Introduction and Specifications
When you think about the market for a pre-built, proverbial "Killer Gaming Rig," you have to consider the class of consumer that would have interest in this type of system. For the most part, the average do-it-yourselfer isn't going to take much interest here, save for perhaps the appreciation of all the bleeding-edge technology and design quality that is the hallmark of such a system. That said, there is obviously a significant market opportunity for consumers that want top-of-the line components and build quality for enthusiast-class gaming performance and head-turning aesthetics, without the hassle of going at it the home-grown way. Dell obviously saw this market opportunity when they snatched up the then not-so boutique system builder Alienware, back in March of 2006.
Historically, Alienware had been known for the same impeccable build quality and top-shelf components that put many a performance PC start-up on the map. However their chassis designs were a bit over the top for some folks to handle. With a pair of bulbous alien eyes looking back at you like a hood ornament with a bad attitude and bubbly, rounded high gloss chassis designs, Alienware machines were a "you either love 'em or hate 'em" sort of thing. That said, four years later, Dell has managed to assimilate the Alienware colony and what has emerged is a significantly more refined and stylish chassis design along with the same bleeding edge component selection and build quality.
Also, being one of Intel's large customers, Dell more recently afforded their Alienware division the inside track on Intel's benchmark crushing Core i7-980X Gulftown 6-core processor and the resources to get it validated for delivery to market quickly. We've had the new Dell Alienware Area-51 in for testing for a week now and have spent some quality time with the machine, helping it break its first sweat, globally we might add. In the following pages we're happy to give you a first look at what Dell likes to think of as their Killer Alien gaming rig. First we'll serve you up a quick video preview and then make sure to journey on for a deep dive look and benchmark analysis of the new Alienware Area-51 gaming PC.
Don't miss our deep-dive look and detailed performance analysis on the pages that follow...
A quick rundown of the system specs let you know that the build-out we received means business. From the Core i7-980X, with its self contained water cooler to its dual Radeon HD 5970 graphics card with 4 high-end AMD ATI graphics processors under the hood, this machine is hell-bent for high frame rates and very little compromise. In graphics cards and Intel processors alone, you're looking at $2200 - $2300 worth of components. The "as tested" price for our system comes into focus a bit more when you consider the horsepower under its hood, though we might suggest an SSD might have been in order as a boot drive, though there are obvious pros and cons to this, not the least of which is added cost. Regardless with a pair of Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB drives in RAID 0 and 6GB of DDR3-1333 memory on board, this machine is well-rounded enough in all the right places. If you're looking for bone-crushing gaming performance or perhaps a workstation that looks good and tears through just about anything you can throw at it, the Area-51 model we'll show you in the pages ahead, should fit the bill nicely.