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E3 2016: Alienware 2016 Lineup Impressions
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E3 2016: Alienware 2016 Lineup Impressions

Alienware celebrates their 20th anniversary the only way they know how: lots of PCs and plenty of power.

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Alienware has been killing it ever since they entered the consumer mainstream, and now that PC gaming is officially back in style they had plenty to show for gaming’s ‘master race’. Everything they had at this year’s E3 was moderately redesigned, and newly available right now. With enthusiast-grade performance to power VR as prerequisites, no matter your flavor to the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

Because they’re typically associated among the high-end of PC machine, the refreshed Alpha is the cheapest Alienware desktop yet. The Alpha has a bit of history behind it; starting with a compact body originally intended for the oft-delayed Steam machine, and quickly retooled alongside as one of the most potent budget-friendly computers in their stable. Now the latest models feature some necessary upgrades such as standard 8GBs of DDR4-2133 memory, and efficient T-series variants of 6th generation of Intel Core processors. The Kodi-derived Hivemind platform is once again incorporated for ease and instant access to all of your favorite apps, and provides bridged functionality with plenty to customize.

If you’re determined to do PC gaming on the minimal and cheap the Alpha will do just that starting at $499, including compatibility with the new Alienware Graphics Amplifier for external full-scale GPU performance. There’s also the new Alienware Steam Machine that shares similar specs but operates on Valve’s SteamOS, if you’re interested in going that route.

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For traditionalists, the Aurora is probably the bread-and-butter of the group. With an angular look and leaner footprint, the Aurora is meant to travel thanks to an integrated top handle for safe passage to LAN parties. This iteration is also smart on the inside with a prominent tool-less aesthetic that features a swing-arm PSU compartment, strategically placed for securing of expansion cards in place, while providing increased airflow from the bottom. The Aurora is configurable to your hearts’ desire but invites you to make it more potent with AlienFX lighting and the Alienware Command Center which should be enough for people wanting hardware optimization, but not necessarily keen on doing it themselves.

The Area-51 remains the elite forerunner, and the dreams of many desktop hopefuls. I won’t spend too much time here because many interested in this triangular tower are already aware of the numerous upgrades involved. Now, Alienware has equipped their PC with the new Broadwell-e Intel Core CPUs (i7- 6800K/i7-6900K/i7-6950), ranging from 6- to 10-core processors and DirectX12 for maxed out performance. This prowess is further enhanced by the impressive GeForce GTX 1080 GPU from NVIDIA, and of course, the ability to install up to three of them. However, only a few will be privileged enough to own one, starting at $1699.

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But I think the anticipated hero was definitely the Alienware 13 OLED, a laptop which was previewed at CES earlier this year. I spoke about OLED as the display technology made its way to high-end TVs with an astronomical price to match, however, that was a few years ago and now it’s finally becoming feasible to implement. In a nutshell, OLED panels are amazingly accurate and blazing when it comes to latency (1ms) response, deep reference-grade color, and most important of all, complete and absolute blacks (0.0000001%) for which my camera doesn’t do justice to. This is the party piece of an otherwise satisfactory laptop — everything the regular Alienware 13 has — or at least optioned to include. Pair it with the optional Graphics Amplifier, and we’re told that this is intended to be the best small laptop ever made.

As a whole, Alienware has an excellent lineup that could lure people away from their consoles. The world of PC gaming looks bright, and all are capable of delivering virtual reality with the right package. These releases also coincide with their 20-year anniversary, and they appropriately show how far the brand has come. Here’s to one hell of a birthday.


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