What is the Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
Normally with notebooks, a user is limited to the graphics that is built into the notebook –limiting upgrades. Now with Alieware’s new line of thin gaming notebooks 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 their Alienware 13, 15 or 17 notebooks and Alpha R2 with GTX 960 or X51 R3 desktop.
What does the Alienware Graphics Amplifier do?
When connected to a new Alienware 13 (R1, R2, and R3), 15 (R1, R2, and R3), or 17 (R2, R3, and R4) notebook or X51 R3 or Alpha R2 desktop, the desktop graphics card the user installs into the Alienware Graphics Amplifier becomes the main discrete GPU used on the notebook. Users can plug displays directly into the graphics card installed in the Amplifier and have it render through the displays connected to the laptop using Optimus or Enduro.
While these new notebooks 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 port uses “raw/unmuxed/filtered” PCI Express Gen3 (Gen2 for the Alienware 13 R1) lanes when connected to the Alienware notebooks, Alpha R2, X51 R3 –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.
If you are having difficulties getting the right bandwidth for your Graphics Amplifier-compatible computer, please make sure you have the latest Alienware Command Center, Graphics Amplifier Software, and a BIOS version that supports the right bandwidth (for the Desktops and Haswell and Broadwell laptops, you should have the latest, but any version should work. For those late 2015 laptops, BIOS 1.2.2 to 1.2.8 and 1.2.15 to 1.3.10 should have the right bandwidth).
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 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 GPU in the graphics amplifier.
However, dual GPU cards such as the GTX 690 and HD 7990 do work in the Graphics Amplifier, but you will not be able to use the laptop's own display panel. This is due to the card's own SLI / Crossfire not working with Optimus / Enduro.
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 would be determined by graphics card inside the 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 what 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 only displays that would be eligible would be the one’s 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?
This link contains a table of cards known to be supported with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier (as of 1/3/17). 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. There are some GPUs that may work in the Graphics Amplifier but are unable to fit (too tall, too wide, or having an additional component) or require a certain way to fit such as the R9 Fury, R9 Fury X, R9 295x2 and any GPU using Hybrid Cooling (like EVGA's Hybrid Cooling GPUs). Workstation GPUs such as the Firepro W7100 may also work, but they are not validated.
Where can I get the drivers for the graphics card I intend to install in my Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
If your card is within the list shown on this page or newer, you can get the driver from Dell.com or the graphics vendor’s website (NVIDIA.com or AMD.com). Please install the correct GPU driver for the right Operating System (Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10) or you may be having some difficulties getting the GPU to work.
AMD users can use the AGA version of the Omega driver (http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/GPU-5003.aspx) or the latest from AMD (the Omega driver does not have support for the R9 / R7 300 series, R9 Fury (X), R9 Nano, or RX 400 series GPUs, but the latest from AMD should). You can also install the latest Dell AMD driver.
Nvidia users should follow these steps regardless of the processor (if they are having problems with installation):
- Unplug the Alienware Graphics Amplifier (AGA) and leave the notebook alone
- Uninstall the nVIDIA driver using DDU
- If you don't wish to use DDU, follow the below steps after uninstalling the Nvdidia driver the usual way.
- Go to C: and delete any nVIDIA folder
- Go to Program Files and Program Files (x86) and delete any nVIDIA folders
- Go to Run then type: %AppData% and delete any nVIDIA Folder
- Go to Run then type: %ProgramData% and delete any nVIDIA folders
- Download and Install the latest Nvidia driver from Nvidia or Dell.
- Shut down the system
- Connect AGA to the system
- Connect the external display to AGA (It is critical that this is done)
- Start up the system
- Please be aware that after installing the driver with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier plugged in, the screen will flicker a few times, you must give this a minute or two.
- Once done, you must enable the screen connected to the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, just like you would do with any other external screen.
- This is a workaround and we are actively working to have a unified driver that avoids all of these issues.
- If you have a 15 R3 or 17 R4 with the G-Sync laptop screen, you may not be able to use the Graphics Card in the Graphics Amplifier for the laptop screen.
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 laptop or X51 R3 or Alpha R2 desktop, your Alienware Graphics Amplifier will inherit the warranty that you select at the time of purchase