The awesome Alienware Box!
I originally had an Alienware m9700, but I quickly came to realize it was too much for machine for what I use a laptop for. So I decided to order me a m5550 as it had the combination of portablility and gaming ability that I wanted in a notebook. When it is all said and done, I really love this notebook. Now to the good stuff.
This notebook does everything I want it to do. I bought this to be my secondary computer to my desktop (review of that later). I wanted to have something portable but able to play a game on at a decent level when I wanted to. The primary use of this notebook is office tasks and web surfing. The quality of this notebook is quite good. I find it to be exactly what I was looking for. I am extremely happy with my purchase.
I find the screen has some slight side to side flex but nothing major to worry about. The 15.4" size is just right for me. I ordered the 1280x800 screen resolution for the eyes. I am glad I made that choice. I find that I rarely have to do any horizontal scrolling viewing websites.
I really like the touchpad. It does not have the glossy finish like the m9700. It has more of a textured finish and is very responsive. I probably use this more than my cordless notebook mouse. I do like the fact that it has one button access to turn the touchpad off. This is handy when you are playing a game as I can't play a game with the touchpad and I have been known to rub the touchpad when I have played games on other notebooks.
Right now as I am typing this I am jamming to some Rush Hemispheres and to me the speakers sound as good or better than other notebook speakers I have heard before. They do get quite loud and of course you can't expect much bass from speakers this size.
I find that typing on this keyboard quite nice. The keys are reponsive and you do not have to press very hard to activate them. This is nice because I type kind of unorthodox as I never learned how to type, I learned how to type on my own. I have not found any flexing in the keyboard at all.
Heat and Noise
This notebook does get warm on the right side of the wrist rests next to the touchpad. This is not unbearable to me or uncomfortable. I am used to that sort of thing. My old iBook did the same thing. As far as noise goes, you can hear the fan kick on initially at full speed when the CPU hits 60 - 62 degrees and then starts to spin down. I don't find this annoying at all. I had an HP notebook that did the same. I use either a XT Stand or Zalman NC-1000 notebook cooler when I am working on a hard surface. I also use a lapdesk when I am sitting on my couch using the computer. My temps are a little warmer on the lapdesk as it does not prop the back up as much as the other stands mentioned but not excessively hot. The temps range from 55 - 62 on the CPU and 65 - 75 on the GPU. On my stand and cooler the temps range from 55 - 60 on the CPU and 65 - 70 on the GPU. The only time I have seen the temp get high on the GPU was running 3dMark06 and it peaked at around 96.
I ordered the m5550 with Vista Ultimate installed. I have not had any problems with it and I find Vista a nice change. I have had no trouble with the wireless card and Vista. I find Vista to be a nice change but I am still learning it. It does have some things to get used to.
The m5550 comes with the 6 cell battery but I opted to order the optional 9 cell to have in addition to the 6 cell. With the 9 cell battery installed i get around a 2:45 life out of it and 1:30 out of the 6 cell. Vista has some pretty good power plans installed that I am going to try out and mess with. Overall, I am satisfied with the battery life of the m5550. I did not have great expetations for it after reading some reviews.
I love the case. The silver is just gorgeous in my opinion and has a nice glossy finish to it. The blue alienhead on the back complements the silver quite nicely. I don't find the case to have a lot of flex in it and not to be very heavy at all.
I have only played FEAR for about 2 hours on the m5550. It performed well, with some lag but I really didn't go in and tweak anything in the game. I ran 3dMark06 and received a score of 1683. I know this is not as good as what has been seen on XP machines but I believe this will improve over time as revised drivers and updates to Vista come along.
Well that concludes my review for now. I will be updating this review and adding more pics when I can.