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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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  • by Harlockjds ( 463986 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:31AM (#10168528)
    considering how backlogged AW is i'm guessing the guy it's being shipped too purchased it last spring.
    • OC'ing a P4 to 4 ghz isn't likely to result in any noticable difference... If you're a gamer (like me), a 2 ghz+ machine works just fine, slow-downs are generally caused by graphics card/memory issues... If you do a lot of multi-tasking you're better off spending the money on a dual processor system that has 15k rpm scsis, I assure you if you do this you will see a very noticable difference. I also noticed that alienware is using a raid 0 SATA configuration -- that's just downright stupid considering the d
  • Hello World (Score:4, Funny)

    by FullMetalAlchemist ( 811118 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:32AM (#10168538)
    Ultra-Fast "Hello World" here I come...
  • Yay! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Now I can play tetris even faster!
  • wow, thanks (Score:5, Funny)

    by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:35AM (#10168560)
    glad we got a definition of overclocking. i always thought overclocking was moving my clock ahead fifteen minutes so i could get places on time. but when i figured out i had an extra fifteen minutes, i just hit snooze. then i was late again. shit. so much for overclocking.
    • by Ciqala ( 798231 )
      i did the same, except i would push it even further once i got used to the current overclocking increment. i'm not currently 10 years ahead of myself, but there are advantages, apparently longhorn is finally going to ship anytime soon... no seriously.
    • by mandos ( 8379 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:22AM (#10168900) Homepage
      On the last day of high school we "over clocked" the classroom's clock while the teacher was back in the dark room. Got to leave an hour early that day...
    • Re:wow, thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:50AM (#10169108) Homepage
      Well, in all seriousness, the reason they give that definition of overclocking is because the PR people who made this press release want to be sure that all the kiddies who THINK they're cool computer geeks who know computers, don't know a damn thing, but have lots of disposable income (ie. parents who spoil), will understand that "this is a good excuse to charge more for it because you get the most TOP OF THE LINE XTREME GAMING MACHINE THAT THE WORLD HAS TODAY!!!! DUDE!!!!

      And yes, I say this as I type from my brand new Alienware. The trick is, they make solid machines still (they always did, thats how they got started), but you completely overpay for the gaming case, so get a "home office" setup instead. Its a helluva lot cheaper with the same components, and a Dragon case instead of a custom one so its easier to work with.

      And before some troll posts something along the lines of "well, real computer geeks BUILD their computers", I respond, "I'd get more money than I'd save if I build my own by working, and I don't really have freetime for it. But rest assured, I've built my own before, and its not THAT exciting."

      • Re:wow, thanks (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AndyChrist ( 161262 )
        Also, you don't really save THAT much money. (and all of it can be eaten up by shipping if you're buying parts from multiple vendors) The only way you're going to be saving enough to make it look like a winning proposition is if you're comparing it to a vendor like Alienware, who charge a premium for at least one of two things...exotic configurations hardly anyone uses; or the name on the box.

        Go with a beige-box type retailer (who usually have boxes other than beige these days) and you'll be paying like

      • the reason they give that definition of overclocking is because the PR people who made this press release...

        Just curious, but did you notice that the description of overclocking was part of the submitter's description of the story? Supposedly this isn't a press release. But looking back at the history for the submitter, keeleysam [], it looks like the account is less than 2 weeks old. Perhaps created simply as a dummy by slashdot in order to post this paid-placement advertorial.

        On the topic of Alienware,
      • Re:wow, thanks (Score:3, Interesting)

        I can understand not wanting to go through the hassle of building one's own machine, but why buy from an overpriced joke like Alienware? iBuyPower [] makes similarly spec'd machines (well, aside from the the overclocking) for waaay better prices.

        My 0.02.

        Full Disclaimer: My only connection to IBP is that I purchased one of their E-Series laptops several monthes ago, and have been very impressed.

  • by Deekin_Scalesinger ( 755062 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:35AM (#10168564)
    I have always wanted to try out liquid cooling in my gaming PCs, but am petrified of bringing the box out of the house to a friends house for gaming sessions. Alienware usually puts together a pretty good package for it's customers, but reading the site doesn't give me any insight on its portability. My geeky friends feel the same way as I do - an article or study showing that the integrity of the cooling system remains after traveling with it would go a long way towards me taking the plunge, as it were. (By normal traveling I mean putting it safely in your car, securing it, and setting it back up, not waching it into a wall or some other moronic stress test.)
    • by davidoff404 ( 764733 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:49AM (#10168672)
      an article or study showing that the integrity of the cooling system remains after traveling with it would go a long way towards me taking the plunge, as it were.

      That's a pretty dumb idea, and it's not going to happen for the same reason that other manufacturers don't advertise the portability of *desktop* systems. Why should they widen their product guarantees just because you want to lug it around in the back of a pickup? If you're smart enough to network surely you're smart enough not to f$ck up your new alienware box while travelling.
  • 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 :(
  • $4,200 ! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:37AM (#10168588)
    Most people know Alienware is quite overpriced, but $4,200! I know you're paying for the aesthetics more than anything but still, if you want that power then buy two 2GHZ boxes and save yourself $2000, I can't imagine Alienware would have many people 'in the know' purchasing their hardware.

    I think this is more of a gimmick for advertising (seen by the fact it's on /. and now about 100 other news sites) than anything else.
    • How do you play one game of Doom 3 on two boxes?

      I'm not going to buy this 4 grand setup, but still, the people who do buy it want one very fast system, not two slower ones.

    • I'm amazed by the moaning about the prices quite frankly. The firm builds high-performance good looking PCs out of the best components with a price tag to match.

      No one moans about the coast of a Ferrari. You either have the money and want the goods, or you don't. Why does every computer for sale in the world have to be $999 and made by Dell?

      I should think Alienware has plenty of people 'in the know' that purchase their hardware too. Other people 'in the know' might have different values and different bu

      • Re:$4,200 ! (Score:3, Insightful)

        You can't build a ferrari yourself for half the price.

        You can build an alienware PC from parts perhaps even down to the wierd looking case (I know you can get the style they used a while back) for a fraction of the price.
  • by Nomihn0 ( 739701 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:40AM (#10168611)
    I am curious why other systems manufacturers like Dell, Compaq, or Hewlett Packard, do not overclock their products. I would expect that, with all of the setup time they already devote to their products, they would be able to click a few more times in the BIOS as well. Not to trivialize the process, but with the consistency granted by producing the same computer repeatedly, that is all that would be required.

    These systems could then be sold at slightly elevated prices. The script-kiddie crowd would lunge at them, buying into a piece of the OC'ing action. The naive would purchase them for the in-between performance levels they would have. The rest would build their own computer and do it themselves. But, in the mean time, those companies get to gouge good customers - all while making them feel that their purchase was personalized.
    • OC'ing has stability issues, heat issues for generally little real gain, and you loose the warranty on your chip... Why would they do that ?
      • I am curious why other systems manufacturers like Dell, Compaq, or Hewlett Packard, do not overclock their products

        Because many of those maufacturers thrive by the "low prices, high volumes" concept.

        Overclocking enough to notice, and without losing to much stability, requires quality components, careful tweaking of hardware, BIOS and software configuration. The first thing a normal user would do, is install some stupid proggie that interferes with that careful tweaked system, and cause helpdesk headache

    • 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.
  • Why why why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Would anyone please tell me why it is necessary to spend 5 grand on a PC?

    Okay okay -- especially when XBOX and many other consoles approach PC graphics? This is overkill -- the amount of money spent on this one machine could be used to build a small cluster of less powerful machines.

    It is a shame that XBOX, a $300 dollar system can get amazing games -- but if you want amazing graphics and sound on the PC you must spend 5 g's.
    • Re:Why why why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0123456 ( 636235 )
      "Okay okay -- especially when XBOX and many other consoles approach PC graphics?"

      Approach PC graphics? At 640x480 with 32MB of RAM? Huh?
    • My computer joyfully and gleefully outpaces the XBox, and it's current parts cost me only about $575.

      Trust me, you don't need to spend as much as Alienware charges, and I've never known an intelligent person to actually own one. They may be nice, but that doesn't mean they're worth the price.
    • They approach PC graphics????

      My 1200x1024 desktop monitor has just a bit more detail to the images than a TV set.... no, really!

      And comparing the fine detail my 1920x1200 laptop display can show compared to what a TV screen can show is just a joke.

      Console games are fun, but the graphics in no way are as detailed as what you can have on a PC. Sorry.

  • by mrgreenfur ( 685860 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:41AM (#10168620)
    it's odd to note that the 3.8ghz p4 ee with 2mb of cache is apparently $714 MORE expensive than the 4ghz p4 with 1mb of cache.

    I'm guessing that the 2mb l2 cache is faster, so why are we still following the fascination with clockspeed (other proof, like AMD, aside)?

    you know alienware has struck it rich when they include their own "ALX High Performance Network Cable".

    • As far as I understand it, the problem is that cache tends to have problems when you manufacture it. So the more cache you build in, the higher the chance that it will be broken, and they'll have to throw the whole chip away.
    • I would not jump to the conclusion that the 3.8GHz with 2mb cache is faster than the 4GHz P4 with 1mb of cache.

      Yeah I'm aware of the "MHz myth," but look at the benchmarks [] please. At 3.4GHz, the "Extreme" edition bests the 3.4GHz 1MB cache version by a whopping 1.4%. Meanwhile the Non-Extreme 3.4 beats the Extreme 3.2 by over double that amount! Both are marginal differences if you ask me, but price difference is truly "extreme."

  • erm ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fadir ( 522518 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:41AM (#10168625)
    Wouldn't it be alot cheaper and better to purchase a 2 processor system instead of a extremely high-priced overclocked 1 processor system?
    Seriously, except the "coolness" I fail to see the sense in this system.
    • 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)

        Quake 3 has SMP support.

        Granted, that's about *it* that I'm aware of.
        • UT2004 (and UT2003, I think) uses a second thread for all sound processing.

          I get a healthy boost on my P4 with HT enabled versus with HT disabled. I can only assume it's even more pronounced on a true SMP rig.
      • 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.
        • Re:erm ... (Score:3, Informative)

          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 advantag
      • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by billybob ( 18401 )
        Your processor speed it not the biggest bottleneck. I say high quality RAM and a high end graphics card will get you a lot more than a 4Ghz machine. This just seems like a waste of money. Seriously it's more expensive than any of Apple's computers, and that's saying something :)
    • Re:erm ... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ironsides ( 739422 )
      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.
    • Not by a long shot, as (for example) a 2x500mhz computer won't run as fast as a 1x1000mhz computer. It would be cheaper, but nowhere near as good for gamers (the intended audience)
    • Seriously, except the "coolness" I fail to see the sense in this system.

      It's Alienware. The coolness is the product. What, you think a computer is worth over a couple grand?
  • Working Link (Score:2, Informative)

    by barcodez ( 580516 )
    Working Link []
  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:44AM (#10168637) Homepage
    By taking the CPU over Intel's rated speed, there's no warrantee from Intel. Does Alienware promise to replace 'em if they fail during a (nominal) warrantee period?

    GMail invites for iPod referrals []
  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:45AM (#10168644) a few 2GHz boxes and an Ethernet switch for the same money, invite a few buddies over for some networked UT2004, Counter-Strike & Red Alert 2.

    I'm sure the group of people who buy overpriced Alienware products are the same group who'd pay for penis extensions.

  • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) * on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:46AM (#10168656)
    I used to overclock, but squeezing out the highest performence-per-watt is more fun these days. I read about it on and gave it a try. It turns out that Athlon 64 CPUs can usually run full speed at 1.3V (vs. 1.5V), which cuts power consumption almost in half. 1.8GHz (3000+) at 1.2V (35W max), 1.4GHz at 1V, and 1GHz at 0.85V (maybe a dozen watts) work well too. Someone with a newer CPU than I have managed 1.2GHz @ 0.875V. Use ClockGen [] to tweak the clock multiplier and core voltage under Windows. (Does anyone know of a Linux equivalent? 64-bit compatible?)

    I watched a bit over 3 hours of DVD video on my HP zv5000z with the CPU set to 1GHz @ 0.85V before the 12-cell battery ran out. Normal screen brightness and everything.

    Of course, this won't work all that well on Intel CPUs. Maybe Alienware will include a free naquada generator with their "4GHz" P4's.
    • Accessories:
      • Extra keyboard/mouse $50
      • Mousepad $10
      • ZPM $4,000,000,000.50

      Thanks you for shopping Stargate Computers. Please come again.
    • 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 featur
  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:48AM (#10168667) Homepage Journal
    I hear it gets over 30FPS on Doom 3 too!
  • G5 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:52AM (#10168685) Homepage Journal
    Well, the surprising thing to me is that a similarly configured (but with more features) loaded 2.5 Ghz Dual G5 from Apple (with liquid cooling as well) runs about $2300 cheaper than the Alienware box.

    • Yes, but the game library is hardly anything comparable to what you can get on an Alienware machine.
  • Dual 2Ghz G5. Perhaps not quite as powerful but a far more elegant design. Could probably afford an Apple Cinema Display to go with it for less than the cost of the 4Ghz Intel box....
  • the effective clock speed is 550MHz.
  • Doom 3: $49.99

    Alienware Computer to run it on: $4,200

    Losing the last vestiges of any proof of ever being in the sunlight: Priceless



  • by Linus Sixpack ( 709619 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:13AM (#10168821) Journal
    Interesting that the price tag is now 'expensive' for a machine assembled for extreme performance. It was not very long ago that that was a upper level standard machine.
  • ...
    So - they're telling us that going back to -shudder- less than $1.00 per MHz is progress???

    Dude, I know there's profit incentives out there, but you can buy a serious 2 way 64 bit machine for that much which would blow that thing out of the water, even running 32 bit windows xp professional.

    $1 per MHz... They must seriously be pining for the old days. Let it go, man. Just let it go...

    • A $4,200 WinXP machine that's been overclocked and tuned for gaming isn't going to be used for anything serious, so obviously when it comes to serious tasks it'd get it's ass handed to it. Of course, I wouldn't want to run Doom3 on a 2 way enterprise server either...
  • 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 Entropius ( 188861 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:56AM (#10169141)
    About the only thing that a single blindingly fast processor is good for is gaming. Now, the whole watercooling/Alienware thing strikes me as silly--instead of paying $2000 extra for an overclocked machine, just wait six months and Moore's Law will have caught up.

    But instead of debating that, it's more informative to wonder what all those bogomips would DO in today's games.

    Some people would reply: more frames per second! More varied stuff in those frames! But there's a limit to how much more graphics muscle will improve the gameplay experience in any given game (my Athlon 64 3200+/2GHz machine runs Halflife no better than my Athlon XP 1800+/1.53GHz machine), and there's also a limit to what graphics crunching can do for a game. Doom 3 may be shiny, but by all accounts you could write a game with the same gameplay as Doom 3 (but less prettiness) that would run on a P3/Geforce2.

    I'm ready to see a game that really makes use of modern computers' incredible power for gameplay/AI/physics. How about a version of Homeworld with realistic trajectory modelling of every mass-driver shot, a version of NWN with *real* intelligent AI opponents, or one of a million different ideas for games whose gameplay design, in addition to their graphics, takes into account modern computers.

    NWN did this -- sort of. But it took so long to release (which is a good thing!), and has been a while since release, that modern machines still get bored running its scripting/AI. Hopefully all this will be spiffed up in NWN2.
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday September 06, 2004 @02:41PM (#10170218) Journal

    Buy me this and my ass is yours for life!

    God I want it.

  • 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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