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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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

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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