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Alienware revamps its high-end gaming desktops

Alienware announces new-look Area 51 and Aurora gaming PCs

Alienware announced refreshes to both the design and the technology of its high-end Area-51 and Aurora gaming desktops. A new angular look replaces the familiar rounded alien-head shape of the old models, and features such as motorized air vents and specialized hard-drive layout give Alienware some unique selling points. Alienware is also the previously unnamed OEM that purchased the first batch of AMD's Radeon HD 5800 cards, so other system vendors can blame Dell/Alienware for their short supply and delayed order shipping.

Essentially, Alienware has two systems to announce today: the full tower Area-51 and the micro-ATX-based Aurora. Each system also has a more expensive ALX edition that features liquid cooling, a wider array of case lighting, and other tweaks.

The vents on the top of the new Alienware cases open up automatically when the internal temperatures get too hot. Alienware

The most interesting feature of the new case that's common to the Area 51 and the Aurora is the motorized air vents that Alienware calls its Active Venting louver system. As Alienware describes it, when the temperature inside the case reaches a certain level, the fins on the top of the case will open up automatically to increase its airflow. We have a hunch Alienware doesn't mind the theatrics of this venting system, either.

Unfortunately, missing from the images Alienware gave us is an image of the Area 51's hard-drive array. Rather than inserting the drives into main cavity, Alienware has carved out a series of six flat-lying drive bays on the opposite side of the Area 51. The benefits of this design are more apparent than the venting system, in that it lets you add more internal storage than you could normally, allows for easy drive installation, and also frees up room for airflow inside the main case compartment. No other vendor that we know of offers such a design.

The Area-51 has a room interior thanks to a unique hard-drive array (not pictured) on the opposite-facing side. Alienware

Specs for the Intel X-58 chipset-based Area-51 ALX include CPUs up to and including Intel's Core i7 Extreme Edition chips, Nvidia SLI and ATI Crossfire multigraphics card support, up to 12GB of DDR3 SDRAM, as well as graphics cards from Nvidia and ATI, including ATI's new Radeon HD 5800-series cards announced today. The non-ALX Area-51 has reduced overclocking options and slower RAM. Prices for the Area-51 start at $2,000.

The new Alienware Aurora is based on a micro-ATX motherboard. Alienware

The Aurora line (starting at $1,200) is similar to the Area 51, but comes in a smaller chassis and has a standard hard drive design inside. You get the same core technologies as a the Area-51 though, so SLI, Crossfire, overclocked Intel Core i7 chips, and ATI's Radeon HD 5800 cards are all on the list. As with the Area-51, the differences between ALX and non-ALX Aurora include slower RAM in the non-ALX version and a limit of 12GB, as opposed to 24GB of memory in the Aurora ALX. Interestingly, the Alienware only offers up to 12GB in the larger Area-51 ALX.