Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2014 - 03:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: alienware, Alienware 13, graphics amplifier, gaming laptop
The Alienware 13 is a gaming laptop which comes with a very interesting optional product, the so called Graphics Amplifier which is an external enclosure for a desktop GPU. Finally the product which we have been waiting for has arrived, though only for a specific system. The box will cost you $300 but will allow you to connect a GPU to your laptop with a single cord. It does not ship with a GPU but there is a 460W PSU inside. The GPU can be at most a double slot card, larger ones will not fit and it can have a maximum power draw of 375W which is not really an issue as that limit come from the PCIe interface. The single cord you can see coming out of the back of the enclosure in this picture from Gizmodo provides a combined PCIe and USB connection to the laptop and when connected will disable the laptops internal GPU and allow the external desktop GPU to power the system.
You cannot hotswap your GPU, you will need to reboot your system to switch between the external GPU and your internal GPU and SLI an option. You do get to choose between your integral display or an external one connected via HDMI or Mini DisplayPort; the most expensive model of Alienware 13 does ship with a 2560x1440 touchscreen but it is still only 13" in size.
The internals are quite nice with a Haswell Core i5 4210U, a choice of either 8 or 16GB of DDR3-1600, a GTX 860M and either a large HDD or a 256GB M.2 SSD. That is enough power to keep this laptop from lagging behind in performance for the next few years and with the external GPU you could feasibly upgrade your graphics for a few generations which will keep you in the game without needing a whole new system.
From the tests that Gizmodo performed the external GPU functions perfectly when it is enabled which is great news for those of us who have been hoping that PCIe would eventually bring us a product such as this one. The proprietary nature should not be too much of a concern, if Dell has managed to pull it off there is no reason why other companies would not be able to make a version which could work with other laptops which have the proper ports. This certainly changes the biggest issue that gaming laptops have faced; now you can upgrade the laptop through several generations instead of needing to purchase a completely new system every other generation or so.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2014 - 02:44 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Steam Machine, E3 14, E3, dell, alienware alpha, alienware
While "Steam Machines" are delayed, Alienware will still launch their console form-factor PC. The $550 price tag includes a black Xbox 360 wireless controller (with receiver) and Windows 8.1 64-bit. Alienware has also designed their own "Console-mode UI" for Windows 8.1, which can be navigated directly with a controller. It will ship Holiday 2014.
Apparently PC-based consoles equate to dubstep and parkour.
About the "Console-mode UI", it will apparently be what the user sees when the Alpha boots. The user can then select between Steam Big Picture, media, and programs. They also allow users to boot into the standard Windows 8.1 interface.
As for its specifications:
|Base Model ($550)||Upgrade Options|
|Processor||Haswell-based Intel Core i3||Core i5, Core i7 (user accessible)|
|GPU||"Custom" Maxwell-based, 2GB GDDR5
(see next paragraph)
|(none) (not user accessible, soldered on)|
|System Memory||4GB at 1600 MHz||8GB (user accessible)|
|HDD||500GB SATA3||1TB or 2TB (user accessible)|
|Wireless||Dual-band 802.11ac||(user accessible)|
The GPU is not specified, or even given a similar part to refer to. PC World claims that it will be comparable to the performance found on the two next-gen consoles. Since the 750 Ti has around 1.3 TeraFLOPs of performance, this GPU is probably near that, or slightly above it. PC Gamer says that it will be based on mobile Maxwell, so it might be similar to an current or upcoming laptop GPU.
One thing that has not been addressed is the HDMI-in port. We know that it supports passthrough for low latency, but we do not know what it will do with the input video. Alienware has several of these set up at their booth on the show floor, so we might hear more soon. While its specifications are a bit on the light side, particularly on the default amount of RAM (although that is easily and cheaply upgraded), its $550 price, which includes a wireless controller and its adapter, is also pretty good.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 13, 2013 - 04:17 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 13, dell, alienware, alienware x51
The launch of Haswell led to many new product launches, and so did E3. The overlap? The Alienware X51 gaming desktop has been refreshed with some very compelling components at a surprisingly compelling price.
Unfortunately, there is a slight difference between the Canadian and the American offerings; it is not a case of one citizen paying more than the another, however, as things are more shuffled around than outright better. Our Canadian readers start with a base price of $1499.99, and Americans start out at $1449.99. Americans can spend an extra $100 to upgrade their DVD reader to a Blu-Ray drive, Canadians get Blu-Ray by default. Therefore, if you desire a Blu-Ray drive, it is $50 cheaper to be Canadian; otherwise, it is $50 cheaper to be American.
Whether you are Canadian or American, I would personally recommend spending the extra $100 upgrading your RAM from 8GB to 16 GB. Sure, 8GB is a lot, but the extra can go a long way especially with the direction that web browsers have been heading. You each, also, have the option of spending $300 and receiving a 256GB SSD albeit also at the expense of, beyond the $300, reducing your 2TB HDD down to a slower, 5400RPM 1TB drive.
In all, this actually looks quite compelling for someone who wishes to have a console-esque form-factor near their TV. Unfortunately there are currently no Ubuntu-based options for this X51, although you may freely ($0) choose between Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit and Windows 8 64-bit.
Subject: Networking | January 4, 2013 - 07:30 AM | Chris Barbere
Tagged: streamboost, qualcomm, qos, D-Link, ces 2013, alienware
With CES right around the corner, we’re about to be buried in a deluge of announcements from consumer electronics vendors. Since I was not able to get out to CES in person this year, Qualcomm offered to give me a sneak peek at their new “Streamboost” technology they’ve just announced and will be showing at CES. I got to spend some time on the phone with Ciera Jammal, their PR rep and Michael Cubbage, Director of Business Development in their networking unit. For those of you that may not recognize Michael’s name, he was one of the co-founders of Bigfoot Networks that brought us their “Killer Gaming” line of Ethernet and wireless products. Acquired by Qualcomm in the fall of 2011, the merged Bigfoot and Qualcomm teams have now released “Streamboost”.
So, what is Streamboost you ask? Simply put, it’s an innovative Quality of Service engine that’s much, much more than what’s available for consumer QoS today. QoS on most current consumer products only looks at what ports traffic is flowing across and prioritizes the traffic based on a simple list of what ports should be given priority at the expense of traffic on lower priority ports. There’s no analysis of what the actual traffic is and in cases where different types of traffic flows over the same port (port 80 for example) it doesn’t offer any benefit at all. The Streamboost engine on the other hand, will actually inspect the packets in real time, determining not only what port the traffic is using, but what the traffic actually is. So for example, Streamboost will be able actually be able to tell that one stream is 1080p YouTube video while another is Standard Definition Netflix traffic, even though they are both on port 80, and give both streams the bandwidth they need.
Once the engine determines what type of data is moving through the connection, it will give that connection the bandwidth it needs to run optimally, but no more. The “no more” piece is important because it frees up bandwidth for other applications and connections. If there is not enough bandwidth available for the “Optimal” setting, it will then drop back and make every effort to give the connection what’s been determined to be the “Minimum acceptable” bandwidth needed for that type of traffic.
How does Streamboost know what bandwidth is Optimal and what bandwidth is Minimum? Well, Qualcomm has studied various types of traffic ranging from YouTube to Netflix to Call of Duty to torrents, and they’ve come up with the Optimal and Minimum bandwidth values for all types of traffic. This data will be included in a “Detection and Policy Table” on the router that the Streamboost engine will reference. My first thoughts when I heard this was that it sounded great, but what happens when that table gets out of date? Qualcomm has thought of that as well and Streamboost includes an opt-in, cloud based service that will keep your router’s table up to date. Not only that, but if the router encounters a new type of traffic not in its table, it will capture a few packets and send them up to the cloud (anonymized of course) to be analyzed and added to future table updates. Your router should actually perform better as it’s table is updated and will be better after a year than it was on Day 1. However, if you’re not interested in being part of the “Opt In crowd”, the engine can also be manually updated at any time.
The UI looks great and will let you drill down into your bandwidth use either by application or device. Speaking of devices, Streamboost can detect the various types of devices on your network and lets you prioritize based on those criteria as well.
D-Link and Alienware are the first two partners onboard with Streamboost and will be showing routers with the technology at CES as well as releasing them this spring. All in all, after speaking to Qualcomm, I think I’m going to hold off my planned router upgrade until I can get my hands on a new router with Streamboost built in.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Event kickoff, hardware workshop prizes, packed BYOC!
Yesterday marked the official start of Quakecon 2012 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas. This four-day event includes PC gaming awesomeness for more than 2,800 gamers in the Bring Your Own Computer LAN section as well as access to numerous gaming vendors and PC hardware exhibits. The event is sponsored by many big names in the gaming and PC hardware industry as well like Alienware, Intel, Ventrilo, Plantronics Gamecom, Cooler Master, Western Digital, and many others.
The day got off to a rocky start as id Software co-founder John Carmack's annual keynote address was delayed by more than two hours. Hundreds of gamers also lined the hallways waiting throughout the day for the opportunity to get into the already packed BYOC. But, unfortunately many were turned away from gaming at the event. This is one of the first times in almost a decade that the BYOC area was filled to capacity on the very first day of Quakecon!
Subject: Systems, Mobile | June 5, 2012 - 01:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: alienware, dell, gtx 680m, GTX 690, Ivy Bridge, aurora, m17x, m18x
Alienware has also contributed to the lack of GTX690s and GTX680M chips by filling their latest gaming PCs and laptops with NVIDIA's new Kepler chips. Paired with an Ivy Bridge processor the new M17x and M18x along with the Aurora desktop will offer incredible performance for anyone willing to pay the price. Both laptops will support 3D though only the M18x offers you the choice of dual GTX 680Ms in SLI.
A little over a month ago, we announced the first wave of major hardware upgrades for our Alienware line of laptops based on the newest Intel Ivy Bridge processors and also NVIDIA GeForce 6-series cards. Since then, NVIDIA has certainly kept busy as they continue to introduce more members of the next-generation Kepler family such as the GTX 690, GTX 670, and most recently, the GTX 680M.
By the time you read this, NVIDIA will have finally revealed the details of their GTX 680M from Computex 2012 in Taipei, Taiwan. The GTX 680M is based on the GK104 Kepler architecture and features similar silicon to its beefy desktop version, the GTX 680. NVIDIA calls this card the ‘fastest, most advanced gaming notebook GPU ever built’ and we have little reason to argue otherwise.
On the flip side of that power-packed coin, customers who order a system with the GTX 680M will also see greater improvements to power efficiency utilizing NVIDIA’s Optimus technology which enables long battery life by automatically switching on the dedicated GPU only when necessary. All in all, the GTX 680M paves the way for superior next-gen mobile gaming performance and makes the most of the additional technologies below that can only be found on GeForce GPUs:
- Adaptive V-sync – newly developed technology for a smoother gameplay experience
- Advanced AA modes – for crisper images, including NVIDIA FXAA and new TXAA
- PhysX support – for accelerated in-game physics
- NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 technology – for bigger, brighter, more comfortable 3D gaming
- 3DTV Play software – for connecting notebooks to 3DTVs for the most immersive gaming experience to be had in a living room
- NVIDIA SLI technology – for up to double the gaming performance. Two GeForce GTX 680M GPUs in SLI mode represent the fastest notebook graphics solution available anywhere
- CUDA technology support – for high-performance GPU computing applications
We are particularly proud to be a launch partner with NVIDIA for the GTX 680M. The Alienware M17x will be available with the GeForce GTX 680M 2GB DDR5 GPU along with the option for the NVIDIA 3D Vision technology. The Alienware M18x will also be available with the GeForce GTX 680M GPU in single or dual-card SLI configurations before the end of the month.
The Alienware M17x and M18x aren’t the only two products getting the Kepler kick, and they certainly won’t be the last. Before the end of the month, we will have configuration options to allow users to equip their custom built Aurora with the newly released GeForce GTX 690.
Based on many of the initial reviews of the GTX 690 as can be seen Anandtech and Hot Hardware, most people have drawn one consistent conclusion; the GTX 690 is easily the most powerful single-card GPU they have ever tested. With that level of graphical power and performance, we have been working with NVIDIA to offer the GTX 690 in our Alienware Aurora R4 desktops in order to equip our ultimate gaming machines with even more processing power.
The GeForce GTX690 is certainly a fantastic and ridiculously powerful pairing for the Alienware Aurora. The GTX 690 brings all the performance of a dual GTX 680 SLI setup while drawing less power and outputting less noise – all while staying within the same thermal levels. Considering that the Aurora uses a mini-ITX board, the GTX 690 allows for users to enjoy the pinnacle of dual-card performance without having to deal with PCI-e slot spacing, drastic thermal levels, or slim dual card watercooled GPU blocks.
Again, expect the GTX 680M on the M17x/M18x and GTX 690 to be available for the Alienware Aurora R4 worldwide before the end of the month on Alienware.com or also Dell.com.
Subject: Mobile | April 30, 2012 - 12:43 PM | Matt Smith
Tagged: news, Ivy Bridge, gaming laptop, alienware
When Alienware made some adjustments to its laptop lineup about a week before the Ivy Bridge release, many observers scratched their heads. Why update now? Was the company going to delay its introduction of Ivy Bridge laptops?
Apparently not, as they’ve now made the availability of Ivy Bridge in Alienware laptops official. The M14x, M17x and M18x can now be configured with one of several Ivy Bridge quad cores including the Core i7-3610QM, 3720QM, 3820QM, and 3920XM. The M11x, axed in the lineup change prior to Ivy Bridge's launch, remains dead.
The XM processor, which features a blazing base clock of 2.9 GHz with a maximum Turbo Boost of 3.8 GHz, is only available in the flagship M18x. If that’s still not fast enough for your tastes you can order an overclocked version that ups the Turbo Boost maximum.
While Ivy Bridge processors will be stock on the M17x and M18x, the M14x still comes standard with a Sandy Bridge dual core. This is because the new dual-cores have yet to be released into the wild. It’s all but certain that the M14x will be updated with a standard Ivy Bridge dual-core once the parts are available.
As you’d expect, Alienware is pairing the latest CPUs with the newest GPUs. The M14x now comes standard with a Kepler-based GT 650M. Buying an M17x will give you a choice between a GTX 660M, GTX 675M or a Radeon HD 7970M. And the mammoth M18x can be had with a GTX 660M, GTX 675M (single or SLI) or two Radeon HD 7970Ms in CrossFire.
If my memory is correct, none of these laptops have been slapped with a price increase. The M14x is $1099, the M17x is $1499 and the M18x is $1999 - in base form, of course.
These updates put to rest any concerns about the company’s laptop lineup. Based on our review of Ivy Bridge for mobile, we expect the new processors to provide Alienware’s products with a respectable boost in performance. They may allow the laptops to run cooler and quieter, as well.
Make the jump to read the full press release.
Subject: Mobile | March 20, 2012 - 03:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SFF, liquid cooling, gaming laptop, asetek, alienware
The rise of mATX boards designed for high powered gaming machines, laptops with serious mobile GPU power and All-In-One Systems have increased the problem of heat generation in small systems. A SFF system used to be a moderately powerful system good for use as a workstation or HTPC but now it could well be a multi-GPU gaming beast and the same goes for laptops.
In an effort to stop baking laps and shortening the life of components in SFF systems Asetek has been working on liquid cooling systems for these types of systems. You can see an example of a watercooling Alienware laptop on the YouTube video they produced and be sure to check out the links on this page if you are looking for more information.
Asetek Inc., the world leading supplier of liquid cooling for the computer industry announced today a new and groundbreaking slim form factor liquid cooling technology for extreme performance and workstation grade laptops and All-In-One PCs. Slim form factor liquid cooling enables laptop and AIO PC manufacturers to deliver mobility and sleek industrial designs without sacrificing performance.
“We see a growing need for higher performance personal computers, driven by ever more powerful modeling software for engineering, scientific and financial work, and for content creation and gaming,” said André S. Eriksen, Founder and CEO of Asetek. ”We also see high performance hardware expanding to more portable, sleeker devices like the highly successful M-series of notebooks from Alienware.”
“For laptops and AIOs to deliver workstation and gaming PC performance, these machines must be able to take full advantage of desktop grade performance hardware. We have identified this need and designed our cooling solution to target these thinner machines,” continued Eriksen.
The fundamental challenge in cooling desktop replacement laptops and All-In-One PCs is the lack of space for a proper thermal solution. Consequently, previous attempts at liquid cooling laptops have offered no performance improvement over traditional heat-pipe based heat sinks.
“Asetek successfully cracked the code of improving acoustic and thermal performance in a notebook without increasing the form factor,” said Ole Madsen, VP of Engineering. “Our patent protected technology allows better utilization of the thermal modules used to cool the CPU and GPUs. That, along with our optimized coldplate technology enables the use of much more powerful hardware than air cooling could ever allow”.
Asetek is showcasing its new technology in an Alienware M18x notebook with the CPU overclocked from 3.5GHz to 4.4Ghz and the GPUs overclocked from 680Mhz to 800Mhz. In addition, the M18x achieved a 23% improvement in Futuremark’s 3D Mark Vantage benchmark while reducing the noise output of the stock air-cooled laptop. A video demonstration can be found at Asetek.com.
Introduction, LAN Fest, Game Demos, Future of Gaming panel
Check out our video coverage of the SXSW Screenburn Arcade!
The 19th Annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival kicked off on Mar. 9 and wraps up Mar. 12 in Austin, Texas. While most of the event featured interactive workshops and panels of experts from within the web development and social media communities, I focused most of my efforts covering the SXSW Screenburn Arcade at the Palmer Event Center. This is where most of the PC and console gaming enthusiasts attending SXSW converged to watch pro gamers from the IGN Pro League battle in League of Legends, Starcraft II, and check out several game demos like Lollipop Chainsaw for the XBox 360 and Quantum Conundrum and FireFall for the PC.
Intel LAN Fest
I also had the opportunity to visit the Intel-sponsored, non-profit LANFest where event visitors could jump on one of their Alienware systems and play a variety of PC games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Team Fortress 2, MineCraft, Half Life 2 Death Match, WArsaw, Alien Swarm, Portal, World of Tanks, and Left 4 Dead 2 . LAN participants paid a $5 donation to play, which helped raise funds that will be sent to the city of Bastrop, Texas that lost more than 400 homes because of wildfires last September. They also raffled off a new ASUS Ultrabook to raise money for the United Way non-profit organization.
Introduction, Design, User Interface
Gaming. Laptop. Portable. These may well be the three most contradictory words in the PC industry. It’s been possible to game on laptops for years, but making a high-quality gaming experience portable is a goal rarely achieved.
Alienware made a stab at resolving the contradiction in 2010 when it released the M11x, but the result was questionable. No one can argue that the M11x isn’t portable, but its gaming performance is no better than a 15.6” laptop with mid-range discrete graphics. There simply isn’t enough room in the chassis to cool a larger, more powerful GPU. Worse, the M11x is simply too small for most people to use every day.
Enter the Alienware M14x. The larger display size of this laptop makes it possible to equip a more powerful GPU as well as a full-power Core i5 processor rather than a low-voltage model. Let’s look at the full specifications.
We can already see that the M14x will easily outperform its smaller cousin. The better hardware increases price as well as size, however – the base is $1099 and our review unit, featuring upgrades like a quad-core processor and 1600x900 resolution, rings in at $1274.