Alienware Alpha?

(Fernando Gazzola) #1

I am shopping a desktop dedicated for Zwift. I see that what’s

recommended is the Alienware Alpha which has pretty good

reviews. I read from the community board the i3 intel

processor is more then sufficient because of a good

graphic card. The Alienware Alpha comes with 4GB

memory ram, is this sufficient or is it recommended

to upgrade to 8GB memory ram?


Thank you,


(Jon Mayfield) #2

Currently 4GB is completely sufficient for Zwift, however that may change months or years down the road.   If you’re at all computer savvy you could cheaply upgrade it yourself to 8GB when that time comes, but if you’re not it might not be a bad idea to just order an 8GB version now. 

(Fernando Gazzola) #3

Jon thank you for the information.

(Brandon Copeland WSR/ODZ) #4

I have the i3 Alienware alpha, and I’ve upgraded it to 12GB ram and a 250GB SSD.  I can run high at 30-40 frames per second and ultra from 17-25 frames per second.  Honestly, I don’t think framerate is as important in Zwift as it is in something like a first person shooter, so I choose to run on Ultra… and let me tell you, it looks freaking amazing.

(Fernando Gazzola) #5

Question for Brandon Copeland, before you upgraded your console Alienware Alpha, how did Zwift performed? Do you see a significant difference? 

(Brandon Copeland WSR/ODZ) #6

I was using a 2009 iMac with a 512mb dedicated video card, Core 2 Duo processor, and 8GB ram.  It ran choppy on medium and somewhat smooth on basic. It also crashed here and there.

Long story short… the Alienware is infinitely nicer than my old iMac. And you can’t beat the price. ~$550 with the SSD and Additional 8GB RAM.

Amazon: $450 for the basic i3 Alpha, $43 for the 8 GB ram, and ~$75 for the SSD.


(Fernando Gazzola) #7

I apologize that my question was not clear.  Brandon did you use Zwift on the basic Alienware Alpha 4GB rams and upgraded later to 12GB rams and if so did you see a significant difference?

(Brandon Copeland WSR/ODZ) #8

Ah, I see.  Thanks for the clarification.

I did not use the Alienware Stock… I put in the additional 8GB of RAM before I even booted it up for the first time.  It ran 20-30 FPS on high with that setup, but on Ultra it would only run at about 15 FPS.  When I put the SSD in, I saw a marked increase in performance, as stated above.

I would say that Zwift runs “good” stock, “very good” with the RAM upgrade (8GB total should be fine, and “Fantastic” with the SSD upgrade.

Let me know if you have any other questions, and good luck!

(Fernando Gazzola) #9

Brandon thank you for the info! One more question, what is the difference between running high or ultra and do you set this setting on the Alpha console or on a Zwift menu?

(Brandon Copeland WSR/ODZ) #10

As far as I can tell, the textures (trees, grass, etc…) are the same on High as in Ultra.

However, in ultra you can see the rays of sunshine coming through the trees, the sky looks REAL, shadows move.  It adds a nice sense of realism to it.

(Fernando Gazzola) #11

Brandon, do you set this setting on the Alpha console or on a Zwift menu?

(Brandon Copeland WSR/ODZ) #12

It’s in the Zwift menu.  I believe the game selects available settings for you based upon your GPU.  So, if you have a slow GPU, you may only see the basic or medium settings.  But if you have a nice GPU you can see all of the settings and even ultra.

(Fernando Gazzola) #13

Brandon thank you for the information.

(Brandon Copeland WSR/ODZ) #14

Fernando, did you end up buying the Alienware Alpha?  If so, let me know how you like it!

(Fernando Gazzola) #15

Brandon, not yet. I waiting for Dell to make some specials. Also maybe I might  decide to buy custom desktop, I want make sure I have SSD drive and a good graphic card. I live in Canada and Dell does not seem to be flexible on their option for upgrade for Canadian customers. 

(Brandon Copeland WSR/ODZ) #16

Have you tried  I picked my alpha up from Amazon for $459.00.  That’s almost $100 cheaper than from Dell.  Then with the SSD and RAM upgrades, the total came to $550… 

Here’s the link to the $459 option… it’s even Amazon Prime so you could have it tomorrow.

(Fernando Gazzola) #17

Brandon thank you and I’m aware but the problem is I live in Canada and our dollar is not doing well. You take 460.00$US with the exchange comes out to 608.00$CAN. It does not end there, add custom, brokerage and shipping fees the item ends up costing 790.00$. I checked on Amazon Canada, 779.05$ plus 46.65 for shipping. So my option is checking out the local computer store which custom build desktops. So far I looked at one place and the price are cheaper. What I noticed that the AMD processors are cheaper, are they as good as Intel? That’s what I got to investigate. How did you end upgrading SSD drive? On amazon gives me two options, rams or processors.

(D Shep) #18

Thought I would add a little insight as I have tweaked my PC specifically for Zwift. It may or may not help.

Zwift PC requirements sets out three spec ranges; minimum (min) recommended (rec) & extreme (ext).

I was running i5 chip, (rec) 8gb ram (rec) and integrated HD4000 GPU (min). Ultra resolution was not available to me but high (1080p) was. On high I was getting around 10fps. Game experience was smooth but 3D imagery was thin (limited shadows etc) nevertheless still enjoyable.

I made one change by adding a graphics card. I chose a NVIDIA GTX960 (will come on to why later). This not only gave me Ultra resolution but I also get 60fps. The level of detail is awesome; shadows, sun rays and at night shadows cast by your cycling lights ( I tweeted Zwift some of the pics recently).

To be clear the level of pc spec wil not hamper your cycling efforts; this isn’t FPS lag elimination for competitive advantage.  For the cost conscious you should decide how detailed you want your resolution to be. Aero position, knees screaming, ears full of blood and eyes stinging with sweat you may not even be looking for, or able to see, the shadows. Recommended specs are, after all, recommended. So in terms of building a spec I would say aim for recommended, if you can, and build any remaining headroom into the graphics card. If your graphics card is more than capable then less effort is needed elsewhere in the PC. Hence I added headroom by way of the graphic card.

So why NVIDIA?

Firstly I am no computer expert. Plenty of online PC sites will bewilder you with multiple statistics. NVIDIA attracted me because their newer line of cards utilise their Maxwell architecture that is particularly noted for 3D imagery coupled with their ability to run at much lower wattage compared to both their older cards and Raedon. I could have gone Raedon but I would have spent the saving and more upgrading my existing power supply. I am not recommending NVIDIA over Raedon. It’s important to remember you don’t need the best FPS 3D PC spec just one capable for your desired resolution. Zwift kindly provide a link to a video card benchmark site where you can compare your choice of card to their spec level suggestions. 

Hope this helps.

ride on

(Brandon Copeland WSR/ODZ) #19

Fernando, I’m sorry that the exchange rate seems to be so out of your favor.  As far as the SSD and additional RAM, you have to order it separately.  I ordered a 250 GB Samsung Evo 850 SSD, and an 8 GB stick of Kingston HyperX ram.  The SSD was $80 and the RAM was $40.  That brough my USD total to $550.

However, due to the exchange rate problem you have, being in Canada, a custom build may very well be more economical than the Alpha.

D Shep has some good comments about building a PC, and I would echo his NVIDIA comments… after all, the Alpha has a nice NVIDIA card in it and runs High > 30 FPS and Ultra between 20 - 25 FPS.

Good luck and keep us posted!


(Fernando Gazzola) #20

So the graphic card is important and ready to spend extra, and for the difference at least 8GB of rams. Has anyone used Zwift on a AMD processor and if so any issue with them?