At CES 2017 Alienware (a Dell brand) is announcing a trio of new Gaming Laptops, including 17, 15 and 13 inches display sizes. The star of the show was the powerful Alienware 17, which comes with a host of design and technical features that make it a computer worthy of attention. Some of these traits are shared with the 15 and 13 inches models, but not all.
The Alienware 17’s back cover is made of aluminum, with the hinge not being completely in the back. This is because a large section in the back of the computer is dedicated to thermal management (cooling), and has extra space for the various USB/HDMI/Ethernet and other ports the system has. Because the heat is pulled to the back of the computer, the main user area above the keyboard remains cool at all times. The improved thermal design pushes the previous design much farther.
The bottom of the laptop has a huge air intake, which is the equivalent of the entire surface of an 11” laptop I’m guessing. The air cools down the system and goes out through large exhausts in the back. On either side of the laptop, there are also airways that let the system cool in a less aggressive (and probably quieter) way. That’s very useful when you’re not playing, but just browsing the web, or watching a movie.
The powerful cooling setup also allows for equally powerful components such as (up to) 180 Watts GPU chips (like the NVIDIA 1080 graphics processor) and powerful main CPUs, up to Intel’s 7th generation (Kaby Lake) Core i7.
Anyone familiar with Alienware laptops knows that they are built to be solid. The computer is extremely rigid, and there’s even a steel plate underneath the keyboard – it’s not new, and we often joked that it make the laptop survivable against angry gamers who bang on the keyboard (don’t do it). In reality, it’s to provide a uniform keyboard feel across the surface.
The keyboard has a 2.2mm of key travel, which is substantial for a laptop. That is important for gamers because you want to have your fingers on and ready, but avoid accidental presses at the same time. The keyboard also has N-Key Rollover technology, which means that you can press many buttons simultaneously or perform complex combos, without the keyboard ever locking up or have a full buffer.
Interestingly, Alienware is making the Eye-Tracking technology from Tobii available as an option on the Alienware 17. This technology allows gamers to use their eyes as an additional controller to aim or perform other actions if the game supports it. If you’ve never seen it in action, here’s an excellent Tobii Eye Tracking demo from last year’s CES.
The QHD (2560×1440) touch display LCD Panel is compatible with NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology, which makes sure that no tearing happens, regardless of the framerate at which the game is being rendered at. This is extremely important because the average framerate is raised, along with the overall smoothness feel. G-Sync basically prevents the game from being “choppy” because of vertical synchronization issues. There’s an optional 4K display if you really need something super-sharp.
The Alienware 15 also has an optional G-Sync option, and while the Alienware 13 does not have G-Sync, users can opt for an OLED panel, which we highly recommend thinking about. Ever since we reviewed the Lenovo YOGA X1 with its 14” OLED panel, everything just seemed a little blend. It’s nice to see other OEMs jump on board. All three models will be available “this month” at starting prices of: 13 ($999) / 15 ($1199) / 17 ($1349).