Alienware 13: Big Specs, Skinny Chassis and a Mysterious Port

 

Dell is the latest gaming vendor to trim the fat, unveiling its svelte Alienware 13 notebook today. Set to launch sometime in November, the new laptop is under an inch thick and a full two pounds less than the Alienware 14, placing it just under 4.5 pounds, about on a par with 2010′s Alienware M11x

Design

AW13 open

Outside of its slimmer dimensions, the 13 features the same Alienware aesthetic we’ve come to know and love, with a gray anodized-aluminum lid and thick, black soft-touch lip. The glowing alien head emblem and pair of LED lights make up three of the nine customizable lighting zones placed strategically on the laptop’s frame.  The interior deck is awash in lovely black soft-touch finish. During my brief hands-on with the Alienware 13, its full-sized keyboard glowed invitingly calling me to touch, caress and, most importantly frag my way to the promised land.  

The size difference between the Alienware 14 and 13 is visually striking, but it doesn’t hit home until you actually hold the two in your hands. My relatively small wrist immediately bent under the weight of the Alienware 14, but I had an easier time one-handing the 13.

MORE: Best Gaming Laptops 2014

Display

Alienware 13

When the Alienware 13 ships, gamers will have a choice between 1366 x 768, 1920 x 1080 or  2560 x 1440 13.3-inch panels. While the 768p configuration will undoubtedly be cheaper, I recommend purchasing the 1080p version at least. Historically, Alienware displays have been a triple threat of vibrancy, brightness and generous viewing angles. Consumers that spring for the  QHD (1440p) model also have the option of getting a touch display.

Keyboard

Despite its relatively small frame, Alienware didn’t skimp on what matters and made sure to add a full-size keyboard. I found the keys were firm and springy as I tapped out a quick sentence. Just like its bigger brothers, the keyboard’s backlighting is fully customizable, with a new version of Alienware’s Command Center software preloaded. 

Ports

Alienware 13

The Alienware 13 is outfitted with a multitude of ports including three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, mini DisplayPort,Gigabit Ethernet, jacks for headphones and mic and a secure lock slot. I noticed a suspicious-looking proprietary port along the laptop’s rear. Alienware reps were coy when asked about this new port and promised more details about its function when we get closer to the time of launch.

Specs

Unlike most Alienware notebooks, the Alienware 13 will only have a few configuration options. All models will include an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M GPU and Killer 802.11ac wireless technology. The laptop can be configured with up 16GB of RAM and a pair of SSDs. As far as operating systems, shoppers can choose between Windows 7 Pro, Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro. The company has yet to identify the exact Intel processor that will be powering the 13, only telling us that it will be dual-core and focused on low power. 

Bottom Line

The Alienware 13 remains true to the Alienware pedigree, delivering big power in a distinctive chassis. The laptop offers a pretty display with wide viewing angles, a comfortable keyboard and a solid set of specs. However I’ll reserve my judgement until we get a unit in house to review. 

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