Alienware’s revamped product line lands at E3

Alienware is on the ground at E3 once again this year with new models of its Area-51 tower, Aurora mid-tower, and Alpha small-form-factor PC, as well as the Alienware 13 laptop. Alienware says the new products are intended to commemorate the company's 20-year anniversary. All of the new machines have been refreshed with the latest CPUs and GPUs, naturally, but Alienware has made some more changes that are worth discussing.

The Alpha SFF is very small: just 2.7 inches tall with a square footprint of 7.9 inches on a side. Despite the size, the new Alpha looks legitimately fast, with processor options ranging up to the Core i7-6700T, a quad-core Skylake chip that hits 3.6GHz with Intel's Turbo Boost. Paired with a Radeon R9 M470X or GeForce GTX 960, gaming performance should be adequate for living-room duty, but Alienware's "Graphics Amplifier" external GPU dock is also supported. The Alpha can be equipped with up to 16GB of DDR4 memory, and storage is provided by either a 2.5" hard drive or PCIe M.2 SSD, up to 1TB. WiFi-AC and Bluetooth are standard. In more unusual features, the Alpha has an HDMI input to allow users to pass through signals from another HDMI device.

The Aurora mid-tower is the next step up in Alienware's product line. Alienware says the Aurora offers "full-scale power and performance" despite having a smaller footprint than its predecessor. Available CPU configurations span the range of Intel's desktop offerings, from the Core i3-6100 to the Core i7-6700K (with optional liquid cooling), while GPU options range from the lowly GTX 950 all the way up to a pair of GTX 1080s. RAM configurations up to 32GB are supported, as well as a 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD. The tool-free chassis—which Alienware calls its first ever—has five drive bays for "multi-terabyte" disk expansion, while Alienware's AlienFX customizable lighting dots the exterior. USB 3.1 Type-C makes its first appearance on Alienware hardware here.

Alienware's latest Area 51 desktop carries over the peculiar triangular design of last year's model. This year, the machine has been updated for Broadwell-E, including the top-end Core i7-6950X. Alienware will sell those chips running at stock speeds or pre-overclocked. Up to three graphics cards are supported, including the Radeon R9 Fury X and the GTX Titan X—no word on Pascal here. Memory options scale up to 64GB of DDR4-2400, and Alienware says the Area-51 supports "a host of storage options going beyond 6TB." A 1500-watt power supply is available to drive all that multi-GPU madness. Of course, the new Area-51 has AlienFX lighting.

Probably the most interesting thing Alienware is showing off at E3 is the refreshed Alienware 13 laptop. The company actually debuted this model at CES, but now we have specifics. The big deal is the available 2560×1440 OLED screen, which is a first on a gaming laptop. Alienware is claiming a 100,000:1 contrast ratio along with a 1ms response time for this screen, although neither of those are particularly surprising for an OLED display. Other specifications include Skylake Core i5 and i7 CPUs, GeForce GTX 960M and 965M GPUs, up to 16GB DDR3L memory, and 128GB to 512GB PCIe SSDs. The Alienware 13 supports the aforementioned Alienware Graphics Amplifier, too.

While we suspect most TR readers will prefer to build their own rigs, it's hard to deny that Alienware makes some flashy-looking yet reasonably tasteful gear these days. If you're itching to get your hands on said gear, all of the models above should now be available through Alienware or Best Buy.

Comments closed
    • Berek
    • 3 years ago

    With Kaby Lake CPUs and Pascal GPUs about to come out for mobile, have we seen Alienware update their newly announced systems with near-future products like these?

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    Someone following E3 here said that Alienware claimed one of their announced models would be “cheaper than building it yourself” which I immediately checked on the Alienware product page and found to be bogus (since it is actually a pretty unbelievable claim given the cutthroat, fiercely-competitive PC component market)

    Did anyone else hear Alienware make that claim, and if so do you know what specific model that claim was in reference too. If true, I can only assume it’s some ridiculous configuration of Broadwell-E and Prosumer stuff that comes with massive consumer markup but for which the big OEMs get kickbacks and price incentives*

    * – bribes.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 3 years ago

      That’s a pretty wacky claim. The high-end models (e.g. Area 51) tend to have -higher- markups than the low-end stuff. I recall some years ago a friend was considering an HP Blackbird machine and we ended up building him a faster PC for quite literally one-third the price.

      This sounds like some huckster on the show floor just trying to stir up buzz.

        • auxy
        • 3 years ago

        Was that Ashley? (´・ω・`)

          • RAGEPRO
          • 3 years ago

          No, Thomas. I don’t think you know him.

    • DrCR
    • 3 years ago

    Does it sound like a vacuum cleaner though?

    [quote<]Alpha SFF is very small: just 2.7 inches tall with a square footprint of 7.9 inches on a side[/quote<]

      • Liron
      • 3 years ago

      No, it barely sounds at all… although the conference center is a noisy environment.

      • duke_sandman
      • 3 years ago

      I have the last gen Alpha (which is my wife’s machine). It’s her main machine.

      The Alpha is very nearly silent under most conditions. I know the fan is on by inspection, but I cannot hear it over my cat purring on my lap or the Intel Atom WHS fileserver next to it. I fired up Project Cars on it once, and the fans were audible, but benign.

      It’s a great machine — especially with a \\share and wireless input devices. The only thing is that audio out is ONLY through the HDMI. (Last gen at least.)

    • Spyder22446688
    • 3 years ago

    So much plastic. Big, bubbly plastic.

      • albundy
      • 3 years ago

      very expensive bubbly plastic.

    • southrncomfortjm
    • 3 years ago

    1440p with an OLED screen on a laptop? That’s really nice. having only a 960M or 965M to power it is really lame though. At least a 980M, or 980 period, is needed to really make 1440p shine.

      • Spunjji
      • 3 years ago

      At 13″ you can scale from 1080p (or even 1600×900 at a stretch if you’re desperate for FPS) and still have the game look pretty damn sharp, but given their competitors are all shipping the GTX 970M in similar form factors this does look a bit weak.

      • rwburnham
      • 3 years ago

      I love the idea of a 1440p laptop, but at least a 970M would have been nice. Still, at 1440p, you can drop down some of the AA-type settings and not lose much in the way of visual quality. Assuming that 13″ laptop doesn’t sound like a little lawn mower, I’d seriously consider one. The only other 1440p laptop coming out soon is one from Gigabyte.

    • Kretschmer
    • 3 years ago

    What would be really, really interesting is if Dell released an Alienware-branded that dock worked with non-Alienware laptops like the XPS 15. That would be a sure buy on my part.

    • vargis14
    • 3 years ago

    Wait they will have mobile NV and AMD 14/16NM chips in theses toys:)

    Gaming laptop speaking.

    • Kretschmer
    • 3 years ago

    I feel like Alienware is an “idiot trap” for people attempting to enter the world of PC gaming. Dell brands this line around gaming, but the actual mix of parts is always GPU-lite and sold at a premium…awful for gamers.

    With OEMs being so stingy with SSDs and GPUs is it hardly surprising that consumers aren’t upgrading?

    • NTMBK
    • 3 years ago

    Why on earth did they refresh the Alpha [i<]now[/i<]? Polaris 11 is right around the corner, and would be perfect for a box that size.

    • tipoo
    • 3 years ago

    A full desktop 960, eh? It was the 860M before, which as a mobile part hit a few notches below the 750TI. The 960 makes it interesting, but it’s only in the new high end tier, the base model keeps using the old 860M-ish card.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 3 years ago

      It’s not a desktop 960. It’s a laptop 960.

      The situation is kinda like the desktop 980 vs laptop 980.

      Except there are more differences because it’s really a 970M (I.e. gm204-based, not gm206-based).

      Tr even reviewed a zotac sff machine that did the exact same thing.

      [url<]https://techreport.com/review/29208/zotac-zbox-magnus-en970-reviewed[/url<] I know I'm going full bore aspie with this, but this is like the third time that tr has had an article mentioning either a laptop 980 or laptop 960 and they either neglect to state that it's the laptop version or they literally claim that it's the desktop version (which is ridiculous). It's confusing readers and that's not cool.

        • tipoo
        • 3 years ago

        Edit: it’s actually the desktop one, see below

        • auxy
        • 3 years ago

        How do you know? Coz I looked and the Alienware page says “GTX 960.” I ain’t saying you are wrong, what you said sounds likely, but you can’t blame TR for reporting what they’re told.

        Blame NVIDIA if you wanna cast blame. They’re the ones who named two products the same thing. (・へ・)

          • NTMBK
          • 3 years ago

          I presume it’s the same part in the Zotac Magnus 970: [url<]https://techreport.com/review/29208/zotac-zbox-magnus-en970-reviewed[/url<] NVidia didn't like them using "M" branded parts in a desktop, so they rebranded the 970M as a 960.

        • tipoo
        • 3 years ago

        It’s actually the desktop GM206 –
        [url<]http://i.imgur.com/rcxkeqr.png[/url<]

    • RAGEPRO
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]lowly GTX 950[/quote<]Not that I have anything against the GTX 950, mind you. Just that, in comparison with the other heavy-hitting hardware Alienware is talking about, it is, indeed, pretty "lowly". 🙂

    • YukaKun
    • 3 years ago

    I don’t really care about OEM desktop PCs, but I have to hand it to Alienware and their Notebooks. They are expensive, but they are very nice. I have a couple of friends and actually went ahead and got them, even though we all have that “but it’s Alienware!” prejudice, haha.

    Long story short, they love them. And I have to say I am impressed on their build quality.

    Now, I won’t buy one, since I love Sager/Clevo/Asus, so I’ll stick to the known Taiwanese/Koreans we all love.

    Cheers!

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 3 years ago

    The Alpha would be more appealing if it used a standard PCI Express graphics card.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 3 years ago

      Found a nice size comparison image against an Xbox One on Ars Technica demonstrating why that physically isn’t possible, at least not without turning it into a completely different machine:

      [url<]http://photos.macnn.com/news/1411/alpha-6.jpeg[/url<]

        • DragonDaddyBear
        • 3 years ago

        A full sized GPU would be almost impossible. If they used the NUC form factor, a smaller GPU like the Fury Nano, and an SFX power supply it’s very doable with the dimensions of the Alpha.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      That’s what the new Graphics Amplifier support is for, and hopefully future cheaper TB3 external graphics

        • DragonDaddyBear
        • 3 years ago

        I think the intended purpose is to put the system in the living room. Such a monstrosity would defeat the purpose of the form factor.

          • tipoo
          • 3 years ago

          As would your idea of a full size PCI-E graphics card in something so small. Just suggesting an alternative, as a GPU that size isn’t going inside.

      • NTMBK
      • 3 years ago

      If you want a PCIe slot, buy the X51. It’s a mini-ITX board plus a PCIe x16 riser.

      • Spunjji
      • 3 years ago

      MXM, maybe. Standard PCI Express, seriously?

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