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Alienware lifts off for next-gen gaming power on laptops and desktops

By Leigh D. Stark | 4:54 pm 05/11/2014

Console gaming got you down? PCs are coming back in a big way, and if you’re having trouble justifying a next-gen console but love gaming, you may want to save your money for something else.

Next-generation consoles like the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One might be a big deal at the moment, but both products have been stung with a lack of backwards compatibility. Sure, there are some awesome titles on each, but older titles — familiar and friendly ones — require the subsequent version of the console, in this case, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.

But not a PC, which will happily take older games and run them from the past few years, and even some of the upcoming ones. Many of the games made for next-gen consoles also come to PCs, and there are loads more games made for the PC which will never come to consoles, making them a prime choice for gaming.

Alienware has been making computers made for this sector for a while now, and with its latest release, is really focusing on that section of gamers that wants to go mobile and portable, while also giving an option for people who like big, meaty, and powerful gaming systems at home.

First is the portable option, and this comes in the form of the Alienware 13, a return to the 13 inch laptop space for Alienware, with a new chassis design with carbon fibre composites in its build, 13 inch screen running the resolution of 2560×1440, 2.8cm thickness and 2 kilogram weight, and a whole bunch of innards spec’d for today and a bit of tomorrow, too.

Those specs include Intel’s fourth-generation Core processor technology with either i5 or i7 processors, at least 8GB RAM, either 1TB storage or a 256GB solid-state drive, Windows 8.1, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics chipset with 2GB RAM.

You’ll find that 2560×1440 screen on the high-end model working with a touch panel, but the lower models support Full HD 1920×1080 and HD 1366×768 for lower and lowest (entry), both without touch.

Priced from $1599 ($2499 for the 2560×1440 QHD model), these computers will still come with the colourful keyboards and glowing Alienware logo via AlienFX, as well as USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4, Gigabit Ethernet, and more, but they will also be compatible with a new breed of desktop accessory aimed at delivering more grunt when you’re home.

Yes, portable gaming is great, but if you need some more firepower, Alienware will be boosting the gaming experience with a “graphics amplifier” which is a neat way of saying “graphics card in a box.”

Think of it as an upgrade for your laptop’s graphics chipset, a feature which is often impossible to update due to how built into the laptop hardware a graphics card is. With the graphics amplifier, a second graphics card can be provided off-side from the Alienware notebooks, providing more performance from a more powerful card.

“Until now, gamers have had to make some really hard decisions and compromises when they are looking for their next gaming system,” said Frank Azor, General Manager of Alienware.

“Do you choose the raw power and performance of a desktop, or do you need the portability and battery life to game wherever they choose? The Alienware 13 combined with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier enables gamers to choose both, with an amazingly portable and powerful laptop for mobile gaming and then simply plugging into a desktop-class gaming experience when you get home. This is gaming without compromises.”

Alienware’s Graphics Amplifier will be available soon for $349, but if that doesn’t cut it for you, Alienware will have another system for you, and wow, is it a beast (in a good way).

It’s called the “Area 51” — because everything made by Alienware has an alien-centric name — and similar to how Apple’s Mac Pro redefined the evolution of the PC, Alienware’s Area 51 looks poised to the same thing, providing a massive desktop computer with a reimagined shape and installation method for some of its components.

Traditional Alienware desktops have never really been “traditional,” bringing with them rather unusual looks, but the Area 51 takes that to a new level, and couples a rather unusual triangular design with some heavy set hardware, pairing the system with high-end Intel Core i7 processors, as many as three graphic cards, as much as 32GB of RAM, 802.11c WiFi, Bluetooth, Windows 8.1, and big solid-state drives and massive 4TB hard drives.

There’s also a rather unusual cooling system with fans everywhere, drawing in air and throwing it out the back, keeping the entire system cool, while letting the performance fly.

We’re intrigued by this one, and for lots of reasons: this isn’t just an uber-impressive gaming machine loaded with grunt, but rather a reinvention on how big machines such as this should look, with CPU, RAM, and graphics on one side flanked heavily by big fans to keep things cool, while the hard drives and solid state components sit on the back, in a case that looks totally unique.

Totally unique and unusual designs come with a price tag, though, with a starting price of $2999 when this machine lands, which — as well as everything else we’ve mentioned in this article — should be around late November.

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