Note: Be sure to check out the two slideshows for this computer. The first is a tour of the M5550i outside and in; the second shows how well the notebook performed in a variety of business and graphics tests.
Make no mistake about it, Alienware makes distinctive notebooks that are head turners and the Area-51 m5550i is no exception.
It is not a bleeding edge gaming enthused notebook unlike many of its Alienware brethren. In comparison to the monster gaming notebooks from Alienware like the Aurora m9700, this notebook’s graphics performance comes off as a bit puny.
But as an office notebook, now that’s another story. With graphics performance that is superior to many office notebooks and a wickedly powerful CPU this notebook will lay waste to many office applications with ease (in office speak - "improve your overall productivity"). In particular applications that are multi-threaded and CPU intensive like Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft MovieMaker will benefit greatly from the dual core power boost of Core 2 Duo, the 2 GB of RAM as well as the NVIDIA Geforce Go 7600 graphics processor.
On battery power, this notebook is a power sucking hog, no and ifs or buts about it. The extended battery is a must and provides an adequate level of mobile power, but don’t expect the notebook to last the length of a flight from Los Angeles to New York.
At around $2,500 as configured for our tests, the Alienware Area-51 m5550i is a bit on the expensive side and might make your accounting department squirm when you ask them to buy you one (for office work of course).