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Alienware’s Latest Gaming Laptops Feature New AMD Radeon RX 470 GPU Options

Alienware dropped a bombshell at PAX West when it revealed its new Alienware 13, 15 and 17 notebooks. The expected upgrade to Nvidia’s 10-series mobile GPUs came as no surprise, but jaws hit the floor when the company revealed that desktop-class AMD Radeon RX 470 GPUs would also be an option for the new gaming laptops.

AMD Returns To The Mobile Gaming Fray

It would be fair to say that AMD hasn’t been a relevant force in the mobile gaming market for some time; Nvidia has dominated the segment for the last few years. However, the new mobile Radeon RX 470 seeks to change that. The Polaris GPU features the same technical specs as the desktop card: 2,048 stream processors with a base clock of 926 MHz and a boost of 1,206 MHz, 32 ROPs and CUs and 128 texture units. The 8 GB of GDDR5 memory has a frequency of 6.6 Gbps on a 256-bit bus for a total memory bandwidth of 211 GB/s. It operates with a 120-watt TDP, and if the newly-designed cooling system inside the Alienware 15 and 17 can keep it from throttling, it should ostensibly net the same performance as its desktop counterpart.

Concerning the actual form factor of the RX 470 inside the new Alienware 17 and 15, AMD's Jason Evangelho, Sr. Technical Marketing Specialist for the Radeon Technology Group at AMD, made a somewhat suspect statement in a blog post:

"This isn’t a mobile variant; this is the full-powered RX 470 featuring our latest Polaris GPU architecture."

Furthermore, the accompanying photo of a full-sized RX 470 implies that this is not a GPU with a mobile form factor, and we reached out to AMD for clarification. The company explained that the GPU is "chip down," which means it is soldered directly to the motherboard and routed through PCIe (as most laptop discrete graphics options are). The GPU is the exact same chip found inside the desktop counterpart (similar to Nvidia's 10-series mobile GPUs), but it's inside a laptop. We're fairly certain that makes it a mobile variant, despite the marketing spin. After all, the GPU is in a mobile device, and it's certainly not a full-sized PCIe 3.0 x16 graphics card crammed into a notebook PC.

Alienware 17, 15, 13: New And Improved

The new Alienware 17 features up to an Intel Core i7-6820HK unlocked quad-core processor, 32 GB of DDR4-2666, a 1 TB PCIe SSD and 3 TB HDD. Graphics options include the previously-mentioned AMD Radeon RX 470, in addition to the entire gamut of new Pascal-based Nvidia mobile GPUs (although the GTX 1080 option doesn’t arrive until November). The new Nvidia GPU options make these the first Alienware laptops that are VR ready. Alienware also integrated Tobii eye-tracking technology into the chassis.

The new Alienware 15 takes a step down with CPU power (it can be equipped with Intel Core i5 processors), but otherwise, it gets the same hardware options as the Alienware 17, sans the GTX 1080 and Tobii eye tracking.

The company expects the new Alienware 13 to arrive this November, but full specifications aren’t yet available. However, Alienware said it’s been slimmed down even further with a new design, and that it sports an OLED display with a 1ms response time in addition to Nvidia 10-series GPUs. Pricing for the new Alienware gaming laptops isn’t available yet, but we should see the Alienware 15 and 17 up and ready to order on the company’s website by the end of the month.

More To Come From AMD?

After the initial shock of AMD’s announcement had worn off, we pondered what else could be up the company’s sleeve. Although we’re pleased to see the Red Team taking renewed strides in the mobile gaming business, we’re hoping that this isn’t a one-off and that we’ll see more desktop-class GPUs from AMD in other vendors’ notebooks the future. It's also somewhat disappointing that the new mobile AMD desktop-class GPU isn't VR ready, but perhaps a mobile version of the RX 480 is on the way, and AMD can become a contender in the VR-ready laptop segment.

GPUAMD Radeon RX 470
Compute Units32
Texture Units128
ROPs32
Stream Processors2,048
Base Clock926 MHz
Boost Clock1,206 MHz
Peak Performance4.9 TFLOPs
Memory8 GB GDDR5 (6.6 Gbps)
Memory Interface256-Bit
Memory Bandwidth211 GB/s
TDP120 Watts
  • techy1966
    Ok so time will tell how this pans out but if they say it is the same chip as in the desktop cards then most likely it is the same chip. Just because it does not have the big PCI-E 16x card sticking out the side of the laptop does not mean it is not the same chip. You guys at toms sometimes seem a bit harsh on AMD products by down playing their tech. So again if it has the same specs as the desktop chip and performs very close to that then this would not be a mobile chip at heart just like Nvidia's 10 series in laptops they are desktop parts that work fairly good in mobile also I can not remember if you down played that as well. And no I am not a fanboy I plan on getting a 1080 Ti when & if they come out because that is the amount of GPU I wish to have. If AMD's Vega chip beats the normal 1080 then I may go for that but the normal 1080 is not an option for me because we have already seen DeusX bring it down..lol
    Reply
  • Poozle
    I too agree with @Techy1966. You do seem to downplay AMD, while not nvidia. Heck, the 1070 laptop isn't even the same but you didn't downplay it. In fact, you made it seem better with "higher Core count" making it possibly better, which is not true in most laptop cases. I too use Nvidia GPUS, but AMD is looking better and better by the day.
    Reply
  • Poozle
    On top of that calling out AMD's 470 as not VR ready is a bit of a overstatement. It is SO CLOSE to that of a 480, that in most games it would be fine, something you didn't state or seem hopeful about in the post.
    Reply
  • photonboy
    Poozle,
    You have to drawn the line for VR somewhere. You either get the stamp or you don't. It's more critical for VR that you meet the recommendation than it is for desktop (to avoid feeling nauseous due to latency and stutter issues).

    The GTX1070 had a higher core count to offset the lower GPU frequency which makes a big difference. The RX-470M is going to have to perform a LOT slower than the desktop version so I think they have been reasonably fair with their comments.
    Reply
  • Earnie
    Photonboy
    That's not how I read it:
    "However, the new mobile Radeon RX 470 seeks to change that. The Polaris GPU features the same technical specs as the desktop card"

    And then Tom's tries to downplay AMD again:

    Concerning the actual form factor of the RX 470 inside the new Alienware 17 and 15, AMD's Jason Evangelho, Sr. Technical Marketing Specialist for the Radeon Technology Group at AMD, made a somewhat suspect statement in a blog post:


    "This isn’t a mobile variant; this is the full-powered RX 470 featuring our latest Polaris GPU architecture."

    Why is it "suspect"
    Reply
  • psiboy
    I find bias in "journo's" from everywhere now. Objectivity and "not leading" your audience seems to be a thing of 10+ Years ago now. I'm not a fanboy I have some of every brands products in various systems but it does certainly seem down on AMD rather than perhaps the expected excitement of their achievement. Why so Negative Derek Forrest? If you don't find your job exciting anymore go and find another one and let someone with enthusiasm and passion do your job instead!
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    18538926 said:
    On top of that calling out AMD's 470 as not VR ready is a bit of a overstatement. It is SO CLOSE to that of a 480, that in most games it would be fine, something you didn't state or seem hopeful about in the post.

    Honestly I'd be more interested to see how having desktop class GPUs in a laptop would affect battery life more than they would perform in VR.
    Reply
  • Ibian Pahiva
    Spot on @Techy1966. I too use Nvidia atm, amd is looking better each day, and im tired of the huge lobby\bias most people have for nvidia.

    They are overpriced, they even gimp "old" cards through drivers and still everyone defends them, im not an AMD or NVIDIA fanboy, i am a PC fan, period.
    Competition is what makes things go foward, if AMD wouldn't exist you would be paying Titan XP values for the 1080.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    The GPU is the exact same chip found inside the desktop counterpart (similar to Nvidia's 10-series mobile GPUs), but it's inside a laptop. We're fairly certain that makes it a mobile variant, despite the marketing spin. After all, the GPU is in a mobile device, and it's certainly not a full-sized PCIe 3.0 x16 graphics card crammed into a notebook PC.
    This is factually incorrect, Derek. You don't need a separate full-size graphics card for a device to use the desktop GPU, so long as that same chip exists in a desktop card under the same name. You should probably retract this statement before you get your butt chewed any more than it already is. Here's an example of a mobile variant (keyword here is variant): You have a desktop chip called a "2000". Then you have a laptop with a "2000M" and it's different from the desktop "2000" in some substantial way. Such as having substantially different clocks, TDP, and/or shader count, and often different silicon. They do this to cut down on heat, power, and sometimes cost. When they say "this is the desktop GPU in a laptop and not a mobile variant" they mean it's the same chip running the same specs with similar clocks and TDP. Remember the variant part. So as long as it's not hugely underclocked or otherwise cut-down, their statement is fairly accurate and your narrative is at best misguided.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    18539105 said:
    The RX-470M is going to have to perform a LOT slower than the desktop version so I think they have been reasonably fair with their comments.

    Except that this laptop doesn't HAVE a 470M or M470 or anything like that. It's got the desktop 470. I haven't even seen a mobile variant of Polaris 10 announced yet, and when it does come out it will probably see a marketing name like 490M to properly align it with the other mobile variants. ;)
    Reply