For a gaming machine, it looks the part, but you just don't get enough for your money
Good gaming performance
Poor build quality for the price
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The Alienware Aurora mALX (£2753 inc. VAT) is the flagship model in the company's range and proves this on a number of levels.
It's the largest machine, sporting a 19-inch Super-TFT panel that is stunning to look at. The bezel will support a 20-inch panel without increasing the size of the laptop, but Alienware doesn't currently offer this size of screen as such panels don't offer the same 1680 x 1050 pixels as the one here.
The other factor that makes the Aurora stand out is the addition of twin Nvidia GeForce Go 7900GTX cards in a SLI configuration.
With this in mind, the 3DMark 2003 score of 27,240 isn't the highest rating we've seen, but it's still very impressive. This machine is ideal for serious gaming, and will certainly last the next couple of years, technology-wise.
The finish of the laptop is equally impressive, as you'll find the usual alien head, which glows, on the lid of the machine and a specially lacquered finish that reflects in the light. Sadly, this doesn't disguise the poor overall build quality of the machine. As soon as you turn this laptop on you'll find it grows warm to the touch and the fans are constantly in operation.
Weighing in at 7.6kg, this is a desktop machine with a battery, so you won't be carrying it around too often. The keyboard is a good size and sits squarely in the middle of the main chassis. The keys proved responsive, but the board was poorly mounted, so bounced a good deal as we typed.
The mouse buttons are flat and awkward to use and the touchpad slow to respond. This really isn't the type of quality we were expecting from such an expensive laptop.
We weren't able to get a MobileMark 2005 score for this machine as the battery life of 88 minutes simply isn't long enough to record a score. However, built around the single-cored AMD Turion 64 ML-44 (2.4GHz), there is sufficient power to be had, especially as you'll find 2048MB of memory shipped as standard. That said, we would have preferred to see a dual-core processor onboard.
There is an argument you should never invest in a gaming laptop as the lack of upgradability limits its lifespan. While this is partly true, in the case of the Alienware Aurora mALX, we're just not convinced the extras are worth the price. It's an impressive machine to look at, but in daily use, it just didn't live up to what we expect from such a high-end machine.
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