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Alienware GeForce 7900 SLI Notebook Tested 149

MojoKid writes "Dual Graphics in Notebooks have been in development for a long time now but very few Notebook vendors have actually brought products to market. Recently, NVIDIA's launch of the GeForce 7900 series enabled manufacturers like Alienware the ability to configure Dual GPU SLI systems in a Notebook form factor. HotHardware has a world's first look at the Alienware m9700 Aurora, that comes equipped with a pair of GeForce 7900 MXM modules in a Desktop Replacement form factor. With a 2.4GHz AMD Turion64 processor, SLI and a 17" panel, this machine has more horsepower and features than many high end Desktop setups."
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Alienware GeForce 7900 SLI Notebook Tested

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  • Printer Friendly Version [hothardware.com]

    looks pretty sweet ... very nice results on it
  • notebook? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maynard ( 3337 ) <j...maynard...gelinas@@@gmail...com> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @04:46PM (#15448523) Journal
    Dimension and Weight: ._1.85" x 15.65" x 11.75" ._Starting at 8.5 lbs.

    I would call that more a luggable than a notebook. As powerful as it might be, that's no laptop I'd want to carry around...
    • Re:notebook? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vivek7006 ( 585218 )
      Also note the max battery life is 120 mins assuming that you are not playing a funky game. The article fails to mention how much the battery lasts if one plays a heavy game without connecting it to the power-supply.

      The starting weight is 8.5 lbs. Adding spare battery will only increase its weight. I admit that I have have never gamed on a laptop, but I fail to see its charm. A kickass destop is always better/cheaper/upgradable
      • But a hell of a lot harder to lug to your friend's house or wherever for a LAN party. It's not that it's a commuter laptop, it's just that a one-piece, 10lb machine is a hell of a lot lighter and more portable than a 4 piece (minimum), 50lb desktop.
        • Re:notebook? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by arose ( 644256 )
          A set that can form a portable box, but accepts a standard internal components would be a better solution.
          • I would go one further: Call it a transportable desktop replacement, and ditch the battery altogether.
            • I also like the idea - a less compact, but possibly still light desktop that was very portable with a good display built in.

              However, are there enough LAN gamers (the obvious target market for such a computer) to make a company profit from selling them? I kind of wonder if Alienware is not making such a thing today if anyone would.

              Currently to me the Intel iMac actually seems like one of the better LAN solutions, it can run Windows and is really an all in one unit with a great big display in the way almost
      • And as others have pointed out, there are the heat issues associated with a SLI setup as well. This just seems like a 'solution' looking for a problem. I use a laptop primarily for work. I'd much rather lug around a lightweight pint sized notebook that meets my business needs than a huge and heavy non-upgradable laptop that might retain it's state-of-the-art-for-gaming status for -- at most -- a year. As you said, if you want to game: buy a desktop. Or a console.

        • Re:notebook? (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I use a laptop primarily for work

          No offense, but I'd suggest this laptop is not being marketed to you. I suspect the target audience is students who:

          -Play games
          -Always near a power outlet
          -Need portability for study sessions, classwork, etc
          -2lbs extra weight is minor compared to the 30lb Bio book

          Call me crazy, but its a big market out there, and not everybody wants what you want.

    • Re:notebook? (Score:3, Informative)

      by mobby_6kl ( 668092 )
      That's why it clearly says "Desktop Replacement form factor" in the summary.
    • you don't want to carry 8.5lbs around?

      its not that heavy. jeez. with the shoulder strap thats nothing.
      • its not that heavy. jeez. with the shoulder strap thats nothing.

        Try travel often with something that heavy (and by often, I mean as part of your job). It gets old, quickly.

    • Looks awesome!

      I'd call it a notebook.

      Plays any game and has a huge screen!

      Probably a really nice development machine too!

      8.5 lbs is perfect for everything you get!

      Probably too much though if you only want email and blogging.

    • About the weight of a good violin case; empty.

      Everything is relative.

    • Perhaps this is an answer to those odd individuals who would normally lug around a desktop to a lanparty. Lets be honest, most people use their laptops at the office, and then at home. Usually they're always "plugged in". Saying that laptops are meant to be portable is like telling poorly endowed, middle-aged men that their hummer is meant to go offroad. -W
    • These machines aren't made for you to carry around on a daily basis. They are desktop replacements. Only time you carry it around is when your going to a lan party or heading back to your parents house for college vacation.
    • I use a cf-28 toughbook for my work, lugging it everywhere. It weighs about 8 lbs and is near indestructable, case made entirely of metal. You could probably run the damn thing over. I dont find the weight a bother at all but...

      It weighs 8 lbs. WTF is in this thing to weigh as much as a ruggedized metal laptop?
  • Hot Hardware is right - anyone know how hot these thing run? How fast will the burn a hole in your lap?
    • Only if you can get past the intial hole it will burn in your wallet.

      Afterwards, ya, I'd think it be great at frying sensitive areas. Laptop is a misnomer for this machine.
    • Hot Hardware is right - anyone know how hot these thing run? How fast will the burn a hole in your lap?

      Probably pretty darned quick. I've found, even with a good pair of corduroys (nice air venting) or thick jeans, that many laptops run pretty darned hot, especially near the CPU(s) and the video card(s).

      Is there a ThinkGeek laptop thing like you see for those 133L people in New Yorker who read books and have a laptop tray? I could use one big enough so I can sit on the couch and watch my HDTV while using
    • If you RTFA the reviewer is supprised at the lack of vents [hothardware.com] on the bottom of the machine and mentions that heat was never a problem.

      Of course if you had it on your lap it would probably just crush your legs before it would burn your vitals.
    • Especially if you get the optional 'Foreman grill' attachment.

      Then you can cook burgers while getting your game on! :-P
  • this is getting a little insane. repeat after me, laptops are meant to go places, desktops are meant to have more power. I think things like this should be labeled "compact desktops".
    • I believe "desktop replacement notebooks" fits the bill nicely...it's not like this is bait and switch, this genre of notebook is clearly defined as heavy and not easily portable. What's the problem?
    • If you want a computer to use in the office/school/dorm/whatever but also want one for home, is it best to buy a portable high-powered machine, or a cheap laptop and a cheap home computer? If you don't have $5000 to spend on computers, a good "notebook" or "desktop replacement" might be your best choice.

      When I go off to college, I will occasionally want to take my computer back. Carrying a desktop machine home on the train? No thanks.

      Repeat after me: Get a computer that fits your needs.
  • Bleh! It's got one of those stupid dumb arse glossy screens that reflect everything around you. No thanks to something reminiscent of 80's CRT technology...
  • Course the battery life suc........

  • ...does it run Dapper Drake?

    (seriously, Breezy Badger didn't work in any notebook I tried)
    • breezy worked perfectly on my toshiba. Only change i needed to make was supply ndiswrapper the proper driver for my pcmcia wifi card. Other than that, it was all good.
      • Okay I did buy the bottom of the line Best Buy special, but my Toshiba Satellite didn't get past the video recognition on the Ubuntu live or install cd.
        So, it's still running XP and my wife is using it...
        My next portable will be selected based on compatibility, not only on price... ;)
        • Forget it. Laptops tend to use the more recent stuff, and as Linux is always a couple of months behind driver-wise, you'll probably never find a recently released laptop that works with Linux right away. I bought my Dell over a month ago and only now with the latest kernel/ALSA/X.org it's usable under Linux.
          • Really? I bought a D620 a month ago and Debian stable installed on it just fine. I think this is a case of either trolling, or stupidity.
            • Well guess what, both Ubuntu and Fedora "installed just fine", too. Only I had no sound, I couldn't use the full screen resolution (maximum was 1024x768 while the actual screen is 1280x800), and I had no DRI support in X. Updating ALSA fixed the sound, updating the kernel and X fixed the DRI. I still have to use a hack for the resolution (915resolution) but at least it works.

              I think this is a case of either trolling, or stupidity.

              In your case, both, apparently.

              • My built-in 1440x900 LFP worked fine (needs 915resolution, though, to fix Intel's broken video BIOS), and my external 1920x1200 DFP worked fine too. DRI works (but is super slow, because Intel's drivers are horrible). My HDA audio worked fine.

                The only thing that didn't work was the wifi card, because Intel insists on keeping their "regulatory compliance daemon" closed source.

                So despite Intel's best efforts to make my system unusable, I prevalied and it worked fine. Won't be buying any Intel products agai
          • I don't know... About a year ago I bought an HP Pavilion DV1000 series notebook. For the life of me, I couldn't get any version of SUSE (well, 9.1 through 10.0, most recently) to run on it. I popped in Ubuntu 5.10 and everything just worked. Network, proper video resolution, etc.

            I've not tried SUSE 10.1 on it, because I've been pretty impressed with Ubuntu, but I have put SUSE 10.1 on a Thinkpad R51 and eveyrthing worked fine on that.

        • Which version of Ubuntu? Also was it a via or intel chipset?

          The new dapper is the only version of linux that works on my system flawlessly. I bought the cheaper $740 compaq pressario 4000.

          However I do notice strange anomaly with the keyboard on linux. But its the same way with a default install of XP without HP quickkeys. I think it uses a software based ps/2 filter so when you type text it will occasionally move to a different part of the screen. I am sure there is a work around in linux because its very e
    • Breezy and Drake (at least so far after upgrading) run fine on an old Dell P3 500 laptop I have.
    • Both work fine on my IBM a21m
    • Which ones did you try?

      Got it running at my work on everything from a crappy old Toshiba up to a Compaq nc6220.

      In fact, I was running it on a Dell 610 - and aside from some port replicator issues it worked just fine. Had to edit that - forgot I upgraded to Dapper this morning.

      So, to address the topic, I don't see a problem with it running on this Alienware monstrosity. Wonder if I can get work to buy me one for testing?
  • Not that I have a problem with "integrated" stuff, but this thing has an "integrated" subwoofer. Is this for real? Maybe I've crossed the line into audiophile territory, but I doubt that sounds very good. I can't see a ricer opening the door of his tricked out Honda civic to impress his friends and show them the "awsome" base comming from his alienware laptop.
  • by bunions ( 970377 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @04:51PM (#15448572)
    I don't understand why people buy super-high-end performance laptops. You pay a huge power, weight and cost premium for a laptop that will be top-o-the-line for very little time, and you can't upgrade it when that time passes.

    I guess I can imagine some niche markets - demo machines for software salesmen, stuff like that where a desktop is absolutely infeasible, but sheesh.
    • True, but you can always buy a reconditioned one for about half the price if you just wait three months.

      Note that, with 2GB of RAM, it actually is Windows Vista Premium capable.

      But your basic point on the difficulty in upgrading laptops is a very good one.
    • I don't understand why people buy $25 million dollar yachts which require about $12 million a year to maintain or $12 million dollar mansions in Ft Lauderdale when they don't even live in them or $20000 stereo systems or heck, even $350 iPods when perfectly good alternatives exist. I mean, why get a yacht when a fishing dinghy will do? Why a mansion if you can live comfortably in a shed?

      People buy Alienware because it's expensive and has the latest bells and whistles. For that matter, most people never u
      • It's not advanced, it's just over done.

        It's like why eat 2000 calories in a day when you CAN eat 3000. It is not like this thing has efficient low power components. It's just an amalgamation of the highest end parts in one package.

        All it gives you is gloating power, as in "I shelled out a lot for this and you can't".

    • I don't understand why people buy super-high-end performance laptops. You pay a huge power, weight and cost premium for a laptop that will be top-o-the-line for very little time, and you can't upgrade it when that time passes.

      They're a lot cheaper than boats or fancy cars, and they work a lot better. Plus, you can expense them if you're a consultant - I used to expense my computers when I ran a play-by-mail game business in Canada, including my Apple II+ and software for it. Not the game software, unless
      • "They're a lot cheaper than boats or fancy cars, and they work a lot better."

        I dunno, I'd wager my car works a lot better as a car than that Alienware does. Looking at the photos, I don't think it'd seat more than two.

        I'll be here all week, folks.

        Seriously tho, my point is that they're bad at being laptops: short battery life, weighs a ton. I guess some people just like spending money, and that's fine, but I guess what I'm saying is that I'm surprised at the (apparent) number of people who think it's a g
    • Actually both graphics cards are MXM modules and there's bound to be spare space for more RAM so I would imagine this thing could be upgraded and kept current for a few years before the CPU is too slow and the memory bandwidth is too narrow.
    • Well, not that I'm considering a laptop quite this monsterous, but there were several people who brought their laptop to the last LAN party I attended.
    • I don't understand why people buy super-high-end performance laptops. You pay a huge power, weight and cost premium for a laptop that will be top-o-the-line for very little time, and you can't upgrade it when that time passes.

      This is perfectly suited for two jobs: video editing and 3D "pre-ziv". This is going to be the hot laptop on movie sets everywhere, especially with the dual display and dual hard disks. These folks need all the power for video editing and rendering available, need huge screens but a

    • "and it'll be behind the curve in 6 months"

      You can upgrade the videocards and processor, so no.
  • ... is this really a laptop, or a 'mobile desktop'.
  • by w33t ( 978574 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @04:55PM (#15448608) Homepage
    Act V. Scene IV.

    "A fuel cell, a fuel cell, my kindom for a fuel cell!"

    SLI in laptops! So neat, but so...immobile. Portable, yes. But only within the range of the extension cord. Perhaps when that day comes when we get better mobile power sources we will not come to expect reduced (even if slightly) functionality from our personal devices. When that day comes we will come to expect only greatly increased prices!

    Music wants to be free [myspace.com]
    • Considering the weight of this thing, you might as well strap a portable generator to your back as well. The roar of the laptop's fans will probably drown out the engine noise, too.
    • Vacuums are also mostly portable, but only within reach of an extension cord. Does that mean they're useless, or just for a specific type of use? I lean more towards the second answer.
      • I agree that there is certainly usefulness in having a powerful computer simply made into a form which can rest on your lap. But I would argue that full mobility will always be more useful. After all, wouldn't it be nice to bring a vacuum camping to clean out the tent before you roll it up? Additionally, if a roomba required a power cord its functionality would be greatly hindered.

        Nonetheless, I agree with you that requiring a power cable by no means trounces the function of a device. But it would be nice t
  • Heh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @04:59PM (#15448650) Journal
    With a 2.4GHz AMD Turion64 processor, SLI and a 17" panel, this machine has more horsepower and features than many high end Desktop setups."

    Yea, probably cost alot more too.
  • Missplaced purpose? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BigFootApe ( 264256 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @05:00PM (#15448665)
    I've always had my doubts about desktop replacement laptops. Usually, they're absolutely massive beasts with inferior battery life and a large price tag. Even then, they don't have the performance of a much cheaper desktop.

    To me, adding SLI to a DR laptop is just another draw on the battery with diminishing returns in performance. Does someone have a contrary opinion they'd like to share?
    • by bigtrouble77 ( 715075 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @05:16PM (#15448801)
      These machines are not supposed to replace laptops and they really aren't meant to run off the battery very frequently.

      What they are meant for is transporting a VERY powerful machine easily. The reality is that with this machine you have very powerful processing, a very high end lcd screen (you can't even buy a wuxga screen for a desktop), a built in UPS, keyboard and mouse all in one compact package.

      I have a Sager 9750 and almost never run it on battey. But I do use it for work as my primary machine where I use Maya, photoshop and eclipse. I need a wuxga screen for my eclipse work, and you simply can't get one for a desktop. When I bring the machine home I can play any game I want as the graphics adapter is very powerful and upgradable.

      Finally, I have gentoo running on a second 100gb hd which I use about 50% of the time. The machine does absolutely everything, it's extremely portable and it has features (17" wuxga) that desktops don't. The killer functionality is that I can have my main machine with me where ever I go (as long as there's an ac outlet) and I don't have to make any compromises.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I need a wuxga screen for my eclipse work, and you simply can't get one for a desktop.

        Yes, you can. All the 24" widescreen displays are WUXGA. like apple's 24" Cinema, or Dell's 2405 or 2407fwp.
      • Ditto (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phorm ( 591458 )
        I have an HP zd7000 laptop. It's new a few years out of date, but still manages to keep up with most desktops. In its time it was better than my desktop, with 80GB HDD (easily added to with a USB HDD, and some high-end laptops have two HDD bays), a GeForce 5600 (dedicated memory), and 1GB of RAM (well, that after I made HP send me a 1GB because a design flaw causes crashes with RAM in both slots), 17" widescreen (non-gloss), and a 2.8Ghz P-4 processor.

        Nice and toasty on the lap if you're playing games, bu
    • I think its a waste of money for this monster as gaming sucks with the tiny notebook keyboards and lcd screens. Not to mention all the hard drives still run at 4200 or 5400 rpm's and the sound sucks. You can buy nice headphones but the integrated sound typically are winsound cards run mostly in software with some hardware functions. That could slow a game down in 3d sound with lots of monsters on the screen.

      If you need a gaming machine get a desktop. My laptop has a crappy intel video that is fine for what
  • ...since right about now the servers hosting it are on FIRE!!!!!

    I made it to about the 4th page before I got an error about too many connections ;)
  • Unfortunately, Alienware refuse to sell systems without Windows installed. This means you're shelling out ~$70 for something you may not be using, or may already own. Tough luck for them, because I was looking for a semi-portable Unix workstation and ended up buying from Hypersonic instead.
  • by cyngus ( 753668 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @05:18PM (#15448812)
    Of course this computer isn't for everyone, but if you do the LAN party thing, then this is much more convenient than dragging around a desktop. Maybe you just want your computer to take up less space, could it be, could it?! If Apple didn't make the Mini it would be an easy decision for me that I would buy a 'Book because perhaps the most appealing thing to me is not portability of a computer, but that it doesn't take up much space and can be easily moved if I want to use the space for something else. Stop automatically crying, "Why would anyone do this, its hot, its expensive, if not as powerful...blah...blah...blah," engage your brain, think, and you might just discover that while this machine is not for everyone it has utility for some. Everything is about tradeoffs and for some this machine makes the right ones.
  • I'm amazed every time I see a new alienware product. The only other products coming close are VooDooPC. Problem is that Voodoo's laptops are TWICE the weight at a hefty 13-16 lbs and you get less( apart from the 19" screen.)!

    Recent Reviews:
    http://resource.voodoopc.com/images/default/review s_images/PDF/wired_524_art.pdf [voodoopc.com]
    http://resource.voodoopc.com/images/default/review s_images/PDF/gi_524_art.pdf [voodoopc.com]
    (Warning PDF Links)
  • With Dell's recent purchase of Alienware, does that mean this is simply a Dell system? I don't know whether Dell did the R&D for this machine, but I've been pretty disappointed with the durability & longevity of their recent laptops.
  • The Intel Core Duo T2700 at 2.3Ghz would smoke that Turion. Yeah, it's not 64-bit (Merom's this summer) but Alienware can't put more than 2GB in that box anyway, so addressing more than 4GB is pretty meaningless, huh? And the Core cpu and Intel chipset will get much better battery life (anything with that monster screen needs all the battery life help it can get)
    • not to start a fanboi war but ....

      AMD is coming out with new mobile chips too...

      Besides there is more to x86-64 than "48 bit addresses". People like you just like the shiny cover words. How about "twice the GPRs" and "twice the SIMD registers"?

      Though I agree, MCW chips will be neat to play with. I'm looking foward to grabbing one for a desktop when they're not too too expensive [mmm benchmarking...]

    • Here's a hint for you...

      The display being bigger doesn't consume much more than the 15" displays on other laptops. The LCD consumes little, and the backlights might be a little longer and consume more power- but it's minimal compared to the CPU and disk consumption rates (And in the case of this laptop, the GPU rate as well...).

      The big complaint I've got about the new Intel Core offerings is that it's not really 64-bit and I need that- and battery life is only part of the equation. Overall capabilities ar
    • You may want to google in slashdot's domain for Apple stories and people writing kernel modules that probe the cpu temperature.

      Apple intentionally hid this because some reviewers noticed temperates as high as 95C!

      They wont help the life of your system. I assume they use too much power as well but I dont know. After hearing that I intentionally went out of my way for an older Centrino system.
  • Horsepower is right, especially when you're shopping for the generator you're going to have to lug around just to power the damned thing for more than a couple of hours of Oblivion...
  • Server Too Busy
    HttpException (0x80004005): Server Too Busy]
    System.Web.HttpRuntime.RejectRequestInternal(HttpW orkerRequest wr) +148
    Version Information: Microsoft .NET Framework Version:1.1.4322.2300; ASP.NET

    Guess they should have reviewed it as a webserver, instead.

  • No longer can 2 categories work. We need more then "desktop" and "laptop". Now we have these machines which sport full-size keyboards and 17-inch screens, but have low battery life and are heavy. They are much more portable then a desktop, but not as portable as traditional laptops. They serve a very important use. I use one at work, and I bring it home with me every night so I can work there if needed. This is much simpler then having a desktop at home, and another one at work, and there is no way I
    • We already HAD a third catagory- "portable". We also had "handheld", but both of the catagories faded into obscurity because of marketing wonks that thought they were pase.
  • Cool notebook. Brings up an unrelated topic I want to ask you (yes, you) about: Remote Mouse Protocol (RMP).

    On my desktop I have two computers, a Mac (PowerBook G4) and a Dell Inspiron 5150, and two monitors. While the extended desktop on the Mac works flawlessly, I am constantly frustrated when I try to use the sam mouse to reach the other computer (of course, this makes perfect logical sense as to why it does not work, it just frustrates me that it doesn't work). What I want to do: mouse my mouse not only
  • ..about insensitive clods?
  • iBUYPOWER (Score:2, Informative)

    ibuypower.com [slashdot.org] has a 19" SLI Notebook for about the same price as the Alienware. Actually cheaper... Later.
  • It scored quite high on the "Heatmeter" scale at the end of the article. Two geforce chips? I imagine this baby would absolutely roast your lap.
  • ...as pictured on the screen of the laptop at Alienware's site?

  • Misleading header (Score:3, Informative)

    by S3D ( 745318 ) on Friday June 02, 2006 @11:18AM (#15454275)
    This is not a first review, and this laptop is not manufactured by Alienware. This laptop is really a Clevo M590K [clevo.com.tw], rebranded as Alienware. It's also avalable from a lot of other reseller like Sager [sagernotebook.com], Voodoo PC [voodoopc.com] etc. For ages Alienware was trying to get credit for "reseach" a"design" of laptops of Clevo. All that it really doing is modifing the lids.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake