It happens to every computer buyer at least once in their life. You do your research and find the perfect gaming laptop for your needs, with the best graphics card and processor in your price range. Then, a month after you pull the trigger, the manufacturer announces a newer, even better model with an updated GPU. Just like that, your machine already feels obsolete and underpowered.
That scenario is why so many hardcore gamers and streamers rely entirely on desktop PCs for their gaming needs. Whether you buy one premade or custom-build your own rig, you’re spending top dollar, and you want a machine you can open up and improve at any time—and with more power, longevity and upgradeability than most laptops can ever provide.
Desktop-replacing laptops are meant to bridge that power and customization gap, but some gamers remain skeptical that they’ll ever live up to their moniker. That’s why Alienware went to PAX East 2019—host to many hardcore PC fans—to let them try out its desktop-replacing Area 51m laptop (opens in new tab) in person, and prove once and for all that laptops really can replace their PCs.
Alienware partnered with Riot Games (publisher of League of Legends) at its PAX Alienware Outpost booth last week. Visitors were able to challenge one another to 1v1 tournament LoL matches on the eight publicly available Area 51m laptops. Popular Twitch personalities were also invited to boot up an Area 51m and stream LoL matches in front of a live audience.
Most recent gaming laptops can play LoL on low graphics, but PAX attendees could easily play on maximum settings thanks to the Area 51m’s eight-core Intel i9-9900K CPU, 17.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) 144Hz display with G-Sync, and NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 2080 8GB GDDR6 GPU. Altogether, that lets you hit up to 270 FPS while playing LoL, according to Alienware.
If the last paragraph sounded like gibberish, suffice to say that you won’t find these specs in anything else besides a premium desktop. Some laptops may have an i9 core or NVIDIA 2080 GPU, but they will be the mobile versions of those chips, and generate considerably less power.
Ironically enough, these “mobile” chips can’t be removed, while the Area 51m’s desktop-designed chips can be swapped out at any time, without voiding the warranty.
Other desktop-replacing laptops do let you replace the CPU, but the Area 51m is unique in that it also lets you upgrade the RAM and, most importantly, the GPU.
So if you did decide to buy an Area 51m, and then NVIDIA came out with a new RTX graphics card the next day, you wouldn’t have to wait a few years living with obsolete graphics anymore. Instead, just unscrew the chassis, pop out the old card, buy and insert the new GPU, and enable graphical might that your friends will have to pay thousands on a new rig to see.
For now, though, you’re already paying for top-of-the-line tech. It’s what allowed the League Partners Program streamers at Alienware Outpost to both play on max settings and simultaneously broadcast to their viewers. Most streamers need the power and stability of a desktop for their streaming needs; but desktop replacements like the Area 51m could mean gamers could reach live audiences more easily outside of their homes.
Outside of these streams, Alienware also partnered with Riot for a series of League-themed events at PAX, including an LoL cosplay contest, a trivia contest and a viewing party of the LCS Spring Playoffs to see which players would make the LCS Spring Finals. The Outpost was packed throughout PAX with LoL fans hoping to either try out the 51m or watch their esports pro idols kick ass while using Alienware hardware.
The Area 51m can, of course, can be used by non-gamers that simply need a mobile rig with desktop-level power for applications like AutoCAD or Final Cut Pro. But gamers will get the most out of built-in features like the Alienware Command Center, your one-stop games library with endless customization options. These include adjusting the RGB keyboard backlight and configuring different overclocking settings for different types of games.
They’ll especially benefit from the Arena Rewards program (opens in new tab), in which you can complete daily quests and achievements for ARP (Arena Rewards Points). You’ll then exchange ARP for discounts, game codes or physical merchandise. You’ll even earn points for chatting with friends and fellow gamers on the Rewards forum or solving fun puzzles.
If you couldn’t make it to PAX to try out the Area 51m yourself, we recommend you still check out the product page (opens in new tab) and see which model fits your budget. And don’t have any regrets if you can’t afford the top-of-the-line model today: you can always upgrade it later!