Let’s start with the X51. The system, which debuted in 2012 as a console-desktop hybrid, has gained traction and is now Alienware’s most popular rig. Gamers enjoy its combination of reasonable size and impressive power. Its latest refresh brings two new features never before seen in the X51 – liquid cooling and overclocking.
As you might expect, the two are related. Alienware is launching new, high-end, overclocked versions of the X51 today. They feature Skylake K-Series processors clocked as high as 4.4GHz, and liquid cooling is standard on these systems. Later, mid-range models are expected around the end of the year with Core i3 and i5 chips. These will also offer liquid cooling as an option.
Aside from the new processors, there’s a host of other minor updates, such as M.2 SSD support, DDR4 RAM, and two USB 3.1 ports. Not everything is an improvement, however. The new X51 loses SPDIF, ditches TOSLINK, downgrades from 7.1 to 5.1 audio output, and abandons Ubuntu. These differences won’t impact most users, but a few may be unhappy.
The X51 also joins Alienware’s laptops in supporting the company’s Graphics Amplifier, a box that can host a second video card and attaches over a proprietary connection. The desktop itself can handle up to a Titan X, but it does not support more than one internal video card.
Alienware’s 13, 15 and 17 laptops are receiving slightly less extensive, but still notable, updates. In addition to new Skylake processors they will be receiving a feature called Dynamic Overclocking which automatically adjusts CPU and GPU clock speed based on power draw and system temperature. This, according to the company, will extract maximum performance from any given power envelope.
All three notebooks are receiving HDMI 2.0, providing 4K output without the need for the less common DisplayPort standard, and are receiving new high-resolution displays. The Alienware 13 gains a 3,200 x 1,800 touchscreen similar to that found in the Dell XPS 13, while the Alienware 15 and 17 will gain 4K displays without touch. Buyers looking at the 13 and 17 can grab these new displays immediately, but the 15’s new 4K panel won’t arrive until later this year.
Other new features include Thunderbolt on all systems, USB 3.1, a larger 63 watt-hour battery in the Alienware 13, and the world-first debut of the R9 M395X with 4GB DDR5 in the Alienware 15.
The refreshed X51 and notebooks will all be available immediately for order through Alienware’s website, though as noted, a few options won’t arrive until later this year. Now is a good time to buy if you were on the fence about the previous generation of systems.