Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier

October 29, 2014 // 9:50 a.m.

Tags: #alienware #alienware-13 #alienware-alpha #alienware-area-51 #alienware-graphics-amplifier #area-51 #graphics-amplifier #graphics-card-chassis #triad

Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier

Alienware has just made available for sale the previously announced Alienware 13 laptop and Area-51 desktop system, as well as the newly announced Alienware Graphics Amplifier.

The Area-51 is the new flagship Alienware desktop PC, designed of course for extreme gaming at 4K. Pricing starts at a cool £1,279, and as you'd expect the specifications are suitably high-end. Each system uses a factory overclocked Intel Haswell-E CPU, which naturally means we're looking at an X99 system along with DDR4. The CPU is also liquid cooled, though with an all-in-one model rather than a custom loop, and dual-band WiFi and Windows 8.1 are both included as standard.

Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier
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Systems can be customised to customers' own specifications. The maximum available configuration includes the flagship Intel Core i7-5960X running at 4.0GHz paired with 32GB DDR4 at 2,133MHz as well as a 512GB SSD and a 4TB HDD. AMD and Nvidia graphics options are both available, including triple R9 290X and GTX 980 configurations and even dual Titan Z cards.

Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier
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Alienware refers to the unusual shape of the Area-51 chassis as the Triad. The triangular rather than rectangular chassis is designed to capitalise on the natural upwards flow of hot air, with the motherboard rotated forward by about 45° to achieve this. Ease of access to both the front and rear ports is also supposedly improved thanks to the sloping sides and there's a rugged handle for transport as well.

Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier
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The final thing of note is that Alienware is now partnering with peripherals manufacturer Roccat to implement AlienFX lighting on the company's high-end peripherals like the Kone XTD and Isku FX such that in-game events will trigger certain lighting effects. Support is included in more than 85 games, with a Roccat driver enabling the feature pegged for November 7th.

Also now available is the Alienware 13 gaming laptop. It weighs in a 2.05kg and at just an inch thick is Alienware's thinnest model yet. The basic model starts at £949 and includes an Intel, Core-i5 processor and Nvidia GTX 860M 2GB (currently unclear whether it's the Maxwell or Kepler version). It supports up to two SSDs and 16GB of DDR3 and for the first time allows users to pick a screen as well. The 13.3” display is by default a 1,366 x 768 one, but it can be upgraded to a 1080p or 1440p IPS panel for £100 or £200 more, with the latter also featuring touch technology.

Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier
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While the Alienware 13 was previously announced, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier is fresh news. The Graphics Amplifier is a housing for a PSU and desktop dual-slot graphics card with a proprietary connector that also features on the Alienware 13. The idea is that you have the laptop for mobile use, but can plug into the Amplifier when at home to take advantage of the additional graphics horsepower. Currently, it can only be used with the new Alienware 13, but while nothing has been officially announced, you can in all likelihood expect it to be a standard feature Alienware laptops from now.

Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier
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Sadly, the Amplifier Graphics Amplifier isn't cheap. Your £199 nets you a basic 375W PSU and the chassis, which includes a front mounted intake fan, the proprietary connector and a four-port USB 3.0 hub. From what we've seen, the PSU is a standard ATX design, but there's no options to buy the Graphics Amplifier without a power supply. 375W will cover all single GPU solutions currently available (AMD and Nvidia cards can both be used), but it remains to be seen whether you could mount a higher wattage model so as to use a dual-GPU card, though you'd probably need to mod the chassis to accommodate such a beast anyway. Graphics cards can be bought along with the Amplifier or users can just use their own.

Alienware Releases Area 51 and Graphics Amplifier
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Finally, there's a little more news on the Alienware Alpha, Alienware's Windows-based (for now) hybrid between a PC and console which you can read more about in our Gamescom coverage. Alienware says it is still targeting a pre-Christmas release date, and while the launch won't be a global one at first, the UK will be among the first countries to receive it. The list of free Steam games Alpha users will receive has also now been confirmed: Pay Day 2, Metro 2033 Redux, Awesomenauts, Strike Suit Zero, Magicka and Anomaly: Warzone Earth, as well as exclusive demos of Defense Grid 2 and Super Splatters. All in all the bundle is worth over £80.

What do you make of Alienware's new portfolio? Could the Amplifier convince you to replace your desktop with a laptop? As ever, let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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