Friday, March 11, 2016

Alienware Area-51 Computer

Alienware Area-51

Alienware’s Most Powerful Weapon

Celebrating its 20th birthday this year, Alienware is one of the oldest custom PC shops on the block. Heck, they’ve been building elite rigs longer than CPU has been writing about them. That’s mighty impressive.

Alienware has expanded its arsenal over the years, and it now includes laptops, a few varieties of gaming desktop PCs, and even a Steam Machine. More often than not, though, its biggest gun has been the Area-51.

Over the years, the Area-51 has gone through a few redesigns. The latest take on Alienware’s mothership PC is a wonder to behold, and its machinery within makes it a formidable gaming PC in any arena.

High-Tech Exterior

Obviously, we have to talk about that case. Lots of custom builders simply lean on third-party manufacturers for their systems’ cases, while a handful have the engineering chops to do it themselves.

Alienware is clearly the latter. Building the new chassis from the ground up, Alienware’s team has produced the Area-51’s case to be that rare hybrid of refined form and intelligent function. Called the “Triad chassis,” this case is full of surprises.

Aesthetically, the Triad chassis will turn heads, but it’s more than a pretty face. Each of the case’s three corners are designed to support five times the Area-51’s weight. This way, you can tilt the case forward onto its front corner and easily reach the system’s rear I/O panel. The case’s front panel allows similar ease of access. Thanks to the angled design, all of the Area-51’s front I/O connections directly face the user.

For its size (a stout 61.73lbs.), the Area-51 is remarkably friendly to LAN warriors . . . and their lower backs. Again, this is by design. The Area-51’s Triad case has carrying handles that are easy to grip and make toting the system a round much less cumbersome than cases of similar size. Further, Alienware has carefully configured the Area-51’s internal component layout in order to give the system a low center of gravity, minimizing the likelihood that it will lurch away from you unexpectedly upon liftoff.

The Area-51’s case is made to make life easier on power users, but it also keeps the system’s internal hardware supplied with a steady stream of cool air. And because of the angled rear panel, hot internal air is able to escape more quickly than traditional PC cases when set up with the back against a wall.

Inside The Machine

The innovation that’s plain to see on the outside of the Area-51 is just as evident on the inside. Alienware starts you off with a Haswell-E CPU (the Core i7-5820K is available in the base model, and Alienware gives you the option to upgrade all the way up to a Core i7- 5960X) paired with Intel’s X99 chipset. With a closed-loop liquid cooler—also standard, whichever Intel Haswell-E CPU you pick—you’ll be able to crank its clocks even higher.

We really like what Alienware has done with the Area-51’s drive bays. Taking the same path that we’ve seen a lot of forward-thinking case manufacturers doing, Alienware locates the Area-51’s five drive bays on the reverse side of the motherboard tray, keeping them out of sight and making cable management much easier. And of course, internal case airflow is improved, too. The five drive mounts are compatible with either 2.5- inch SSDs or 3.5-inch HDDs, letting you configure the Area-51’s storage subsystem exactly the way you want.

The Area-51 starts enthusiasts off with an AMD Radeon R9 370, and it can only get more powerful. Indeed, the Area-51’s motherboard includes a trio of PCIe x16 slots, so if you really want to transform the system into a machine that not only laughs in the face of 4K but can handle 12K gaming, as well, Alienware’s crew can outfit the Area-51 with the firepower of a Triple SLI setup. Currently, Alienware gives you the choice of three NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980s, 980 Tis, or the fearsome TITAN X.

There are more power user goodies within the Area-51. Every system includes a modular PSU, so there are never more cables than necessary, and a Killer Technology Ethernet chip handles the system’s networking. The Area-51 also has an 802.11ac wireless adapter for times when a wired connection isn’t readily available.

Engineered To Win

In addition to elite build quality, one of the Area-51’s biggest assets is access to Alienware’s extensive cache of cuttingedge hardware. The base model starts at $1,699.99 and includes a Core i7- 5820K, 8GB of DDR4-2133, AMD’s Radeon R9 370, 2TB of storage, and an 850W PSU. From there, you can upgrade the hardware, add more of it, kit out the Area-51 with an array of awesome peripherals, pair it with a Dell widescreen monitor, and more.


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