Alienware that uses Ryzen has started a massive transformation of PC gaming

Opinion: This week Alienware released the first gaming laptops and desktops with AMD CPUs, rather than Intel, in the past 10 years.

This may not be big news for most people, but for me it has been one of the most important developments in the world of PC gaming for quite some time.

To be clear, I don’t think it’s because I think the new Alienware Aurora R14 Ryzen desktop powered by AMD Ryzen and Alienware m15 R7 and Alienware m17 R5 laptops are the best bits of tech I’ve ever seen. We haven’t actually put it down for review yet so it’s too early to make a call about that. It’s also not entirely “new” – Alienware first revealed it in April 2021.

The reason I think it’s big news and an important development stems from how it relates to a broader catastrophic shift taking place in computer games.

PC gaming was mostly a fairly flat market until recently. If you look at our old recommendations and reviews, you’ll see that there’s a current case for what we’d recommend to any budding PC game maker, or buyer looking for a gaming laptop.

Specifically, we always recommend buyers who can afford to invest in an Intel CPU and Nvidia GPU. Next, we’ll tell people on a very tight budget to consider AMD an alternative.

This was because, as we’ve noted in pretty much every CPU review, Intel’s faster clock speeds and more reliable heat for laptop chips generally allow them to play games at significantly higher frame rates than their AMD Ryzen competitors. We’ve only turned around to recommend AMD when it comes to creative workloads, such as video editing, 3D modeling, and Vector graphics due to its superior multi-core performance.

The same was true when it came to GPUs. If you look at our best GPU guide, you’ll notice a similar trend. Nvidia’s GPUs tend to run games at higher frame rates and handle demanding graphic technologies, such as ray tracing, much better than their AMD competitors. This isn’t surprising since Nvidia has had more time to improve its cards for things like ray tracing, as the company was bringing the technology to market with its RTX 20 series cards in 2018. Meanwhile, AMD only realized its launch. RDNA2 architecture RX 6000-series cards in 2020, a full two years later.

However, this status quo has been shaken over the past two years. AMD Ryzen has gone from making waves in the creative market to becoming an increasingly common sight on gaming laptops and desktops. Alienware, as one of the most popular gaming PC brands on the market, is the latest proof of that. Moreover, there is a good reason for that. Take a look at our Ryzen 7 5800X review from last year and you’ll see that AMD has been slowly, but surely bridging the gap between its Intel competitors, with negligible framerate differences between the two during our tests.

You’ll see a similar story if you take a look at our Lenovo Legion 5 (2021) review, where our tests revealed that AMD’s laptop chip has significantly improved heat and power efficiency over the company’s previous efforts, which tended to run a bit to our liking. The same was true when we tested AMD’s Steam Deck – a very compact Windows Nintendo Switch competitor designed by Valve.

We’ve found ourselves recommending AMD hardware more and more at least on par with Intel as a result.

The transformation is not limited to the world of CPUs either. Intel is making its own innovative moves into Nvidia territory, with its new ARC graphics cards. Specifically, on March 30, it unveiled its first wave of A-series dGPU laptops. It is also expected to unveil its first desktop graphics processing unit, Alchemist GPU, this year.

We haven’t reviewed any of the cards, but the spec sheets for the first stab at the market are impressive. In addition to ray tracing, Intel has also confirmed that all three will support Xe Super Sampling (also known as XeSS) technology. This is a competitor to AMD’s FSR and Nvidia’s DLSS which aims to use the magic of technology to help cards run difficult operations, such as ray tracing, at higher frames.

Whether the cards match their more established competitors or not, the fact that XeSS will run at launch is a step forward for AMD which had to retroactively add FSR support nearly a year after it released its first RX 6000 cards. The fact that Intel entered the market Also great for consumers in my mind.

It’s no secret that the status quo hasn’t been great for players. Until the advent of Ryzen, Intel had been making modest updates to the speeds of its CPUs on a yearly basis which didn’t justify the massive price increases they kept adding. To this day, it’s still partly to blame, as the Intel Core i9-10900K proved to be a hot mess in the worst possible way when we reviewed it a couple of years ago. But the company has since focused more on solving the problem with its 12th generation chips, which focus on multi-core and multi-threaded performance in a way much more than any previous Intel chipset.

Competition always drives innovation in the technology market. So consider Intel’s entry into the graphics market and repeating the same disastrous shift to the status quo that AMD has made in CPUs, as evidenced by the latest Alienware release, can only be a good thing for consumers.

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