Dell (DELL) already debuted two new gaming laptops at CES through its Alienware line, but that seems like it was just a preview of the company’s biggest unveiling, the 17-inch Alienware Area-51m. Alienware boasts that the Area-51m is the world’s most powerful gaming laptop, and with the specs it’s packing, it’s easy to understand why.
The laptop will be available Jan. 21, and Alienware hasn’t provided pricing yet. Still, the Area-51m looks like it’s sure to make plenty of gamers drool.
A complete redesign
The Area-51m is a completely new laptop from its design to its processors. Unlike Alienware’s m15 and m17, which were announced on Jan. 6, the Area-51m features the company’s new Legend industrial design. It’s not as angular as Alienware’s previous Epic styling, but instead has a more rounded look.
Crucially, the Area-51m does away with the thick display bezels found on the m15 and m17 in favor of thin bezels that make the system look far sleeker and modern. Interestingly, the Area-51m’s display resolution tops out at 1080p. That’s a bit of a disappointment when notebooks with far smaller panels offer resolutions as high as 4K. Alienware said the reason for the 1080p screen is that suppliers don’t make 17-inch, 4K laptop displays yet.
The Area-51m is constructed using a magnesium alloy that Alienware says ensures the system retains its rigidity while being light enough to not give you a hernia whenever you pick it up. At 8.5 pounds, this gaming rig certainly isn’t lightweight, but it’s still not nearly as heavy as Acer’s 19-pound, 21-inch Predator 21X.
And, as with any gaming machine, the Area-51m comes with plenty of customizable lights underneath the keyboard.
Gamers are a fickle bunch. They want the best possible systems on the market, buy them, then complain a week later when something newer comes out. To mitigate that kind of buyer’s remorse, Alienware is letting you get your hands dirty with the Area-51m.
Instead of a standard, unremovable laptop processor, the Area-51m has a full-blown desktop chip that you, yes you, can swap out with any compatible desktop CPU in the future. What’s more, doing so doesn’t void your warranty.
If that weren’t enough, the Area-51m has a replaceable graphics chip. That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to slide in your Nvidia desktop card — you’ll need a special adapter for that — but it’s an interesting idea.
In terms of actual components, the base Area-51m comes with an 8th-generation Intel (INTC) Core-i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia (NVDA) RTX 2060 graphics chip with 6GB of RAM and a 1TB storage drive. Want to get crazy and have a ton of money to blow? Then you might want to opt for the Area-51m with a Core-i9 processor, 64GB of RAM, an Nvidia RTX 2080 with 8GB of RAM and 2TB of solid-state storage.
That should be more than enough performance to play any game you throw at it.
To ensure your sweet new Area-51m doesn’t melt a laptop-size hole through your desk, Alienware has equipped the system with a slew of cooling components. There are a series of large vents on the rear and sides of the Area-51m to push out hot air, and a giant intake vent on its bottom to pull in cool air.
This way, if you feel like gaming with a 17-inch laptop on your lap, you’ll at least know you won’t scorch your legs. Add in copper piping and fins, as well as two giant fans, and the Area-51m should stay relatively chilly during your longest gaming sessions.
Here’s hoping you won’t need to take out a new mortgage when the Area-51m hits stores later this month.
More from Dan: