Alienware Alpha Compact Desktop i3/GTX860 = $399

Krig

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Ive been wanting to upgrade for some time now, and since I don't really play the latest and greatest games this looks like a nice upgrade for me. Knowing that my current setup is 7 years old (Q6600, along with a simple HD5570 I had to throw in when the original card died) Im just wondering if this would be just right, or if I should go ahead with my own build.

Consider the newest game I play is Skyrim, and I would like to have that look nice.
 

Ducman69

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Anything you get now will crap all over the old system. Yes, the i3 is about 40% faster than that Q6600 @ stock 2.4ghz, and massively more power efficient. The GPU is I'd guess three times faster.

The best answer to that question is:
1) Do you care about size/noise much? This is very small and virtually silent.
2) Do you care about upgradability? You have a proprietary case/motherboard/PSU and fixed GPU, and can only ever upgrade the hard drive, CPU, and memory.
3) Do you care about resale value? A Alienware Alpha is likely to return more money to you at time to resell than a custom machine, as people have more trust in Alienware than what some random schmuck online put together, unless you part it... and even then people worry about miners and so forth.

If size is a non-issue, and you plan to keep it long enough that resale value will be moot, and you'd like to be able to upgrade components piece by piece in a few years, then you're better off building a mini-ITX, micro-ATX, or even full sized ATX system. For a budget build, there's great combos like that MSI board and overclockable Pentium for $80 and good deals on say a 280 for $160.

If you want a really small HTPC that has XBone/PS4+ gaming capability or something that is going to sit on your desk and take up very little space or that you can toss in a bag and bring with you places that's about the size of a Wii U, then this is a great deal.

BTW, typing this from the Alpha running W7 Pro 64bit w/ 8GB of RAM and a SSD. Woot! If you just want an SSD, I believe there is an "Alienrecovery" tool preinstalled that you can make a bootable USB stick from and reinstall that factory image on a new hard drive. I like the Alienware UI just fine, but I don't like the switching to desktop mode functionality, and prefer to just boot into Windows and need Media Center functionality for TV (so W7 64 is the way to go). BTW, the stock hard drive is dog slow.

Stock 5400rpm laptop drive it has:
16504707733_a8c933fc98_z.jpg

SSD, that's more like it! (there's a $89 Samsung 850 Evo 250GB on sale if you need one: http://www.frys.com/product/8310177?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG which would be faster than mine)
16503434144_17cee2c8df_z.jpg


Used my phone's stopwatch cold boot times:
Stock HardDrive, W8.1 into Alienware UI: 58 seconds... zzzzz
Stock HardDrive, W8.1 into Desktop: 33 seconds... meh
SSD upgrade, W7 Pro 64bit SP1 into desktop: 18 seconds! GIGGITY!

For comparison, XBox One cold boot time is 67 seconds.... *stabs self in eyes* Although if you only use sleep mode on all of em, then its not such a big deal.

Only weird thing is I could only get the USB stick to be recognized and even after the SSD to be recognized was to disable secureboot and use Legacy mode in bios. *shrugs* Otherwise I just followed what this guy said, no bangs in device manager: http://www.alienwarearena.com/forum...e-software/alienware-alpha-and-windows-7/last I also updated from the A00 it shipped with to A02 BIOS, as BIOS updates are safe and easy from Dell.

You can install Alienware UI on any W8.1 computer if you want to try it, but since I'm running W7 I can't. Honestly moot though IMO, because there's nothing wrong with Steam Big Picture: http://store.steampowered.com/bigpicture/

In Windows 7 at least, here's my benchmark score and settings (Ultra w/ normal tessellation @ 1080p) if you want to compare how your rig will do against this:
16506467623_716269a4d0_o.png


GPU temps hovered at 70oC during extended benchmark, and did not appear to throttle. Fan remained silent during benchmarking. In addition, I noticed that the power adapter appears to be identical to every Dell laptop adapter ever made. So in theory you probably could get one of those Alienware laptop 240 watt adapters if you needed more power for a different processor. Considering how low the fan speeds stay during benchmarking, perhaps a S-model 65watt would be fine.
 
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Predaking

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I want to play games like GTA 5 fully maxed out so a high end card is always a must for me. Otherwise I'd just get it for my PS4.
 

Ducman69

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I want to play games like GTA 5 fully maxed out so a high end card is always a must for me. Otherwise I'd just get it for my PS4.
Or sell your PS4, and buy just one copy of the game and play it in your living room on this w/ a wireless 360 controller @ 1080p (benchmarks show this exceeds PS4 framerates), and on your gaming rig in your office w/ a mouse and keyboard @ 3K or 4K or whatever monitor you have there. If both are steam, I believe your save games will pick up right where you left off. ;)
 

Ducman69

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I just noticed something else, it came with 6 free games that show up when logging into Steam.

Probably not going to play them, but neat:
Anomaly Warfare
Metro Last Light
PayDay 2
Magicka
Magicka: Wizard Wars
Strike Suit Zero
Awesomenauts

Edit: So surround sound DOES work with Windows 7 drivers. And I can't recommend it until tomorrow, as I'm going to do an overnight stress test to ensure its 100% stable as I like to be conservative, but so far for me +135 core and +495 memory (comes out to exactly 6Ghz) on Afterburner is stable and shows a little improvement. Temps peaked at 80oC at which point the fan finally ramped up and became noticeable, but not loud. Gives you about +5fps in games.

16941697209_d647d556ec_o.png
 
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Krazy925

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Any update on that stress test @duc?

Gonna pull the trigger on one for an office box for my boss. Curious as to whether it will run dota2 so I can watch the international at work this summer.
 

Predaking

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minimum 18 frames? ouch. It''s the minimums that matter most because they are the experience breakers.

Or sell your PS4, and buy just one copy of the game and play it in your living room on this w/ a wireless 360 controller @ 1080p (benchmarks show this exceeds PS4 framerates), and on your gaming rig in your office w/ a mouse and keyboard @ 3K or 4K or whatever monitor you have there. If both are steam, I believe your save games will pick up right where you left off. ;)

I already play my PC on my 55" TV with a wireless controller. Why would I buy this when I have a G20 with SSD and 970GTX sitting right next to my PS4? I was just saying I'd rather get the PS4 version of gat 5 than this alienware considering the experience I would likely get from it.
 

Damar

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So tempted to get something like this for my mother. She's using one of our old DELL office machines at home to play Scrabble and Bejeweled 3 on and the machine can barely run Bejeweled 3 without stuttering all over the place, even at minimal settings.

I would expect this to do far better since its got a real CPU/GPU compared to that "MS Office" box.
 

iRUSH

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I really wish I hadn't read through this thread. This is exactly what I've been looking for. I don't need this, but just want an attractive compact design and an i3/750ti combo is comically stout for its specs.

Can I use this like a regular PC too?
 

Ducman69

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minimum 18 frames? ouch. It''s the minimums that matter most because they are the experience breakers.
I think there's some confusion. That's just a benchmark tool set to "ultra" benchmark not a video game. Its just so that you can run your own rig at those settings (its a free benchmark) and see how it stacks up performance wise. :)

Obviously you'd set gameplay settings in actual games for either 30fps or 60fps as is your preference.

As gamespot shows, in actual games set to the same graphics quality as the PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, you get higher frame rates (on average 170% higher framerates), or you can up the graphics higher than the console and run the same 30+fps:
http://www.gamespot.com/articles/550-alienware-alpha-vs-ps4-and-xbox-one-graphics-c/1100-6422982/

This is not a high performance gaming rig (my watercooled 295x2 which costs almost double this whole PC obviously rapes it), but the Xbox One and PS4 definitely aren't either and so are not difficult to beat. This is basically for people who like the Xbox One, but want something that is smaller, quieter, more powerful, in the more open and mod friendly PC ecosystem where games tend to be cheaper and you don't have to pay for Xbox live and its backwards compatible with old games and you can choose whatever heck peripherals you wanna use and so forth, if that makes sense... :)
alienware-alpha-6.JPG
 
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iRUSH

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Can choose what os this will boot to? Steam or W8.1? Very curious how this works as a regular PC too.
 

Ducman69

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Can choose what os this will boot to? Steam or W8.1? Very curious how this works as a regular PC too.
Yes and no.

1) This is just a regular PC, nothing more. It has Windows 8.1 installed on it, like any computer you'd buy in any store. The only extra thing is that they installed Alienware's UI on it, which it boots straight into and runs on top of windows as a simple GUI with mouse emulation for your Xbox controller that you can toggle on/off. Some people love the UI, me, meh... either way the hard drive is a piece of poop IMO and should be upgraded along with getting another 4GB stick of RAM on amazon.

Anyone running WIndows 8.1 can try out Alienware Alpha UI and uninstall it if you don't like it: http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=G7M8X

Obviously you'll need an Xbox controller too though.

2) It doesn't come with Steam, but you can uninstall the Alienware Alpha UI from control panel same as you would any installed program, and install Steam Big Picture and boot straight into Steam.

http://store.steampowered.com/bigpicture/setup

I prefer Steam Big Picture to Alienware UI, and I prefer Windows 7 to Windows 8, so I put in a new hard drive and just installed Windows 7 instead. You'll need to install the drivers obviously, so see my earlier post about what you need to install after putting Windows 7 on it. When Windows 10 comes out, you'll be able to upgrade to that for free.

Or if you want to install the Steam OS, you can do that too... but I don't see the point.
 
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Etherton

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Still debating this... could sell my current HTPC and recoup a chunk of this cost...
 

chrnochime

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So tempted to get something like this for my mother. She's using one of our old DELL office machines at home to play Scrabble and Bejeweled 3 on and the machine can barely run Bejeweled 3 without stuttering all over the place, even at minimal settings.

I would expect this to do far better since its got a real CPU/GPU compared to that "MS Office" box.

Same here. My folks could probably use to have something small. Although they seem to be perfectly content with the old c2d laptops with kb/m + monitor connected. Hmm...
 

Zohar78

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ordered yesterday, base model which is a really good deal at 399., its suppose to be here tomorrow... cant wait since my computer died. so whats a good ssd for it.. i saw the kingston 128gb for like 59 on newegg, so ill get the 4gb mem stick, and a ssd or a faster mechanical harddrive. Any good deals on 256gb ssd?
 

chizow

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ordered yesterday, base model which is a really good deal at 399., its suppose to be here tomorrow... cant wait since my computer died. so whats a good ssd for it.. i saw the kingston 128gb for like 59 on newegg, so ill get the 4gb mem stick, and a ssd or a faster mechanical harddrive. Any good deals on 256gb ssd?

256GB Samsung 850pro was $120 a few days ago.

250GB Samsung 850evo for $90-100 regularly

240+GB Crucial M500/M550/MX100/BX100 deals galore in the $80-90 range.

A few deals on OCZ or other lesser brand SSDs for $70-80

Just keep an eye on this forum and some of the deal sites and you can get a great 240+GB SSD for $100 or less. Don't bother with a 120-128GB SSD imo, after the OS you only have 70GB or so leftover which is only enough for a few games and/or apps...or just GTA5 lol.
 

Ducman69

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Just keep an eye on this forum and some of the deal sites and you can get a great 240+GB SSD for $100 or less. Don't bother with a 120-128GB SSD imo, after the OS you only have 70GB or so leftover which is only enough for a few games and/or apps...or just GTA5 lol.
On the bottom of the Alienware Alpha, you'll see there is a little compartment you can open.

Inside is a hollow cavity with a USB slot, which was originally made to hold the Steam controller's wireless dongle out of sight. I have a 128GB USB3 flash drive I bought for $40 or so a little while back, and that is certainly an option too if you needed to double your storage space down the road (just measure that you don't get a thumbstick that is too long to fit in the cavity). I wouldn't go out and BUY one, just get a bigger SSD at that point, but if you already have one laying around, why not?

Not as sleek, but you could also just plop the 500GB hard drive they give you in a $14 USB3 enclosure, and plug it into that Alpha: http://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-2-5-I...qid=1429277207&sr=8-3&keywords=2.5"+enclosure You'd still have SSD bootup speeds, and with the 5400rpm 500GB hard drive dedicated to ONLY pulling data for the game and nothing else, should still offer superior performance to having both your OS and games running on it. And if you do that, you could honestly get a bargain basement 64GB SSD, as that is plenty for the operating system.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/81iS+-g1ymL._SL1500_.jpg
If you put it right behind the Alpha, you wouldn't really notice it on your shelf, and if you lay it on top, the brushed aluminum isn't ugly.
 
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ganesh21

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Or sell your PS4, and buy just one copy of the game and play it in your living room on this w/ a wireless 360 controller @ 1080p (benchmarks show this exceeds PS4 framerates), and on your gaming rig in your office w/ a mouse and keyboard @ 3K or 4K or whatever monitor you have there. If both are steam, I believe your save games will pick up right where you left off. ;)

You can also stream the game from your Gaming PC to any computer on the same network. Also, you don't need to re-download the game.

I just leave on my Gaming PC in the room and play the game on my laptop with max setting.
 

Ducman69

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You can also stream the game from your Gaming PC to any computer on the same network. Also, you don't need to re-download the game.

I just leave on my Gaming PC in the room and play the game on my laptop with max setting.
Dat input lag tho....
 

JayteeBates

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Just got mine in today. Memory will be here tomorrow. Looking forward to getting rid of having the heater under my desk to play world of tanks.
 

Ducman69

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Can this rig run GTA V for PC on decent settings?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddElXlVDmd0 (remember to select 1080px60fps on youtube)

Pretty impressive IMO when you factor in that there's a little bit of overhead involved in recording your game while playing too.
Runs pretty well on the Alienware Alpha i3, busting the VRAM limit with everything in very high and MSAA off and still maintaining around 35fps downsampling from 1440p. At 1080p I hover around 50 with drops to 45.
Its about 160% the performance of an XBox One, if that helps. So its not going to compete with a 290x, but you'll have no problem blowing away the console versions that rely on integrated graphics.
 

Zohar78

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though it sounds like with only 4gb of system ram, some people are having some issues with gta 5.
 

Zohar78

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Juts got mine in, and well I like it so far.. installing some games. THe biggest hurdle is the jarring jump from vista 64bit to win 8.1. man im starting to get the hang of it, but it still feels like such a fuster cluck. I can see why people didn't take to well to windows 8/8.1.

lol. the thing i like about it most so far: Its quiet and doesn't heat my room up like my old rig did. lol
 

Ducman69

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Yup, IMO 8GB is the way to go with any modern system, with 16GB as optional but not usually necessary. 32GB+ setups are really just for specific case scenarios, like rendering massive CAD projects and the like. The other accessory I highly recommend for $25 is the K400R:
http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Wire...20&ascsubtag=69b5dff74fd7407998351a3862bffb68

Its a great cheap HTPC keyboard/touchpad. No backlight, very simple, but super long battery life, dead reliable, compact, and cmon its $25 shipped. The receiver even with the extended antenna extension that comes with it, will plug into the hidden USB slot on the bottom of the Alpha out of sight. Yes, you CAN type with the 360 controller, but why would you want to? K400 rocks for general web browsing/email/etc.
jarring jump from vista 64bit to win 8.1.
I'm guessing your Windows upgrade cycle has been:

Skip Windows 3.1, Get Windows 95, skip windows 98, Get Windows ME, Skip Windows XP, Get Windows Vista, Skip Windows 7, Get Windows 8.

Its like driving down the drag and only catching red lights at every intersection. :D

You can install this to make Windows 8.1 feel more like Windows 7:
http://www.classicshell.net/
https://www.facebook.com/classicshell/posts/473035916068603

The other thing I don't like is having to login to a computer, so you can change it so that you only have one profile not password protected that has admin rights without UAC. I've never once gotten malware, and its so much faster to boot straight to DT.
 
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Zohar78

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yeah.. ill have to check that keyboard out, for 25 bucks not tooo shabby.


yeah.. the last few years I had my hip decade away from an injury and had to get hip replacement surgery, so all my monies went to keeping a roof over my head. so when I built my pc in 2007 or early 08, vista was king.. I just never could afford another OS.
q8200 with 4gb and wd black 640gb, upgraded the graphics card from a 4850 when it died to a 6850. it was a good little system till it died a few weeks ago. kinda bummed I missed out on win 7, its what vista should have been.
 

Ducman69

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BTW, for those that "downgraded" to W7 like me, I noticed a weird issue where if I play a Youtube video it comes up 480p fine, then when I switch to 1080p the screen briefly goes blank and then comes back.

I found out that in the Nvidia control panel, if you go to "adjust desktop color display" and then change it from "content type reported" on default to desktop, the problem goes away. Might be unique to Windows 7 or my particular TV or headunit. But just a heads up if you notice that annoying bug.

Otherwise, this thing is working like a champ. :)

PS: As anyone in Houston knows, yesterday and today we've had massive thunderstorms with emergency alerts and flash flood warnings. Well, as expected we lost power several times. One nice side effect of its awesome power efficiency is that it drew so little power from my Cyberpower UPS that I could continue watching a movie no problem the whole time the power was down, lol! Seems to idle around 25-30 watt.
 

wizzi01

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yeah.. ill have to check that keyboard out, for 25 bucks not tooo shabby.


yeah.. the last few years I had my hip decade away from an injury and had to get hip replacement surgery, so all my monies went to keeping a roof over my head. so when I built my pc in 2007 or early 08, vista was king.. I just never could afford another OS.
q8200 with 4gb and wd black 640gb, upgraded the graphics card from a 4850 when it died to a 6850. it was a good little system till it died a few weeks ago. kinda bummed I missed out on win 7, its what vista should have been.

How do you know if windows 7 is what vista should have been if you never used it?
 

Zohar78

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How do you know if windows 7 is what vista should have been if you never used it?

heh... doesn't mean that you cant read news, reviews, hell a stroll through a computer store can show you some about it. Almost all complaints leveraged against vista was rectified in 7. Its also not an unknown fact that 7 pretty much ran vista code.
 

beowulf7

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Maybe the next time a sub-$400 compact PC comes around, I'll have to jump on it. My 6 y/o HTPC is showing its age. :eek:
 

Ducman69

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Looks like Microcenter has it for $299 but it's in store only:

http://www.microcenter.com/product/441416/Alienware_Alpha_Desktop_Computer
Its OOS everywhere within 3 hours of going live it seems.

Lots of reports on Slickdeals of going to store and being told that individuals would come in and buy 20+ (surely to resell on ebay), and cleared the store right out. :mad:

Dell WILL price match even after you purchase, if you're within the return period. But only for something in stock, and that price was too good to be true.
 

Zohar78

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Maybe the next time a sub-$400 compact PC comes around, I'll have to jump on it. My 6 y/o HTPC is showing its age. :eek:

it doesn't have a cd/dvd/bluray drive, if that's important it looks to be about 30 bucks for an external one.

So far the one thing I miss is dual monitors.
 
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