Alienware Graphics Amplifier is a product that many PC gamers wanted to see. It’s like an external graphics card (eGPU) enclosure where you can put any compatible GPU and benefit from it in DirectX 11 or 12 games on your notebook. You can even run multiple displays at the same time with such an eGPU setup, it can even power your Alienware 13 R3 laptop. But what should you expect from the Graphics Amplifier? Does it really make a difference over an eGPU enclosure? We are about to find out!
Design and Technical Specifications
As mentioned before, the Graphics Amplifier is similar to other external graphics card enclosures. It is similar in size to an AIO PC, so it can be easily transported between rooms or even LAN parties. You are able to install any compatible GPU inside the Amplifier, but unfortunately, you have to take off your laptop’s lid and put it aside. It might seem like a pain at first, but know that if you’re buying a Graphics Amplifier for this sole purpose, you will probably not be taking your laptop out ever. You can choose from GeForce GTX 980 and 980 Ti graphics cards to power your Alienware 13 R3 laptop (or other laptops which are compatible). The GTX 980 should cost $430, while the GTX 980 Ti costs $600.
Another thing to note is that the Graphics Amplifier has a single power socket, so you can’t plug another power adapter into it at the same time. That’s not an issue if your laptop is plugged into the wall via AC/DC converter or if you have another power adapter, but if you don’t, it might be a problem for some people.
The front has two USB 3.0 ports and one headphone/microphone jack, while the rear sports an Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 ports, another HDMI out to power your additional monitor at your desk, a barrel connector for powering up the Graphics Amplifier and an 8-pin GPU power connector. There’s also a place where you can screw in your GPU.
Alienware 13 R3 with its lid put aside and Graphics Amplifier attached via a ribbon cable
To install the graphics card you have to unscrew the four screws on the rear, attach a power connector for your GPU, plug it into a PCI Express x16 port and secure it by tightening those four screws again. Once your GPU is installed, just put the lid back on and that’s it – you’re ready to play!
Now let’s talk a bit about Alienware Graphics Amplifier technical specifications:
Dimensions: 12″x4.5″x8.3″ (30.5 x 11.43 x 21.08 cm) Weight: 7.74 lbs (3.5 kg) Maximum GPU Power Support: 375 W System Requirements: Windows 10 / 8.1 / 8 or 7 NVIDIA Kepler, Maxwell, or Pascal-based desktop/mobile GPUs with a minimum of GTX 650 Ti Boost Compatible Laptops Alienware 13 R3 Alienware 15 R3 Alienware 17 R3 Alienware X51
So how does it perform?
We installed a GTX 980 in the Amplifier and used it to power our Alienware 13 R3 laptop. The Amplifier comes with an included HDMI cable, so you can plug your monitor into its rear port when your GPU is not in use. Overall, we were pretty satisfied with the Amplifier performance. It can definitely boost your experience and give you a significant graphics boost in demanding games. The only problem we found is that noise levels increase dramatically when you start pushing your GPU, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to use this setup for an extended period of time.
Unigine Heaven 4 Benchmark (1080p, High Preset) Alienware 13 R3 (with Amplifier and GTX 980): Min: 57 / Avg: 57.5 / Max: 58 Unigine Heaven 4 Benchmark (1080p, Ultra Preset) Alienware 13 R3 (with Amplifier and GTX 980): Min: 40 / Avg: 43.5 / Max: 45 Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p, Very High Preset) Alienware 13 R3 (with Amplifier and GTX 980): Min: 44 / Avg: 48.5 / Max: 52
Bioshock Infinite FullHD Benchmark Alienware 13 R3 (with Amplifier and GTX 980): Average FPS: 139
Battlefield 4 1080p Benchmark Alienware 13 R3 (with Amplifier and GTX 980): Average FPS: 94.75
Temperatures were fine, even when we pushed the machine hard with Unigine Heaven and Rise of the Tomb Raider. We left the machine turned on for half an hour after benchmarking and it did not go above 80 Celcius.
Temperatures after benchmarking with Unigine Heaven and Rise of the Tomb Raider for half an hour Alienware 13 R3 (with Amplifier and GTX 980)
The only downside we noticed is that the Amplifier didn’t always recognize a new GPU, so you have to reboot it a few times to get it to work. This is something that might be fixed with future driver updates.
You can find out more about Graphics Amplifier here.
So, should you buy Alienware Graphics Amplifier? I’d say the answer is yes if you have a compatible laptop and an extra $300-500 laying around. In case your laptop does not support it, you can still consider buying a laptop like Alienware 13 R3 (our review here ), which is of course compatible with the Amplifier. You can find out more about this laptop at Amazon.
I hope that the article was helpful and that you enjoyed reading it! If you have any questions or remarks feel free to leave them