For the time being, Dell is no longer shipping certain Alienware Aurora R12 and R10 gaming PC configurations to half a dozen US states because those product lines potentially fall out of bounds of newly adopted energy efficiency requirements.
When attempting to configure one of those systems, a warning message appears in bold red lettering to alert buyers that their order will not be honored if the destination resides in one of the affected states. This was first spotted by Marie Oakes, an independent content creator who highlighted the disclaimer on Twitter.
"This product cannot be shipped to the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington due to power consumption regulations adopted by those states. Any orders placed that are bound for those states will be canceled," the message states.
The Aurora R12 and R10 are built around the latest generation processors from Intel and AMD, the former featuring 11th Gen Core Rocket Lake CPUs and the latter wielding Ryzen 5000 series chips based on Zen 3.
Unfortunately for both Dell and buyers who reside in affected states, the majority of Aurora R12 and R10 configurations consume more power than local regulations allow. There are exceptions, though.
On the Aurora R12 page, the second cheapest configuration ($1,156) outfitted with a Core i5 11400F, GeForce GTX 1650 Super, 8GB of single-channel DDR4-3200 RAM, and 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD "complies with CES power consumption regulations" and "ships to ALL states." The five other customizable starting points do not. Oddly enough, that includes a cheaper setup which drops the 256GB SSD from the mix, adding a thirstier hard drive, but is otherwise the same.
There are seven customizable setups on the Aurora R10 product page, and once again, only the second cheapest config indicates it ships to all US states. It includes a Ryzen 5 5600X, Radeon RX 5600, 8GB of single-channel DDR4-3200 RAM, and 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD.
In a statement to The Register, Dell expanded on the shipment ban, as it relates to power requirements in California.
"Yes, this was driven by the California Energy Commission (CEC) Tier 2 implementation that defined a mandatory energy efficiency standard for PCs – including desktops, AIOs and mobile gaming systems. This was put into effect on July 1, 2021. Select configurations of the Alienware Aurora R10 and R12 were the only impacted systems across Dell and Alienware," Dell said.
In 2016, California became the first US state to approve energy efficiency standards for PCs and monitors. At the time, it was anticipated that the new standards would save 2.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year and significantly reduce carbon pollution arising from fossil fuel-fired power plants.
More regulations are coming, too. On December 9, 2021, Tier 2 requirements will expand to "computers with high-speed networking capability, multi-screen notebooks, notebooks with cyclical behavior, and monitors with high refresh rates."
The formulas used to determine which systems pass muster are outlined in a Title 20 Appliance Regulations document (PDF). In short, various annual energy consumption metrics apply to different PCs, the least stringent being 75 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, for certain systems manufactured after July 1, 2021.
Going forward, there is a whole load of calculations system builders will need to make around PCs shipping from July 1, but with various 'adders' (like the GPU, networking cards, and other hardware) that can modify the final calculation. It's quite dizzying.
It remains to be seen if other PC makers will halt shipments of certain PC configs as well, and how the new rules will affect upcoming models.