Alienware Area 51 Threadripper Edition review

Alienware Area 51 Threadripper Edition review

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

The Alienware Area 51 gaming desktop is always a spectacle, but this year it will be the only one with AMD’s new Threadripper processors. As a result, Alienware will be the only major hardware maker with exclusive access to the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and AMD’s other high-core count CPUs.

Not Lenovo, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Apple, or any other major computer manufacturer. Just Alienware.

The agreement excludes boutique system builders like Origin PC in the US and Overclockers in the UK, so you can still buy Threadripper processors from computer stores. Though Threadripper is extremely exclusive, it is the ultimate upgrade for Alienware Area 51 for content creators and gamers alike; however, all that power will cost you dearly.

SPEC SHEET

Here is the Alienware Area 51 configuration sent to us for review:

CPU: 3.4GHz AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X (16-core, 32MB cache, up to 4.2GHz)

Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti

RAM: 32GB (DDR4 2,667MHz)

Motherboard: AMD X399

Power Supply: Alienware 1500 watt 80-plus Gold

Storage: 256GB SSD, 2TB HDD (7,200 rpm)

Optical drive: Tray-loading dual-layer Blu-ray reader

Ports (front): 2 x USB 3.1 Gen. 1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, headphone jack, microphone jack, SD card reader

Ports (rear): 6 x USB 3.1 Gen. 1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen. 2 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen. 2 Type-C, 2 x USB 2.0, 3 x DisplayPort, HDMI, optical audio out, surround sound audio jacks

Connectivity: Dell 1820 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1

Operating system: Windows 10

Weight: 61.73 pounds (28kg)

Size: 10.7 x 25.2 x 22.4 inches (27.2 x 63.9 x 56.9cm; W x D x H)

Design

dell area 51 desktop pc

Since Area 51 was first released in 2014, Alienware’s triad design hasn’t changed much, but it also hasn’t become stale. HP Omen X, which is a cuboid desktop that stands on an edge, is the most outlandish PC yet – and this includes the HP Omen X.

Alienware’s flagship desktop isn’t as small as some dual-system cases, such as the EVGA DG-87 or Cooler Master’s Cosmos II 25th Anniversary Edition. Area 51’s empty chassis weighs 61.73lb (28kg) and its side panels could double as heat shields, so everything about this desktop is large.

This big brute is also clever. The components inside Area 51 are pitched at a 45-degree angle to maximize airflow. Using this system, air can be drawn directly to the CPU liquid-cooler, as well as pushed directly to the GPU(s) blowers.

As the power supply and other fans are not located on the bottom panel of the desktop, you won’t have to worry about ground clearance.

Upgradability

Upgrades to Area 51 are virtually tool-free, just like those to the Alienware Aurora R5. Adding a second graphics card is as simple as unlocking the expansion slots and tightening the thumbscrews on the GPU bracket. Even the water-cooling bracket features thumbscrews for easy installation of storage and memory.

For those who splurged on the 1,500-watt power supply, the only thing they need a screwdriver for is replacing the power supply.

BENCHMARKS

3DMark: Sky Diver: 48,500; Fire Strike: 21,661; Time Spy: 9,273

Cinebench CPU: 2994 points; Graphics: 118 fps

GeekBench: 4,390 (single-core); 30,434 (multi-core)

PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,888 points

Total War: Warhammer (1080p, Ultra): 100; (1080p, Low): 236 fps

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (1080p, Ultra): 28 fps; (1080p, Low): 117 fps

Game Mode testing

3DMark: Sky Diver: 39,619; Fire Strike: 18,324; Time Spy: 9,048

Cinebench CPU: 1,589 points; Graphics: 94 fps

GeekBench: 4,464 (single-core); 24,163 (multi-core)

PCMark 8 (Home Test): 4,065 points

Total War: Warhammer (1080p, Ultra): 110 fps; (1080p, Low): 265 fps

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (1080p, Ultra): 28 fps; (1080p, Low): 128 fps

Performance

Area 51’s 16-core AMD Threadripper 1950X does more than just show off. This is the most powerful computer we’ve ever tested since this processor has four times as many cores as any pre-built PC we’ve tested before.

 Area 51 outperforms both the Corsair One and MSI Aegis 3, which also runs the latest quad-core, seventh-generation Intel processors, in benchmark tests and in-game frame rates.

Due to its last-generation Intel Core i7-6850K Extreme processor, the Origin Millennium performs better than the Area 51 in graphics-intensive tests, an achievement made possible by its two Nvidia GTX 1080 GPUs running in SLI.

Although the Threadripper 1950X is powerful, you should be aware of the mode in which the processor is running.

The flagship AMD processor can be set to a Creative or Game mode, as we discussed in our review. In order to increase frame rates in-game, the latter shuts off half of the CPU’s cores and switches to a more traditional memory access protocol. We found, however, that the processor and this gaming PC’s Game Mode offered negligible performance gains for anything but real-time strategy games.

Beyond benchmarks, the Alienware Area 51 is an exceptionally capable gaming PC. Using it, we were able to edit images, videos, and play games. Battlefield 1 ran without any frame rate issues at 4K with ultra settings and we thoroughly enjoyed the beautifully rendered world at war. The game sat at around 27fps at 4K and 58fps at 1440p when everything was cranked up in Rising of the Tomb Raider.

As a result, performance will vary between games, but with some tweaks, you should have a playable experience with everything.

Pros Cons
Designed for mega-tasking Absurdly expensive
Record-breaking benchmark results Absolutely massive
So much space for activities

Final verdict

We have reviewed the most powerful gaming PC ever, the Alienware Area 51 Threadripper Edition. Because of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X’s price and complexity, this desktop isn’t for everyone.

These rigs will be most useful for gamers looking to become the next YouTube or Twitch star, especially if they don’t have the know-how to construct them themselves. No matter whether you play, record, stream or encode video, Threadripper can handle all of it simultaneously.

Despite its price, Area 51 is an impressively designed and customizable PC platform. The fact that it’s so awesome and easily expandable makes it a great pre-built gaming PC, and for those reasons, it’s worth checking out.