo Extreme), and it is considerably louder than the 7500.
Overall, the Alienware Area-51 7500 is a great all around PC. It isn’t as expensive as same configuration PCs from VoodooPC or Falcon-Northwest, but the P2 chassis doesn’t look as cool as other high-end PC gaming towers, either. And though the $4k price tag is cheaper than some high-end PC manufacturers, you can also find places online (ibuypower.com and are good examples) to configure the same exact system for a cheaper price. There’s still a sense of power and security when you buy an Alienware that you don’t get from many manufacturers, so if you’re looking to buy a new brand-name high-end gaming PC, the Alienware 7500 is surely worth a look.