Alienware to bring out low-cost AMD graphics powerhouse

Dell subsidiary Alienware is set to announce a relatively low-cost game PC with dual ATI graphics chips.

Dell's Alienware unit is slated to put AMD-ATI front and center. The Dell subsidiary will bring out a relatively low-cost game PC with dual ATI graphics chips within the next two weeks.

This comes in the wake of a report that Dell will phase out its XPS game PC line in favor of Alienware systems.

Alienware will ship a system with 4GB of memory, two ATI graphics chips, and a quad-core AMD processor for under $1,700, dirt cheap in the gaming PC world.
Alienware will ship a system with 4GB of memory, two ATI graphics chips, and a quad-core AMD processor for less than $1,700, dirt cheap in the gaming PC world. Alienware

The $1,699 system--cheap by game PC standards--will come with 4GB (DDR2 800MHz) memory, a quad-core 9550 (2.2GHz) Phenom X4 processor, and a 3870 X2 board with two ATI HD 3870 graphics chips, said Marc Diana, Alienware product marketing manager for desktops. The system will ship within 48 hours, he said.

It will also sport an Asus high-end motherboard based on the AMD 790FX chipset, Diana said.

Systems configured with a quad-core processor and dual graphics chips are typically well over $2,000.

Overall, Alienware is seeing respectable demand for AMD-based systems. "AMD is a good entry point," according to Diana.

Alienware is already offering a relatively high-end system for less than $3,000 with a quad-core Phenom X4 9850 (2.5GHz) "Black Edition" (Black Edition indicates that the processor can be overclocked) and two ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphics boards (each with two 3870 graphics chips).

"It's not your granddaddy's AMD system. We're talking top-of-the-line quad core," he said.

This not the sentiment at all game PC makers, however. Falcon Northwest is seeing virtually no demand for AMD-based systems, according to a spokesperson at that company. Falcon Northwest sells Intel-based systems almost exclusively. The company attributes this to the fact that customers are spending big bucks for its systems and that they will invariably opt for higher-performing Intel chips.

Diana concedes that AMD will not take the performance crown--this goes to Intel. And in graphics, Nvidia typically performs better in games than ATI, he said. "(Nvidia is) able to refine their drivers more for the most popular games," he said.

And in the laptop gaming space, Intel-Nvidia rules too. Currently, Alienware offers no AMD-based gaming laptops, though this may change in the future when AMD brings out its Puma mobile platform later this quarter.

Alienware recently began selling a gaming laptop, the Area-51 m17x, with two Nvidia GeForce 8800M GTX graphics chips and the Intel Core 2 Extreme processor, starting at about $3,200.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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