Dell’s New High-Performance Alienware And XPS PCs Bring Welcome Updates And New Models

At CES this year Dell showed off some concepts along with a few new PCs including the new and improved XPS 13 laptop with Intel 10th Gen U-Series CPUs which recently launched last month. At CES, other laptops were teased for later in the year, which made this month’s announcement and show Dell’s continued interest in AMD’s products with the new Dell Gaming G5 SE which features all AMD CPU and GPU for gaming. This system was shown off at CES, but launched alongside new XPS and Alienware products, and I didn’t want people to forget about it in the midst of so many new products so I’ll be covering that in this piece as well.

Updated Area 51-m desktop replacement laptop

The first product that Dell has updated is the Alienware Area-51m which I coincidentally reviewed earlier this year after using it for 6 Months+ and gave a lot of my thoughts about why it was a return to form for Dell. The Area 51m R2 brings some updates to the CPU with Intel’s 10th Gen core allowing a top clock speed of 5.3 GHz and continues to use Intel’s desktop chips. However, it utilizes a new socket meaning that previous generation Area-51m owners will not be able to upgrade to these new processors from Intel, without any fault of Dell’s.

The expectation is that Intel will most likely use this socket for the next generation, so it seems like the R1 may have suffered a case of bad timing. Dell also upgraded the new Cryo-Tech cooling solution which increases airflow and boosts performance, which is great because these systems can use all the cooling they can take with desktop CPU and GPUs. This new cooling solution includes a vapor chamber design which helps to cool the 12-phase power VReg for the CPU (voltage regulation) providing more stable power to the CPU for better overclocking.

Dell also upgraded the 17” display to offer an up to 300 Hz refresh display. The model I have was maxxed out at 144 Hz, so going from 144 Hz to 300 Hz may be difficult to appreciate but going from 60 or 120 to 300 Hz will be way more impressive. Alienware Also added support for AMD GPUs including the 5700XT, which I believe is a preparation for whatever high-end GPU AMD is expected to introduce this year.  There has been some controversy around the fact that Dell says it won’t be supporting out-of-generation upgrades for the Area 51-m which I believe upset a lot of people because the original promise of the Area 51-m’s upgradability.

However, it seems that much like the CPU-side of things, Alienware cannot completely control what chip manufacturers do with their chipsets and cooling. Laptops take many years to design and many times pre-date any CPU or GPU designs and I believe that this may have been part of that equation. If NVIDIA or AMD’s new GPUs are vastly larger in size compared to the last generation, it may entirely change the design of the laptop. The Alienware Area 51-m R2 will start at $3,049.99 and will be available June 9th.

Alienware 15 and 17 Updates

The big updates here to the 15 and 17 are that they also get the upgraded Cryo-tech cooling solution and improved VReg. This means that Alienware is offering up to a Core i9-10980HK as a CPU offering and on the m17 Alienware has beefed up the GPU offering to an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super Max-P design. MAX-P is different from MAX-Q from NVIDIA because it aims for the fastest possible performance rather than battery life.

This makes sense since the 17” model is much less likely to be used for a more portable gaming scenario and is much more likely to always be plugged in. Dell has also put a new clear coat on top of the new Dark Side of the Moon and Lunar Light colors of both sizes to reduce any potential for stains. This hasn’t been an issue for me the Area-51m but I could totally see why people would be concerned as these surfaces seem harder to clean than something smoother and glossier.

Aurora Goes Full Liquid

Alienware’s Aurora desktop computers were updated with Intel’s new 10th Gen desktop processors, maintaining the same design language as the R10. This means that Intel will be offering it with the Intel Core i9-10980KF processor along with Kingston HyperX memory and an optional 1KW PSU. What is interesting is that Alienware is introducing a new liquid cooling for the RTX 2080 Super and up. I believe that Alienware opted for liquid cooling the GPU primarily because it brings significant improvements to cooling performance, around 20% reduction in temperatures and a nearly 70% reduction in noise. 

This is in addition to the already liquid cooled CPU, which brings the Aurora R11 into the top-tier of prebuilt systems, almost boutique status. Nobody will complain about a faster and quieter desktop. At the time of writing on Dell’s website the Alienware Aurora can only be configured in its max spec which has dual 2080 Ti GPUs, i9-10980KF and 64GB of RAM for $5,600 which looks to be the max possible spec, which is a bit odd. However, the base configuration will be available for as low as $879 an eSports ready configuration for $1,129 starting May 28th.

Alienware 25 Gets 360 Hz

Yes, you read that right. The new Alienware 25 monitor now has support for 360 Hz refresh rate, and therefore this brings the 24.5” monitor into the fastest refresh rate that’s commercially available. This is a very small group of monitors as 360 Hz is a very hard refresh rate to achieve and is only available in 1080P. NVIDIA actually showed the press and analysts how G-Sync at 360 Hz improved the gaming experience and I was one of the top scores on one of the tests. I’ve still got it. 

That said, this monitor is really only squarely targeted at gamers who already play at super low quality and resolution to get maximum FPS, so you won’t be running any games at high settings on this monitor as the point of this monitor is to get as high a frame rate as possible to get the competitive edge against other plays in FPS games. It will be available later this year in Dark Side of the Moon later this year and judging by the similarities of the panel’s characteristics to the ASUS ROG Swift 360 Hz model, they will probably launch around the same time as that monitor was announced at CES and still hasn’t come out yet.

Dell Gaming G5 15” SE with SmartShift

Dell teased the Dell Gaming G5 15” SE laptop at CES earlier this year and said that it would be available later this year. Well, we are finally at the point where Dell has finally released the first gaming laptop from the company in recent history with both an AMD CPU and GPU. The new G5 15 SE sports the latest AMD Ryzen 4000 series CPU paired with an AMD Radeon 5600M GPU on all configurations.

What is the big deal about this laptop other than being both AMD on the CPU and GPU is that Dell worked with AMD to implement SmartShift. SmartShift is a feature that allows the system to balance power more accurately between the CPU and GPU based on the workload and ensure that the maximum performance is squeezed out of the system for every application.

Dell XPS 15 and 17 Get A New Design

The XPS 15 for the longest time has kept essentially the same design since it was redesigned in 2015, so this year was the year we got a new, slimmer design. I bought myself a 2015 model and was very pleased with the performance and upgradability (I upgraded it to 32GB of RAM). This new design brings along with it a new thermal design that improves the system’s ability to handle thermals while getting thinner. The XPS 15 has long been Dell’s go-to PC for power users that aren’t looking for a gaming system, in fact I’ve recommended it to many of my friends in the sound and film production fields because it is sleek and powerful.

As a part of this new design, Dell has shrunken the footprint by 6% and included a 16:10 aspect ratio, meaning that you now get more vertical pixels on the display than before while having a smaller more compact laptop. Additionally, it has pulled 3mm out of the height of the laptop while still maintaining the same thermal performance as the previous generation which is difficult to do because that usually means thinner coolers with less cooling capacity, but not here. The XPS 15 also ships later this month with up to the NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti 4GB and the base model without it sells for $1,299.

The XPS 17 is an entirely new category for the XPS line, which now has the 13, 15 and 17. The XPS 17 makes sense for a lot of reasons, one of them being that Apple needs a competitor in the 16” category and the Dell XPS 17 because of its design is actually competitive with many 15.6 and 16” notebooks in physical dimensions when closed even though it has a considerably larger display size. The XPS 17 is a 374.5 x 280 x 19.5mm Notebook while the MacBook Pro 16 is 357.9 x 245.9mm x 16.2mm. The XPS 17 is 4.6 lbs while the MacBook Pro 16 comes in at 4.3lbs, so they are remarkably similar in weight and dimensions with the MacBook having a very slight edge but a whole 1” smaller display. 

The XPS 17 has a new extremely large vapor chamber for cooling, which increases the TDP of the laptop by almost 20 Watts. This allows for the 17” version to accommodate a more powerful GPU with support for the NVIDIA RTX 2060, which is part of the most current generation of NVIDIA Graphics. I for one welcome this addition because getting an RTX series GPU to the XPS series while reducing the thickness and improving the footprint. In addition to GPU upgrades, Dell is also enabling up to 64GB of RAM in the XPS 17, which is awesome for a thin powerhouse laptop.

The new XPS line also features upgraded top-firing speakers with MaxxAudio Pro by Waves and the tiny HD webcam to accommodate the edge to edge display. I am also expecting that many 17” users are going to opt for the UHD resolution way more than the 15” or even 13” users and makes total sense on a 17”. While the XPS 17 is not available yet but will be available this summer starting at $1,499. I know Moor Insights & Strategy founder and principal Analyst Patrick Moorhead will be happy with this as he has standardized on a 17 inch notebook for in-home long travel use cases.

Wrapping up…

Dell has introduced a multitude of new products for high performance that raise the bar in a myriad of ways. For me, the new XPS 17 is without a doubt one of the most exciting products to come to the XPS lineup of products, which for the first time gets a complete refresh for the 13 and 15 in the first time as they’ve traditional leap frogged one another and on top of that a new 17” is being introduced. 2020 is the year that XPS changed drastically and I believe Dell’s investments are starting to paying off more than ever.

The utilization of the NVIDIA GTX 2060 and the overall size of the XPS 17 is genuinely impressive and category-defining. The Alienware Aurora R11 going full liquid cooling also sets a new standard for Dell in gaming desktops and helps to bring the Aurora series to boutique status that no tier 1 OEM offers. The new Alienware 25 gaming monitor with 360 Hz refresh rate is also class-leading and something that I find extremely exciting for hardcore FPS gamers that want to be eSports competitive.

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