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Alienware Clarifies Upgrade Limits for Area-51m R2, AMD GPU Options Coming

Alienware’s Area 51-m R2
(Image credit: Alienware)

Alienware released its second-gen desktop replacement, the Alienware Area-51m R2 on Tuesday, prompting questions of whether it would be any more upgradeable than the original. It doesn't sound like that will be the case.

When the first Alienware Area-51m (now dubbed the R1) launched in early 2019, we praised it for incredible performance, beautiful design, and its upgradeability. Ultimately, customers could upgrade from a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti to an RTX 2070 or RTX 2080. But when the new version, the R2, was announced, it was made clear it was the end of the line for GPU upgrades on the original. CPUs, too, were locked to 9th Gen Intel.

It ends up the Alienware Area-51m R2 will suffer a similar fate: the GPU upgrades on the Dell Graphics Form Factor (DGFF) will be limited to those of the current generation: from the GTX 1660 Ti to RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 Super. The CPU upgrades will only be in the 10th Gen Comet Lake family.

A chart detailing Alienware Area-51m upgrade paths

(Image credit: Alienware)

The upgrade kits for the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 went up on Dell's website late last year, including options to have a technician install it for you. I'm told that's on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world and much of the United States. Notably, while RAM and SSDs for the device are in Dell's store, those GPUs currently aren't listed.

In some ways, this is a disappointment. Without upgrades to next-gen components, the desktop replacement experience falls short in one way: upgradeability. The laptop is still far more repairable than most, and our experience with the original model was one of luxury, if you can afford the expense. But don't expect the new model to go up to the RTX 3080 (or whatever Nvidia's next-gen flagship gets called) at any point.

Even when Alienware first announced the original, it didn't promise further cards would work, so it's not entirely unexpected. There is one thing you can expect, though: the addition of AMD graphics. Alienware said there would be Radeon RX 5700 models earlier this year, but you can expect to see them this summer. AMD's graphics will be on the same DGFF modules, but there won't be any upgrade kits available for them.

We haven't had the chance to try out the Alienware Area 51-m R2 yet, but the original was as good a desktop replacement as we've seen yet. It's just a shame we can't live that upgradeability dream.

  • Shadowclash10
    TBH it is prob kinda difficult to ensure compatibility for chips about which you have no idea. However, the Area 51m is decent when you consider it as a desktop replacement - just ignore the upgradability part. So if buying, keep in mind that you will not be able to upgrade to any new chips, and that in what, 1-2 years? the same-gen upgrade chips that Dell sells will prebably not be sold any longer. EG, if you buy it with a RTX 2060, don't expect Dell to keep selling the RTX 2070S/2080S for more that ~1-2 years.
    Reply
  • tleavit
    I ordered the A11 with the I9-10900KF the day after it was released. That was may ~16 with a arrival date of June 24th. 6 full weeks with warnings that it would take that long due to Cov19. Well, I didn't hear anything by June 23rd (should have already shipped). So I called them. The support guy told me it was delayed one week until June 30 and gave me a discount to wait. He told me "Its on the test bench now" (which raises an alert for an IT guy like me). The support guy also told me to look in an hour and it would be updates. 24 hours later nothing was updated and I got an official notice from Dell (ON the day it was supposed to arrive) that it would be July 20th (well, like I said, the support guy was lying). So I canceled. The Alienware reddit forms are full of people now with the same issue. My issue is not that it was delayed but that Dell has known that it would be and told nobody... probably hundreds of people. I can't condone this, as someone who has not had an issue like this buying over 10 million in business end Dell technology (VMware, servers, switchs, storage, latitude, optiplex, etc...) over th past 10 years.

    So, if you think you're gonna order that thing and get it any time soon, you best not plan for it.
    Reply
  • Shadowclash10
    tleavit said:
    I ordered the A11 with the I9-10900KF the day after it was released. That was may ~16 with a arrival date of June 24th. 6 full weeks with warnings that it would take that long due to Cov19. Well, I didn't hear anything by June 23rd (should have already shipped). So I called them. The support guy told me it was delayed one week until June 30 and gave me a discount to wait. He told me "Its on the test bench now" (which raises an alert for an IT guy like me). The support guy also told me to look in an hour and it would be updates. 24 hours later nothing was updated and I got an official notice from Dell (ON the day it was supposed to arrive) that it would be July 20th (well, like I said, the support guy was lying). So I canceled. The Alienware reddit forms are full of people now with the same issue. My issue is not that it was delayed but that Dell has known that it would be and told nobody... probably hundreds of people. I can't condone this, as someone who has not had an issue like this buying over 10 million in business end Dell technology (VMware, servers, switchs, storage, latitude, optiplex, etc...) over th past 10 years.

    So, if you think you're gonna order that thing and get it any time soon, you best not plan for it.
    Ouch. Just one question: why did the test bench part raise a red alert in your mind? I have no idea how the building process works, so...
    Reply