What are the best Alienware PCs ready for VR?
Buying, unboxing, and setting up your new virtual reality system is only half the battle; you also need to set up a PC that is capable of running said VR system. If you're not one who goes in for building your own PC, Alienware offers some excellent pre-built models that will power your VR headset right out of the box.
Alienware announced at E3 2016 that it had re-invented its Aurora line to suit the impending VR revolution. Did they succeed? We think so!
The configuration chosen here is going to run your virtual reality setup like you wouldn't believe. The most important aspect of your VR-ready PC is the graphics card (GPU) — Alienware decided to throw in a brand-new NVIDIA GTX 1080 Founder Edition. This thing has 8GB of GDDR5X VRAM! Let's just say you're going to be covered for awhile with this graphics card, as it has much more power than the Rift or Vive require.
To keep that GPU running up-to-snuff, you need a proper processor (CPU). What we have here is an Intel Core i7-6700K. The K versions of Intel processors are completely unlocked for full overclocking. You can technically go as high as you want (5 GHz and above) but will eventually reach a point of failure due to elevated temperature. The stock clock of the i7-6700K is 4.0GHz, so even if you're not into overclocking, you will not experience any problems when running your Rift or Vive. Note that this configuration has a liquid-cooling system for its K-series processor. If you'd like to save some money because you're not comfortable with overclocking, change the CPU to the i7-6700 and the chassis option to a standard power supply.
Speaking of the chassis, Alienware decided to do away with a necessity for tools when it comes to swapping out hardware. Although this isn't relevant to everyone, it will help those who like to swap parts on the go. The chassis also has 8,000 colored light combinations to choose from for the side-lights and the alien head emblazoned on the front.
To keep up with the GPU and CPU, Alienware includes 16GB of DDR4 RAM. The Rift requires 8GB of RAM, while the Vive requires 4GB of RAM, so you're not going to have any struggles here while running your VR. A 2TB hard drive has more than enough room for your VR games right now, and the Aurora has plenty of room for upgrades in the future.
The amount of ports on this PC is unreal; you're getting 7 USB 3.0 ports, 6 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB Type-C, 1 RJ-45 Killer Ethernet port, 3 DisplayPorts, a DVI-DL port, an HDMI port, and a full suite of surround sound ports, to name a few. Don't forget about a full year of Dell's limited hardware warranty with onsite service, a feature you'll be hard-pressed to find when building your own PC.
If you're a gamer who loves to overclock CPUs, this is the Alienware PC for you. It will run your VR setup with no problems, and should remain a contender for at least a couple years to come.
Alienware's triad-chassis PC is designed to hold the most hardware possible while maintaining some modicum of cord-organization and ease-of-access to said hardware. Dell's website has a ton of configuration options, some of which are, frankly, unreal. Single, double, and triple graphics card (GPU) options, up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and several processor options all the way up to an 8-core, 4GHz i7-5960X. While these options might make some of you salivate, they're well-beyond what's necessary to power your Oculus Rift or Vive.
The configuration we picked is Dell's solution to a performance and price medium. Arguably the most important part of your VR-ready PC is the GPU, and here we have no slouch: an AMD R9 FURY X with 4GB HBM will take care of the display burden placed by a Vive or Oculus Rift, thanks to stellar construction and ongoing driver updates. Keep in mind that the graphics card can be swapped out for another provided by Dell; if you'd rather run with NVIDIA, a recommended GTX 970 is available.
You also get 16GB of DDR4 RAM; HTC recommends 4GB of RAM for the Vive, and Oculus recommends 8GB of RAM for the Rift. Either way, you're getting plenty of RAM with lots of room left over for future improvements. The processor (CPU) recommendation for both the Rift and the Vive is an Intel i5-4590 — here you're getting much more than that with an Intel i7-6800K 3.0GHz processor that can be overclocked up to 3.9GHz.
Keep in mind that the case doesn't change depending on the hardware configuration you choose. It is capable of accepting a lot more hardware when you want to upgrade and can even be configured for liquid-cooling if you decide to one day go down that route. If you plan on hauling your Vive or Rift around like a traveling attraction, the Area-51 case has a rugged handle for easy transportation.
The features not related to VR are impressive and contribute to your overall gaming experience. A 128GB solid state drive will boot your included copy of Windows 10 faster than ever before, and the 2TB hard disk drive has a considerable amount of storage to hold your media files and games. If you're not ready to give up on DVDs and CDs, you'll be happy to know a DVD burner is included in the package. Dell throws in a year of their incredibly useful premium support on the off-chance something happens to your PC.
If you want a PC that is highly customizable, easy to transport, and beefy enough to run anything you throw at it, check out the Alienware Area-51.
If you're looking for a computer that won't break the bank while still running your VR setup like a dream, Alienware has a model for you. The x51 comes in a more conventional case than the Area-51, but still has some of that signature Alienware style. A glowing alien head emblazons the front of the glossy black case, and a matching green light illuminates the side. Enough about the design, though — you want to know about the inside!
Alienware's standard is to bring you as many options possible when building a PC, and here we've chosen a hardware configuration that will run your Vive or Rift with no hiccups while coming to you at a considerably lower price point than the Area-51. The graphics card is the strong and capable NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, boasting 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM. NVIDIA regularly updates their GPU drivers and has an excellent control panel that automatically optimizes performance for individual games. If you'd rather go with an AMD graphics card, the Radeon R9 370 is available to swap out. It also has 4GB or GDDR5 RAM and provides a similar experience.
Let's talk about RAM; while the Rift recommends 8GB for optimal performance, the Vive recommends only 4GB. The Alienware x51 comes equipped with 8GB of dual channel DDR4 RAM, a suitable amount for whichever VR system you're running. The standard Alienware motherboard supports up to 32GB of RAM, so if you're ever in the mood to expand, you are free to indulge.
The glue holding this alien together is a Core i7-6700 processor that clocks in at 3.4GHz and can be overclocked to 4.0GHz. While not as powerful as some of the pricier i7 models, you're still getting the new generation of processor with Skylake technology and enough processing power to run your Vive or Rift without fuss.
Other features of this PC are nevertheless great features for the price you're paying. A 2TB 7200 RPM hard drive has plenty of room to hold all the games you purchase for your VR setup, and a slot-loading DVD burner gives you the option to continue using and burning CDs and DVDs. A 64-bit version of Windows 10 is also included with the PC.
Alienware gives you a one-year limited hardware warranty on your entire purchase, something generally unavailable or hard to manage when you build your own PC from several different manufacturers. Combine this with Dell's excellent 24/7 support and you have yourself a pretty package.
What do you use?
Have an Alienware PC already running your VR setup? Let us know what you're using and how it stacks up! Drop a comment below!