Overclocking, Acoustics and Power Consumption
Of course, with its water-cooled six-core chip just begging for a beating, we decided to throw down the overclock gauntlet and see how far we could take the Alienware Area-51. We didn't spend a lot of time tweaking speeds and feeds, but did turn up both processor and system memory clocks to rather impressive levels, with full stability we might add.
Seen above is a pass through of Cinebench R10, which tends to be a good measure of system stability for both processor and memory, since it will occupy these resources at 100% utilization during a test run. Here our Core i7-980X Intel Turbo Boost multipliers are set to 32X for all cores in the processor resulting in a 4.3GHz overclock, give or take a few MHz for clock drift. With 12 threads humming a long at 4.3GHz and DDR3-1600 system memory speeds dialed in, we scored 33665 in Cinebench R10 which equated to another 12% gain even over the 3.8GHz overclock of the base test setup we benchmarked the system at for all tests; and again, the machine was fully stable.
We'd like to cover a few final data points before bringing this article to a close. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test systems consumed using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here.
There is no question, a system like the Alienware Area-51 is going to draw copious amounts of power. If you're the green, efficient computing type, you certainly need not apply for a machine like the Area-51. As you can see here, we were able to realize 736 Watts fully loaded and overclocked to 4GHz with the machine, which is still comfortably beneath its power supply's 1100 Watt rating. We would definitely recommend more than just a simple surge protector for a machine of this power, caliber and price range. For the Area-51 we'd suggest you pick up a quality Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), but not just for preserving critical data in the event of power loss, but also for protecting the machine better from power dips, surges and fluctuations. When power draw gets this high and the risk factors of expense scale with it, a UPS is definitely the way to go.
A Note On Acoustics:
With all this horsepower under its hood, you might assume that the Area-51 produces a fair bit of noise but that's not the case at all. During processor benchmarking, even when heavily overclocked at times, the system remained very quiet for a machine of its caliber. Remember, our machine was built with water cooling for the processor. It was only under rigorous gaming benchmark conditions that we heard the fans on the two Radeon HD 5970 series graphics cards spin up to more noticeable levels. This is par for the course with any ultra high-end graphics card these days, though the sound emanating from the Area-51 was still very reasonable even under heavy duty gaming workloads.