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Alienware bets on Threadripper but offers Core i9 X, too

The refresh for the top-of-the line model of Alienware's Area-51 premium gaming desktop offers more AMD options.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read

Alienware gets its own gaming accessories

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Alienware is the first to announce systems incorporating AMD's new Ryzen Threadripper chip -- AMD's rival to Intel's 18-core Core i9 X series -- and the company will be be the only system manufacturer to have it until the end of this year. That doesn't mean you won't see it in other systems; you, as well as custom builders like Origin PC, Falcon Northwest and others who use off-the-shelf parts, can still buy it to incorporate into PCs.

The outside is fundamentally the same, though the connectors have been upgraded to the latest standards, such as USB-C, and there are a ton more USB Type-A to accommodate the needs of VR gear.

It also gets refreshes to faster everything. Now it can accommodate up to three AMD Radeon RX580 cards in addition to the existing dual Nvidia options. (Oddly, the specs don't include a Titan Xp alternative the way the current systems do.) It also supports faster memory, and I think has an extra PCIe slot.

The Area 51 Threadripper Edition will be available on July 27 and the Area 51 featuring Intel Core X-Series is to be determined, with pricing to be announced soon. But given current pricing, I think the Intel version will probably start at about $5,000 or more. I'm not sure where Threadripper pricing fits, yet. That's about AU$6,000 or £3,500, though I don't know if or when these will be available in those regions.

And for nongamers, it looks like these would be great video-editing and CGI systems if you don't need workstation-certified components.

Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition Alienware Area-51
CPU and chipset AMD Ryzen 12 or 16-core, factory overclocked/BIOS unlocked, AMD X399 Up to 10-core Intel Core i9-7900 , BIOS unlocked Intel X999
Graphics Up to three 8GB AMD Radeon RX 580 (Crossfire) or two 11GB GDDR5X Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (SLI)
Memory Up to 64GB quad-channel HyperX DDR4 XMP 2933MHz (total 4 x DDR4 UDIMM)
Storage Up to 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD + 2TB 7200rpm SATA HDD; optical drive
Ports and Connectors 8 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x USB-C, 7.1 audio out, 1 x SPDIF out, 1 x mic, 1 x jack, 1 x audio in , 2 x Ethernet
Slots 4 x PCIe x16 (2 x x16 electrical), 2 x PCIe x4
Power and cooling Up to 1,500 watts; Alienware Premium socketTR4 CPU Liquid Cooling
Lighting 9 programmable zones, select from 20 colors each; internal lighting
Availability July 2017 Late summer 2017

Alienware's been short on branded accessories, but now it's moving to rectify that starting with a small number of keyboard, mouse and monitor options.

Currently, the Alienware GearShop tosses you out to Dell's site and its S series of low-key budget gaming displays like the S2417DG. Now you've got an option to match your Alienware system with a flashier 25-inch display with an angular tripod-footed stand, glowing accents -- including the trademark green alien head -- and support for either FreeSync ($500; directly converted, £385 and AU$660) or G-Sync ($700; directly converted, £540 and AU$925). In addition to being the company's first FreeSync-compatible offering, it hits the high notes -- 240Hz refresh without overclocking.

Basic specs

Alienware 25 AW2518H/HF
Price (MSRP) $699/$499
Size (diagonal) 24.5
Panel type TN
Backlight type LED
Resolution HD (1,920x1080)
Aspect ratio 16:9
Pixel pitch (mm) 0.283
Maximum gamut n/a
Rotates vertically Yes
Typical brightness (nits) 400
Sync standard G-Sync (H), FreeSync (HF)
Maximum vertical refresh rate (at HD or higher resolution) 240Hz
Gray/gray response time (milliseconds) 1
USB Type-A (out) 4 x USB 3.0
USB 3.0 (in) 1
DisplayPort 1
Headphone jack Yes
Release date June 2017

Two wired mice creep into the lineup as well, the Advanced Gaming Mouse AW558 ($50; directly converted, £40, AU$65) and the Elite Gaming Mouse ($90; directly converted, £70 and AU$120). They both cover essentials like on-the-fly sensitivity control, custom lighting and the ability to configure it to your grip, but the Elite offers five resolution-sensitivity levels compared to the Advanced's 3, a three-position palm rest and variable weights.

A pair of keyboards join the team, too: the Advanced Gaming Keyboard AW568 ($90; directly converted, £70 and AU$120) and Pro Gaming Keyboard AW768 ($120; directly converted, £95 and AU$160). The keyboards use brown mechanical switches and incorporate anti-ghosting/n-key rollover technologies to process simultaneous keystrokes. Sadly, only the Pro supports backlighting -- 13 zones -- and lets you record and save keystroke macros to the keyboard's memory.