Alienware's tiny Alpha gaming PC gets bigger muscles... in the US

The updated Alpha R2 gets Skylake, an M.2 drive, and desktop-class graphics.

Alienware’s Alpha, the brand's tiniest desktop gaming PC, just got a big boost in power.

The Alpha R2 gets dual-core and quad-core Skylake CPUs, DDR4, and, more importantly, a faster desktop-class GPU option.

The original Alpha (reviewed here) featured an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860m along with either a dual- or quad-core Haswell CPU. The updated Alpha R2 will have two GPU options: The base version is an AMD Radeon R9 M470X with 2GB of GDDR5. That’s not a new Polaris part, but an older 28nm Bonaire-based GPU.

The higher-end Alpha will offer a GeForce GTX 960 GPU with 4GB of GDDR5. That’s not a GeForce GTX 960m laptop chip, mind you—Alienware says it's a full-on desktop part.

That makes the Alpha R2 all the more impressive, as the company has stuffed a GTX 960 into an 8 x 8 x 3-inch box.

If that still isn't enough GPU for you, Alienware says it’s added a port to the Alpha R2 that accepts the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. The Amplifier is a US$200 cabinet that lets you connect a far more powerful card, such as the GeForce GTX 1080.

No Thunderbolt 3

Curiously, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier continues to use Alienware’s proprietary connector rather than a “universal” Thunderbolt 3 connector for external graphics. Why?

Alienware’s general manager Frank Azor said the company believes that connector is the right choice today because, well, it works and it’s affordable. Azor has a point. The Amplifier can be found for US$200 and worked with the new GeForce GTX 1080 from day one practically.

Razer’s much-hyped Core external-GPU solution, which relies on Thunderbolt 3, still isn’t out half a year after its unveiling at CES and costs US$500. Admittedly the Razer Core is built like a tank and has a much smaller footprint, but, heck, for US$300, you can get yourself a decent graphics card.

The other long-overdue upgrade in the Alpha R2 is optional SSD support. The original Alpha ran a pretty pokey laptop hard drive. Alienware still offers hard drive options but adds an M.2 port so you can get up to a 1TB M.2 SSD.

The price of the Alpha R2 with Windows, Core i3, and Radeon graphics is US$599. Moving up to the GeForce GTX 960 with a quad-core Skylake elevates the price to US$749.

Unfortunately, the Australian store still lists the original spec'd systems which go from $799. There's no word on when the new spec will hit these shores.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags DellAlienware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gordon Mah Ung

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?