Alienware Space-51m Assessment: A $four,500 Laptop computer That Feels Like A Cut price

I knew Aisha Tyler was doing a job when she took the stage as host of Dell’s CES 2019 press convention. I knew to count on the same old mixture of awkward dialogue, compelled enthusiasm, and some sincerely good jokes. But there was one second that broke the mundane proceedings with a rush of enthusiasm from everybody current – Tyler, Dell’s Frank Azor, and all the crowd. The reveal of Alienware’s Space-51m.

The laptop computer’s , a mixture of a Core i9-9900Ok desktop processor with a full fats Nvidia RTX 2080 video card, is spectacular – however that’s not why the Space-51m discovered itself swimming in constructive press. That honor goes to the design. With a white chassis, sci-fi “A51” textual content, and a modern Tron-style gentle loop on the rear, the Space-51m seems straight from a 1980’s sci-fi film. That is the laptop computer our heroic gamer would use when she plunges into the digital world and conquers her enemies in a fantastically rendered model of Pac-Man.

Like nothing else

It’d be a stretch to name the Alienware Space-51m authentic, however there’s nothing else prefer it in gaming in the present day. Razer is the one competitor that cares about design. Its laptops, nevertheless, are severe items of package, all arduous edges and sculpted strains. The sleeker, softer Space-51m contrasts stark white and black panels with really out-there design components, just like the futuristic font, that make it distinctive.

alienware area-51m review

alienware area-51m review

alienware area-51m review

alienware area-51m review

Riley Younger/Digital Traits

The Space-51m seems futuristic, nevertheless it has one foot prior to now. It is a massive, heavy gaming laptop computer that weighs in at eight.5 kilos and measures as much as 1.6 inches thick. The scale is a consequence of the , which incorporates desktop as a substitute of mobile-grade parts. Whereas technically a laptop computer, the Space-51m can be a transportable desktop substitute.

There’s competitors on this house from firms like Origin, however competing techniques from smaller PC builders don’t have a totally customized chassis. The Space-51m’s design is in a category of its personal.

Whereas the Space-51m seems futuristic, it has one foot prior to now.

Whereas the Space-51M leads the pack in seems, it doesn’t accomplish that on the costly of practicality. It consists of three USB-A ports, one USB-C/Thunderbolt three port, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort 1.four, a headphone jack, a “world headset jack,” a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port, and even an Alienware Graphics Amplifier port in case you’d like so as to add an exterior graphics card. That covers the gamut of what a gamer will want.

Oh, and also you’ll discover not one however two energy plugs. The Space-51m comes with a pair of energy bricks, the dimensions of which depends upon your configuration. Our mannequin got here with one rated at 330 watts and a second at 180 watts. The system will energy up with only one, however efficiency will likely be lowered, and the battery could discharge if each aren’t plugged in. Maintain that in thoughts should you plan to lug this beast round.

An ideal keyboard and a vestigial touchpad

The Alienware Space-51m has a surprisingly regular keyboard. It spans the total width of the laptop computer, features a numpad, and gives chunky sq. keycaps that don’t look as fashionable because the laptop computer that surrounds it.

I can forgive that, nevertheless, as a result of the keyboard is excellent. It gives lengthy key journey, a agency bottoming motion, and a spacious structure that ought to accommodate any gamer. The laptop computer’s thickness could make utilizing the keyboard really feel a bit awkward at occasions as a result of your palms are removed from no matter floor the laptop computer is sitting on, however the Space-51m’s giant palmrest makes this much less of a problem. I had no drawback typing at excessive speeds from the second I booted the system.

alienware area-51m review Riley Younger/Digital Traits

The touchpad is much less spectacular. It’s comparable in dimension to the touchpad on most fashionable 13-inch laptops, and whereas it feels responsive in most conditions, it may be clunky when making an attempt multi-touch gestures. There simply isn’t loads of room to work with. That house is additional lowered by the tactile left and proper mouse buttons that sit under the touchpad. They’re large, which makes them simple to search out and hit by really feel, however barely smaller buttons may’ve labored higher if it meant extra room for the contact floor.

The Space-51m doesn’t really feel designed with the touchpad as a precedence. That makes some sense. Avid gamers hardly ever use a touchpad to play video games, so it’ll typically sit unused. Nonetheless, rivals like Razer and even MSI provide a lot bigger touchpads on a lot smaller techniques.

The Core i9-9900Ok merely vaults the Space-51m into a unique league of efficiency.

Each keyboard and touchpad are lit by a rainbow of per-key RGB LED lighting managed by way of Alienware’s customized Alienware Command Heart software program. Just lately refreshed, the software program feels roughly on par with Razer’s Chroma software program and is a step above the techniques utilized by most rivals, which frequently fall again on a third-party resolution (equivalent to Corsair or Steelseries). It’s simple to vary the lighting, save a preset, or hyperlink a preset to particular video games.

Tobii’s eye-tracking tech comes bundled with the 144Hz show choice. You need to use it to navigate your desk with solely a look or management particular options in choose video games. We’ve tried Tobii earlier than and loved it, nevertheless it’s not one thing you’re seemingly to make use of day by day. It’s suitable with a number of standard video games like The Division 2 and provide a number of neat particular options. One instance? The laptop computer can robotically dim the show if you look away, then flip it again as much as full if you look again.

Crack it open. Or don’t

Dell’s announcement of the Alienware Space-51m centered on its design, however that was solely half the pitch. The opposite half was upgradability. Fashionable gaming laptops often can’t be upgraded past including extra RAM or, typically, one other arduous drive.

The Space-51m’s desktop-grade parts, nevertheless, might be absolutely changed – together with the processor and GPU. Whereas socket-compatible CPU upgrades ought to work, GPU upgrades will solely be potential by buying a particular package deal that will likely be bought by Dell. Particulars on what the upgrades will provide, or how a lot they’ll price, haven’t been settled. That is smart as a result of the Space-51m comes with RTX 2060, RTX 2070, and RTX 2080 GPU choices – one of the best you should purchase in the present day. There’s no “improve” obtainable. Nonetheless, avid gamers shopping for in the present day should take it on religion that Dell’s future GPU improve modules will likely be bought at affordable costs and be extensively obtainable.

alienware area-51m review Riley Younger/Digital Traits

Frankly, it’s a moot level, as a result of the Space-51m isn’t as upgrade-friendly as headlines may lead you to suppose. Sure, it’s technically potential to exchange all of the core parts, and Dell does promise to promote a GPU improve sooner or later. But upgrading the system requires extra confidence and experience than most avid gamers, even these conversant in PC , may muster. Attending to the CPU and GPU means disassembling all the backside half of the laptop computer. You’ll should maintain monitor of a number of screws of various lengths and gingerly take away delicate cables.

The laptop computer doesn’t really feel constructed to tolerate upgrades, both. The engaging soft-touch plastics that span the highest and backside of the system are simple to scratch, but the screws that maintain the underside panel on proved fiddly and unattainable to completely take away with out the assistance of pliers. The underside panel itself – which, keep in mind, is straightforward to scratch – has no lever, divot, or different simple place to grip for eradicating it as soon as the screws are gone. You’ll have to make use of a spudger or different specialty device. Having handed that hurdle, you’ll discover a couple cables inside which can be held in place by adhesive. I eliminated them with out situation, they usually did reattach in place after I reassembled the laptop computer, however I’m uncertain the adhesive will maintain up over time.

In brief – don’t purchase the Space-51m since you wish to improve it sooner or later. Is it potential? Certain. Will you ever truly do it? In all probability not.

Plenty of show choices, they usually’re all 1080p

Alienware sells the Space-51m with 4 show choices. The bottom alternative is a 1080p 60Hz IPS show, which might be upgraded with G-Sync compatibility for $50. There’s additionally a 1080p 144Hz IPS show that, once more, might be upgraded to G-Sync for $50. My evaluate unit had the final of those 4 choices.

And that’s it. There’s no 1440p or 4K panel obtainable. I usually don’t have any drawback with that as a result of most gaming laptops see greatest outcomes at 1080p, however the Space-51m is the exception. A 4K choice would make sense right here. If you’d like that, you’ll have to show to a competitor just like the Origin EON17-X.

No less than it’s an ideal 1080p display. It provided glorious distinction in my assessments, hitting a ratio of 1040:1. That outpaces the competitors and comes near one of the best laptop computer shows I’ve examined, equivalent to that on the Microsoft Floor Ebook 2. The Space-51m additionally produces correct shade throughout a large gamut.

Brightness is the one draw back, because the panel solely hit 288 lux in our testing. That’s lower than the 300 we desire to see at least. Nevertheless, all fashions of the Space-51M include an anti-glare display that negates many of the situation. You gained’t have the ability to use this laptop computer open air on a sunny day however, uh, it has two energy adapters and weighs eight.5 kilos. When would you ever do this, anyway?

Personally, I don’t have beef with the Space-51m’s display. It appeared glorious in my time gaming on the laptop computer. Colours popped in video games like Fortnite, but the panel additionally had sufficient distinction to supply depth in additional reasonable video games like Battlefield V. But I believe many avid gamers will lengthy for a higher-resolution panel. Alienware could be clever so as to add that as an choice.

alienware area-51m review Riley Younger/Digital Traits

What about sound? It’s alright. The Space-51m is loud at most quantity and produces some bass, which creates a fuller, deeper sound than most laptops. But distortion is a severe situation at occasions. An explosion may cause the audio system to crackle, an issue that turns into extra seemingly as the amount comes nearer to its most. You may get by with out headphones, however most avid gamers will wish to use them.

The Core i9-9900Ok makes its case

Whereas Alienware Space-51m’s desktop-grade Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU takes the highlight, the Core i9-9900Ok processor in my decked-out evaluate unit can be a beast. That is an eight-core, sixteen-thread processor with a three.6GHz base clock and 5GHz enhance clock. Intel’s Core i7-8750H, the cell six-core present in most gaming laptops, is spectacular – however the i9-9900Ok kicks issues up a notch.

The Core i9-9900Ok merely vaults the Space-51m into a unique league of efficiency. It trounces the Core i7-8750H techniques, scoring about 45 % higher within the multi-core Geekbench four take a look at, and about 20 % higher in single-core. It additionally requires lower than a minute and a half to transcode a 4K trailer in Handbrake. That take a look at often takes greater than two minutes, even on highly effective gaming laptops. In truth, the Space-51M hits efficiency figures which can be only a small step behind main gaming desktops just like the Origin Millennium.

That’s spectacular. The Space-51M could also be a gaming laptop computer, however I can see individuals utilizing its grunt for extra severe work. You possibly can use this laptop computer to grind by way of 4K video enhancing, batch edit big numbers of information, or run skilled software program like AutoCAD with nary a hitch.

Even Murderer’s Creed Odyssey performs at 73 FPS with each element turned all the way in which up.

It’s potential to overclock the processor, however I didn’t see significant good points after I put the built-in overclock settings to the take a look at. The Geekbench four multi-core and Handbrake benchmarks carried out inside two % of their earlier outcomes at “regular” clock speeds. You may have the ability to eek out higher scores should you spent a number of hours geeking over the processor clock pace and voltage, however don’t count on an excessive amount of. Then once more, what extra would you like? The Space-51m’s processor efficiency already outclasses what you discover in even one of the best rivals.

The identical isn’t true of the arduous drive. Our evaluate unit got here with two 512GB stable state drives joined collectively in RAID0 (it additionally had a 1TB hybrid mechanical drive for added storage). The RAID0 configuration posted respectable learn and write speeds of about 1.5 gigabytes per second, however the quickest drive can exceed three gigabytes per second. Frankly, that is of no actual consequence for avid gamers, however you’ll find higher drive efficiency elsewhere.

Why purchase a gaming desktop?

Whereas the Alienware Space-51m’s processor efficiency is spectacular, it’s kind of apart from the purpose. Sport efficiency is way extra depending on the GPU. Right here, the Space-51m has a refined trick up its sleeve. It makes use of Nvidia’s RTX 2080 as a substitute of the RTX 2080 Max-Q. The Max-Q model, present in most gaming laptops, is constructed to aggressively cut back its clock speeds relying on thermal situations. Put merely, it’s not almost as quick as a “regular” desktop RTX 2080 video card.

In idea, this implies the Space-51m will carry out a lot nearer to a gaming desktop. Does that show true? Let’s begin with 3DMark.

Now that’s a powerful begin. The Space-51m scores over 20 % higher than the next-quickest system in 3DMark’s Time Spy take a look at, and it units a report for a laptop computer on this benchmark. It’s clear the desktop-derived RTX 2080 has a bonus over Max-Q variants. And that benefit continues to real-world gaming.

Decide your jaw up off the ground. I’ll wait. Obtained it? Good. Let’s transfer on.

Yea, so, the Alienware Space-51m obliterates video games at 1080p. Fornite at Epic element runs at a median of 207 frames per second. Civilization VI at extremely? 160 FPS. Battlefield V at extremely? 116 FPS. Even Murderer’s Creed: Odyssey performs at 73 FPS with each element turned all the way in which to most.

The Space-51m simply clears the 60 FPS hurdle PC avid gamers desire. It additionally stomps the competitors, delivering noticeably larger framerates in all titles. The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 can nearly sustain in some titles, however in others – like Civilization VI – the Space-51m fully runs away from the pack.

Now, you is perhaps questioning if these outcomes sustain with a real desktop RTX 2080. They do, at the very least at 1080p decision. The Space-51m will usually match a desktop system with the identical GPU. That’s excellent.

Whereas the Space-51M maxes out at 1080p, I used to be interested by its 4K efficiency, so I related it to the superb Acer Predator XB3. The outcomes continued to impress. Battlefield V achieved a median of 55 FPS at most element, Civilization VI averaged 95 FPS, and Murderer’s Creed Odyssey averaged 40 FPS. A 60 FPS expertise is not assured, however you may take pleasure in video games at 30 FPS with out sacrificing any element – or you may push settings down a notch and play at 60 FPS.

You simply can’t argue this laptop computer’s gaming credentials.

Can you actually name this a laptop computer?

That efficiency has its worth, nevertheless. On this case, an enormous acquire in efficiency interprets to an enormous compromise on portability.

The Alienware Space-51m weighs eight.5 kilos, which is hefty sufficient by itself. But that’s solely half the story. Keep in mind, it requires two energy adapters to carry out its greatest. They’re massive, heavy models that collectively weigh as a lot, and take up as a lot house, as a laptop computer.

You’ll want them, too, as a result of the Space-51m doesn’t final lengthy on a cost. Its 90 watt-hour battery is giant, nevertheless it’s powering desktop parts that suck considerably extra juice than cell . The G-Sync panel doesn’t assist both.

At greatest, we noticed barely greater than two hours of life within the video loop take a look at, which is our least demanding. Our most demanding take a look at, the Basemark browser benchmark, sucked down 90 watt-hours in about 80 minutes. That’s not even an hour and a half!

Surprisingly, this isn’t the worst consequence we’ve witnessed not too long ago. The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 did worse, hitting just one hour of life in Basemark and fewer than two hours within the video loop. But there’s additionally gaming laptops that rating a lot better. The Razer Blade (2019) is a primary instance. It scored nearly two hours and Basemark and lasted a superbly usable six hours in our video loop take a look at.

alienware area-51m review Riley Younger/Digital Traits

It’s clear which you can’t use the Space-51m like most different laptops. It’s not even barely transportable. You may wish to lug it sometimes from one desk to a different, nevertheless it’s meant to spend most of its life in a single place.

Enter the Command Heart

Gaming laptops typically bundle in software program to regulate particular options, just like the keyboard backlight, however Alienware’s Space-51m goes the additional mile. It makes use of the Alienware Command Heart, a software program interface that controls backlighting, fan pace, and overclocking, and ties these options to particular video games (should you’d like).

Command Heart put me off at first. Although slick, it seems like one more launcher – and avid gamers have had sufficient of that. After a couple of minutes searching it, although, I spotted that whereas Command Heart can act like a launcher, it doesn’t have for use that means. The settings chosen for particular video games will likely be enabled irrespective of the way you launch them.

The settings are useful, as properly. Fan noise is instantly noticeable when the Space-51M is at full throttle. It’s an unavoidable annoyance that no gaming laptop computer avoids. Command Heart could make life a bit of extra silent, nevertheless, should you take time to affiliate a quiet profile with video games that don’t demand efficiency. You want the followers to do work when enjoying Murderer’s Creed Odyssey, however they will calm down a if you load Rocket League.

You too can tie particular macro key and lighting schemes to video games which, if you wish to nerd out about it, might be nice enjoyable. You may select to solely gentle the WASD keys when enjoying a first-person shooter or gentle the row of quantity keys when enjoying an MMORPG.

I often discover bundled software program simpler to disregard than to make use of, however Alienware’s new Command Heart is an exception. It’s easy and unlocked some good perks as soon as I took a couple of minutes to poke round in it.

Our Take

Alienware’s Space-51m is a beast, however its efficiency justifies each its lack of portability and its excessive price ticket. Beginning at $2,000, and coming in at $four,500 as-tested, this isn’t an inexpensive system. But it doesn’t really feel like a foul worth given its efficiency and high quality. You possibly can spend simply as a lot on a gaming desktop and find yourself with a system that’s not a lot faster than this Alienware.

Is there a greater different?

A handful of different firms provide laptops with desktop grade parts. Origin’s EON17-X is essentially the most well-known amongst them. It may be had with a 4K show and customized paint choices. We haven’t reviewed it but.

Inexpensive gaming laptops based mostly on cell are extra inexpensive and extra transportable. The MSI GS75 Stealth and Asus ROG Zephyrus S are good examples. You’ll spend about $1,000 to $1,500 much less for a top-tier trim, however neither of those laptops can sustain with the Space-51m.

Razer’s Blade remains to be Digital Traits’ favourite gaming laptop computer as a result of it combines sturdy efficiency with a sensible dimension and first rate battery life. Nevertheless, there’s no denying the Space-51m simply beats the Razer in benchmarks.

How lengthy will it final?

The Alienware Space-51m is less complicated to improve than most laptops. I don’t suppose many individuals will find yourself upgrading the CPU or GPU, however the arduous drives and RAM are simple to swap out as properly. The Space-51m is so fast that it’ll seemingly nonetheless be of some use a decade from now, although maybe not as a gaming rig.

A one-year guarantee with in-home service (after distant prognosis) is normal. The in-home service choice is an superior profit, however we’d wish to see an extended guarantee contemplating this laptop computer’s worth. Including a guaranty might be costly, as properly – a three 12 months “premium assist” guarantee tacks on $430 .

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure, should you don’t thoughts a laptop computer this huge. The Space-51m gained’t be sensible for on-the-go avid gamers, nevertheless it’s a wonderful alternative if battery life shouldn’t be excessive in your record of priorities.

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