Alienware gives its Area-51 gaming PC a radical redesign

The flagship desktop from Dell's gaming arm features a new "triad" shape and the latest Intel Haswell-E Extreme Edition processors.


Alienware was once known for its radical gaming PC designs, but it seems like the company has treaded water a bit in that area since it was acquired by Dell several years ago. That's not to say that Alienware hasn't offered some interesting laptops and small-form-factor systems recently; rather, the updates it's made to its flagship Area-51 over the years have been minor nips and tucks rather than a radical facelift.

But that's all changed with the latest upgrade, which throws caution to the wind and completely overhauls the gaming PC. As the picture above shows, gone is the traditional tower shape the Area-51 has had for years and years -- no matter how spaceship-themed it may have looked -- and in its place is what Alienware is calling a "triad" design that looks more like a silver monolith. It's the type of eye-grabbing design that Alienware wannabes put out to get on the map, but this well-established player claims there's more to the shape than just aesthetics.

It says there are two advantages to the new triad format. One is ergonomics, not only in terms of making it easier to reach rear ports with the attached grips, but also in terms of improving the upgrade process with side panels that are easily accessible. The other is airflow to combat the ever-vexing thermal issues that high-performance rigs have to deal with. Alienware claims that the triad design lets more hot air to escape the chassis than the traditional tower allows.

The Area-51 redesign is timed to coincide with Intel's release of its latest high-end processors, the Haswell-E Extreme Edition CPUs . Alienware will offer all three new chips, including the Core i7-5960X, Intel's first eight-core desktop processor. Though the hexagon shape may cut down on some interior space, the new Area-51 can still handle up to three full-length graphics cards and up to five SSDs and/or hard drives, and a 1,500-watt power supply to juice all of those components. It also comes with built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, along with Alienware's Command Center 4.0 that allows you to customize the Area-51's lighting and now provides overclocking controls.

Beyond the Alienware website promising that it's "coming soon," the revamped Area-51 does not yet have an official release date, and pricing information has not been disclosed, either. In the meantime, you can check out CNET's hands-on preview of the new gaming rig.

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