ALIENWARE GRAPHICS AMPLIFIER FAQ
What is the Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
Normally with laptops, a user is limited to the graphics card that is built into the notebook –limiting upgrades. Now with Alienware’s new line of thin gaming laptops there is a new port –the Alienware Graphics Amplifier port. This port connects to an external device that allows a user to add a standard, off-the-shelf, industry desktop graphics card, up to 375W, to an Alienware 13, 15 or 17 laptop.
What does the Alienware Graphics Amplifier do?
When connected to a new Alienware 13, 15, or17 notebook, the desktop graphics card the user installs into the Alienware Graphics Amplifier becomes the dominant GPU used on the notebook. This external card powers the notebook’s LCD, Mini-Display and HDMI ports just as if it were physically installed on the notebook’s motherboard. In addition, users can plug displays directly into the graphics card installed in the Amplifier. While these new laptops offer the latest generation of high performance mobile graphics from AMD and NVIDIA,
the Alienware Graphics Amplifier allows customers to have true desktop graphics performance in their new Alienware notebook today –and future proofs their purchase by allowing them to add new generations of desktop graphics card in the coming years.
What is the Alienware Graphics Amplifier port?
The Alienware Graphics Amplifier portuses “raw/unmuxed/filtered” PCI Express Gen3 X4 lanes when connected to the Alienware 15 and 17 laptops –that is a direct PCI Express connection to a desktop graphics card. This type of connection is the same that is used on desktop computers –direct PCI Express.
Why not Thunderbolt?
Alienware customers expect the fastest possible performance available in any product that carries the Alienware logo. The Alienware Graphics Amplifier port offers the highest performance connection available to an external graphics card. Intel’s Thunderbolt technology offers many benefits and has a growing ecosystem of external devices, but all of those devices share the same bandwidth.
NVIDIA SLI, AMD Crossfire and 4K
Is NVIDIA SLI supported with an Alienware notebook when combined with an Alienware Graphics Amplifier including an NVIDIA graphics card?
No. When using an Alienware Graphics Amplifier, the internal graphics processor is disabled. However, NVIDIA Optimus technology continues to function with the on-board Intel graphics processor and the desktop GPU in the graphics amplifier.
Is 4K gaming at 60Hz a possibility with my Alienware notebook?
Yes. This type of experience may require an Alienware Graphics Amplifier, a high-end graphics card capable of supporting 4K gaming at 60Hz, and a display capable of supporting 4K/60Hz. Your 4K display needs to be connected directly onto the Alienware Graphics Amplifier.
What is the maximum resolution capable with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
This is determined by the graphics card inside the Alienware Graphics amplifier.
Will the Alienware Graphics Amplifier support future generation graphics cards from NVIDIA and AMD?
How many displays can I use with my notebook when combined with an Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
The total number depends on the graphics card you have inside your Alienware Graphics Amplifier. This total is the sum of the number of displays supported by the graphics card inside the amplifier plus the three natively supported displays from your Alienware notebook.
Can I experience NVIDIA Surround or AMD Eyefinity with my Alienware notebook when combined with my Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
These features are enabled if the graphics card inside the Alienware Graphics Amplifier supports them. If supported, the displays that are eligible are those connected directly to the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. Please refer to NVIDIA or AMD’s guidance for these technologies with single-GPU configurations
What desktop GPUs are supported by the Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
The table below contains the list of cards known to be supported with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier (as of April 8, 2015). Any new single graphics card that does not exceed a 375W power requirement, and does not exceed 10.5 inches in length, while occupying no more than two slots, will also be supported. Older graphics cards that do not appear on this list are not supported.
Where can I get the drivers for the graphics card I intend to install in my Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
For the cards listed on this page, and for future generations, you can get the drivers on Dell.com or from the graphics vendor’s website (NVIDIA.com or AMD.com).
AMD users should be using the Alienware Graphics Amplifier version of the Omega driver.
NVIDIA users should be using the 344.60 version of the mobile driver (or newer). There are two scenarios to consider:
1. User has never installed an NVIDIA desktop driver:
A. Just update the NVIDIA mobile driver when prompted to the newest version of the NVIDIA mobile driver.
2. User has installed an NVIDIA desktop driver:
A. Shutdown the Alienware notebook and disconnect the Alienware Graphics Amplifier.
B. Boot the Alienware notebook without the Alienware Graphics Amplifier attached and uninstall all NVIDIA drivers.
C. Download and install the latest NVIDIA retail notebook driver. The NVIDIA retail notebook driver contains all desktop cards GTX660 and newer that can be supported in the Alienware Graphics Amplifier.
At this time, you can plug in and use the Alienware Graphics Amplifier without reinstalling any desktop driver and have full functionality of your NVIDIA desktop card. The discrete NVIDIA video cards installed in the amplifier must be using the SAME mobile driver that is installed in the Alienware notebook. That driver should be sufficient to use both NVIDIA GPUs without any problems.
What kind of warranty can I expect included with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
The Alienware Graphics Amplifier comes with a standard 1-year warranty*. When purchased with an Alienware 13, 15, or 17 R2 laptop, your Alienware Graphics Amplifier will inherit the warranty that you select at the time of purchase
*Limited Hardware Warranty: For copy of Ltd Hardware Warranty, write Dell USA LP, Attn: Warranties, One Dell Way, Round Rock, TX 78682 or see www.dell.com/warranty.