The Tom's Guide 'Ask Me Anything' with Alienware

Ever wanted to ask one of the big hardware or software giants something directly? "How did you design that? Where did that feature come from? What’s in store next?" Now you have the chance to do so!

Tom’s Guide is proud to announce a Q&A and Alienware 15 Laptop Giveaway with our friends at Alienware.

Joe Olmsted, the Director of Product Development for Alienware and Dell Gaming, will be joining us in the next Tom’s Guide Q&A. He'll be answering your in-depth questions about the Alienware line up, including the newest Alienware 15 and 17 gaming laptops.

The Q&A starts Thursday, June 7 at 12pm EST. Please submit all questions to this Q&A thread.

All questions will be moderated and supervised by the Tom’s Hardware Guide Community Manager, Catherine Strachan, and a full team of Tom's Guide Senior Moderators.

Meet Joe Olmsted, Director of Product Development for Alienware and Dell Gaming


Joe Olmsted serves as the Director of Product Development for Alienware products and Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktops. He leads a team of people who define all products that carry the Alienware brand and the Inspirion Gaming Desktops brand.

Joe joined Alienware in 2003 while the company was still a small business operating in Miami, Florida. He first left his mark on the brand by bringing a series of living room focused PCs to the market under the DHS moniker. Innovating for over a decade as a Product Manager and Director, Joe has been defining and developing nearly every factor of product from Alienware; including peripherals, desktops and notebooks.

Prior to joining Alienware and Dell, Joe has held various product marketing positions at Intel, NEC Corp, and was a co-founder in an online music startup. Joe now resides in Austin, Texas with his wife and daughter.

Don’t Forget the Alienware 15 R4 Giveaway



We're also proud to announce an upcoming giveaway done in partnership with Alienware. Up for grabs is a fully loaded Alienware 15 R4. This laptop has been our favorite consumer laptop for quite a few years now. Don’t miss out on your chance to win! The sweepstakes opens today, June 4th, and will close at 11:59 pm EST on June 14th. Please see the contest entry page for a full list of rules and ways to enter.

System Configuration

Alienware 15 R4
Processor: 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-8750H (6-Core, 9MB Cache, up to 4.1GHz w/ Turbo Boost)
Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64bit English
Video Card: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1070 OC with 8GB GDDR5
Display & Color: 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 120Hz TN Display 5ms response time, NVIDIA G-SYNC Enabled
Color Choice: Black
Memory: 16GB, 2x8GB, DDR4, 2666MHz
Hard Drive: 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD + 1TB 7200RPM HDD
Power Supply: 240W Power Adapter
Wireless: Killer 1550 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0

Ask Me Anything Rules
  • No tech support questions, as these require in-depth personal follow-up and diagnostics.
  • All Rules of Conduct apply.
  • Keep questions direct and to the point.
  • Avoid opinion bias, as in, "Why are all your products awesome/horrible?"
  • Be respectful of our guests--no insults, no leading questions.
  • Do not post duplicate questions or repost your question multiple times.
  • Not all questions may be answered. Questions may not be answered in the order in which they are received or posted.
  • To reiterate: No opinion bias, insults, leading questions, or breaking the Rules of Conduct.
  • Breaking these rules may result in a one-day ban.
  • Only registered users will be able to ask questions, so if you haven’t yet, be sure to register now for your chance to participate!
  • The official representatives will reply periodically over the time the AMA is active using a recognized and verified account.

Please join us on this date to throw your questions into the mix and ask Dell what you've always wanted to ask!

What: Ask Me Anything with an Alienware 15 R4 Laptop Giveaway
When: Thursday, June 7th 2018 12PM EST
Where: Here! In the Tom’s Guide Laptop General Discussion Forum
Who: Joe Olmsted, Director of Product Development for Alienware & Dell Gaming
30 answers Last reply
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  1. Thank you Joe Olmsted/Alienware for taking the time to do this AMA with us!
    A very warm welcome from us. It's a pleasure to have you onboard ;)

    I'd like to start off by asking if Alienware intends to foray into the tablet/smaller form factor mobile platform market? We've already seen a lot of other designs whereby they are lower profile and slimmer, less bulkier.

    Not to say that your products are cumbersome but I'm sure there are people who'd love a lighter package to lug around :P
  2. With companies such as Asus, who not only build systems but also the components themselves, how does alienware plan to stay competitive in the future.

    Also as a owner of a high end alienware laptop, I have had to use your customer support a few years back and was left with one huge question: Why was i asked to give my social security number for verification of who i was to rma my 6k dollar laptop (admittedly I refused and then was asked for my drivers license instead which was also not giving).
  3. 1. Any plans to make a white color Alienware notebook? (so it would stay cooler out in the sun).

    2. Alienware 17 R5 website says "Tobii IR Eye-tracking" is optional, but when you start ordering, it does not let you remove it. Will this option become available?

    3. Any plans to add an optical network port to Alienware notebooks, so users could directly connect the optical fiber cable to their notebook instead of having to do an optical to ethernet conversion?

    4. Any plans to add the InfinityEdge display to Alienware notebooks like Dell's XPS series has?

    5. Any plans to add a Linux OS option for Alienware notebooks?

    Thanks, TT
  4. Thanks for taking the time to review our questions,

    1) With the confirmation of no Alienware 13 Refresh, can we expect a different small form factor? (I loved both my AW 11 R2 and my current AW 13 R3 OLED; and hope Alienware continues to innovate in the small form factor gaming segment)

    2) Any thoughts on investing in OLED development for the other Alienware models?

    3) Would it be possible for Alienware to re-introduce the MUX switch? (Switchable on-board graphics though restart; not Nvidia Optimus mess)

    4) Amy plans for an integrated mechanical keyboard?
    5) Per Key RGB lighting?
  5. - Will Dell/Alienware be offering the Alienware Elite/Pro Backpack outside of China anytime soon? Why were the release of these products geo-restricted?

    Alienware Elite Backpack 17
    http://accessories.ap.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=cn&l=en&s=dhs&cs=cndhs1&sku=460-BCHV

    Alienware Pro Backpack 17
    http://accessories.ap.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=cn&l=en&s=dhs&cs=cndhs1&sku=460-BCHU
  6. Hi there Joe!

    This week at Computex Intel and AMD released new 28 and 32 core processors respectively. Will Alienware try to work on incorporating these new cores into future laptops and desktops or do you think it's just more Tech Drama between Intel and AMD?
  7. And we're on! This is Joe and excited to be here.
  8. I'd like to start off by asking if Alienware intends to foray into the tablet/smaller form factor mobile platform market? We've already seen a lot of other designs whereby they are lower profile and slimmer, less bulkier.

    As I'll answer to one of the other questions below, we have certain tenants that we build our products to. Typically when getting smaller there are trade-offs with keyboard, thermals, skin temps, material quality etc... these trade-offs are not ones we've been willing to make.

    If we launch thinner notebooks, we won't give up those qualities in the process. We also see many new thinner notebooks that are based on NVIDIA's updated lower wattage/performance GPUs, We do offer one of those parts, but we run it at a higher wattage than everyone else. And that's our conundrum. Do we offer a 1070 that isn't the full performance potential of a 1070?
  9. Shadowviper said:
    With companies such as Asus, who not only build systems but also the components themselves, how does alienware plan to stay competitive in the future.

    Also as a owner of a high end alienware laptop, I have had to use your customer support a few years back and was left with one huge question: Why was i asked to give my social security number for verification of who i was to rma my 6k dollar laptop (admittedly I refused and then was asked for my drivers license instead which was also not giving).


    First, you should never be asked or provide any Dell / Alienware employee your Social Security Number. If you purchased using Dell Financing, and you called Dell Financing, then yes, I would expect them to ask. But our tech support should not ever ask, nor should you ever provide that.

    Second, Asus does offer components in the desktop category in addition to offering notebooks. Our goal is to provide a full validated solution that provides a complete package and warranty - and we stand behind it. In the desktop space, the DIY community is still very much thriving and as a gamer, the opportunities to build on your own are the broadest and most feature rich I've ever seen. And if someone has that desire - the feeling they receive from building it on their own - I applaud them. I used to do it. I don't anymore as time is now something I have much less of. (I am also uniquely positioned where I have access to as much gaming hardware as I would want).

    For notebooks, we like any other OEM, seek to provide the same - a quality and warrantied product. We believe that there are many ways to build a notebook and we have our own internal brand tenants. Those are iconic design, quality, performance and innovation. We won't sacrifice our materials to be cheaper. We won't chose a lower perf part if there's a higher one. My point is, our goal is to make our customers proud of their purchase. And it's more than a purchase, its an investment. It has to last and continue to delight them. We are now in our 21st year of business, 11 years being part of Dell. I've been around for 13 of them. Those tenants haven't change since I've been involved and I don't see that changing in the future.
  10. ttalien said:
    1. Any plans to make a white color Alienware notebook? (so it would stay cooler out in the sun).

    2. Alienware 17 R5 website says "Tobii IR Eye-tracking" is optional, but when you start ordering, it does not let you remove it. Will this option become available?

    3. Any plans to add an optical network port to Alienware notebooks, so users could directly connect the optical fiber cable to their notebook instead of having to do an optical to ethernet conversion?

    4. Any plans to add the InfinityEdge display to Alienware notebooks like Dell's XPS series has?

    5. Any plans to add a Linux OS option for Alienware notebooks?

    Thanks, TT


    1. At this time we are evaluating a wider color palette. I think I can safely say white won't be one of them, but we are looking at lighter shades. And it's not the sun making it hot, its the raw unbridled performance that is :-)

    2. Tobii comes standard on all high-hertz (120Hz) and UHD LCD panels. If you stay on the standard FHD panel, it will not come wtih Tobii.

    3. We aren't seeing optical networking growing in the consumer space (commerical yes). As as such, we aren't moving into it. However, we do track and intend on being at the forefront of new ethernet technology.

    4. Often times, the LCD panel isn't what drives the size of our notebook, it's our thermals. We typically figure out the performance we need, then build a notebook around that thermal solution. If the we can offer the performance we want with narrower borders, we will.

    5. At one point, we did offer the SteamOS on a desktop / console, the Alienware Alpha. Windows was also offered on that product and it outsold SteamOS considerably. We wanted to see the SteamOS flourish and provide a purpose built gaming ecosystem, but we did not see that happen.
  11. Nospheratu said:
    - Will Dell/Alienware be offering the Alienware Elite/Pro Backpack outside of China anytime soon? Why were the release of these products geo-restricted?

    Alienware Elite Backpack 17
    http://accessories.ap.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=cn&l=en&s=dhs&cs=cndhs1&sku=460-BCHV

    Alienware Pro Backpack 17
    http://accessories.ap.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=cn&l=en&s=dhs&cs=cndhs1&sku=460-BCHU


    At this time, very unlikely.
  12. ThatoldGuy said:
    Thanks for taking the time to review our questions,

    1) With the confirmation of no Alienware 13 Refresh, can we expect a different small form factor? (I loved both my AW 11 R2 and my current AW 13 R3 OLED; and hope Alienware continues to innovate in the small form factor gaming segment)

    2) Any thoughts on investing in OLED development for the other Alienware models?

    3) Would it be possible for Alienware to re-introduce the MUX switch? (Switchable on-board graphics though restart; not Nvidia Optimus mess)

    4) Amy plans for an integrated mechanical keyboard?
    5) Per Key RGB lighting?



    1. We have been launched four notebooks with a smaller display size notebook for sometime and we think we get it right each time. We are now accepting that gamers want lighter notebooks that don't sacrifice on performance. So, we are looking at new form factors in the future, but we are no longer constraining those to 11-13" screens. But that OLED... MMMM that's nice....

    2. Speaking of OLED, we are working with our suppliers on expansion of that category because MMMM... that OLED is nice...

    3. Today, all of our notebooks that offer internal GSYNC displays are running in the way you are referring to. Also, any external display that you connect to the mDP or HDMI ports on all of our noteboks will run directly from the dGPU.

    4. We agree, integrated mechanical is the unicorn of notebook keyboards. However, we haven't found a switch company yet to truly deliver on the same experince that exists in the desktop world.

    5. Per-key-LED, internal I presume. Like above, we don't want to sacrifice the feel of a keyboard just to offer per-key lighting. We are working with our suppliers on new and different solutions.
  13. Anonymous said:
    Hi there Joe!

    This week at Computex Intel and AMD released new 28 and 32 core processors respectively. Will Alienware try to work on incorporating these new cores into future laptops and desktops or do you think it's just more Tech Drama between Intel and AMD?


    Our goal is to be time to market with all gaming relevant technologies. If these new products provide benefits to gamers, we'll launch them both.
  14. Hey there Joe,

    What do you look for in a perfect laptop or desktop? Does that affect your decision making when designing multiple lines that have different purposes?
  15. Hi there!

    Quick question: If Human Civilization makes it to space, will Alienware try to make their technology accessible and usable in space and sub-space environments?

    This question is from my grand-son. He's too young for the forums but thinks that Alienware is, in his words. "super duper ultra cool".
  16. Viddyvane said:
    Hey there Joe,

    What do you look for in a perfect laptop or desktop? Does that affect your decision making when designing multiple lines that have different purposes?


    I am of course very biased :-) But here goes. My lifestyle at work dictates the notebook that I use for work and what I value in a *work* based laptop. However, the one that I carry can still game on the road :-)

    But when we design a laptop or a desktop, we try to understand what a customer wants - beyond the CPU/GPU combo. We believe that Alienware customers are seeking a higher experience. Whether it be build materials, features etc. But all of the features need to be purposeful. For example, the lighting in our products to allow you to play in the dark, but also work with over 130 games to provide a better experience. This and other decisions (like our magnesium- aluminum alloy) cost money but we believe that they provide a richer experience.

    When we look at our Dell gaming products, the biggest miss-conception is that an Alienware customer is somehow more 'hardcore' - that's not true. We know that your wallet doesn't dictate your gaming lifestyle. So when we design Dell gaming products we first want to deliver on the primary goal of gaming performance. Yes, they are less expensive, and do not have all of the same features, but we believe that we satisfy the core need - playing games for as long as you want to.
  17. Hey Joe

    My question that I have is when people are preferring smaller, more portable systems, why would someone choose to buy a laptop like the R4 that weighs more and has a large AC adapter? Is it because you trade power for portability or would people choose to buy a larger system because that sort of thing is not required? Or do people in the market for this kind of system not care about portability or aesthetics?
  18. Hello!

    Is your Alienware Graphics Amplifier supported with notebooks outside of Dell?
  19. TechyInAZ said:
    Hello!

    Is your Alienware Graphics Amplifier supported with notebooks outside of Dell?


    No, it has its own hi-bandwidth port. Not thunderbolt
  20. That answers quite a lot actually, thank you!

    Another question.
    A lot of our viewers/readers and our member base often tend to modify or do their own form of tinkering with their laptop/notebooks/mobile computing devices. Be it adding higher storage or more ram. One of the main criteria's I try and touch up on, while offering advice, is that if the device is within warranty period any form of modification should be held off until the warranty period expires, to prevent the warranty being void. Am I wrong to suggest this in 2018?

    What sort of an advice would you have for folks who don't have the funds to spec their Alienware laptop off your site, to the brim, and would like to gradually add-on components/hardware or if there is actually a budget friendly Alienware laptop lurking?
  21. Are you guys thinking about putting the new Threadripper with 32 cores into a Area 51, if so, how soon should we expect it, I am saving up money and want to know if i should wait a bit longer for the new area 51 rather than get the New R2.
  22. g-unit1111 said:
    Hey Joe

    My question that I have is when people are preferring smaller, more portable systems, why would someone choose to buy a laptop like the R4 that weighs more and has a large AC adapter? Is it because you trade power for portability or would people choose to buy a larger system because that sort of thing is not required? Or do people in the market for this kind of system not care about portability or aesthetics?


    Great question and something I get asked often. We know from speaking to our customers that the primary purchasing reason is performance. Our 15 and 17 notebooks are not typically "daily drivers" they are "desk queens" that don't leave the house very often. In fact we worked on specific battery technology to ensure that our batteries don't get overcharged for being plugged in all the time.

    Again, in speaking with them, the purchase of a laptop that has a 10lb bag weight is driven by the desire to move from location to location occasionally and still have all of their gaming performance. Prior to NVIDIA's MQ technology you couldn't get 1060 type performance under ~10lbs, today some are offering it, but we build our notebooks so you can have the same performance at hour 1 and hour 6 of gaming of a long night session of Overwatch.

    Lastly, no one wants to go back to the days of carrying gear grip bags moving their desktop and display (remember moving that 20" Sony Trinitron?) to your buddies garage for a lan party.
  23. Turning things around a bit, what sort of games do you play? :D
  24. dmukasjr said:
    Are you guys thinking about putting the new Threadripper with 32 cores into a Area 51, if so, how soon should we expect it, I am saving up money and want to know if i should wait a bit longer for the new area 51 rather than get the New R2.


    "Our goal is to be time to market with all gaming relevant technologies. If these new products provide benefits to gamers, we'll launch them both." I stand by my earlier comment. If the TR 32 core has benefits to gamers, we will launch it.
  25. ThursdayFridaySaturday said:
    Hi there!

    Quick question: If Human Civilization makes it to space, will Alienware try to make their technology accessible and usable in space and sub-space environments?

    This question is from my grand-son. He's too young for the forums but thinks that Alienware is, in his words. "super duper ultra cool".


    I can not confirm nor deny if we are involved in any NASA or SpaceX related space excursions. Nor can I say that on August 31st 2023 that we will or won't be involved with Blue Origin.
  26. Lutfij said:
    Turning things around a bit, what sort of games do you play? :D


    As said as it sounds, I spend most of my time playing PowerPoint, but when I get a free moment or on the 2nd hour of a global conference call I play Cities: Skylines.
  27. Lutfij said:
    That answers quite a lot actually, thank you!

    Another question.
    A lot of our viewers/readers and our member base often tend to modify or do their own form of tinkering with their laptop/notebooks/mobile computing devices. Be it adding higher storage or more ram. One of the main criteria's I try and touch up on, while offering advice, is that if the device is within warranty period any form of modification should be held off until the warranty period expires, to prevent the warranty being void. Am I wrong to suggest this in 2018?

    What sort of an advice would you have for folks who don't have the funds to spec their Alienware laptop off your site, to the brim, and would like to gradually add-on components/hardware or if there is actually a budget friendly Alienware laptop lurking?


    Unlike some OEMs who void your warranty when you open your system and do your own mods, we want, encourage and support you through the process. Tech support may ask you to remove the memory you bought at Newegg just to verify that's the issue, we will still support you. We also provide most customers a WW warranty (some countries have laws against this). So if you purchase your system in the US, move to Australia, we'll still honor the warranty. If I'm not mistaken we've done videos on our YouTube channel showing this - if not, its in the funnel.

    Regarding the purchase from our site - or any other for that matter, focus your purchase on all of things that can't be upgraded. If the CPU is soldered down, put your money into it vs. memory or storage. For LCDs, focus your dollars on if you use it or not. If your going to use an external display 95% of the time, get a good FHD display, not the more costly UHD. If you are going to have the LCD in the notebook be your primary, invest in it upfront.
  28. ThatoldGuy said:
    TechyInAZ said:
    Hello!

    Is your Alienware Graphics Amplifier supported with notebooks outside of Dell?


    No, it has its own hi-bandwidth port. Not thunderbolt


    Thanks for the answer, and that is correct. It's a raw/unabridged 4x lane PCIe port. Today, it will support 4 lanes of PCIe Gen 3. We believe right now (and I know I shouldn't say this), that it will support 4 lanes of PCIe Gen 4 when that happens.

    Regarding Thunderbolt vs. our port. Yes, thunderbolt has a larger ecosystem for sure. But here's the dooms day scenario, you are using an external graphics card and you also have an HDD plugged into the USB port on your thunderbolt dock. The thunderbolt dock shares bandwidth. Do you want to drop frames because of some unknown HDD call to your drive via thunderbolt? We don't share USB and Graphics lanes.

    And the great news, the Alienware 17r3 that was based on Haswell CPU technology and a GTX965, today you can add a 1080 and be running just great - on that system you purchased in 2015. If we'd prioritized Thunderbolt, that group of customers who be purchasing a new system.

    We also offer our dock for a normal price of $199, but today, June 8 2018 it's running at $161. While thunderbolt docks offer you a LAN port and a few more lights, is that worth $200 or $300 :-) [says the guy who adds lighting to everyone, just trolling a little]. But @ $161, it's a great deal.
  29. Hey I play on PowerPoint pretty much all the time! Perhaps we should team up...?
    :rofl:

    Jokes aside, your answer to my follow up question has hit all the nails in my coffin of doubt. It's a warm welcoming change to see how you folks stand by your product. Oh FYI, I'm in Bangladesh, I have a good number of my friends and client's who purchase goods/laptops from USA. Would I/my friends/my client base be able to avail the same warranty scheme as you've stated?
  30. Thanks to everyone for participating in our Q&A! Special thanks to Joe for taking time out of his day to converse with our Tom's Guide members.

    You still have until the 14th to enter our Alienware giveaway, so don't miss out!

    Edit: We've announced a winner! Congratulations to Patricia!
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