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Alienware Area-51m vs MSI GT75 Titan: Which Gaming Beast Is Best?

Looks like we've got a real slobberknocker on our hands. In one corner, we've got the MSI GT75 Titan, a beast of a gaming laptop sporting an overclockable Intel Core i9 CPU and an Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU, a gorgeous 4K display and unbelievable audio it's the ultimate multimedia machine.

And in the other corner, we've got the Alienware Area-51m, a redesigned beauty that the company is calling its first true desktop replacement. It also has an RTX 2080 GPU, a desktop processor, an eye tracker and a host of other goodies.

And while both of these machines are über-powerful with a host of new features, only one system can reign supreme. Read on to find out which.

Alienware Area-51mMSI GT75 Titan
Starting Price (as configured)$2,549 ($5,099)$2,199 ($4,199)
CPU3.6-GHz Intel Core i9-9900K  CPU2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU
RAM64GB32GB
StorageDual 1TB NVMe PCIe SSDs RAID 0 configuration512GB NVMe PCIe SSD
GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 2080/ Intel UHD Graphics 630Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
Key Travel/Actuation2.2 millimeters, 71 grams2.5 millimeters, 80 grams
Display17.3 inches, 1920 x 1080, Nvidia G-Sync 144 Hertz17.3 inches, 3840 x 2160, Nvidia G-Sync 60 Hertz
Battery Life (hrs:mins)2:362:20
Size16.1 x 15.9 x 1.2~1.7 inches16.9 x 12.4 x 1.2~2.3 inches
Weight8.5 pounds10.1 pounds

Design

The Titan lives up to its name in sheer bulk. Weighing 10.1 pounds, the laptop's 16.9 x 12.4 x 1.2~2.3-inch frame cuts an imposing figure. Although the laptop has gotten a few design updates, namely, the blood-red accents along the lid and the revamped dragon sigil, MSI has kept true to its design language. Constructed primarily of black-brushed aluminum, the Titan looks every bit like a gaming laptop –– and a powerful one at that.

The Area-51m is a whole new look for Alienware. It's new design language, dubbed Legend, is a sleeker, more sophisticated take on the intergalactic theme. Gone are the sharp angles and overabundance of light strips. Instead, the laptop is all about rounded corners, silky-soft touch paint and honeycomb vents.

But if you think Alienware ditched the light show altogether, you'd be mistaken. The company has taken a more conservative approach to RGB lighting, but the lights are still there on the alien head and the rear vents, waiting for you to configure them to your heart’s desire.

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And despite its classification as a desktop replacement, the Area-51m is lighter than the MSI at 8.5 pounds, 16.1 x 15.9 x 1.2~1.7 inches. The lighter frame is due in large part to Alienware switching from anodized aluminum to magnesium alloy. Overall, the Area-51m has the more appealing look.

 Winner: Alienware Area-51m

Display

Both the Area-51m and the Titan have captivating displays, but one clearly has the edge.

The Area-51m is equipped with a 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080, Nvidia G-Sync display with a 144-Hertz refresh rate. It also has some of the thinnest bezels I've seen on a desktop replacement. When I watched the trailer for Little, I was very impressed with the electric blue color, and other hues such as the emerald, magenta and gold were gorgeous. The same color quality carried over to gaming, as the vistas were devastatingly beautiful.

MORE: Laptops with the Most Colorful Screens

But not so fast, -- the Titan is just as beautiful, if not even more so. Whether I was gaming, watching movies or writing  an article, the Titan's 17.3-inch, 4K screen produced sharp detail and jaw-dropping color on a seriously bright panel. Details were so clear that I could see the individual curls of Issa Rae's dark-brown hair during the Little trailer. And when I was playing Battlefield V, the colors on the Nvidia G-Sync panel (60 Hz, 3 milliseconds) were so pretty, it made me take stock of the mud in the game.

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When we measured for color reproduction, the Alienware produced 117.5 percent of the sRGB gamut, while the Titan reached an incredible 178 percent. However, the Area-51m has the brighter panel, averaging 284 nits, outshining the Titan's 271 nits.

Winner: MSI GT75 Titan

Audio

I need more laptop manufacturers to get the memo about front-firing speakers, especially when it comes to gaming laptops. Each laptop delivered impressive performances with loud, clean instrumentals with plenty of soundstage.

Listening to Kevin Ross' version of "Prototype," I was carried away on a bed of bright highs and dynamic mids. The singer's tenor was lush, with plenty of room for the harmonies and the snares to shine through. And when people tried talking to me during my Battlefield V playthrough, they were drowned out by the thunderous boom of mortar fire.

In a new state of events, Alienware has bundled its audio software into its Command Center software hub, making it a one-stop shop for all your gaming and audio needs. The app comes with eight presets (Com, Movie, Music, Strategy, Racing, Shooter, Role Play and Alienware). I found myself using Music and Alienware the most. Music produced the best all-around audio performance.

MSI, Dynaudio and Nahimic brought the boom and everything else. Are the Titan's speakers going to replace external speakers? No, but for laptop speakers, they're exceptional. I got full-bodied harmonies on "Prototype," headed up by an angelic tenor with mids and highs that were nice and bright. The explosions were so loud during my Battlefield V playthrough, it scared my dog out of a sound sleep. The voices of my compatriots were so clear and so present, at times I felt like I was really in the game.

MORE: Audeze Brings High-End 3D Audio to Gaming

Nahimic's audio software continues to be some of the best in the business –– particularly its surround-sound technology. Switching from the Music preset to Movie or Gaming took the audio from a warm, but somewhat one-dimensional performance, to an immersive 360-degree quality. You can even adjust the vocals to make them sound closer or farther depending on your preference. At max volume, you can lose some of the accuracy despite Dynaudio's Smart Amp working to maintain levels, but it's still a great feature.

Winner: MSI GT75 Titan

Keyboard

MSI continues the tradition of outfitting its Titan laptops with mechanical keyboards, making them some of the best laptop keyboards around. This time around, they're using SteelSeries' Rapid RGB keyboard, which, equipped with silver switches, delivers a supremely comfy and clicky typing experience. The keys are punchy and quick, with no chance of bottoming out.  

Measuring an unbelievable 2.5 millimeters of key travel with 80 grams of actuation force (1.5mm and 60g are our minimum), the keys feel better than any laptop keyboard laden with scissor-membrane switches. Those über-springy switches helped me improve my typing score on 10fastfingers from 70 words per minute to 80.

The Area-51 also has a top-notch typing experience, thanks to its Tact-X keyboard, offering firm feedback with no bottoming out. The keyboard boasts a travel of 2.2 millimeters, with a 71-grams actuation. I scored slightly above my average 70 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test with 73 wpm.

I really appreciate that both systems managed to include a full numpad. Alienware even took it a step further with its row of macro keys. However, for sheer comfort, the Titan is the clear winner.

Winner: MSI GT75 Titan

Gaming, Graphics and VR

Welcome to the world of Ray Tracing! With Nvidia's new RTX graphics cards, gaming laptops have gotten seriously more powerful than their predecessors. Thanks to Nvidia's ingenuity, both of these systems have the ability to create photorealistic graphics. But the proof is in the pudding.

When we ran the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark, the Area-51m and its RTX 2080 GPU produced 92 frames per second. The Titan with its own 2080 scored 76 fps,  enough to clear the 63-fps premium gaming laptop average.

During the Hitman test, the Area-51m maintained its lead with 143 fps, edging out the Titan's 140 fps. On the Grand Theft Auto V test, both laptops cruised past the 75-fps average, with the Titan obtaining 91 fps and the  Area-51m’s 105 fps.

The Titan achieved 112 fps on the Middle-Earth: Shadow of War benchmark, but the Area-51m pumped out even more frames at 132 fps.

Both laptops maxed out the SteamVR performance test at 11, so feel free to boot up all those Oculus Rifts and HTC Vives.

MORE: The Best Gaming Laptops

In a surprise move, Alienware gave the Area-51m an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU that the system uses on less-demanding tasks.

 Winner: Alienware Area-51m

Overall Performance

Just because the Area-51m and Titan are both gaming laptops, that doesn't mean they can't put in a hard day's work. On the contrary, the Area-51m's overclockable 3.6-GHz Intel Core i9-9900K desktop and the Titan's overclockable n are fully capable of getting the job done, though the Area-51m's desktop grade processor gives it the edge.  

The Area-51m scored 29,989 on our overall performance test, while the Titan netted 22,765, easily clearing the 21,118 premium laptop average.

On our 5GB file transfer test, the Titan's 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD snagged a transfer rate of 848.2 megabytes per second. The Area-51m's pair of 1TB NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration produced 1,272.3 MBps.

During the Handbreak test, the Area-51m took 6 minutes to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, while the Titan completed the task in 8:00.

 Winner: Alienware Area-51m

Battery Life

Desktop replacements aren't known for their long battery life, especially systems sporting a pair of power bricks like the Titan and the Area-51. When we ran the Laptop Mag Battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi), the Titan clocked in at 2 hours and 20 minutes. It looks like the Area-51m's integrated graphics might have helped it here, as it lasted a slightly longer 2:36.

 Winner: Alienware Area-51m

Pricing

This much power doesn't come cheap. In the case of the Area-51m, the configuration we reviewed costs $5,099. It has an overclockable 3.6-GHz Intel Core i9-9900K desktop chip with 64GB of RAM, two 1TB PCIe M.2 SSDs in RAID 0 configuration with a 1TB (+8GB SSHD) Hybrid Drive, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8GB of RAM, an Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU and a 1920 x 1080 144Hz display.

The Titan we reviewed is cheaper, but not by much at $4,199. It's outfitted with an overclockable 2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, 32GB of RAM, a 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD with a 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 4K Nvidia G-Sync 60Hz display.

The base models are slightly more attainable. The Area-51 starts at $2,549, which gets you a 3.6-GHz Intel Core i7-8700K CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB (+8GB SSHD) Hybrid Drive, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU with 8GB of RAM, an Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU and a 1920 x 1080 60Hz display.

The $2,199 entry-level Titan offers a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB NVMe PCIe SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 1080p Nvidia G-Sync 144-Hz display. For $3,399 you can get a Core i9 CPU and an Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU.

Winner: MSI GT75 Titan

Upgradability

If you're thinking about spending all that money on a system of this caliber, it would be nice to future-proof it a bit. The Area-51m is one of the first gaming laptops in awhile to let you swap out everything –– the CPU, RAM, storage and GPU. And if that's not enough, the system has that telltale proprietary port for Alienware's Graphics Amplifier.

Theoretically, you can upgrade the Titan using the MXM design it uses with the GPU. However, the company doesn't recommend that you go poking around in the Titan's guts, especially without the MXM upgrade kit that the company no longer sells.

 Winner: Alienware Area-51m

Alienware Area-51mMSI GT75 Titan
Design (20)1815
Display (10)810
Audio (10)910
Keyboard (10)910
Gaming, Graphics and VR (15)1510
Overall Performance (15)1510
Pricing (10)810
Upgradability (10)100
Total (100)9275

Bottom Line

It's a new era for gaming laptops, one that promises more power for both everyday and gaming performance. And it seems that laptop manufacturers aren't afraid to openly target enthusiast consumers.

The MSI GT75 Titan is stately and imposing. It's got a show-stopping display and crowd-pleasing audio that makes it a formidable multimedia machine. The Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 make it an undeniable powerhouse. And whether its totally tricked out or a base model, it's notably cheaper than the Alienware.

But with a desktop processor and its own Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU, the Area-51m offers an unbelievable amount of power for a laptop. The new design is stunning and surprisingly lightweight for this class of notebook, and the ability to swap out all the parts will prove to be invaluable years down the line, making it our definitive choice.  

Credit: Laptop Mag

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.