Alienware releases first VR ready 13 inch notebook
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Thanks to new manufacturing processes, gaming laptops have been getting thinner and smaller while remaining as powerful as their bulky predecessors. We’ve recently seen thin and light devices sporting the new GTX 10 series graphics cards from NVIDIA. These cards, based on the new Pascal architecture, are touted as being “VR ready,” and their inclusion in notebooks allows VR gaming on the go. We’ve reviewed the MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro and MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro notebooks, which push the limits to how small and light a powerful, VR ready computer can be. Now Dell, under their Alienware branding, looks to join the mobile VR ranks with their redesigned Alienware 13.
The new device flaunts improvements from its predecessor in almost every regard. A redesigned chassis has shaved off a bit from the older Alienware 13 (2015), measuring in at 22 millimeters (0.87 inches) thick. The thinner chassis includes an aluminum lid and a steel-reinforced keyboard deck, making the notebook stronger and more durable than the older model. Alienware has also redesigned the cooling system, which should result in improved thermal management.
The Alienware 13 (2016) includes the following components:
|Processor:||i5-6300 HQ (3.2 GHz w/ Turbo Boost) or i7-6700HQ (3.5 GHz w/ Turbo Boost|
|RAM:||Up to 32 GB of DDR4, 2 modules|
|Graphics:||Intel HD 530 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB GDDR5)|
|Display:||1366x768 TN, 1920x1080 IPS, or 2560x1440 OLED|
|Storage:||Two M.2 SSD slots, up to 1 TB PCIe SSD storage each (2 TB total)|
|Wireless:||Killer 1435 or Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi with Bluetooth 4.1|
The standout feature is the inclusion of the 6 GB variant of NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060. Coupled with the quad-core i7-6700HQ (new to Alienware’s sub 14 inch notebooks), this powerful card should easily push high frame rates in the latest titles at high resolutions. The device is also capable of playing VR games via the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.
Gamers will have their choice of displays to enjoy, ranging from a TN 1366x768 panel to a 2560x1440 touch-enabled OLED screen. The OLED panel provides a contrast ratio of 100,000:1 and shows off a wide color gamut including true blacks.
The keyboard has been redesigned as what Alienware is calling a “TactX” keyboard. It features 4 zones of RGB, deep 2.2 mm of travel, and is reinforced by steel. This is much more durable than the previous model, whose plastic chassis had lots of flex and didn’t feel as premium as other devices on the market. Alienware is also incorporating their RGB backlit trackpad found in the Alienware 15, letting gamers customize colors all around the device.
The battery capacity has also been increased to 76 Wh from 62 Wh, which should give the device about 4-5 hours in real world use. While this increase in battery life is very welcome, it does add to the weight of the machine. With metal materials and a larger battery, the device weighs in 5.8 pounds, noticeably heavier than last year’s 4.3 pound model.
I/O and ports have also been redesigned. The new Alienware 13 includes:
- 2 USB 3.0 Type-A ports
- 1 USB 3.0 Type-C port
- 1 USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3
- Combo microphone/headphone jack
- Dedicated audio out jack
- Gigabit LAN
- DisplayPort 1.2 output
- HDMI 2.0 output
- Alienware Graphics Amplifier port
Pushing the envelope with high-powered graphics in a small form factor and a stunning OLED option, the Alienware 13 (2016) is sure to be a big hit this year. It is currently available in the U.S. through Dell’s website. Pricing starts at $1,199 for a model with a Core i5-6300HQ, 8 GB of RAM, a GTX 1060, and a 1366x768 TN display. Buyers will have several choices to choose from, all the way up to a model equipped with an i7-6700HQ, 16 GB of RAM, a GTX 1060, and a 2560x1440 display for $2,099. The device will be available in Europe on November 10 and in China by November 21.