Alienware prides itself on never getting left behind in the gaming arena, and is usually first on the scene when a new graphics configuration or technology hits the market. But its latest creation stands out for another reason -- it's finished in a rather garish 'Cyborg Green'.
The basic m9700 spec costs just under £1,200, but Alienware seems to have gone nuts with its online configuration tool and sent us the souped up version, which will set you back £2,028. Notable for its high-speed processor and twin 512MB GeForce Go 7900 GS graphics, it looks like every gamer's dream but how does it fare under a scrutinous eye?
Despite arriving in a box large enough to house a grand piano, the m9700 is relatively light for such a big machine, at least by power laptop standards. It's still a desktop replacement, but weighs in at just under 4kg, which should give you ample time to reach your next LAN party before your spine crumbles under the strain.
Alienware undoubtedly produces the most distinctive laptops around, but the m9700 takes a more traditional approach in its case design. Gone are the James Cameron-esque Alien claws of the Elite Assassin range, here you'll find classic black-rubber lines accompanying a choice of green, blue or silver casing. This Cybork Green model costs £63 more than the basic silver model. The distinctive Alienware logo still lights up the lid, but this m9700 is more a design statement than a hallmark of quality.
When you open the thing up you start to notice how big it actually is -- the full-sized keyboard only takes up around half of the real estate on the base, along with a generous, but ultimately frustrating, mouse trackpad that's made of the same high-gloss plastic as the case itself. It may look nice and coordinated, but the gloss finish on the pad means it doesn't feel as nice to use as traditional textured trackpads.
You'll find a typical array of connectivity littered around the sides of the case in no apparent order. USB ports are conveniently located on three of the four sides and a roll-wheel volume control makes for easy adjustments to the built-in surround sound. The front houses two speakers and a DVD drive, but we question the use of a sliding tray design here as it's rather easy to flick the open/close switch by accident and can be awkward if you're actually using it on your lap.