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Alienware Releases the Smartest Gaming PCs We Have Seen in a Long Time

Alienware, Dell’s dedicated gaming rig division, has finally announced some new machines—the Alienware 13 laptop and Area-51 desktop computer.

The Alienware 13 is perhaps a bit surprising from the gaming laptop factory. Until now, Alienware laptops have been anachronistic, favoring larger, bulkier machines focused on maximizing power and screen size. The 13.3″ Alienware 13 is one of the smallest the company has ever put out, in terms of both screen size and thickness. At an inch thick and 4.5 pounds, it’s still noticeably thicker and heavier than most other modern laptops, but it’s a far cry from what we’re used to from Alienware.

That said, it doesn’t look like Alienware has sacrificed any of the premium performance that’s expected of them. The Alienware 13 will run on your choice of Intel Haswell Core i processors, with up to 16 GB of DDR3 RAM. Just as important is the graphics card, which doesn’t disappoint, either. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M is one of the better discrete graphics cards from NVIDIA’s premium line of notebook GPUs, so this laptop should be more than capable of running high-end games now and for the next few years. You’ll also have the option of getting two SSDs for internal storage, with capacities between 256 GB and 1 TB. The Alienware 13 starts with a 1366 x 768 resolution display, but if you’re putting down the cash needed to buy one of these, I really doubt that’s going to cut it. Fortunately, you can upgrade to a 1920 x 1080 or 2560 x 1440 400-nit IPS display (with touch, for what that’s worth).

Most of the people interested in this laptop will probably be using wired connections, but for when Wi-Fi is the only option, the Alienware 13 does have 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the latest standard. It’ll also feature Klipsch audio and the Alienware TACTX keyboard, because regular keyboards tend to not be made for the, let’s say, unique demands that gaming places on a keyboard. There’s also an internal copper thermal solution, which adds to the extra bulk but keeps the processor cool enough to consistently run games on the highest settings for prolonged periods of time.

If you’re looking for a little extra power in the way of graphics processing, you can also grab a Graphics Amplifier. It’s a pretty hefty (3.5 kg) peripheral for the Alienware 13 that you can use to add the power of a second discrete graphics card. The Graphics Amplifier can hold one full-length, dual-wide, PCI-Express X16 graphics card, which includes anything at or above the level of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 Series. Basically, you’re adding a desktop-grade graphics card to your laptop, which will definitely help you get the most out of that 2560 x 1440 display. You’re probably not going to be traveling with it, though.

But, if you’re not in need of mobility, the Area-51 is probably the choice here. The Area-51 is Alienware’s new desktop, and it’s not messing around. The most obvious change is the external design—triangular, and definitely hitting the space-age, out of this world feel that Alienware is known for. That design is functional, too—it makes the back ports easier to reach and improves airflow into and out of the machine.

It’s also very powerful. Running on the Intel X99 Express chipset, the Area-51 can be outfitted with either one of two six-core Intel Core i7 processors, or a 4.0 GHz eight-core Intel i7 processor (with 20 MB cache), all of which will be factory overclocked and liquid-cooled. For graphics, the rig supports NVIDIA’s SLI technology, which makes it possible to cram four discrete graphics cards inside, which can be as good as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980, featuring 12GB GDDR separated into three caches of 4 GB each. It’s not quite NVIDIA’s very best desktop graphics card, but it comes awfully close. The good news doesn’t end there—you can also outfit this thing with up to 32 GB of RAM, and the Area-51 is one of the first machines to boast 2,133 MHz DDR4 RAM. For internal storage, the Area-51 has space for up to five HDDs or SSD-HDD combo drives, maxing out at a 512 GB 6 GB/s SSD main drive with a 4TB 6,000 RPM 6 GB/s SATA. There’s also a Blu-ray drive, Gigabit ethernet, and 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi. What does all that mean? It means that the Area-51 is going to be able to run games in 4k resolution, and run them very, very well.

Both the Alienware 13 and the Area-51 will be available in silver when they’re released.