Skip to main content

Alienware Area 51 (2017): Our first take

Alienware’s Area 51 looks out of this world, but it’s awesomely practical

alienware area 51 2017 review hands on 5
Alienware Area 51 (2017): Our first take
“The Alienware Area 51, packed with up to 16 cores, is ready to conquer all challengers.”
  • Unique design
  • Lighting syncs across Alienware devices
  • Accessible, spacious interior
  • Supports the latest hardware
  • Absolutely massive
  • Doesn’t offer all Core X chips

Alienware came to E3 2017 packing eye-opening announcements, and none was more impressive than its upcoming Area 51 systems with AMD Threadripper and Intel Core X processors. These super-high-end configurations are, for many gamers, the definition of a dream machine. And we had a chance to look at them on the show floor.

A familiar but still awesome chassis

The models of Area 51 announced at E3 may be stuffed with cores, but they’re packed in a familiar crust. Luckily, it’s as appealing and delicious as ever. Triangular in design, the Area 51 is still unique in the world of gaming desktops.

Alienware’s unusual aesthetic has some functional benefits, as well. It allows a simple, straight avenue for airflow through the case, with intake coming in the bottom, and exhaust flowing out the top-rear. And plugging a headset or controller into the forward points, which are sloped towards the user, is easier than with most standard setups. It’s even easier to pick up the Area 51 than most rectangular cases.

Shape aside, the Area 51 is not overly boisterous. Its sleek, gray side panels don’t scream for attention as loudly as the tempered glass windows and sculpted plastic front façades found on some competitors. Still, the system does include a triad of AlienFX lighting on each side, as well as some touches along the front. These light strips can coordinate with other Alienware peripherals through a bundled software interface.

The real power is inside

Of course, looks are half the story – or maybe a third. The real news is what’s inside these systems. Area 51 systems with AMD Threadripper will ship July 27, while the Core X version will ship in late August. Strangely, the system will only ship with Intel Core X chips up to the 10-core i9-7900X.

The massive chips are noticeable even under the water blocks that conceal them. Most systems have a water block that, at its core, is the size of a dollar coin, but these Area 51 rigs have blocks the size of a hockey puck. Even then, some elements of the socket are visible from beneath them. That’s what multi-core insanity looks like.

Alienware also displayed an Area 51 system stuffed with two Radeon video cards (no – they weren’t Vega). Gamers can order the rigs with up to two Nvidia GTX cards in SLI, or up to three AMD Radeon cards in CrossFire. Quad-card setups aren’t supported. At least, not yet.

Normally, we’d expect such firepower to consume much of a rig’s interior space, but the Area 51 does an excellent job of managing its components. The case door simply snaps off and, once inside, most components are accessible without removing other components. Power and data cords are smartly run as well, so they shouldn’t get in the way of upgrades.

Mainstream for a reason

Alienware’s Area 51 is among the most popular gaming desktops available, yet it’s also full of clever ideas rarely found elsewhere. Its massive, unusual case has practical benefits, and its internal layout is among the cleanest in the business. The new Area 51, packed with up to 16 cores, looks ready to conquer all challengers when it’s released in late July.

Editors' Recommendations

Matthew S. Smith
Matthew S. Smith is the former Lead Editor, Reviews at Digital Trends. He previously guided the Products Team, which dives…
Dell’s Alienware Area-51m gaming laptop is $400 off for Cyber Monday
dell alienware area 51 m deals for cyber monday 2019 51m review 8 2 1500x1000


Some of the best deals on gaming laptops and even MacBooks have surfaced for Cyber Monday. One of those deals happens on to be on last year's Alienware Area-51m.

Read more
Alienware’s redesigned Aurora R9 brings stunning, sci-fi-inspired aesthetics
alienware aurora r9 sci fi gaming desktop oznor

Though it's built on the same chassis as the previous generation Aurora R8 gaming desktop, this year's Alienware Aurora R9 stands in stark contrast from its predecessor with a sleek, modern design. Shedding the asteroid-inspired appearance of its predecessor, the Aurora R9's design has been reimagined, taking inspiration from science fiction with an overall shape that more closely resembles an elongated jet engine, said Justin Lyles, Dell's vice president of consumer design, at a showcase in San Francisco ahead of the desktop's launch at Gamescom. The desktop sports Dell's Legend design identity that debuted on the Alienware Area 51 laptop earlier this year.

With a sculpted appearance where the front of the tower is more compact than the rear, Alienware gamers who pick up this desktop will do so for its design rather than its space-savings capabilities on a desk.

Read more
E3 2019: The five best games from the PC Game Show
best games pc game show e3 2019 gaming

The PC Game Show is certainly not the highest-profile conference at E3 every year, but it is a thrill for PC gaming enthusiasts. More PC games get announced exclusively at this show than anywhere else during the year, so it's always a good time to see what's coming next. Big titles like Borderlands 3 and Baldur's Gate 3 made cameo appearances, but the show is really more about new launches and sneak previews at future games.

A total of 30 games were shown off, though only in trailer form, as is the norm at the PC Game Show. Here are the five that really have us excited.
Midnight Ghost Hunt
Midnight Ghost Hunt - E3 Teaser

Read more