Alienware Area 51: Triad, Tri-SLI GTX 980, Haswell-E

Overclocking, Noise and Power Consumption

We also spent some time overclocking our Area-51 using the Alienware Alien OC utility. Like most of Intel's processors post Sandy Bridge, the new Haswell-E based processor Alienware employed here offers limited flexibility when overclocking via BCLK (Base Clock) manipulation. If you want to tweak CPU and memory frequencies via the BCLK, it can only be increased by a few MHz at a time before things get wonky.  So we decided to keep it simple and use the CPU multiplier and a little extra voltage - 1.287 volts on the Vcore setting, to be exact.

Overclocking Intel's Core i7-5930K In The New Area-51
Squeezing Out ore MHz and Performance

We should note that our testing at this clock speed was limited to multiple, repetitive runs of Cinebench R11.5.  Though the system remained stable during testing, other usage models and test conditions may or may not have resulted in anomalies. Regardless, for just a quick preliminary look at available CPU headroom with Alienware's liquid cooling solution, the following are our results.

Ultimately we settled at a max stable clock speed of 4.5GHz for the Core i7-5930K, which is a substantial gain over its stock 3.7GHz max Turbo clock speed and 3.5GHz base clock.  We achieved this by raising core voltage to 1.287V and then sliding the multiplier up to 45 on all cores of the CPU.  Here are our results.

Overclocking efforts with the Area-51's CPU yielded a nice 21% performance gain in Cinebench.  Cinebench is a solid yardstick for raw, multithreaded CPU throughput and though we couldn't quite catch the 8-core Core i7-5960X, you can't complain about free bandwidth.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested Power Draw From The Wall Outlet At Idle And Under Load
Before bringing this article to a close, we also decided to look at power consumption. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our Dell-Alienware Area-51 was consuming with a power meter, versus our reference test graphics system we used for benchmark comparisons on the previous pages. Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling on a Windows desktop and while under a heavy CPU workload. Keep in mind, this is total system power consumption being measured at the outlet and not the the individual power of a component in the system.

With Tri-SLI GeForce GTX 980s on board, you would think this system would have pegged the watt meter but it just wasn't so.  In fact, the 6-core Core i7-5930K might be a very nice happy medium for CPU throughput and power efficiency.  In this test we're also stressing the GPUs, so you can see that a tri-SLI GTX 980 setup with Haswell-E and NVIDIA's Maxwell, isn't all that bad. We've seen worse, almost 100 Watts worse with a Radeon R9 295X2 and a Core i7-4960X powering the fun.

A Note On The Area-51's Acoustics:

One of the advantages of the Area-51 is that its chassis design is tuned for excellent airflow. Under full gaming workloads, even at 4K resolution with GPU-busters like Metro Last Light, the Area-51 was quiet and comfortable. This is a machine you can game on and work at for hours and no matter the load, noise is not an issue. It was only after we dialed up our hefty overclock of 4.5GHz on the CPU and then stressed the system with Cinbench, that we heard system fans spin up beyond nominal (idle) levels.  And even then, the noise emitting from this system was well within reasonable limits.

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