Alienware 13 laptop promises gaming performance without the heft

Alienware 13 laptop promises gaming performance without the heft

Summary: Unlike the company's beefier 14-inch sibling, the new notebook weighs in at just 4.5 pounds and is an inch thick, while featuring an Intel Core processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics card.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Laptops
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We all know the stereotype of the gaming laptop: A massive hunk of metal that scolds your lap for the one hour of battery life you can muster from it, before you return it to your backpack to weigh down on your spine. While those days aren't completely gone, the PC industry has made big great strides over the years in reducing gaming notebooks' footprint and still retaining their ability to frag.

Alienware is one of the leading companies in pushing the limits of mobile PC gaming, releasing the diminuitive 11-inch M11x four years ago. Last year, Razer delivered the Blade 14 that measured in at just 0.66 inches and 4.1 pounds, and it's been joined by other companies like Gigabyte in making laptops even thinner and lighter while managing to squeeze some of the latest components inside. Though the M11x was eventually discontinued, Alienware looks like it's ready to give small another chance with its forthcoming 13 laptop.

Despite a smaller display, the Alienware 13 can't quite reach the Blade 14's level of svelte, tipping the scales at 4.5 pounds with a thickness of one inch, but that's a notable improvement over the Alienware 14, which comes in at 6.1 pounds and 1.6 inches thick. In addition to offering a bit less screen space, the new system requires another compromise in the form of processor choice. While you'll get a choice of Intel Core CPU, these will apparently be ultra-low-voltage chips, so performance may be reduced but with the benefit of greater battery life (the company claims 8 hours for streaming video) and less heat being generated.

The 13 will also ship with Nvidia's GeForce GTX 860M GPU, which sits in the middle of the pack for Nvidia's current mobile graphics lineup. You'll be able to outfit the laptop with up to 16GB of RAM and a pair of solid-state drives and your choice of either Windows 7 or 8.1. Three screen resolutions will be available, from 1,366x768 to 1,920x1,080 (full 1080p HD) to 2,560x1,440 (so-called Quad HD), and the notebook will integrate Alienware's usual design flourishes, such as customizable lighting zones.

The choice of graphics card suggests that you might not need to break the bank completely to purchase the Alienware 13, though you'll still wind up paying far more than a typical laptop. Unfortunately, no pricing info has been divulged yet, and with no release date set either, you'll have to wait for some unknown amount of time before finding out how close it comes to the newest Blade 14's $2,199.99 starting price.

Topics: Mobility, Laptops

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6 comments
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  • Something doesn't add up

    Gaming computer with ULV processor? To my knowledge, they're all dual core.
    Michael Alan Goff
  • thoughts

    "A massive hunk of metal that scolds your lap for the one hour of battery life you can muster from it, before you return it to your backpack to weigh down on your spine."

    I generally keep mine in a carrying case rather than a backpack, heh.

    To be fair, the battery life is only really that short when you're playing a high-end game that pushes the machine to its limits. If you're not playing games at all, you'll likely get the battery life of an average laptop. The general rule is, you want to be plugged in while gaming.

    Truth be known, these machines aren't really designed for people who travel everywhere and take their laptops out at every opportunity.

    Rather, they're really designed for LAN parties. Toss it in the car, show up to the LAN party, and play games with your friends. A lot easier than trying to haul a large desktop in the car.

    "You'll be able to outfit the laptop with up to 16GB of RAM and a pair of solid-state drives and your choice of either Windows 7 or 8.1."

    I'd recommend one drive be solid state, the other platter. Modern games have rather large space requirements; if you choose two solid state drives, you'll be running out of space quickly. The reason for having two drives is that one is the SSD with the OS for performance, and the other is for your game library, which needs to be able to fit all of your games.

    "so performance may be reduced but with the benefit of greater battery life"

    Well, hard to say if that will be successful. While battery life is in general a good thing: Keep in mind this is supposed to be aimed at gamers. They can be pretty finicky about performance.
    CobraA1
    • In fact they should minimize the battery

      I think they should minimize the battery to make a smaller unit. I've got one of the m17x models, and I would never even bother trying to do a 3D game on battery. I think really all the battery is good for is you can move it without shutting down. As far disk, I found the standard hard drive with the memory cache performs nicely. The 1TB+ SSDs are still way too expensive.
      Buster Friendly
  • The design

    To some people the thick design of the laptop may look dated, but it benefits making the air flow better.
    Pollo Pazzo
    • That is true.

      That is true. These are, after all, laptops that err on the side of performance above almost everything else. Bad airflow already plagues gaming laptops, and thinner means less space for airflow.
      CobraA1
      • The other reason

        The other reason is they're designed to be user disassembled.
        Buster Friendly