On Wednesday, Dell’s Alienware brand announced the spring 2020 updates to its Intel-based gaming systems. The updates include the Area 51-m R2, m15 R3, and m17 R3 gaming notebooks alongside the Aurora R11 desktop system. They’re all being updated with the 10th generation processors, which pack more power than ever before, leading to the first time 10-core processors will be included in the Alienware laptop models.
Alienware Aurora R11 offers quiet coolness
Alienware made its flagship gaming desktop system available for purchase right after the announcement. In addition to supporting 10th generation Intel processors up to the Core i9-10900KF, the high-powered system will include Nvidia Super and AMD Radeon RX 5700 video cards to play games at high frame rates.
But perhaps the most impressive innovation the Aurora R11 has to offer is its new PCI express-based liquid cooling system for systems with RTX 2080 GPUs. Instead of hanging off a 120mm fan, the fully enclosed liquid cooling system takes up a PCIe slot, the way a second graphics card would, to deliver efficient cooling, improved performance, and lower noise.
Alienware’s global messaging lead, Eduardo Goyanes, told PC Invasion that the company’s internal testing showed a 20% decrease in temperature noise measured in zones and a 5.7 percent performance increase in the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark.
PC gamers can configure the Aurora R11 with both a liquid-cooled CPU and GPU for maximum temperature management. However, the liquid cooling system is only available for single Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics card configurations, which means that AMD fans and multi-GPU users will have to go without the performance benefits. But at the same time, power users and enthusiasts can now outfit the desktop system with a 1000W power supply if they choose the dual 2080 Ti configuration. Even without the benefit of liquid cooling, the high-end system should provide power and performance to spare.
To top things off, the Lunar Light (white) version of the Aurora R11 will have a fourth lighting zone added to its front. The previous version featured three lighting zones and the Dark Side (black) chassis will continue to have two zones for now. In addition to the brighter aesthetics, Goyanes said that the front lights have a functional role in that they help you to see the front I/O ports when in darkened environments.
Alienware Area 51-m R2, m15 R3, and m17 R3 laptops are overhauled
You might not be able to distinguish the hulking 17.3” Alienware Area 51-m or the thin and light m15 R3 and m17 R3 gaming notebooks from their predecessors at first glance. That’s because they’re keeping the same “Legendary” design aesthetic Alienware integrated into its computer systems last year, except that the spring 2020 versions now have a microSD card reader on the right side.
The differences are much more expansive once you get under the hood, since Alienware had to re-engineer the cooling system to support the 10th generation Intel processors and updated graphics options. This is especially important to the Area 51-m because it features a desktop CPU as opposed to the mobile version used in the m15 and m17. Graphics options will include the RTX 2080 Super and AMD 5500M GPUs, with the m17 R3 getting the max performance version of the RTX 2080 for the first time. Additionally, AMD fans will have the option to equip the Area 51-m with a Radeon RX 5700M.
All three notebooks are also getting memory upgrades, with both the m15 and m17 supporting up to 32GB of RAM while the Area 51-m is getting a speed boost. While the previous generation supported 2400 MHz DDR4 memory, the Area 51 R2 can be equipped with up to 64GB of 2933 MHz RAM as the standard. Those who want even more speed can configure their systems with 16GB or 32GB of dual-channel DDR4 XMP memory at 3200 MHz.
All these performance upgrades obviously lead to a lot of heat. All three notebooks are sporting more copper on the thermal systems and larger fan blades to help dissipate heat. But the most impressive addition is how high-end configurations will automatically be upgraded to high-efficiency vapor chamber cooling. The GPU you choose will determine which thermal module you’ll have. For the m15 and m17, the vapor chamber is included with Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti or higher graphics. Configuring the Area 51-m with an Nvidia RTX 2060 or higher or an AMD GPU will include the vapor chamber cooling. But even though your GPU choice determines the thermal module, Goyanes explained that the vapor chamber is located on the CPU.
“The CPU die is considerably larger than the GPU die, so it covers a wider area,” he said. “Most of the time, it’s not at full load, but it draws a lot of power when it peaks. But the thermal module is connected (to other components) through heat pipes and it’s one assembly.”
Perhaps one of the more understated enhancements the new gaming notebooks will receive is a high-endurance, stain-resistant clear coat that goes on top of the paint jobs to help protect it from… well… stains. So, you don’t have to worry as much when carrying your laptop around to events. However, stain resistance doesn’t necessarily mean increased water resistance, so you might want to keep those drinks at a safe distance.
Upgrades that you can better see include the 4K OLED UHD panels on the m15 and m17 laptops. Pro gamers who demand top performance can look forward to the liquid-smooth 1080p 300 Hz screen option coming to all three systems. But the pros aren’t the only ones who will get to have all the fun, because Alienware is doing away with the 60 Hz 1080p screens altogether, meaning that all the base FHD notebook configurations will have a 144 Hz refresh rate, giving gamers smooth graphics at high frame rates.
Other changes include a new RAID 0 option, where two M.2 drives can be configured to perform as a single drive, ranging from 512GB to 4TB. The notebook systems have three M.2 slots, so you can possibly have 4,512GB installed into your notebook to carry a massive game and media library with you.
Beyond playing games
With most of the world quarantined, this is perhaps the best time for an updated line of computer systems. Gaming desktops and notebooks may be the ideal solution for many households right now because they offer the power and performance to handle tasks ranging from web browsing to editing videos and live streaming. Whatever the case, the Alienware systems are certainly up to the task.
The Aurora R11 is available starting May 13, followed by the m15 R3 and m17 R3 on May 21. The two notebook systems are launching with a virtual event on AlienwareOutpost.com, which will allow the public to interact with the new systems and other content the way they would at conventions like E3 and Gamescom, but from the comfort and safety of their homes. The Area 51-m is scheduled to launch on June 9, 2020.