Notebookcheck

Dell Alienware 13 Notebook Review

Florian Glaser (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 12/30/2014

Small chassis, big performance? After products with 11 and 14-inches, the gaming experts from Alienware now offer a 13-inch product. Our article tries to focus on the question of whether a dual-core is sufficient for the GeForce GTX 860M and the external amplifier.

Alienware 13

For the original German review, see here.

In addition to the Alienware 18 and Alienware 17, the parent group Dell now also offers a 13-inch notebook. This is a good development when you observe the advancements of recent years since the trend is obviously going towards light and compact cases. Dell already gained experiences with devices smaller than 15-inches. Besides the Alienware M11x, the Alienware 14 was an interesting product as well. The Alienware 13 is basically the middle course.

The homepage of the manufacturer currently lists three configurations. While the cheapest version uses an HD panel (1,049 Euros, ~$1269), our version for 1,149 Euros (~$1390) has a Full HD display (1920x1080 IPS instead of 1366x768 TN). If you prefer extremely sharp screens you might want to get the QHD option, even though 2560x1440 pixels might be a bit too much for this display size. Then there are also the increased performance requirements (Windows 8.1 is not perfect for such high resolutions, either). 

The other specifications are identical. Every version comes with 8 GB DDR3 RAM (16 GB for 140 Euros extra, ~$169), a 1,000 GB hard drive (SSD for 149-329 Euros, ~$180-$398) as well as a GeForce GTX 860M. The processor can currently not be upgraded. The Core i5-4210U is a pretty risky decision by Dell since the CPU only has two cores with a comparatively low clock. The most interesting option is probably the Graphics Amplifier for 249 Euros (~$301). The external box can accommodate desktop GPUs from AMD and Nvidia.

BIOS Main
BIOS Main
BIOS Advanced
BIOS Advanced
BIOS Security
BIOS Security
BIOS Boot
BIOS Boot

Case

Silver Arrow?
Silver Arrow?

As is expected from an Alienware device, the chassis design is pretty appealing. The futuristic look follows the design language of the bigger siblings. The Alienware 13 is pretty light for a gaming device with almost two kilograms. A height of 2.8 centimeters is decent as well, so it shouldn't be a problem to transport the high-end dwarf. The competing W230SS Barebone from Clevo, which is also equipped with a GeForce GTX 860M, is both slightly thicker and heavier.

Otherwise, there are hardly any alternatives with 13-inches. The choice is bigger in the 14-inch segment, for example, the Gigabyte P34G v2 (Core i7-4710HQ & GeForce GTX 860M @1,400 Euros, ~$1693) and the MSI GE40 (Core i7-4712MQ & GeForce GTX 850M @1,150 Euros, ~$1391) that weigh 1.8-1.9 kilograms and have a height between 21 and 30 millimeters.

The quality of the Alienware 13 is very good. Besides the visual design, the build quality surpasses other gaming notebooks as well. According to Dell, the cover is made of a material that is popular in aircraft construction (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) and significantly lighter than conventional metal. It is a matter of taste if you like the rubberized area around the keyboard, but it tends to attract fingerprints when you have greasy fingers.

The stability of the Alienware 13 is on a good level. The display cover can be – similar to the majority of notebooks – twisted quite a lot, but the base unit is very sturdy. Only the keyboard could have benefited from a higher resistance. The firm hinges keep the display well in position, but you will need two hands to open the lid.

Connectivity

Ports

The port variety reminds us of the W230SS Barebone (RJ-45, 2x sound, HDMI), whereas Dell only integrates three instead of four USB ports. Another difference concerns the display ports. The Alienware 13 does not have a VGA output but a DisplayPort. All ports are located at the rear half of the notebook, so both left and right-handers should have no problems using a mouse. Thanks to the fan location at the back, you are not confronted with the warm air, either.

Wireless Communication

You can obviously use the wireless Internet connection if you don't have an Ethernet cable or prefer the wireless solution. The Killer-1525 module from Qualcomm Atheros is supposed to be – similar to the network card Killer e2200 (Gigabit Ethernet) – well suited for gaming. Besides the usual WLAN standards 802.11 a/b/g/n, the wireless adaptor also supports Bluetooth 4.0. Another highlight is the support for the latest ac-technology. The range test (scenario varies from author to author) showed a good performance for the Alienware 13. We still got three bars, even with a distance of 10-15 meters and through several walls.

Left side: AC power, Noble lock, USB 3.0, microphone, headphones
Left side: AC power, Noble lock, USB 3.0, microphone, headphones
Back: port for Graphics Amplifier, DisplayPort, HDMI
Back: port for Graphics Amplifier, DisplayPort, HDMI
Right side: 2x USB 3.0, RJ45 port
Right side: 2x USB 3.0, RJ45 port

Maintenance

The maintainability leaves mixed impressions. The number of screws suggests that you can remove the whole bottom cover, but the mechanism is not really comprehensible (how and where can you separate the surfaces?), so we stopped our attempt to avoid any damage. The "normal" maintenance cover only reveals the storage solution (1x 2.5-inch or 1x M.2) as well as the two memory slots.

Preloaded software
Preloaded software

Software

The software equipment is really comprehensive. It includes, for instance, AlienAutopsy (system monitoring) or AlienBackup (recovery management). Contact point #1 is the Command Center, where you can adjust the chassis illumination (AlienFX with 20 colors) and adjust the energy-saving modes (AlienFusion), and also check the status of the Graphics Amplifier (AlienAdrenaline). Thanks to the keyboard with four zones and other illumination elements, the notebook looks pretty nice from a distance and almost screams gaming.

Accessories

The scope of supply is pretty limited. The power adaptor (15.2 x 7.5 x 2.5 centimeters) with a weight of 520 grams is only accompanied by a quick-start guide and some safety information. But there is one more "goodie" in the box. We think it is a great idea to deliver the system recovery on an 8 GB USB stick and other manufacturers should take this as an example.

Warranty

The standard warranty period is one year. For an additional price, you can get an extension to 24, 36 or 48 months. In addition, the manufacturer offers a twelve-month accidental and theft protection.

Killer Network Manager
Killer Network Manager
AlienRespawn
AlienRespawn
AlienAutopsy
AlienAutopsy
AlienFX
AlienFX
AlienFusion
AlienFusion
AlienAdrenaline
AlienAdrenaline

Input Devices

Keyboard

Except for the stability, there is not much criticism for the keyboard. Yes, a combined Ins/Del key is not perfect and not every user wants to waive a numeric keypad. But all in all, the keyboard has more advantages than issues.

Besides the intense and even illumination, we also like the convenient typing experience. Inputs are neither loud nor clattery. A key size of 13 x 13 millimeters is also decent, even though the F-row is slightly smaller, which is pretty common. Dell does not risk anything with an experimental layout like MSI (GS60GS70, etc.), so you should get used to the input pretty quickly. Some gamers might like the separated arrow keys as well.

Without illumination
Without illumination
With illumination
With illumination

Touchpad

The touchpad, or more precisely the ClickPad, could not really convince us. The mouse replacement has a very generous size (107 x 67 millimeters), but the structured surface does feel a bit unpleasant after a while. The goal of the rough surface is a better feedback. You can instantly feel the transition to the palm rest, so the minimal depression is completely sufficient.

The mechanics of a ClickPad are a matter of taste. Because of the missing dedicated buttons, some inputs are faster or more comfortable, respectively, but the precision of many ClickPads cannot keep up with normal touchpads. Another problem: The cursor tends to jump during some inputs or clicks are not recognized accurately. The multi-touch gesture support was not perfect, either, scrolling worked well but the zoom function was a bit lazy during the review.

Display

We already mentioned that the medium-priced version of the Alienware 13 is equipped with a Full HD display. 1920x1080 pixels is the perfect resolution for this size. You have to decide for yourself whether 13-inches is sufficient for gaming or not. People that are further away (ego-shooter, sport titles, etc.) appear bigger compared to the Alienware M11x, but your eyes should be pretty good in capturing all the details nonetheless. More enthusiastic gamers will likely prefer devices with 15 or 17-inches.

302
cd/m²
315
cd/m²
313
cd/m²
289
cd/m²
319
cd/m²
307
cd/m²
268
cd/m²
265
cd/m²
273
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 319 cd/m² Average: 294.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 83 %
Center on Battery: 319 cd/m²
Contrast: 997:1 (Black: 0.32 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.83 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 7.63 | - Ø
57% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.57

Dell deserves praise for the integrated panel (9T7WM_11HL), which can convince with its IPS technology. IPS is usually a synonym for wide viewing angles and a crisp and colorful picture. The Alienware 13 is no exception. If you ignore the grayscale and the RGB balance (red colors are a bit too pale), then the picture is very natural.

CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale (calibrated)
CalMAN: Grayscale (calibrated)
CalMaAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMaAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps (calibrated)
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps (calibrated)
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMAN: ColorChecker (calibrated)
CalMAN: ColorChecker (calibrated)
Alienware 13 vs. sRGB (Grid)
Alienware 13 vs. sRGB (Grid)
Alienware 13 vs. AdobeRGB (Grid)
Alienware 13 vs. AdobeRGB (Grid)
Alienware 13
Schenker XMG P304
Gigabyte P34G v2
Alienware 14
MSI GE40-i760M2811
Screen
2%
11%
15%
-51%
Brightness295339
15%
265
-10%
237
-20%
220
-25%
Brightness Distribution8387
5%
85
2%
85
2%
86
4%
Black Level *0.320.54
-69%
0.25
22%
0.25
22%
0.6
-88%
Contrast997685
-31%
1080
8%
944
-5%
377
-62%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *5.833.38
42%
4.59
21%
3.7
37%
11.39
-95%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *7.631.64
79%
5.36
30%
2.96
61%
12.82
-68%
Gamma *2.572.332.692.692.41
CCT7195 90%6720 97%6859 95%6606 98%16825 39%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)5742
-26%
58
2%
62
9%
43
-25%

* ... smaller is better

The rich picture is also a result of the high contrast ratio: Almost 1000:1 is only surpassed by a couple of notebooks. A black value of 0.32 cd/m² and a luminance of around 300 cd/m² also meet expectations. The result for the brightness distribution (83%), however, is just average on paper. Subjectively, there is no annoying screen bleeding. Our test software determined color-space coverage of 77% sRGB and 57% AdobeRGB – decent results. The use outdoors is no problem thanks to the matte surface; you can still recognize the display content even under direct sunlight.

Outdoor use Alienware 13
Outdoor use Alienware 13
Outdoor use Alienware 13

Typical for the IPS technology is the high viewing-angle stability of the 13-inch panel. Even good TN panels usually have issues with horizontal and vertical shifts. Picture distortions are only a problem from an angle above. Compared to the QHD+ panel of the Clevo W230SS, the Full HD screen has a higher contrast (997 vs. 685:1), but it is not as bright (295 vs. 339 cd/m²).

Viewing angles Alienware 13
Viewing angles Alienware 13

Performance

Haswell
Haswell

Processor

Contrary to the majority of high-end notebooks, Alienware does not use a 47 Watts CPU but a model with a TDP of 15 Watts. Similar to its bigger siblings, the Core i5-4210U is based on the Haswell architecture (22 nm) and runs with 1.7-2.7 GHz under load. For comparison: The Core i7-4710HQ, which is used in a lot of gaming notebooks, runs with 2.5-3.5 GHz.

Intel tries to compensate for the low number of cores with Hyper-Threading technology. Thanks to the simulation of two virtual cores, the processor can execute up to four threads simultaneously. Still, the performance cannot compete with a "real" quad-core. Intel's quad-core models manage eight threads simultaneously and have a significantly higher clock.

Graphics are handled by the HD Graphics 4400 of the Core i5-4210U, which has a core frequency of 200-1,000 MHz. Dell implements switchable graphics to reduce the power consumption and improve the battery runtimes. Nvidia's Optimus technology is pretty common nowadays.

System info CPUZ CPU
System info CPUZ Cache
System info CPUZ Mainboard
System info CPUZ Memory
System info CPUZ SPD
System info GPUZ (HD 4400)
System info GPUZ (GTX 860M)
System info CrystalDiskMark
System info HWiNFO
System info Latency
System information Alienware 13

Turbo Boost

The Turbo utilization of the frugal CPU is pretty good in the Alienware 13. 2.4-2.7 GHz with single-core load and 2.4 GHz with multi-core load are easily sufficient for standard tasks (videos etc.), but our benchmarks show that the clock should be higher for modern games. At least we couldn't determine any throttling even under maximum load. The Core i5-4210U still ran with 1.9-2.0 GHz even after our stress test for 60 minutes (FurMark + Prime95).

Single-core rendering
Single-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
CPU & GPU load
CPU & GPU load

CPU Performance

Because of the mediocre clocks, the 15 Watts CPU is far behind the 47 Watts rivals. While the Core i5-4210U "only" has a deficit of 25% compared to a Core i7-4710HQ (Acer V 15 Nitro) in the single-core rendering test, the CPU falls behind by 64% in multi-core scenarios. The Clevo W230SS Barebone shows that you can actually equip a 13-inch chassis with a quad-core processor. The biggest advantage of the 15 Watts model is the moderate power consumption. A standard quad-core would probably increase the temperatures as well as the noise.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Alienware 13
Core i5-4210U
103 Points ∼57%
MSI GE40-i760M2811
Core i7-4702MQ
124 Points ∼68% +20%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
Core i7-4710HQ
137 Points ∼75% +33%
Schenker XMG P304
Core i7-4810MQ
151 Points ∼83% +47%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Alienware 13
Core i5-4210U
239 Points ∼15%
MSI GE40-i760M2811
Core i7-4702MQ
534 Points ∼34% +123%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
Core i7-4710HQ
657 Points ∼42% +175%
Schenker XMG P304
Core i7-4810MQ
647 Points ∼42% +171%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Alienware 13
Core i5-4210U
1.14 Points ∼0%
MSI GE40-i760M2811
Core i7-4702MQ
1.4 Points ∼0% +23%
Gigabyte P34G v2
Core i7-4700HQ
1.54 Points ∼0% +35%
Alienware 14
Core i7-4700MQ
1.51 Points ∼0% +32%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
Core i7-4710HQ
1.53 Points ∼0% +34%
Schenker XMG P304
Core i7-4810MQ
1.68 Points ∼0% +47%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Alienware 13
Core i5-4210U
2.6 Points ∼0%
MSI GE40-i760M2811
Core i7-4702MQ
5.91 Points ∼0% +127%
Gigabyte P34G v2
Core i7-4700HQ
6.96 Points ∼0% +168%
Alienware 14
Core i7-4700MQ
6.95 Points ∼0% +167%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
Core i7-4710HQ
7.22 Points ∼0% +178%
Schenker XMG P304
Core i7-4810MQ
7.02 Points ∼0% +170%
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.6 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.14 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
43.64 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
103 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
239 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
70.08 fps
Help

Graphics

Maxwell
Maxwell

The GeForce GTX 860M was the only high-end GPU based on the Maxwell architecture before Nvidia launched the new top versions GTX 980M and GTX 970M. The Maxwell architecture is not only faster but also more efficient than the Kepler architecture.

Despite the lower number of shaders (640 vs. 768), the 860M is much faster than its predecessor, the GeForce GTX 765M. One reason is the higher clocks: Instead of 850-902 MHz, the Maxwell version of the GTX 860M runs with 1,029-1,097 MHz. Memory type and interface haven't been changed: The DirectX-11 chip has 2,048 MB GDDR5 video memory and a 128-bit memory interface. The GPU currently has no chance against the high-end chips. Both the GTX 970M and the GTX 980M are noticeably faster with 1,280 and 1,536 CUDA cores, respectively.

There are rumors that Nvidia will launch the successor of the GTX 860M at the beginning of 2015 and therefore close the performance gap. Note: A small number of notebooks are equipped with the GTX 860M version based on the Kepler architecture (Clevo P150SM-AAorus X7 v2).

GPU Performance

That the 15 Watts CPU has a negative impact on the performance is not least apparent when you look at the GPU benchmarks. The best example is the 3DMark 13 Fire Strike test. While the GPU score of 3,822 points is still comparable to other notebooks with the GTX 860M like the Acer V 15 Nitro, the Physics score is almost 60% behind the rivals. This is, however, not surprising since they all use a powerful quad-core processor. The overall score shows that the Alienware 13 is roughly 10% slower in the Fire Strike test. The GeForce GTX 860M cannot use its full potential in the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (1920x1080, High, Tessellation normal), either. The result of 44.4 fps is similar to the DDR3 version of the GTX 850M. We will analyze the performance deficit in games later.

Unigine Heaven 3.0 - 1920x1080 DX 11, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
44.4 fps ∼17%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
GeForce GTX 850M (332.35)
43.4 fps ∼16% -2%
Schenker XMG P304
GeForce GTX 860M (332.35)
49.6 fps ∼18% +12%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
93 fps ∼35% +109%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
110.3 fps ∼41% +148%
3DMark (2013)
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Combined (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
1573 Points ∼20%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
GeForce GTX 850M (332.35)
1023 Points ∼13% -35%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
2714 Points ∼34% +73%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
3693 Points ∼47% +135%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Physics (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
3539 Points ∼21%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
GeForce GTX 850M (332.35)
8973 Points ∼54% +154%
Schenker XMG P304
GeForce GTX 860M (332.35)
8961 Points ∼54% +153%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
9687 Points ∼59% +174%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
8610 Points ∼52% +143%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
3822 Points ∼16%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
GeForce GTX 850M (332.35)
3151 Points ∼13% -18%
Schenker XMG P304
GeForce GTX 860M (332.35)
3940 Points ∼17% +3%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
7268 Points ∼31% +90%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
9741 Points ∼42% +155%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Score (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
3309 Points ∼14%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
GeForce GTX 850M (332.35)
2836 Points ∼12% -14%
Schenker XMG P304
GeForce GTX 860M (332.35)
3695 Points ∼16% +12%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
6429 Points ∼27% +94%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
8230 Points ∼35% +149%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
4453 Points ∼15%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
GeForce GTX 850M (332.35)
4682 Points ∼16% +5%
Schenker XMG P304
GeForce GTX 860M (332.35)
4905 Points ∼16% +10%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
9907 Points ∼33% +122%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
12632 Points ∼42% +184%
3DMark Vantage - 1280x1024 P GPU no PhysX (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
16029 Points ∼23%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
GeForce GTX 850M (332.35)
14615 Points ∼21% -9%
Schenker XMG P304
GeForce GTX 860M (332.35)
18491 Points ∼27% +15%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
30252 Points ∼44% +89%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
34535 Points ∼50% +115%
3DMark Vantage P Result no PhysX
13249 points
3DMark 11 Performance
4111 points
3DMark (2013) Ice Storm Standard Score
40675 points
3DMark (2013) Cloud Gate Standard Score
8168 points
3DMark (2013) Fire Strike Standard Score
3309 points
Help

Storage Devices

Solid State Drive
Solid State Drive

Because of the limited space, the Alienware 13 can only accommodate one storage drive. The customer has the choice between a conventional hard drive (1,000 GB @5,400 rpm) and a Solid State Drive (M.2 interface).

Our review unit is equipped with the PM851, a 256 GB SSD from Samsung. The results in the AS SSD benchmark are pretty average. 511 MB/s for sequential reads is pretty convincing, but 231 MB/s for sequential writes is not really good compared to other SSDs. The Micron M600 in the Schenker XMG P505 PRO, for example, managed roughly twice that. The difference is not as big with smaller files. The AS SSD benchmark determined an access time of 0.124 (read) and 0.038 ms (write), respectively.

Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
Sequential Read: 529.6 MB/s
Sequential Write: 240.1 MB/s
512K Read: 420.5 MB/s
512K Write: 239.8 MB/s
4K Read: 28.37 MB/s
4K Write: 103.6 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 358.7 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 239.1 MB/s

System Performance

The comparatively weak dual-core also affects the system performance: 4,877 points in PCMark 7 is more comparable to office and all-round devices than real gaming notebooks.

PCMark 7 Score
4877 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3044 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
3481 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3990 points
Help

Gaming Performance

One of the biggest issues of the Alienware 13 is the mediocre gaming performance. Yes, there are some titles where the 15 Watts CPU is sufficient (Shadow of MordorAlien IsolationThe Evil Within), but the performance of other games suffers significantly. Besides The Crew and Call of Duty Advanced WarfareCivilization Beyond Earth could be more than 10% faster in high settings (1920x1080 pixels) as well, according to our table. GTX 860M notebooks with a quad-core processor even have an advantage of more than 50 % in FIFA 15 and The Sims 4. The results are often closer to a GeForce GTX 850M, and the system is sometimes beaten by a GT 750M notebook with low settings.

As a result, we recommend that Dell replaces the Core i5-4210U with a 37 Watts dual-core or a quad-core. In this configuration, the Alienware 13 is only partially suited for ambitious gamers. Our verdict was similar for the MSI GX60/GX70, which suffered from the weak AMD CPU. By the way, you should update the GPU driver to avoid problems with brand-new games. The preloaded ForceWare 340.84 of our review unit is already a bit outdated.

The Crew - 1920x1080 High Video Preset AA:FX (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
36.9 fps ∼62%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
30.4 (min: 27) fps ∼51% -18%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
44.8 (min: 37) fps ∼75% +21%
Dragon Age: Inquisition - 1920x1080 High Graphics Quality (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
26 fps ∼16%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
23.2 (min: 21) fps ∼14% -11%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
27.4 (min: 23) fps ∼17% +5%
Schenker XMG P505 PRO
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
67.9 fps ∼42% +161%
Far Cry 4 - 1920x1080 High Graphics Quality AA:SM (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
28.4 fps ∼23%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
27 (min: 22) fps ∼22% -5%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
29.9 (min: 23) fps ∼24% +5%
Schenker XMG P505 PRO
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
68 fps ∼54% +139%
Assassin's Creed Unity - 1920x1080 High Graphics Quality AA:2x MS (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
21.2 fps ∼25%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
15 (min: 11) fps ∼18% -29%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
18.3 (min: 15) fps ∼22% -14%
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - 1920x1080 High / On (Cache Shadow Maps Off) AA:FX (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
36.1 fps ∼29%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
39.5 (min: 33) fps ∼32% +9%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
41.2 (min: 35) fps ∼33% +14%
Schenker XMG P505 PRO
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
90.8 fps ∼72% +152%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
86.4 fps ∼69% +139%
Civilization: Beyond Earth - 1920x1080 High Preset (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
35.2 fps ∼23%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
35.5 (min: 20) fps ∼23% +1%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
41.3 (min: 18) fps ∼27% +17%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
82.3 fps ∼53% +134%
The Evil Within - 1920x1080 High / Enabled AA:SM (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
28 fps ∼32%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
24.2 (min: 20) fps ∼27% -14%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
29 (min: 23) fps ∼33% +4%
Schenker XMG P505 PRO
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
82.8 fps ∼94% +196%
Alien: Isolation - 1920x1080 High, On, Shadow Map 1536, Standard SSAO AA:FX AF:8x (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
55.3 fps ∼19%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
47 fps ∼16% -15%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
53.8 fps ∼18% -3%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
107.9 fps ∼36% +95%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
126.5 fps ∼42% +129%
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - 1920x1080 High Preset (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
35.2 fps ∼19%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
23.5 (min: 15) fps ∼13% -33%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
34.7 (min: 25) fps ∼19% -1%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
68.6 fps ∼37% +95%
Schenker XMG P505 PRO
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
88.7 fps ∼48% +152%
Fifa 15 - 1366x768 High Preset AA:2x MS (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
113.8 fps ∼32%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
141.6 (min: 124) fps ∼40% +24%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
173.9 (min: 135) fps ∼49% +53%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
237.1 fps ∼66% +108%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
215.6 fps ∼60% +89%
Sims 4 - 1920x1080 High Preset (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GeForce GTX 860M (340.84)
41.4 fps ∼29%
Schenker M504
GeForce GTX 850M (mixed)
53.7 (min: 40) fps ∼37% +30%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 860M (mixed)
67.3 (min: 48) fps ∼47% +63%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
100.6 fps ∼70% +143%
Gigabyte P35X v3
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
94.3 fps ∼65% +128%
low med. high ultra
Sims 4 (2014) 126.663.141.440fps
Fifa 15 (2014) 124113.884.4fps
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014) 92.461.335.29.7fps
Alien: Isolation (2014) 105.193.955.340.4fps
The Evil Within (2014) 56.444.428fps
Civilization: Beyond Earth (2014) 66.851.235.231.4fps
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014) 70.851.736.122.9fps
Assassin's Creed Unity (2014) 31.82921.27.4fps
Far Cry 4 (2014) 47.143.928.422.7fps
Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014) 47.140.12618.6fps
The Crew (2014) 51.341.336.927.3fps

Graphics Amplifier

The Graphics Amplifier is an external box with the dimensions 39.5 x 16.5 x 16 centimeters. We already had a closer look at this box at a press event (see pictures), and it is designed for desktop graphics cards with a higher performance than the GTX 860M. Besides the dimensions, the weight is pretty lush as well: The box weighs a hefty 3,530 grams, which means it is 80% heavier than the notebook itself. It includes a 460 Watts power adaptor, which is even sufficient for the most powerful desktop GPUs. The Graphics Amplifier is attached with a proprietary cable, which – contrary to modern motherboards – does not use a PCIe x16 interface, but only PCIe x4. This means very fast chips can lose about 10% of their performance.  

The installation of the Graphics Amplifier is very easy: After you opened the case and put the graphics card in the according slot, you just have to attach the power connectors. The Amplifier has two 8 pole connectors (each 6+2), so you can even use high performance models. In addition, there are also four USB 3.0 ports. This means you can attach a lot of peripherals and many displays at the video ports of the graphics card. The Graphics Amplifier is shipped with a quick-start guide and two cables (power + data).

Exterior view
Exterior view
Internal layout
Internal layout
Ports
Ports

Just as simple as the installation of the GPU is the commissioning: Attach the cable, boot the system and probably install a new driver – that's basically it. The deactivation is similarly simple in our opinion: If you don't need the Graphics Amplifier you can just use the key combination Fn + F1. Dell also deserves praise for the fact that Optimus is always available – it does not matter if you use the GeForce GTX 860M or the GPU in the Amplifier. One issue was the noise development. Even though the tested GeForce GTX 980 is one of the quietest high-end products from the last couple of years, the Amplifier was always clearly audible on the desk, both while idling and with 3D applications. We definitely miss some kind of fan control.

However, the main problem was the performance. Despite the maximum clocks (1,250 MHz @core, 3,500 MHz @VRAM), the GeForce GTX 980 could not really use its full potential. As expected, there is a massive limitation by the notebook CPU. The Graphics Amplifier only managed an overall score of 6,453 points in the 3DMark 13 Fire Strike test. Our desktop system with a Core i7-3770K (roughly comparable to the Core i7-4910MQ) was 62% faster, and +38% in the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (150.2 vs. 109.1 fps) is a pretty big difference as well.

Information display
Information display
Desktop GPU
Desktop GPU
Clocks
Clocks

The difference is sometimes even bigger when you play games. While Alien IsolationAssassin's Creed Unity and Call of Duty Advanced Warfare were "only" 26 up to 48% faster on the desktop PC (ultra preset), we were able to measure a difference of 83 and 99% for GRID Autosport and Far Cry 4, respectively. We measured the biggest difference in Watch Dogs, where the desktop PC was 165% faster. Watch Dogs did not run smoothly in general, so you can doubt the sense of the graphics box (at least in the case of the Alienware 13).

We can eliminate the GPU driver as a cause for the mediocre performance. We used the current ForceWare 344.75 for our special tests. We did not perform tests for the noise, the power consumption and the temperatures because of time limitations. After a couple of minutes with 3D load, the GTX 980 reached almost 70 °C. The CPU leveled off at 2.4 GHz with the deactivated GTX 860M. By the way, the Graphics Amplifier does not change the rating of the Alienware 13.

Unigine Heaven 3.0 - 1920x1080 DX 11, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GTX 860M (340.84) | Core i5-4210U
44.4 fps ∼17%
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
109.1 fps ∼41% +146%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.16) | Core i7-3770K
150.2 fps ∼56% +238%
3DMark (2013)
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Combined (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GTX 860M (340.84) | Core i5-4210U
1573 Points ∼20%
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
2257 Points ∼29% +43%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.16) | Core i7-3770K
4783 Points ∼61% +204%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Physics (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GTX 860M (340.84) | Core i5-4210U
3539 Points ∼21%
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
3366 Points ∼20% -5%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.16) | Core i7-3770K
9864 Points ∼60% +179%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GTX 860M (340.84) | Core i5-4210U
3822 Points ∼16%
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
11349 Points ∼49% +197%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.16) | Core i7-3770K
12590 Points ∼54% +229%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Score (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GTX 860M (340.84) | Core i5-4210U
3309 Points ∼14%
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
6453 Points ∼28% +95%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.16) | Core i7-3770K
10450 Points ∼45% +216%
Alien: Isolation - 1920x1080 Ultra, On, Shadow Map 2048, HDAO AA:2x SM AF:16x (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GTX 860M (340.84) | Core i5-4210U
40.4 fps ∼18%
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
99.9 fps ∼45% +147%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.16) | Core i7-3770K
125.7 fps ∼57% +211%
Assassin's Creed Unity - 1920x1080 Ultra High Graphics Quality AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GTX 860M (340.84) | Core i5-4210U
7.4 fps ∼13%
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
31.7 fps ∼57% +328%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.xx) | Core i7-3770K
43.6 (min: 39) fps ∼79% +489%
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - 1920x1080 Extra / On (Cache Shadow Maps Off), 2x Supersampling AA:2x SM (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GTX 860M (340.84) | Core i5-4210U
22.9 fps ∼30%
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
51.1 fps ∼66% +123%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.xx) | Core i7-3770K
75.7 (min: 65) fps ∼98% +231%
GRID: Autosport - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
66.3 fps ∼45%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.16) | Core i7-3770K
121.4 fps ∼83%
Far Cry 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Graphics Quality AA:SM (sort by value)
Alienware 13
GTX 860M (340.84) | Core i5-4210U
22.7 fps ∼20%
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
39 fps ∼34% +72%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.xx) | Core i7-3770K
77.7 (min: 50) fps ∼68% +242%
Watch Dogs - 1920x1080 Ultra Overall Quality, Ultra Textures AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Alienware Amplifier
GTX 980 (344.75) | Core i5-4210U
20.2 fps ∼29%
Desktop-PC
GTX 980 (344.16) | Core i7-3770K
53.6 fps ∼77%

Emissions

System Noise

To come to the point: Despite the compact construction, the Alienware does not get louder or warmer than other 13 or 14-inch gaming notebooks. We were surprised by the idle operation in particular, where the device is completely silent, at least if you use a configuration with an SSD. The fans only get audible after longer periods of load. 37.6 dB(A) in the first scene of 3DMark06 is more than acceptable, although the cooling solution often gets much louder during gaming and the fan noise is not as convenient compared to bigger notebooks.

We have to criticize the maximum system noise of the Alienware. Almost 51 dB(A) under maximum load would be annoying for longer periods. Unfortunately, the fan control does not seem to work correctly at the moment. The fan did not reduce its speed after our stress test; we had to restart the notebook. Still, the rating for this section is pretty high since the cooling solution otherwise works pretty seamlessly.

Alienware 13
Schenker XMG P304
Gigabyte P34G v2
Alienware 14
MSI GE40-i760M2811
Noise
-13%
-13%
-16%
-8%
Idle Minimum *29.229.5
-1%
29
1%
29.1
-0%
31
-6%
Idle Average *29.433
-12%
34.8
-18%
33.8
-15%
31.2
-6%
Idle Maximum *29.834
-14%
38.6
-30%
41.8
-40%
32.8
-10%
Load Average *37.649.1
-31%
45
-20%
46.9
-25%
45.6
-21%
Load Maximum *50.854.3
-7%
50
2%
50.4
1%
49.6
2%

* ... smaller is better

Noise Level

Idle
29.2 / 29.4 / 29.8 dB(A)
Load
37.6 / 50.8 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test

The temperature development does not have to hide behind the rivals, either. Thanks to the thicker construction and the weaker CPU, the chassis is cooler than the 14-inch device from Gigabyte. While the base unit of the P34G v2 reached around 42 °C (top) and 46 °C (bottom) in the stress test, we could only measure 37 °C and 41 °C for the Alienware 13. Still, this does not mean you should play with the notebook on your lap. The rear area can reach up to 60 °C (up to 59 °C @Gigabyte P34G v2) in extreme scenarios. The Alienware 14 did not get quite as hot in the stress test, but the new sibling is cooler around the palm rest. Instead of 38 °C it just warms up to a more convenient 28 °C.

The Alienware 13 is cooler with light workloads in general. 27 °C on average after an idle period of two hours is definitely a good result. Our measurement device showed around 36 °C for the Alienware 14, while the surfaces of the Gigabyte P34G v2 warmed up to around 38 °C after the idle test. We liked the situation inside the case in particular: Up to 82 °C for the GPU and up to 78 °C for the CPU suggest that the cooling solution could handle a more powerful processor.

Alienware 13
Schenker XMG P304
Gigabyte P34G v2
Alienware 14
MSI GE40-i760M2811
Heat
-10%
-30%
-8%
2%
Maximum Upper Side *44.553.8
-21%
50
-12%
39.5
11%
53.8
-21%
Maximum Bottom *60.252.9
12%
58.5
3%
46.1
23%
62
-3%
Idle Upper Side *29.434.1
-16%
42.6
-45%
36.7
-25%
24.7
16%
Idle Bottom *29.633.7
-14%
49.3
-67%
41.5
-40%
25.2
15%

* ... smaller is better

Max. Load
 43.2 °C44 °C44.5 °C 
 38.7 °C40.6 °C38.9 °C 
 28 °C27 °C28.3 °C 
Maximum: 44.5 °C
Average: 37 °C
49 °C60.2 °C55.7 °C
40.4 °C44 °C42.7 °C
26.1 °C25.4 °C24.8 °C
Maximum: 60.2 °C
Average: 40.9 °C
Power Supply (max.)  53.2 °C | Room Temperature 24 °C | Voltcraft IR-900

Speakers

Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3
Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3

Similar to the Alienware 17 and Alienware 18, Dell equips its gaming dwarf with a sound system that was certified by the audio experts from Klipsch. The stereo speakers are located at the front area of the sides. The quality is pretty decent when you consider the size of the notebook. The sound tends to be unclean and tinny as soon as the volume reaches 50%, but the 2.0 combination has no problems with a moderate volume and the activated SBX Pro Studio technology. If you want a better sound experience you will have to use external speakers or a headset. Music in particular shows the limits of the Alienware 13.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

One of the biggest advantages of the Alienware 13 is the low power consumption. An idle consumption of 5.1-11.2 Watts is much lower compared to other gaming notebooks. The Gigabyte P34G v2 (4700HQ, GTX 860M) consumed 84% more in our review, and the Alienware 14 (4700MQ, GTX 765M) even consumed three times more power. The 13-inch notebook is also pretty frugal under load: 52 Watts (average 3DMark06) and 93 Watts (stress test) are no problem for the power adaptor. The Alienware 14 and the Gigabyte P34G v2 pulled up to 140 Watts from the socket.

Alienware 13
Schenker XMG P304
Gigabyte P34G v2
Alienware 14
MSI GE40-i760M2811
Power Consumption
-80%
-73%
-135%
-33%
Idle Minimum *5.110.3
-102%
8.8
-73%
15.6
-206%
6.3
-24%
Idle Average *7.313.6
-86%
13.6
-86%
20.8
-185%
9.3
-27%
Idle Maximum *11.221
-88%
21.6
-93%
28.2
-152%
16.6
-48%
Load Average *51.590.5
-76%
83.8
-63%
93.2
-81%
75.6
-47%
Load Maximum *92.9135.4
-46%
141.5
-52%
140.2
-51%
108.7
-17%

* ... smaller is better

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 0.2 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 5.1 / 7.3 / 11.2 Watt
Load midlight 51.5 / 92.9 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Maximum battery runtime (Reader's Test)
Reader's Test
Minimum battery runtime (Classic Test)
Classic Test

Thanks to the respectable consumption values, the Alienware 13 manages enormous battery runtimes. Even though the 4-cell battery with 52 Wh is not one of the biggest modules on the market, you can still realize longer road trips. Almost 12 hours idling (minimum brightness) is just as remarkable as 5 hours of web browsing and 5.5 hours of HD video playback (medium luminance). The battery should last around two hours when you play games with the maximum brightness. Great: According to 3DMark 13, the performance is constant on battery power.

Alienware 13
Schenker XMG P304
Gigabyte P34G v2
Alienware 14
MSI GE40-i760M2811
Battery Runtime
-23%
-17%
-46%
-15%
Reader / Idle723389
-46%
466
-36%
239
-67%
611
-15%
Load134120
-10%
124
-7%
70
-48%
76
-43%
WiFi292271
-7%
225
-23%
334
14%
H.264324284
-12%
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
12h 03min
WiFi Surfing
4h 52min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
5h 24min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 14min

Verdict

Alienware 13
Alienware 13

Apart from the processor, which is debatable, Dell offers an excellent 13-inch notebook with the Alienware 13. Besides the build quality and the nice design the display in particular is a highlight. It is rare that we review such a high-contrast IPS panel with wide viewing angles. Color accuracy, black value and luminance are also superior to the majority of rivals.

Another convincing feature is the illuminated keyboard that leaves a great overall impression. You should not forget the battery runtimes, either: Hardly any gaming notebook manages more than 10 hours. However, the mobility is possible because of the weak CPU. The Core i5-4210U is a limiting factor in many games, so the GTX 860M cannot utilize its full performance.

Therefore, we cannot say that the Alienware 13 is really future-proof. Upcoming titles might not run smoothly – it does not matter what settings you select. This is also the reason that Dell could have waived the Graphics Amplifier. The external graphics box would only make sense with a more powerful dual-core processor or a quad-core. Desktop chips in particular suffer from the 15 Watts CPU.

That the final rating is just 82% is primarily caused by the CPU. The rough touchpad and smaller issues with the sound affect the rating as well. Still, the Alienware 13 is a good solution if you are looking for a compact gaming notebook. High-end laptops with 13 or 14-inches are still rare.

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Alienware 13. Test device courtesy of Dell Germany.
Alienware 13. Test device courtesy of Dell Germany.

Specifications

Alienware 13
Processor
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M - 2048 MB, Core: 1029 MHz, Memory: 2500 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 340.84, Optimus
Memory
8192 MB 
, 2x 4 GB SO-DIMM DDR3-RAM PC3-12800 (1600 MHz), 2 of 2 Slots occupied, up to 16 GB
Display
13.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, 9T7WM_133HL (SDC4C48), IPS, Full HD, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Lynx Point-LP
Storage
Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP, 256 GB 
, M.2-SSD (Typ 2280)
Soundcard
Realtek ALC255 @ Intel Lynx Point-LP PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: Headphones, Microphone, Port for Graphics Amplifier
Networking
Qualcomm Killer e2200 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1525 Wireless Network Adapter (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 28 x 328 x 235 ( = 1.1 x 12.91 x 9.25 in)
Battery
52 Wh, 4 cells
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 2 Megapixels
Additional features
Speakers: 2.0 Klipsch (Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3), Keyboard Light: yes, Power adaptor: 130 Watts, Quick Start Guide, Safety information, Recovery on USB stick (8 GB), Microsoft Office 365 Trial, several manufacturer tools, 12-48 Months Warranty
Weight
1.96 kg ( = 69.14 oz / 4.32 pounds), Power Supply: 520 g ( = 18.34 oz / 1.15 pounds)
Price
1547 Euro

 

A high-end GPU in a 13-inch chassis?
A high-end GPU in a 13-inch chassis?
This is the Alienware 13.
This is the Alienware 13.
The notebook has a height of around 3 centimeters.
The notebook has a height of around 3 centimeters.
The maximum opening angle is 145 degrees.
The maximum opening angle is 145 degrees.
A maintenance cover is integrated as well.
A maintenance cover is integrated as well.
The palm rest is surprisingly big...
The palm rest is surprisingly big...
...and rubberized.
...and rubberized.
You can only find one hard drive bay.
You can only find one hard drive bay.
Our review unit is equipped with an M.2 Solid State Drive.
Our review unit is equipped with an M.2 Solid State Drive.
Every memory slot supports up to 8 GB.
Every memory slot supports up to 8 GB.
The mandatory Alien logo.
The mandatory Alien logo.
The manufacturer integrates a webcam with two megapixels.
The manufacturer integrates a webcam with two megapixels.
Many chassis elements can be illuminated.
Many chassis elements can be illuminated.
Above the keyboard are three status LEDs.
Above the keyboard are three status LEDs.
No chiclet design, but crowded keys.
No chiclet design, but crowded keys.
The arrow keys are slightly shifted.
The arrow keys are slightly shifted.
The mouse replacement is a ClickPad.
The mouse replacement is a ClickPad.
You can attach the Amplifier and two displays at the back.
You can attach the Amplifier and two displays at the back.
A few more ports would have been nice.
A few more ports would have been nice.
The communication is handled by products from Killer.
The communication is handled by products from Killer.
The speakers are hidden at the front area of the sides.
The speakers are hidden at the front area of the sides.
The power adaptor is specified with 130 Watts.
The power adaptor is specified with 130 Watts.

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Links

Compare Prices

Pro

+Sophisticated port layout
+Low power consumption
+Display with IPS technology
+Very good build quality
+Transportable chassis
+Comfortable keyboard
+Nice illumination
+Noble appearance
+Moderate weight
+Great battery runtimes
 

Cons

-Core i5-4210U limits the performance of the GTX 860M
-Speakers distort heavily at higher volumes
-Only one storage drive
-Very rough touchpad

Shortcut

What we like

The IPS panel is superior to the TN competition.

What we'd like to see

A slightly smoother touchpad would be nice.

What surprises us

The battery runtimes and the thermals seem to be more important for Dell than the performance.

The competition

13 or 14-inch gaming notebooks like the Schenker XMG P304Gigabyte P34G v2 or MSI GE40.

Rating

Alienware 13 - 02/06/2015 v4(old)
Florian Glaser

Chassis
84 / 98 → 86%
Keyboard
85%
Pointing Device
72%
Connectivity
70 / 81 → 86%
Weight
63 / 66 → 95%
Battery
87%
Display
87%
Games Performance
85%
Application Performance
79%
Temperature
78 / 95 → 82%
Noise
76 / 90 → 84%
Audio
60%
Average
77%
82%
Gaming - Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Dell Alienware 13 Notebook Review
Florian Glaser, 2014-12-30 (Update: 2015-01- 1)