Alienware Graphics Amp Part 3 – First Boot, First Bench


The hardware is all buttoned up, so time to push the glowing alien head and fire this beast up!  Some interesting observations from the first boot cycle… On the first boot, I cycled power prior to connecting up the brick.  The Graphics Amplifier is tethered to the laptop and power cycled in sync with the laptop.  Even on battery, it fired up automatically.  I’m not sure the combo of laptop and battery plus massive GPU makes too much sense, but it’s interesting that the sensors allow it.

The panel lit up with the familiar (slightly evolving) Windows 10 out of box experience, and (thankfully) showed no stuck or dead pixels (quite a feat considering there are more than 8M of them!)

A few minutes in and Windows 10 initialization and personalization was done.  Time to see what’s going on with our add-on devices!

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Uh oh! No quite ready yet.  Seems like after the very first boot, a reboot is required to finish driver initialization for the Amp.   After that, smooth sailing:

And of course the SSD was fine:

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With the system up and running, it was time for benchmarking!  I decided to start with Unigine Heaven.  I ran it at native res (3840×2160), with tessellation and AA maxed out.  I recorded the riveting 5 minutes for posterity.

Spoiler alert:

FPS: 25.6

Score: 645

Min FPS: 6.9

Max FPS: 62.1

This is right inline with professional testing of the GTX980Ti at 4k on desktop rigs, so it looks like the GA is really delivering as promised so far despite the PCI-E x4 “limitation”.  Stay tuned for more tests!

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