Alienware Alpha Compact Desktop i3/GTX860 = $399

chizow

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That wouldn't be a concern. TDP is measured with the GPU as well. You can put an 84W CPU in there without any cooling issues, and stock is 35W.

It would be a concern if the tiny HSF is rated for say, 40W before the CPU/GPU start throttling. Enabling the iGPU would basically cause either the iGPU and/or the CPU to start throttling much sooner rather than letting just the CPU use the entire 40W power envelope.

This is common phenomena in all of these new Intel small form factor devices, the latest NUC for example performs worst with Broadwell HD6100 despite better theoretical specs compared to last-gen BRIX 4770R because the power envelope on the NUC is lower than the BRIX.

http://anandtech.com/show/9166/intel-nuc5i7ryh-broadwellu-iris-nuc-review

You can see similar trade-offs and design decisions being made here, resulting in some surprising performance results.

http://anandtech.com/show/9117/analyzing-intel-core-m-performance
 

Ducman69

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The Alpha HSF has a fan that can ramp up though so I don't think there is risk of overheating but rather it might just run noisier, whereas the NUC is fanless and just throttles. That is my one complaint about my NUC is that it can get pretty damn hot, and I would be perfectly happy if it were just 10mm thicker and used a slow spinning fan like the alpha or other laptops exhausting out the back (fans don't have to be noisy afterall) or just a bigger heatsink.

Small is good, but tiny with sacrifices is not.
 

chizow

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The Alpha HSF has a fan that can ramp up though so I don't think there is risk of overheating but rather it might just run noisier, whereas the NUC is fanless and just throttles. That is my one complaint about my NUC is that it can get pretty damn hot, and I would be perfectly happy if it were just 10mm thicker and used a slow spinning fan like the alpha or other laptops exhausting out the back (fans don't have to be noisy afterall) or just a bigger heatsink.

Small is good, but tiny with sacrifices is not.

NUC isn't fanless, its just a smaller HSF/fan

http://www.legitreviews.com/intel-nuc-kit-nuc5i5ryk-review-broadwell-comes-nuc_158261/2

But the Alpha is going to run into the same issues, especially if someone tries to put a full blown 84W Haswell part in there and expects to also use the iGPU, when the Alpha HSF already shows signs of throttling with ONLY a faster CPU (no iGPU).

This is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in understanding how Intel balances CPU/GPU performance using a shared TDP envelope.

http://anandtech.com/show/9166/intel-nuc5i7ryh-broadwellu-iris-nuc-review/7

Basically, in TDP limited situations, you're stealing from Peter to pay Paul by using the iGPU.
 

Cecil

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NUC isn't fanless, its just a smaller HSF/fan

http://www.legitreviews.com/intel-nuc-kit-nuc5i5ryk-review-broadwell-comes-nuc_158261/2

But the Alpha is going to run into the same issues, especially if someone tries to put a full blown 84W Haswell part in there and expects to also use the iGPU, when the Alpha HSF already shows signs of throttling with ONLY a faster CPU (no iGPU).

This is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in understanding how Intel balances CPU/GPU performance using a shared TDP envelope.

http://anandtech.com/show/9166/intel-nuc5i7ryh-broadwellu-iris-nuc-review/7

Basically, in TDP limited situations, you're stealing from Peter to pay Paul by using the iGPU.

The difference is, the Alpha is only throttling due to lack of power, not temps. There is barely any throttling using an 84W I7, and temps are high but not at the throttling level for temps. There is no way period a 35W or even the 65W S and T models would have heat issues from using the IGP if they were able to.
In handbrake my stock i3's temps don't even touch 70C. If the IGP were able to be used, that would put it at most in the high 70s, still not throttling range.
 

chizow

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The difference is, the Alpha is only throttling due to lack of power, not temps. There is barely any throttling using an 84W I7, and temps are high but not at the throttling level for temps. There is no way period a 35W or even the 65W S and T models would have heat issues from using the IGP if they were able to.
In handbrake my stock i3's temps don't even touch 70C. If the IGP were able to be used, that would put it at most in the high 70s, still not throttling range.

If you read the NUC review you'd see temps are not the only factor to determine throttling, there's clearly BIOS/microcode settings preventing the chips from running at full clock speeds, basically it is like Nvidia's Power Target, the NUC is limited to what it can pull from the wall even though the absolute Tj is no where close to being breached, Broadwell Iris 6100 and the CPU are clearly being throttled when they hit ~50W power target envelope.
 

Modred189

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Anyone used one of these next to a Q6600?
I'm wondering if it's the upgrade I think it is. My parents have an old, GIANT dell desktop with a Q6600, and I think they are going to be looking for a replacement. My father does some DSLR/lightroom work, VERY amateur (no HDR or batch edits, etc). But that's about as exciting as it gets. I was thinking the higher clocks and newer tech in the Core i5 or i3 version might be a good upgrade for them. Probably upgrade the ram first, of course.
 

Krig

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I went from a Q6600 to the i3 Alpha, and am very pleased with its performance so far. I do a small amount of photography as well, (Pixelmator/GIMP) but that is mostly on my 2011 Macbook Pro with an i5 2415M. The two compare very closely to one another, so I would assume that the lighter work would be fine on the Alpha.
 

Ducman69

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Anyone used one of these next to a Q6600?
I'm wondering if it's the upgrade I think it is. My parents have an old, GIANT dell desktop with a Q6600, and I think they are going to be looking for a replacement. My father does some DSLR/lightroom work, VERY amateur (no HDR or batch edits, etc). But that's about as exciting as it gets. I was thinking the higher clocks and newer tech in the Core i5 or i3 version might be a good upgrade for them. Probably upgrade the ram first, of course.
Well, remember this is designed for HTPC/console use really first and foremost.

I bought three Q6600 G0's (the "efficient" ones) back in the day overclocked, and while it was a beast, its still old.

The i3-T (means super thermal/power efficient) is a little faster then the Q6600 using all cores, and per core about twice as fast.

We're talking 22nm vs 65nm technology here, so while the Q6600 was designed to be a dump truck, it just can't compare to even Intel's i3 today... which you could probably run about three i3 processors for the juice/heat of just one Q6600. What they will likely notice most though is that the motherboard is very efficient when it comes to boot speed (old motherboards in the Q6600 era were not) and if you upgrade to a SSD they will be blown away by how lightning quick everything seems... with the stock slow drive, they are likely to be unimpressed.

BTW, regarding rendering, in Adobe suite at least you get GPU assisted performance.
 

Cecil

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If you read the NUC review you'd see temps are not the only factor to determine throttling, there's clearly BIOS/microcode settings preventing the chips from running at full clock speeds, basically it is like Nvidia's Power Target, the NUC is limited to what it can pull from the wall even though the absolute Tj is no where close to being breached, Broadwell Iris 6100 and the CPU are clearly being throttled when they hit ~50W power target envelope.

Isnt that exactly what I was saying about the Alpha? Its not throttling because of temps, which is what was said about using the IGP (that its heatsink wouldn't handle it).
 

Zohar78

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Anyone used one of these next to a Q6600?
I'm wondering if it's the upgrade I think it is. My parents have an old, GIANT dell desktop with a Q6600, and I think they are going to be looking for a replacement. My father does some DSLR/lightroom work, VERY amateur (no HDR or batch edits, etc). But that's about as exciting as it gets. I was thinking the higher clocks and newer tech in the Core i5 or i3 version might be a good upgrade for them. Probably upgrade the ram first, of course.

i went form a q8200 with ati 6850 to this.. in single and double thread/core programs/apps, its going to be significant faster, up to like 72% faster. if something fully uses all cores of the q6600 vs the i3 version, i3 still wins by a slim margin. The i5 version should still smoke it there.. i believe.
 

Cecil

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Got back from Microcenter with an i5-4590S, m.2 SSD - SATA adapter, and an extra 4GB stick of 1.35v ram. Have about $575 in it now. Will check how frame rates change in a couple games.
 

chizow

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Isnt that exactly what I was saying about the Alpha? Its not throttling because of temps, which is what was said about using the IGP (that its heatsink wouldn't handle it).

Re-Read what I wrote, I didn't mention anything about temps or Tj being the limiter, I said the HSF was rated for a certain thermal envelope, in W, and that enabling the iGPU would hit that rated W much faster. That's what you're up against, not only the hard Tj of the processor, but whatever Alienware has set as the thermal envelope of the entire CPU/GPU package.

But best of luck trying to get it to do what you want it to do!
 

Cecil

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I5-4590S is in. As expected gaming performance didn't change much, but handbrake performance is much better.

Gaming,
min / avg / max

Crysis 3 1080P 2xMSAA High texture medium system spec
i3 - 27 / 34.6 / 51
i5 - 27 / 37.3 / 52

Tomb Raider 1080P 2xSSAA all ultra hair normal
i3 - 20.7 / 27 / 35
i5 - 20.7 / 27.4 / 36

RUST Classic 1080P Fantastic US East 1 server
i3 - 28 / 56 / 93
i5 - 34 / 66 / 105

Heaven 1080P DX11 Quality Ultra Tesselation Extreme 2xAA
i3 - 13.2 / 24.9 / 52.9 - Score 627
i5 - 6.8 / 25.1 / 63.1 - Score 631

Handbrake
22GB BR-Rip medium speed 22 quality MKV
i3 - 2 hours 30 minutes @ 2.9Ghz both cores low 70s temps
i5 - 1 hour 20 minutes @ 3.1Ghz all 4 cores low to mid 80s temps


I would still recommend at least an i5 for gaming, as it makes alt/tabbing and multitasking a lot faster. Higher temps by about 10C has the fans spinning up some more, but with its small size it should be easy for most to place it further away some where. Im going to get a wall mounted shelf to place it and my external drives and BR drive.
 

Ducman69

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I wonder why your minimum framerate on Heaven dipped so low. Hmmm...
Cecil said:
As expected gaming performance didn't change much
Well yeah, we knew that from the i3 vs i5 vs i7 Alienware factory options that framerates in most games were about the same.
Cecil said:
I would still recommend at least an i5 for gaming, as it makes alt/tabbing and multitasking a lot faster
Did you upgrade to 8GB of RAM and a SSD at the same time, or at all? IMO those help most switching between apps and what not, and I don't usually see the processor pegged in device manager for regular use stuff (email, some browsers, chats, word, etc... didn't do anything multitasking hardcore like rendering or anything, as I have a beefy big tower for that).

The OC of the video card gives the most benefit for gaming, takes 30 seconds, and is free. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_5PB73ZdV8
^ Although on Crysis 3 now and then on occasion the i5 showed an advantage, but nothing night/day and 99% of the time its neck and neck framerates.
 
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Cecil

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I wonder why your minimum framerate on Heaven dipped so low. Hmmm...

Well yeah, we knew that from the i3 vs i5 vs i7 Alienware factory options that framerates in most games were about the same.

Did you upgrade to 8GB of RAM and a SSD at the same time, or at all? IMO those help most switching between apps and what not, and I don't usually see the processor pegged in device manager for regular use stuff (email, some browsers, chats, word, etc... didn't do anything multitasking hardcore like rendering or anything, as I have a beefy big tower for that).

Heaven can have random drops like that depending on the run. I didn't bother to run again, as if it didn't drop that once, it would have maybe been 1-2 more points and a tenth or two to the average.

I have 8GB and a Sandisk M.2 256GB SSD (in an adapter). The stock HDD was so slow, Rust failed to run the first two times I tried it, and took over 10 minutes to load the server the third time lol. I did the ram and SSD first, tested, then swapped the CPUs.
 

Ducman69

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http://www.frys.com/product/8289406?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG

Price:$398.00

I wish Microcenter had done what Frys is doing here, and limiting 1 per customer. That microcenter sale, according to an employee one guy came in and bought out the entire stock of the store. >:|

PS: The alpha has been running like a champ BTW, my one complaint thought which is a major oversight for a HTPC IMO was that they didn't include an IR remote. I know they meant for it just to be a console, but we watch TV on it in Windows Media Center with a Logitech Smart Remote on a HDHomeRun Prime TV tuner, and its a shame you have to buy a IR receiver and plug it into a USB port. On the plus side, I plugged in a cheapass one I had sitting around, and it works like a champ, turning on and off the Alpha, flipping channels, navigating menus, everything very snappy. Using a Edimax AC1200 USB wifi adapter though, as I found it was faster than the built in wifi card... got 20MB/s transfers to the upstairs router on the built in, and 30MB/s on the edimax which is more than fast enough and pretty nice IMO considering how far away it is from the router.
 

Cecil

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I picked up this triple wall shelf mount on Amazon for $45. The alpha fits nicely on one shelf, using the other for external drives and a USB hub, and the last shelf for my X1. Instead of having two 4' wide desks next to each other, I can now move one of them out of here.
 

Etherton

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Cheetah makes some really nice wall mounts. I use them quite a bit.
 

chizow

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How many parts can there possibly be in a NUC? :D

lol quite a few, which is why the NUC ends up being kind of expensive especially relative to this Alpha:

1) 240GB Crucial m500 mSATA SSD
2) 2.5" Sandisk 240GB Extreme II SSD (would just transfer this over)
3) 2x4GB Crucial Vengeance DDR3L
4) Intel AC7260 Wi-Fi/BT (would just sell this with it)
5) Win7 x64 Ultimate

But yeah that's part of the reason why the Alpha is such a fantastic deal overall, it includes everything and even has a really competent dGPU and the 360 controller with wireless adapter, and full version of Win8.1 non-Pro
 

Ocellaris

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lol quite a few, which is why the NUC ends up being kind of expensive especially relative to this Alpha:

1) 240GB Crucial m500 mSATA SSD
2) 2.5" Sandisk 240GB Extreme II SSD (would just transfer this over)
3) 2x4GB Crucial Vengeance DDR3L
4) Intel AC7260 Wi-Fi/BT (would just sell this with it)
5) Win7 x64 Ultimate

But yeah that's part of the reason why the Alpha is such a fantastic deal overall, it includes everything and even has a really competent dGPU and the 360 controller with wireless adapter, and full version of Win8.1 non-Pro

Yeah that just looks like someone went balls deep into a NUC without thinking about it.
 

chizow

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Yeah that just looks like someone went balls deep into a NUC without thinking about it.

Nah, that's just what it costs to build a NUC, like I said, I built it last year long before the Alpha came along and it has worked great for what I used it for which is mainly HTPC/DVR. Some of the stuff I already had, and the DDR3L I'd move to the Alpha if I bought it, put the 4GB into the NUC etc.
 

Staples

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Nice deal on the i3 but I'd really like to get $100 off the i5/8GB version.
 

Ducman69

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Nice deal on the i3 but I'd really like to get $100 off the i5/8GB version.
Wish granted: http://slickdeals.net/f/7827751-ali...x-860m-1tb-sata-6gb-s-wireless-ac-7265-508-79

Would you like fries with that?

Its $108 more for a quad core CPU, 4 gb more RAM, upgraded wifi card, and 500 gb more HDD space. I hear the hard drive is just as slow though, but you can probably resell it or put it in a $15 USB3 enclosure from Amazon and just use it as a portable drive and still stick a SSD in there, and that's still not that expensive for the other three upgrades combined. Heck, if I could get enough resale on my Intel NUC, I'd gladly upgrade it to another Alpha, except the NUC does have IR built in which the Alpha stupidly does not and you have to use a USB IR if you have a Logitech Harmony or something.
 
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Staples

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Thank you for the link. I find the price difference worth it. Now I am really interested in buying this machine as my daily driver.
 

Ducman69

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Does this model have the 32GB SSD cache? Some reviews mention it and some don't.
Where does it say it did? I would think they would advertise if it was a SSHD, as those are more expensive and would certainly be desirable.

Also, I don't even KNOW of a SSHD that is only 7mm thick, I thought the 1TB Seagate SSHD was 9mm, and so wouldn't even fit. Hmmm... my money is on no.
 

JNavy89GT

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Question for those of u with an alpha. Just got mine going last night. I get tech upgrade funds from work every two years and I blew mine on this alpha, a ssd and another 4gb dimm. Plan to add a nice screen once I figure out what I have left over in $. So for now just using my Acer 24" 144mhz screen. My issue is that I can only max my refresh at 60mhz. Is this BC there are only HDMI monitor outputs? Is my HDMI cable not good enough. I just grab bed a spare I had an I'm unsure of what spec it is. I tried searching max refresh over HDMI but couldn't find my answer. Sorry for spelling issues. On my tablet which likes to automiscorrect
 

iRUSH

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HDMI is capped at 60hz. Dvi-d is what you'll need for higher refresh rate monitors.
 

JNavy89GT

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so since the Alpha only has HDMI connectors, am I screwed on getting over 60mhz? Or could I get a DVI-d to HDMI cable and use the DVI-d end on my monitor, and the HDMI on the computer end and get 144mhz?
 

MrGuvernment

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I'd rather invest a bit more and have the best graphics a game is capable of producing. It's the only reason I game on PC, otherwise I'd only own a PS4.
I guess you get the benefit of Steam deals and a huge library of older titles too but in all reality, I'd question how long it could hold PS4 level graphics and frame rates as newer games keep coming out.

Is an i3/860m going to play GTA 5 at 30fps with same graphical settings as PS4 version? I dunno, but I would question it before purchase.

I have a sager laptop with an 860M and GTA looked pretty good, cause the one in my sager also has 4Gig of VRAM. I havent seen a Ps4 version, but looked good to me..

On that note i also have an i7 in my sager laptop :D
 
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