When it comes to gaming, notebooks used to be woefully inadequate from a performance perspective. Their LCD display panels were often terrible at accurately displaying colors, supported very narrow viewing angles, and lacked the pixel response times to handle fast motion video, much less play a twitch first-person shooter like Quake.
The first generation of so-called ďgamingĒ notebooks dramatically improved the situation by offering faster processors and better graphics, but these systems were still ridiculously heavy, ten pounds or more in most cases, and thick, 2.5+Ē wasnít unheard of. These desktop replacement notebooks were far too bulky for extended use on oneís lap or the seatback table on an airplane.
Alienwareís latest gaming notebook, the Area-51 m9750, is poised to change all this. The Area-51 m9750 is designed to deliver extreme levels of performance along with portability. The system fuses two GeForce 7950 GTX cards running in SLI along with dual hard drives and Core 2 Duo processing power all in a slim 1.5Ē chassis that tips the scale at just 9 pounds. Itís a remarkable achievement that quite frankly has us giddy about the future of gaming on the go. Letís go over what makes this system so special.
While the Alienware m9750 was just released in June, unfortunately development of the system predates Intelís Santa Rosa platform and as such the m9750 relies on Intelís older Napa platform. If you recall, it was the Napa platform that originally launched with the Core Duo processor in early 2006. Later on it was adapted to support Core 2 Duo Merom processors.
The Santa Rosa platform was just released in May and is built around Intelís PM965 Express chipset. The biggest addition for enthusiasts is no doubt the chipsetís 800MHz bus support. By going from 667MHz to 800MHz, bandwidth to the CPU improves by 20%.
The chipset supports Intelís Dynamic Front Side Bus Switching, which allows the front-side bus (FSB) to be lowered to 400MHz to save power when the CPU isnít being taxed; on previous chipsets the FSB ran at full speed at all times. Santa Rosa processors also support Intelís Dynamic Acceleration technology, which is designed to speed up the performance of single-threaded software applications. In these cases, the second processing core shuts itself off while the core thatís being used slightly overclocks itself in order to increase performance.
The chipset also supports the draft-n wireless spec.
Because the Alienware Area-51 m9750 uses Intelís Napa platform, the system lacks support for Intelís latest and greatest mobile CPUs like the Core 2 Duo T7700 and Core 2 Extreme X7800, but the system supports CPUs up to the Core 2 Duo T7600, which runs at 2.33GHz (just 67MHz shy of the T7700 and 267MHz slower than the Core 2 Extreme X7800) and has a 4MB L2 cache. Honestly while itís been a few months since Santa Rosa debuted, the platform has gotten off to a slow start, with only a limited selection of notebooks based on the platform available on the market to date.
And as any gamer in the know will tell you, with todayís latest games it really is the graphics subsystem that is crucial to delivering fluid frame rates: having the worldís fastest CPU wonít deliver better graphical eye candy in upcoming games like Crysis. For these games youíve got to have lots of graphics horsepower. Itís here where the Area-51 m9750 really