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Alienware Updates X51 Desktop, Gaming Laptops; Reveals First G-Sync Monitor

Recently, Alienware brought back its massive Alienware 18 gaming laptop. Little did we know, it was the opening salvo for more news, as the company is presenting four updated systems, as well as two new monitors, at PAX Prime in Seattle.

Not Quite The Same

On the desktop front, the company has a new version of the Alienware X51. At the top of the list of changes is Intel's Skylake CPU, specifically the Core i5-6600K (overclocked to 4.3 GHz) and the Core i7-6700K (overclocked to 4.7 GHz) as the two options. (Our review of both CPUs is here.) For graphics, the previous high-end GPU for the X51 was Nvidia's GeForce GTX 760 Ti. Now, the new top dog for the desktop is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960.

Even with the GTX 960, the computer's slim design allows for only one GPU. However, there is room for expansion in the form of the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. Introduced at CES earlier this year, the $199 device allows users to use a more powerful GPU, all the way to the Titan X, to power the desktop display, ensuring 4K gameplay. Initially, it was only supposed to work with the company's laptop lineup, but it seems that Alienware had a change of heart and is now bringing it to the desktop level in order to satisfy those who want to have a game with better visual qualities to complement the high-end CPU.

Speaking of the processor, cooling it can be a challenge because the X51's dimensions make it difficult to fit any conventional liquid cooler for the small form-factor design. However, the company figured out a way to create a liquid cooler that would fit inside the chassis. The cooler is an optional purchase.

Rounding out the X51's upgrades include the switch to DDR4 memory, options for PCIe SSD storage and the addition of USB 3.1. The full specs are listed below:

Dell X51 DesktopStandardOptional
CPUIntel Core-i5 6600K (4.3 GHz overlocked)Intel Core-i7 6700K (4.4 GHz overclocked)
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 745 (4 GB GDDR3)AMD Radeon R9 370 (4 GB GDDR5) or Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 (2 GB GDDR5)
RAM8 GB DDR4 (2133 MHz)16 GB DDR4 (2133 MHz)
Storage1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s HDD (7200 RPM)2 TB SATA 6 Gb/s HDD (7200 RPM), 256 GB PCIe SSD + 2 TB HDD or 512 GB PCIe SSD + 2 TB HDD
ConnectivityIntegrated 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet NIC and Intel 3165 1x1 802.11ac Wi-Fi Wireless LAN and BluetoothIntel 7265 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi Wireless LAN and Bluetooth
I/OFront: 2x USB 3.0, 1x mic in, 1x mic out; Rear: 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 3.1, 1x Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, 1x front speaker input, 1x side speaker input, 1x center/subwoofer speaker inputN/A
Operating SystemN/AWindows 8.1 (64-bit), 8.1 Pro (64-bit), 10 (64-bit), 10 Pro (64-bit)

Staying Current

Along with the Alienware 18 gaming laptop, the 13, 15 and 17 variants were also updated. In fact, the company considers this latest batch more of a refresh instead of an update, with the biggest reason being the many changes made to these laptops compared to last year. The most notable of those is its new Dynamic Overclocking system.

This new feature allows the computer to constantly monitor the internal temperature and load of the laptop. Based on that information, it will automatically adjust the clock speeds on the CPU, GPU or both to ensure the best performance at all times, as long as the temperatures are within a specified safe range. Further good news for enthusiasts is that you can easily override the Dynamic Overclocking and manually overclock the CPU and GPU.

As originally intended, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier will continue to work with all three laptops. In addition, the Alienware 15 will be the first laptop in the market to include a new GPU option -- the AMD Radeon R9 M395X (4 GB GDDR5).

The display options were also upgraded for up to 4K resolution. On the Alienware 13, options start with the same old TN panel at 1080p HD; however, you can upgrade to a full HD IPS display or even a QHD+ resolution with an IGZO panel. The IGZO technology allows for higher resolutions with the added benefit of lower power consumption. Neither the Alienware 15 nor the 17 have the touch panels any longer (Alienware indicated that customers just aren't interested in touchscreens on these gaming machines), yet configurations still start with a full HD IPS panel. You can opt to upgrade to a 4K IGZO display if you prefer, though. The 4K option will be available later on for the Alienware 15, specifically during the 2015 holiday season. For the Alienware 17, the 4K upgrade is a first for the model.

Just like the X51, the laptops support new PCIe SSD storage options. It's also taking advantage of new ports such as USB Type-C with USB 3.1 (it's important to note that this USB Type-C port doesn't support charging) as well as Thunderbolt 3. The company also removed the Mini DisplayPort in favor of HDMI 2.0 ports. Full specs for the new models are below:

Alienware 13StandardOptional
CPUIntel Core i5-5200U (Dual-Core, 2.7 GHz Turbo)Intel Core i7-5500U (Dual-Core, 3.0 GHz Turbo)
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 960M (2 GB GDDR5)N/A
RAM8 GB DDR3L (1600 MHz)12 GB DDR3L (1600 MHz) or 16 GB DDR3L (1600 MHz)
Storage500 GB SATA 6 Gb/s Hybrid SSD (5400 RPM)256 GB PCIe SSD, 512 GB PCIe SSD, 256 GB PCIe SSD + 128 GB mSATA SSD or 512 GB PCIe SSD + 128 GB mSATA SSD
ConnectivityKiller Networks e2400 Gigabit Ethernet NIC and Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1N/A
I/O1x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB Type-C port (supports USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3), 1x Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, 1x HDMI 2.0 port, 1x audio out port (0.125-inch, compatible with in-line mic headset), 1x headphone port (0.125-inch, retaskable for microphone/line-in analog audio output), 1x noble lock port (cable and lock sold separately)N/A
Operating SystemN/AWindows 8.1 (64-bit), 8.1 Pro (64-bit), 10 (64-bit) or 10 Pro (64-bit)
Display13.3-inch HD (1366 x 768) TN Anti-Glare 200-nits13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare 220-nits or 13.3-inch QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IGZO IPS TrueLife 400-nits with Touch
CameraFull HD 2MP camera with dual digital microphonesN/A
Alienware 15StandardOptional
CPUIntel Core i5-4210H (Dual-Core, 3.5 GHz Turbo)Intel Core i7-4720HQ (Quad-Core, 3.6 GHz Turbo) or Intel Core i7-4870HQ (Quad-Core, 3.7 GHz Turbo)
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 970M (3 GB GDDR5), Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (4 GB GDDR5) or AMD Radeon R9 M395X (4 GB GDDR5)N/A
RAM8 GB DDR3L (1600 MHz)12 GB DDR4 (2133 MHz) or 16 GB DDR3L (1600 MHz)
Storage1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s HDD (7200 RPM)256 GB PCIe SSD + 1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s HDD, 512 GB PCIe SSD + 1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s HDD or 1 TB PCIe SSD + 1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s SSD
ConnectivityKiller Networks e2400 Gigabit Ethernet NIC and Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1N/A
I/O1x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port, 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB Type-C port (supports USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3), 1x Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, 1x HDMI (2.0 for Nvidia GPUs, 1.4 for AMD GPU) port, 1x 3-in-1 media card reader, 1x audio out port (0.125-inch, compatible with in-line mic headset), 1x headphone port (0.125-inch, retaskable for microphone/line-in analog audio output) and 1x noble lock port (cable and lock sold separately)N/A
Operating SystemN/AWindows 8.1 (64-bit), 8.1 Pro (64-bit), 10 (64-bit) or 10 Pro (64-bit)
Display15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare 220-nitsN/A
CameraFullHD 2MP Camera with dual digital microphonesN/A
Alienware 17StandardOptional
CPUIntel Core i7-4720HQ (Quad-Core, 3.6 GHz Turbo)Intel Core i7-4870HQ (Quad-Core, 3.7 GHz Turbo)
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 970M (3 GB GDDR5)Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (4 GB GDDR5)
RAM8 GB DDR3L (1600 MHz)12 GB DDR4 (2133 MHz) or 16 GB DDR3L (1600 MHz)
Storage1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s HDD (7200 RPM)256 GB PCIe SSD + 1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s HDD, 512 GB PCIe SSD + 1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s HDD or 1 TB PCIe SSD + 1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s HDD
ConnectivityKiller Networks e2400 Gigabit Ethernet NIC and Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1N/A
I/O1x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port, 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB Type-C port (supports USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3), 1x Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, 1x HDMI (2.0 for Nvidia GPUs, 1.4 for AMD GPU) port, 1x 3-in-1 media card reader, 1x audio out port (0.125-inch, compatible with in-line mic headset), 1x headphone port (0.125-inch, retaskable for microphone/line-in analog audio output) and 1x noble lock port (cable and lock sold separately)N/A
Operating SystemN/AWindows 8.1 (64-bit), 8.1 Pro (64-bit), 10 (64-bit) or 10 Pro (64-bit)
Display17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare 300-nits17.3-inch UHD (3840 x 2160) IGZO IPS Anti-Glare 400-nits
CameraFullHD 2MP Camera with dual digital microphonesN/A

Improving Visuals

The list of G-Sync supported monitors is slim, with only Acer, AOC, BenQ and Philips manufacturing monitors with Nvidia's new technology, but Dell is now joining that group with a 27-inch S2716DG monitor. It features a 144 Hz refresh rate and a response time of 1ms. Details are slim on the number of ports available, but we do know that it includes DisplayPort 1.2 as well as HDMI, so you can plug in your computer as well as a gaming console.

Although it isn't specifically designed for gaming, the company also made its first 27-inch curved monitor. The SE2716H has a thin, 7.7 mm bezel on the sides and a 14.6 mm bezel at the bottom of the screen. It also supports integrated audio in the form of two 9 W speakers.

One For Now, One For Later

For those looking to get a new desktop or laptop, the good news is that the X51 as well as the Alienware laptops are all available now. In addition, they all support the new Windows 10 operating system straight out of the box. The X51 starts at $1,099, but prices for the laptops are still unknown.

Unfortunately, the monitors won't be available immediately, either. The SE2716H curved monitor will come in a few weeks (on September 15) for $399.99, and the G-Sync S2716DG monitor arrives the following month, on October 20, for $799.99.

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  • jn77
    In my opinion.... Alienware was always a high end low production laotop.I personally don't care what Alienware comes out with anymore because you can't get a "high end" system anymore.

    Meaning 32 or 64gb of ram, replaceable CPU's, dual GPU's 3 hard drive bays, plus an optical bay..... Just go get a Sager, Origin or some other laptop and let Dell basically squeeze the life out of these now over priced cheap door stops. :-)
    Reply
  • jn77
    I am not going to carry a second Back pack to take a desktop computer ( the graphics amplifier) with my laptop. The laptop should be able to handle it on its own.
    Reply
  • warezme
    With laptops like the 14" Razer Blade that carry i7, 970M, 16GB of RAM, 512SSD and 3200x1800 resolution, Dell offering a big chunky, heavy Alienware brand that offers no real upgrades with low performance base models isn't worth the money or really the effort to even produce.
    Reply
  • Au_equus
    For graphics, the previous high-end GPU for the X51 was Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 760 Ti. Now, the new top dog for the desktop is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960.
    I wasn't aware of the existence of a gtx 760 ti and I'm sure the gtx 960 isn't "the new top dog."
    Reply
  • Christn
    So when will the Area 51 shoe drop?
    Reply
  • thundervore
    I thought G-Sync was dead because Intel is incorporating Free-Sync into their chips..........or was I mistaken?
    Reply
  • ragenalien
    For graphics, the previous high-end GPU for the X51 was Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 760 Ti. Now, the new top dog for the desktop is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960.
    I wasn't aware of the existence of a gtx 760 ti and I'm sure the gtx 960 isn't "the new top dog."

    The 760 ti was an OEM only card based off of the 670 GPU (a cut down 680) with slightly higher clock speeds. As far as I know Alienware was the only brand to use it.
    Reply
  • snate
    I just checked the site and confirmed with a rep that the laptops are still using the 4th and 5th generation processors. PC World has more info at http://www.pcworld.com/article/2976593/laptop-computers/new-alienware-laptops-pack-thunderbolt-3-and-better-screens-but-oddly-lack-skylake.html . Apparently "When pressed, Alienware officials said just you should almost think of the refreshed laptops as Skylake prototypes."
    I really, really hope they will update their systems again soon after the Skylake mobile processors become available. I need to replace my system and want to get an Alienware 13 but I'm not going to wast my money on what will soon be outdated. I want to get a system that is as up to date as possible that will last me a few years. I also hope they add 1TB or even 2TB storage options.
    Reply
  • Nuckles_56
    Just a silly question but for the 15' and 17', why is there supposed to be an option for ddr4 RAM, as I thought that haswell for mobile only supported ddr3/ddr3L and intel ark supports me on that one.
    Reply
  • hst101rox
    What kind of refresh is that? Still the 4th gen Haswell CPUs..
    Question, with the earlier 15/17 R2 2015 Alienware laptops, you needed to have the Graphic Amplifier plugged in (with a GPU installed) in order for the laptop to allow CPU overclocking, or at least beyond what Throttlestop/Intel XTU could do on it's own.
    Does this dumb rule still exist, or has it been lifted for this refresh, thanks to the Dynamic Overclocking System? A response from the Alienware Facebook page months ago said it is because of power requirements that you can't OC the CPU without the amplifier. But I explained with the temperature and power sensors in the laptop, it can allow CPU overclocking as long as it doesn't go beyond the 180w or 240w of the AC adapter and can respond very quickly.
    -Daniel Watkins

    BTW, watch out for the quality of these laptops. They have been a lot of throttling issues with these latest laptops and be sure to get the 240w AC adapter if you get the 980m GPU, otherwise the CPU will throttle like crazy when the GPU is fully utilized.
    Lastly, a BIOS update to the 15/17 R2 laptops, dated July 1st, a fix finally arrived after a stupid flaw was found that the CPU would constantly throttle to I think 800MHZ after resuming from sleep mode! Happens every time with all their laptops! What a crazy flaw to allow out the door!
    The icing on the cake was a incomplete, bad grammar description of the BIOS fix "Fix CPU haven't turbo frequency after S3 resume.".
    Argh. Alienware, you need to UP your game.
    Reply