A time for celebration and cheer, then? It certainly is, except that there's a noteable omission from the new line-up, as one machine is apparently being allowed to sell itself into oblivion.
The machine in question is the tiny M11x. According to Alienware, it's destined to follow the 15inch M15x into annals of history, a victim of the success of the M14x which was launched midway through last year. It's a shame because although the M11x never quite achieved the performance and framerate you'd hope for in a gaming PC, it was a beautifully made little thing which would have really benefited from the upgraded graphics.
Unfortunately the only way to save it would be to deluge Alienware with unprecedented demand for the existing model. Which – with ultralights like the Acer M3 around - would be a waste of your money, frankly.
The three remaining laptops are physically identical to the last year's models, but come with mSATA drives for fast booting and Creative's SoundCore 3D audio processors. They also feature 6GB of RAM as standard and have networking cards from KillerNIC inside too.
Apparently, there are also some 22 games available which can patch into the AlienwareFX lighting system to make those coloured LEDs scattered around the case flash in time to in-game effects.
The graphics options range from the GeForce GT 650M as standard on the M14x to two GTX 675Ms or Radeon HD7970Ms for the M18x. There's a lot of choice, though. Someone at Alienware worked out that there are almost 40,000 ways to spec up an M18x alone on the online configurator. Needless to say I don't plan to benchmark them all.
At the moment, of course, the new Alienware machines are only available with second generation Core processors (aka Sandy Bridge) from Intel. As tempting as the M14x, M17x and M18x look, don't rush out and buy one yet. The successor to Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, isn't far off and should be even faster and offer better battery life on mobiles.