Prior to entering the PC gaming realm, the thought of building my own gaming rig was a heavily daunting task, speaking from my own personal experience. I asked questions to those in my close circle of gaming influence, bounced product specs off of them, and of course, consulted my wallet before making any purchases. Sure, I knew some things about PC gaming, but like any human being, I couldn’t help think that if I didn’t have these resources or know-how, I wouldn’t have made it this far.
At this years E3 show, I was introduced to the newest line of products from Alienware. The presentation started with the focus of where Alienware started, where they’ve been, and what the focus would be for its future line of products. Something that resonated with me was the emphasis on the reality of PC gaming, particularly with price and performance. While there are many joys to be held in building a PC from scratch, there is another market of gamers out there who just want to play Overwatch or Rocket League with their friends that game on the PC. And, after seeing the newest line of products from Alienware, it seems as though the company is heading in the right direction in capturing that market–and more.
- Intel Core i3 CPU up to Core i7 Extreme Edition
- Graphics offerings in single or dual card configurations include NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, AMD Radeon R9 370, or all the way up to the GeForce GTX 1080
- 8GB DDR4 2133 MHz memory up to 32 GB, including 16GB of overclocked Kingston Fury X running at 2400 MHz
- 1TB 7200RPM 6Gb/s storage up to multiple TBs for the 5 available storage bays
- Networking includes Killer e2400 Gigabit Ethernet and Intel wireless and Bluetooth
- Starting at $799 SAPP, check out the other options and pricing online
The first product that was shown was the Alienware Aurora. At first glance, the mid-size tower accentuates modesty in all the right lights. Even for myself, shopping for the right case was half the battle. What would fit? What kind of room was I going to be working with to build? All of these things seemed to be thrown out the window as the case itself was designed in such a compact manner that even the PSU is released with a few clasps (locking mechanism in the rear), the removal of the traditional side panel, allowing it to swing outward from its design. In fact, according to the Alienware, it’s the first gaming desktop with complete tool-less power supply entry. Seeing this alone should ease fears of “doing it wrong” or damaging the expensive contents of your PC, thus expanding the reach to the casual-build market.
Among the other components to the tower, there is an intake fan in the front and multiple exhaust case fans. To better regulate heat, the case has built-in liquid CPU cooling, yet again bringing higher-tiers performance to an entry level rig.
From the brief demo that was provided, it was easy to see that every inch of space in the mid tower was utilized for space and functionality. It’s even more astonishing with it supporting space for dual cards, even two GTX 1080’s.
For anyone anticipating buying the Aurora and using it for competition, there are handles on the underside and top of the case offer portability. For practicality and potential competitive use, the slope towards The top-front grant access to mic, headphone, and SuperSpeed 3.0 USB ports.
Also aligning itself with the overall functionality, the build offers a tool-less entry, but more importantly, allows you to snap in a GPU all the same. This is important for someone who might be considering their delve into the PC gaming market, but who won’t lose out on the possibility of upgrades in the future. There are also five bays on the floor of the case that have snap in options for solid state drives. Boot up times are right around the 30-second range when your operating system is placed on an SSD. And, having your games allocated will also assist in load times.
The entry level model of the Aurora retails for $799 with a GTX 950, 1TB HDD, and houses the most recent generation core i3. The next model up bumps to $1099, and can pull off true 4k gaming, supporting three 4k monitors simotaneously.
- 6th Generation Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs
- Graphics options include NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB up to the GeForce GTX 965M with 4GB
- 8GB Dual Channel DDR3L memory configurable up to 16GB
- 500GB 5400RPM Hybrid (8GB Cache) SSD SATA 6Gb/s to 128GB mSATA SSD + 512GB PCIe SSD multi-drive storage
- NEW OLED QHD touchscreen display
- Starting at $1299 SAPP, check out other options online
I made a tough decision in my most recent purchase of my laptop. There’s no doubt that I sacrificed performance solely to provide myself with a laptop solely to cover E3 2016, not sporting much under the hood performance-wise for gaming. The constraint-struggle was real because I was well aware that most games had no chance of running outside of minimal settings. This is definitely not the case with the new iteration of the Alienware 13 OLED laptop.
As the laptop was handed to me, there was no doubt that it was not the lightest portable PC I’ve held. But, on the same token, it was definitely not the heaviest either. There was noticeable durability in design, having the hinge where the monitor meets the bases with no visible frailties. Much like the fixation with compact design in the Aurora, the Alienware 13 shows its strength in numbers. The gaming laptop boasts a 60-percent performance increase over previous iterations, and ships standard with the core i5-6200, and upgradeable to the core i7-6200 Skylake line. The detail was visible in the trailer on loop, housing a 100,000:1 contrast ratio.
Some of the best features aren’t necessarily found within the laptop, but what Alienware has already done by increasing graphics power with its Amp dock. Already included standard is the GTX 960M (2GB GDDR5) or GTX 965M (4GB GDDR5) when upgraded. If you were looking to combine both desktop and laptop PC into a single device, you might consider purchasing the laptop along with the Alienware Amplifier GPU dock. The station can be hooked up to your laptop, house a single GPU like the GTX 1080, and supply you with the performance needed for VR or simply playing at max settings. As for purpose, for anyone that is searching for a laptop that can deliver VR and/or full settings on games, you have a portable gaming rig that has option for virtual reality. Yet again, another area where Alienware applies expertise in builds and couples that with functionality.
It should also be mentioned that the Alienware Amplifier dock has its own PSU, which means that the only thing passing through is data. Outside of that, the 4-cell lithium ion battery delivers a 10-hour battery life, still allowing you to game on the go.
After seeing the array of PC’s, I couldn’t help but feel a slight case of buyer’s remorse on both the desktop and laptop I’ve purchased within the last year. Although I do have an AMD FX 8350 and GTX 960, there’s a lot of room left for upgrades. My laptop, although decent, is nothing to shake a stick at.
The time and money spent holding out, shopping, and purchasing future products could have slightly alleviated by picking up a single laptop + amp, or holding out on something that could immediately accommodate VR right off the bat. And, considering the string of new VR titles previewed on the show floor at E3 2016, VR continues to rage against the naysayers.