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Desktop Replacements - Unwieldy Laptops or Portable Desktops?

A Question Of Mobility

There's something ominous about a laptop that weighs more than your PC's monitor, puts out more heat while sitting still than your desktop - and has a little alien head on the back. Desktop replacements, as characterized by Alienware's Area-51m series, the new in-thing. However, they have had something of a mixed reception among IT professionals.

On the one hand, people bemoan the fact that they are not as portable as a laptop should be. They're heavy, they're noisy, they're hot and don't dare to ask about battery life. On the other hand, many see them as being distinct from the traditional laptop - they are certainly more portable than desktop machines, and they have more horsepower than smaller notebooks.

A while back we ran a piece about living with my new Dell Inspiron 6000, a laptop somewhat between ultra-portable and ultra-powerful. Having lugged the Area-51m around for a weekend, I now take back any accusations I had about the Inspiron 6000 being overweight. Still, I still wanted to test the ultra-powerful desktop replacement against ultra-portable office lugs.

What better way to test a desktop replacement than to drag it along to a LAN party? Unplug the machine, drag it across town, plug it back in and don't move for 32 hours. During that time, it'll be tested to the extreme with the best of today's games running full tilt. A normal laptop would crash and burn, because even some desktops struggle... how would the desktop replacement manage?