Alienware Area-51 R5 (2018) Review: Liquid Cooled GPUs, Skylake-X Firepower

Article Index

Area-51 R5: Metro, Shadow of Mordor, and Thief

Metro Last Light Redux

Metro Last Light Redux boasts some of the best 3D visuals on the PC and includes a DX11 rendering mode that makes use of advanced depth of field effects and character model tessellation for increased realism. This title also supports NVIDIA PhysX technology for impressive in-game physics effects, though we left them disabled here. We tested the game at resolutions of 2560x1600 and 3840X2160 (4K) with its in-game image quality options set to Very High and DOF effects disabled.

metro last light

Alienware Area 51 R5 Bench Metro

Metro is a GPU-bound benchmark for our system, so we see little improvement with the CPU overclock. In cases like this, GPU overclocking can make a significant difference which is why the CLX Ra system leads by 10-15%. To the Area-51’s credit, minimum framerates are slightly better although it has a significant framerate drop in any case.

Shadow of Mordor

Monolith’s surprisingly fun Orc-slaying title delivers a ton of visual fidelity even at the lowest quality settings. So, to maximize eye candy while also heavily taxing the cards, we ran the game's built in benchmark with its Ultra quality settings at a couple of resolutions, topping out at 4K on these tricked-out dragster gaming PCs.

mordor

mordor graph

Our results in Shadow of Mordor demonstrate the shift from a CPU-bound workload to a GPU-bound one as resolution increases. While the resolution is low, the GPU can draw frames incredibly quickly, so the CPU can struggle to keep up.

At 1080p, overclocking brings tangible improvements with a 40fps increase on average. Of course, either results would keep even a 240Hz monitor happy, but the improved minimum framerates can help keep things silky. The overclocked Area-51 beats out all of our other systems here, except for the bodaciously overkill Maingear F131.

At 1440p, the Area-51 can no longer keep up with most of the GTX 1080 Ti SLI systems. Futhermore, overclocking only brings a 20fps improvement over reference clocks, which is just enough to stave off the overclocked 1080’s in the CLX Ra system.

In the 4K trial, CPU overclocking no longer offers much advantage, and the CLX Ra system has a nearly 10fps advantage. This demonstrates why we recommend sizing up a system against whatever monitor you intend to game on – especially when megatasking is not in the cards.

Thief

Square Enix set the tone for Thief by saying, "Garrett, the Master Thief, steps out of the shadows into the City. In this treacherous place, where the Baron’s Watch spreads a rising tide of fear and oppression, his skills are the only things he can trust. Even the most cautious citizens and their best-guarded possessions are not safe from his reach." The Thief series has been popular for years, not only for its interesting story lines and unique gameplay, but because the games have consistently featured excellent graphics and imagery, and leveraged bleeding graphics edge technology, like AMD's Mantle API, for example.

thief screenshot

Alienware Area 51 R5 Bench Thief

Thief weaves a similar tale to Shadow of Mordor. It is more taxing on the graphics side of things, however, so it never quite catches the CLX Ra system. The theme remains the same though: overclock the CPU for lower resolution gains and overclock the GPU for higher resolution gains.

Let’s now see how the Area-51 compares for power consumption, thermals and acoustics…

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