Dell doesn't usually waste much time incorporating new processors into its gaming products, and right on cue, its Alienware division just announced a top-to-bottom refresh of its laptops and desktops with Intel's recently launched 10th generation "Comet Lake" CPUs.
Starting with the laptops, the Area-51m R2 is the fastest in Alienware's lineup. It's also the biggest—it sports a 17.3-inch display with a few different resolution and refresh rate options (4K at 60Hz and 1080p at 144Hz or 300Hz, along with a G-Sync option).
It's not just the screen that is big, though. This is a somewhat chunky laptop measuring 1.7 inches at its highest point (and 1.09 inches its lowest), along with a depth of 15.85 inches and width of 12.66 inches. Depending on the hardware configuration, it weighs between 9.04 to 10.04 pounds.
Part of the reason for the comparatively large and heavy profile is to accommodate Alienware's new "Cryo-Tech" cooling scheme.
"This innovative design includes a new honeycomb air-intake panel above the keyboard, larger fan blades, and feet for better elevation. For the first time, we are also introducing vapor chamber cooling and up to 12-phase HyperEfficient Voltage Regulation on select configurations to help maintain power levels for uninterrupted, marathon gaming sessions," Alienware explains.
Cooling has always been the challenge with laptops, and in particular performance models like the ones aimed at gamers. Laptops are generally quicker to throttle the CPU and GPU than a typical desktop, and the more it fights this trend with faster spinning fans, the louder they become.
We'll have to get our hands on the refreshed Area-51m to see how it fares. Cooling aside, it's packing some serious firepower:
- Display—17.3 inches (up to 300Hz)
- CPU—up to a Core i9 10900K (10 cores / 20 threads)
- RAM—up to 64GB
- GPU—Up to a GeForce RTX 2080 Super
- Storage—up to 4GB (M.2 NVMe, RAID 0 options)
In addition to several Nvidia Turing GPU options (RTX 2080 Super, RTX 2070 Super, RTX 2060, GTX 1660 Ti), Alienware is also now offering an AMD Radeon RX 5700M option.
It's a decadent assortment of hardware, with an uptown price to match—the Area-51m will be available June 9 starting at a hefty $3,049.99.
An interesting side note to all this (and another reason why the Area-51m is so big) is the prospect of upgrading key components, including the CPU and GPU. In most cases, laptop upgrades are limited to the RAM and storage, and a few other odds and ends if you can get to them (like the battery and Wi-Fi module).
The Area-51m is essentially a desktop replacement, in that it uses desktop CPUs that can be swapped out. Dell also released GPU upgrade modules for the previous-generation Area-51m, which is a neat prospect, at least in theory.
However, as noted by The Verge, there's a big caveat—Dell says it will only offer GPU upgrades for the Area-51m within the same generation of GPUs that were available when it launched. That means last year's model is stuck with regular RTX 2080 and RTX 2070 graphics, and can't be upgraded to the same Super variants available in the Area-51m R2. Bummer.
Same goes for the CPUs—last year's models do not support Intel's 10th generation CPUs, as Intel introduced a new LGA 1200 socket. The bottom line is, yes, the Area-51m is upgradeable to an extent, but it's not the best idea to buy it for that reason.
Moving on, Alienware's 17.3-inch m17 and 15.6-inch m15 stick to the traditional laptop mold with non-upgradeable mobile CPUs and GPUs. They both come with 1080p panels offered at up to 300Hz (there's also a 4K 60Hz option), and are much lighter than the Area-51m—the m15 weighs 4.65 pounds and the m17 weighs 5.5 pounds.
On the CPU side, these are available with up to a Core i9 10980HK CPU and up to a GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU. They also come with a sole AMD option, a Radeon RX 5500M.
These will be available on May 21, starting at $1,499.99 for the m15 and $1,549.99 for the m17.
Finally, in the desktop space, Alienware's refreshed Aurora PC gets the same Comet Lake treatment (up to a Core i9 10980HK), along with up to 64GB of HyperX Fury RAM and up to 4TB (2TB SSD + 2TB HDD) of storage.
For graphics, there is a wider range of GPUs to choose from. These span Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1650 on up to the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, and on the AMD side, users can opt for a Radeon RX 5600, 5700, 5700 XT, or a Radeon VII.
Liquid cooling is also an option on select GPUs. If going with a liquid cooled 2080 Super, Alienware claims temps will be up to 19.5 percent lower, with a sizable noise reduction (69.2 percent) to boot.
The upgraded Aurora is available now starting at $879.99 for a tame setup (Core i5-10400F, GTX 1650, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD). Pricing seems reasonable, for a prebuilt. For example, you could double the RAM, swap the HDD for a 512GB NVMe SSD, and upgrade the GPU to a 2060 Super and pay $1,359.99. You can do much better by building your own, but that's still relatively affordable for the hardware (and custom case).