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Alienware banks on VR with the new Aurora desktop

Dell is also courting gamers with Area-51 refresh and Steam-centric Alpha R2 model.
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Alienware's last Aurora, the R4, is most (in)famous for the "ALX" option, which adds fins that flip open when the machine gets hot. Dell has just relaunched the Alienware Aurora desktop that sadly lacks that geeky option. In exchange, you do get a smaller, tool-less mid-tower that retains the minimalist gaming design flare that the original was known for. It also packs a punch with powerful CPU options and optional dual graphics cards, including NVIDIA's latest GeForce GTX 1080.

Gallery: Alienware Aurora Desktop Press Gallery | 9 Photos

Folks that build their own PCs may poo-poo such a machine, but many gamers and multimedia artists are more comfortable letting someone else do the assembly. Dell is also targeting the new, unknown VR market with the machine, and those folks -- who may suddenly realize they need a powerful PC -- likely want something ready-to-go. With the GTX 1080 option, it'll support up to three 4K displays, making it more than capable of handling the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headsets.

You can order it with any sixth-gen Core Intel chip (including the insane $1,723 Core i7 Extreme Edition), up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD with 2GB of RAID HDD storage. If you think all that might get a bit hot in a mid-tower case, Alienware has a liquid-cooled option. The Aurora desktop starts at $799, though it'll be several times more if you load it up with top-spec parts.

If you just want the best and hang the cost, Alienware has refreshed its Area-51 desktop model. It retains the frankly insane triangular design of the original, which is supposed to cycle air from front to back in order to keep components cool. The main update is support for Intel's quasi-sixth-generation Broadwell-E Core processors, including the 10-core, i7-6950X Extreme Edition, which, as we mentioned, costs a cool $1,723.

That machine also supports 64GB of DDR4 RAM and high-end M.2 SSD disk options, but lets you install three graphics cards, including NVIDIA's GeForce GTX1080. So, if you want 10 CPU cores and three insane graphics cards (but don't want to build a PC yourself), the Area-51 is an option -- just give your credit card company a heads-up, because you'll be spending north of $5,000.

Another new Alienware offering is the Alpha R2, the successor to the Alpha that was originally pitched as the world's first Steam Machine. As such, it's more like a supercharged console than a PC, but is in fact "smaller than an Xbox One," (at least for now) according to Dell. With support for the latest Intel Core CPUs, an NVIDIA GTX 960 with 4GB of DDR5 (or AMD Radeon equivalent) and an optional M.2 SSD and 16GB of RAM, it should solve the power problems of the original.

It's still not quite enough spec to power a VR headset (you need an NVIDIA GTX 970 or higher), but no worries -- you can now equip it with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. That box lets you add any graphics card you want, including the GeForce GTX1080, to multiply the power. The Alpha starts at $599, but again, for any kind of an enthusiast configuration, you'll need to pay a lot more. The Graphics Amplifier alone, for instance, runs $300, not including the card.

Rounding out the new E3 lineup is another formidable-sounding model, the Alienware 13 OLED notebook. Dell first teased the laptop at CES in January, but is now launching it officially starting at $1,299. The most striking part is the screen, a 2,560 x 1,440 OLED with a 1 millisecond response time, the company's fastest ever. A close second is the angular carbon-fiber, anodized aluminum and copper case. Other parts are equally suited for gamers, including the Intel Core i7-6500U CPU, optional NVIDIA GTX 965M graphics card, M.2 512GB (max) SSD storage and Klipsch certified and tuned speakers.

Each of these interesting devices has its own niche, so we'll try to get our hand on them at E3 over the next week. They're all available starting June 14th at Alienware's online site or Best Buy.

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Steve should have known that civil engineering was not for him when he spent most of his time at university monkeying with his 8086 clone PC. Although he graduated, a lifelong obsession of wanting the Solitaire win animation to go faster had begun. Always seeking a gadget fix, he dabbles in photography, video, 3D animation and is a licensed private pilot. He followed l'amour de sa vie from Vancouver, BC, to France and now lives in Paris.

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