Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition Review: Revisiting A Megatasking Beast

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Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition, Copious Cores And Performance

When we looked at Dell's Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition gaming desktop earlier this year, the machine was still technically in a pre-production state. Though we took you on a preliminary guided tour of the system, we felt it premature to look at it under our full-review lens. At that point we were still doing emergency alien brain transplants on it, after all, bringing the machine we had up to production silicon specs, by replacing the pre-production AMD Threadripper chip that shipped with our system.

Eventually, things matured with this beastly Threadripper-powered Alienware rig such that we even used it as a megatasking demonstration vehicle for our AMD Ryzen Threadripper review and performance spotlight. However, Dell's Alienware team was still putting the finishing touches on system firmware and some new peripherals to accompany their latest gaming desktops. So, we are back here again today to revisit the Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition, in what can now be considered its final, retail-ready incarnation.

Alienware Area 51 complete system
Alienware Area 51 Threadripper Side Panel off full shot

Just what can you do with this 16-core, 32-thread alien processing power plant? You're about to find out... 

Dell Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition
Specifications & Features
Operating System Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
Processor AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X 16-Core/32-Thread,Overclocked on all cores (1920X also available)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti w/ 11GB GDDR5X, lower-end GPU options
mGPU - SLI/CrossFire compatible
Memory 32GB Dual Channel DDR4 at 2667MHz; up to 64GB, DDR4 XMP 2933MHz options
Optical Drive Slot-Loading Dual-Layer DVD Burner (DVD±RW) (Standard)
Storage 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
2TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s (64MB Cache, 7,200 RPM)
Cooling System Alienware Premium socketTR4 CPU Liquid Cooling
Connectivity Dual Killer™ E2500 Intelligent Networking (Gigabit Ethernet NIC)
Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1
Front Panel Ports (2x) SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
(1x) Headphone 1/8" Port
(1x) Microphone 1/8" Port
(1x) Media Card Reader
Rear Panel Ports (2x) RJ-45 Killer Networks E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Port
(2x) Hi-Speed USB 2.0 (6x) SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
(1x) SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A
(1x) SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C w/ 15W PowerShare technology
(1x) SPDIF Digital Output (TOSLINK)
(1x) Line-In (blue port)
(1x) Front L/R / Headphone (green port)
(1x) Center Channel / Subwoofer (orange port)
(1x) L/R Rear Surround (black port)
(1x) L/R Side Surround (white port)

Power Supply Alienware™ 1500 Watt Multi-GPU Approved Power Supply with modular cabling
[80 Plus Gold Efficiency]
Dimensions Volume: 59L (The space occupied by the external surfaces of the chassis)
Height: 22.411" (569.25mm) Depth: 25.156" (638.96mm) Width: 10.736" (272.71mm)
Weight Starting at: 61.73lbs - (28 Kg.)
Warranty 1-Year Hardware Service with Onsite/In-Home Service After Remote Diagnosis
Pricing Starting at $2399
$3864 As Tested w/ Pro Gaming Keyboard And Advanced Gaming Mouse
AW 25 240Hz Gaming Monitor Sold Separately

The Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition is what we'd call a well-appointed, full featured machine. Support for the latest technologies brought forth by AMD's Ryzen Threadripper platform, like NVMe solid state drives, quad-channel DDR4-2666MHz (and higher) memory, as well as a multi-GPU setups are all here. Also available are both wired and wireless Killer Networks gaming NICs, for low latency gaming and packet prioritization. About the only notable omission with this version of the Area-51 would be Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Though a USB Type-C connector is on board, it's limited to a USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps connection, versus 40Gbps if it supported Thunderbolt 3. Creative professionals might miss this for external storage attachment, but at least the connection does have a 15 Watt PowerShare capability.

This is the R3 version of the machine, and for the most part, with the exception of the custom Threadripper TR4 socket AiO liquid cooler, the chassis design has not changed since we looked at our first machine over two years ago. 
area 51 threadripper three cards

And in general, that's a good thing. The chassis design is obviously subjective, though we're pretty fond of the Area-51's Triad mid-tower design, that pulls cool air in through its front grill and exhausts warm air out the back, on an upward slope, over its graphic card cage and in the direction in which heat rises. With the PSU mounted on the bottom, the system's heaviest heat-generating subsystems all exhaust via the rear of the machine, but slightly elevated for excellent thermal management.

Let's drop in for a closer look... 

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