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Games Entertainment Hardware

Alienware Reveals 4GHz desktop 363

keeleysam writes "c|net is reporting that Alienware is going to ship a 4GHz desktop. The new Area-51 ALX, introduced on Friday, uses overclocking, or the practice of pushing a processor past its factory speed setting, to elevate a standard Intel Pentium 4 chip to 4GHz. Because overclocking a processor can cause it to overheat, the desktop also includes a special liquid-cooling system devised by Alienware. Purchasing the 4GHz Area-51 ALX desktop is an expensive proposition for most consumers, as the machine starts at about $4,200, according to pricing on Alienware's ALX Web site."
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Alienware Reveals 4GHz desktop

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  • Re:link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:34AM (#10168551)
    Or, alternatively, one that actually works! alx.aspx

    *shakes head at mods*
  • by Harlockjds ( 463986 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:34AM (#10168555)
    which is why it's on a desktop, not a laptop
  • by John_Allen_Mohammed ( 811050 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:36AM (#10168575)
    alienware also offers a Opteron box too, for a cool $4,964.00 - The Aurora []. Firefox doesn't seem to load that up here unfortunately, had to use IE :(
  • Re:link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Amiga Lover ( 708890 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:39AM (#10168604)
    Liebermann [] has been selling 4.2GHz [] rigs with watercooling for a while now too.

    They have P4 boxes overclocked to 4.2GHz and watercooled Athlon64 "4200+" boxes as well, for the AMD equivalent
  • Working Link (Score:2, Informative)

    by barcodez ( 580516 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:43AM (#10168634)
    Working Link []
  • Re:erm ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sumocide ( 114549 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:55AM (#10168705)
    This is a gaming rig. How many games can take advantage of SMP?

    Right, zero.
  • Re:erm ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:56AM (#10168711) Homepage Journal
    Depends on the application. There are many programs that don't take advantage of a second processor. Also, there are some tasks that can only be done linearly. A second processor only helps when instructions can be done in paralel. In those cases, the only option is "Speed Speed Speed" to get better performance.
  • The Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by manavendra ( 688020 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:57AM (#10168721) Homepage Journal
    One would have thought this would be prominently listed on their homepage. It isn't. Digging down deeper into the website (there is no search facility, mind you), here is what I found:
    1. The news [] page which mentions the 4.0 GHz CPUs Now Available in Alienware Area-51 ALX Systems.
    2. The ALX configuration page - As the name suggests you can use it to configure your desired ALX []
    Btw, the moment you choose to configure, the price shoots up to $5,458.00 (which includes ALL rebates)!
  • Re:erm ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by the unbeliever ( 201915 ) <{chris+slashdot} {at} {}> on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:16AM (#10168851) Homepage
    Quake 3 has SMP support.

    Granted, that's about *it* that I'm aware of.
  • by Str8Dog ( 240982 ) * on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:16AM (#10168852) Homepage Journal
    Alienware's dirty little secret is they are all marketing. My wife bought me one of their laptops last year based on their awesome marketing. After getting the run around on out of stock parts and waiting for damn near 2 months, the laptop came without SP1 installed, a virus in the windows system restore files and a faulty backlight switch.

    It took over a month to get the laptop back when I sent it in to get the backlight switch fixed.

    Their customer service is severly lacking. I would highly suggest you build it yourself instead of paying for Alienware's marketing department.

    You can read my whole sordid tale on this topic at my website [] along with several other peoples comments.
  • by Vireo ( 190514 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:27AM (#10168936)
    Yes. And you can buy extended warrantees, tech support, etc., just as with any other computer.
  • Re:erm ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by hobbesmaster ( 592205 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:49AM (#10169101)
    Actually, a lot of them do. Its this thing called hyperthreading that intel introduced that caused a lot of game developers to go ahead and make their games multithread friendly so that there'd be a speed increase on northwood-Cs. I have a friend (a very rich friend) that bought a dual Xeon 3.06 ghz box for his gaming system. Looking at task manager with UT2004 up shows that at least that game has multithreading support and will use all 4 virtual processors. So will Doom3... and I imagine any game using either of those game's engines will too.
  • by condition-label-red ( 657497 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:56AM (#10169139) Homepage

    Most of Alienware's notebooks are re-branded Sagers (which are made by Clevo). A couple of years ago I got a Sager from PowerNotebooks [] and a few weeks later Alienware came out with a near identical notebook (their original Area 51-M) for about $1k more. Check out this [] for more details.

    As always--It pays to shop around!

  • by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @12:07PM (#10169218) Homepage
    Well, there's always fluke accidents.

    I just got a new alienware, and while there were some hastles ACTUALLY BUYING IT, it works excellently. Its running amazingly, but this could just be afterglow from a new computer after living with a 1ghz 384mb RAM geforce1 64mb ddr for 5 years.

    Ok, onto the story.

    So I talk to the guy on the phone after creating a system on the website. Never order a computer just off a website, always speak to someone.

    He gave me a quote, and a promised ship date of August 6th.

    Then calls back a couple days later, explaining that the ship date will have to be later because they're having trouble getting the nvidia card they had in stock. I chose that card because it had a MUCH shorter ship date than the ATI card which was limited availability, but a little more expensive. So he says he'll switch me for the ATI card, which he apparently has in stock and now according to the webpage, has the ship date that the Nvidia chip had, and the Nvidia chip is now limited availability.

    Now, aside from not understanding HOW THE HELL THIS COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN, he did knock about a hundred off the card.

    Then, few days later we find out it will ship later than the 6th, because they have to "test" the computer. I'm furious. The reason I need this computer BY THE 18TH of August was because I needed to transfer files to it before I came up to school with it.

    They refuse to airship it because of potential damage, and I get the guys supervisor on the line. Now, the thing with these guys is, they're all based in Florida, and the guys on the phone are all mexican. Now, I don't like stereotyping, but apparently Alienware does. All of the Mexican guys use a fake American Sounding (TM) name instead of their real Mexican Sounding (TM) name. I can only guess that the Marketing Department at Alienware thought it would make the parents feel more comfortable buying a system from them.

    I dunno. Anyways, it ships, finally, after me telling the guy that if it doesn't ship by this date, he'd better drive it up from Florida (to IL) himself to get it to me on time. So then we find out that the $150 rebate he promised, couldn't be done. So he gave us a $75 rebate and a $75 coupon from Amazon, because my father uses that heavily and it wouldn't be a problem.

    Anyways, then when the thing ships, it looks like the speakers will arrive before the computer, and the computer won't arrive on time apparently. So then I go through some HUGE hastles with UPS who are completely incompetent and don't even know where their packages are.

    Finally, the computer arrives, but its missing the $75 rebate, (the $75 amazon coupon shipped Express in its own UPS envelope and arrived a day earlier) and its also missing the keys to lock the tower (not that that would ACTUALLY stop someone who REALLY wanted to gain access to the front, as I could just snap the door off).

    Finally, they mail everything to me. But its over, and I enjoy my new box.

  • by CTho9305 ( 264265 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @01:03PM (#10169584) Homepage
    CPUs are speed binned by the manufacturer based on rigourous tests done in worst-case conditions (highest allowed temperature, lowest voltage).

    There are 3 things that let you overclock in normal situations:
    1. If the CPU works at 2.99GHz, but not 3.0GHz, it has to be sold as one speed grade down. This CPU would be perfectly stable up to 2.99GHz.
    2. If the environment you run in is not in the worst-case corner (you keep it cool, with good power supplied to the CPU), you'll be able to get a few extra percent.
    3. When the manufacturer tests the CPU, they know all the worst-case instruction sequences and critical paths. When an overclocker does a stability test, it's extremely likely that they're missing various speed paths, and eventually something WILL use one of those paths, and you get data corruption. Using games as tests and seeing if they crash is absolutely not thorough - if every floating point operation was coming out slightly incorrect, you probably wouldn't notice, but the CPU is in fact not operating properly. Why is it that overclockers with "perfectly stable" overclocks always seem to end up having more apps crashing / more problems with "Windows sucking"?

    If an OEM wants to sell a reliable machine, they'd have to do all the testing the CPU manufacturer does - the only thing they could do is guarantee a better max temperature/minimum voltage, but why bother? They're likely to gain at best 5% performance for significantly more effort.
  • by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @01:06PM (#10169605)
    The CPUspeed daemon on Linux automatically scales my CPUs voltage and frequency depending on the system load, but I use a Pentium 4 based laptop. The Transmeta Crusoe has similar capabilities.

    Anyway, its completely automatic, so I don't have to do anything. However, for those that want to tweak, you can hack kernel options, or use a separate program called "Laptop Mode". Note you don't need to use laptop mode with an actual laptop. Laptop mode has great features for tweaking harddrive power save features. Just google it, its great stuff.
  • Re:erm ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @02:06PM (#10169970)
    There's a difference in using all virtual processors and using all the virtual processors.

    Right now every single process runnin in WinXp on my machine is using both "processors" on my 2.6ghz P4.

    When I play games... the same thing. BUT... that does NOT mean that the games are actually taking advantage of the hyperthreading support - it just means that Windows is sending operations to both "processors".

    The game would need to be developed specifically for use with dual cores/processors to take full advantage. Even benchmarks have shown that using hyperthreading with some programs make them perform poorly compared to normal usage, even though they are runnin on all virtual processors.
  • Re:G5 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @06:27PM (#10171848)
    Most games see very little performance improvement from a second CPU. Since the game is the CPU heavy process, and since the other processes running behind the scene are extremely light on the CPU... even though the second CPU runs these ultra-light processes, it makes very little difference. The bottle kneck is still one of the CPUs in your system.

    So when it comes to games that run on both systems, the highest end Pentium or AMD based systems will by far out perform the highest end Mac.

    Finally, considering that this entire article resides within and that Alienware targets gamers... it should be assumed that performance is with regards to games. In fact, considering that performance varies for every system depending on the tasks it is used for... performance is ALWAYS relative to the task. Some systems are better at server stuff, some better at games, some better at office apps, some better at graphics apps, etc.

    Computer performance is hardly a one-dimensional attribute.
  • by syrrys ( 738867 ) <> on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:05PM (#10172995) Journal
    I used the exact specs of last years Area 51 and built my buddy's PC for $1200 less the AW was charging. That is including the liquid cooling system. The case I bought is almost identical except for the dumb alien design. I dont know why anyone would ever buy a pre fab PC. You can just pay some geeklikemeto put it together for you.
  • by paulm ( 37073 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:09PM (#10173025)
    Me and some of my friends each bought Alienware computers a couple of years ago. Without fail, each of us had a horrible experience with them.

    The way they assemble things is very shoddy, and they must have some sort of ESD issues at their assembly facility - we all had extremely short lifetimes on motherboards and cpus - usually measured in months.

    These weren't overclocked machines that we purchased, but they were at the time AWs highest end computers.

    To make things worse (much worse!) their support is horrible. It takes 3 transfers to be able to talk to anybody who knows anything about your situation when you are in the middle of a component replacement. Their "on-site" replacement means that they hire out whomever is cheapest in your area to replace the myriad of things which break on their boxes. As a bonus, they continually change who they outsource their support services too, so the quality varies a lot, but it certainly is consistent at the low end.

    One more thing - if you ever even mention, that you might have, at one time, considered getting a linux installation disk anywhere near your AW box, they will instantly refuse to help in anyway, no matter how obvious the hardware problem.

    When it comes to responsibility, they just want to deny, deny, deny.

    Just so you know - I don't now, and never have worked for AW or any of their competitors. I'm just a very unhappy consumer of one of their crappy products. I hate them, and I don't want to see anybody else burned.


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