[update 5/28/19 – 3:58 PM PST]: Added the pricing for the two laptops via Dell.
With Computex underway and E3 just around the corner, Alienware has revealed the latest updates to its thin and light gaming notebooks, the m15 and m17. Both support Nvidia RTX graphics and Intel’s 9th generation mobile processors. They provide players the power they need to jump into the latest PC games without necessarily weighing them down. In fact, the m15 weighs about 4.75 lbs (2.167 kg) – which is about the same as the previous generation – while the m17 comes in at 5.80 lbs (2.63 kg).
Stepping up to Legendary status
The two notebooks adopt the new “Legend” design aesthetic introduced with the Area-51m systems last year. Its most distinguishing features include clean, minimalist black and white colors, a solid magnesium alloy chassis, and a beehive-like ventilation grill in the back. The look is so uniform that it’d be difficult to tell the notebooks apart if not for their obvious size differences.
However, the Area-51m uses desktop-grade hardware to push its power above almost all other considerations. Meanwhile, the m15 and m17 are designed for gamers who need a portable gaming notebook but don’t want to sacrifice performance. All of it is encased in a notebook system that makes its premium quality clear as soon as users pick it up.
The keyboard has been optimized with 1.77mm key travel (up from 1.4mm) and 0.2mm-dish concave keys to maximize gaming comfort. They still feature AlienFX RGB LED lighting for those who want to customize the look of their systems to match their games. Underneath it is a large glass touchpad that offers strong responsiveness, although we’re betting that most gamers will probably decide to plug in a mouse. The m17 is able to fit in a numeric keypad thanks to its larger width, but otherwise, the notebooks are almost identical.
But the high-end displays will probably be the first to catch your eye. This is where the two systems start to differentiate. While the m15 offers four different options, including a 60Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz, or an OLED Eyesafe display that supports 4K HDR graphics, the m17 only offers two right now – the 60Hz and 144Hz FHD panels, with the latter supporting Eyesafe technology. However, we’re sure that it will eventually include a 4K HDR display.
The m15 is also the first 15-inch notebook to include Tobii Eyetracking technology as an optional feature, which is already available on the m17. The eye tracking cameras are located just above the hinge below the screen.
The thickness for both notebooks when closed is 20.5 millimeters (about 0.8 inches). For the m15, that’s 2 percent thinner than the previous version. The change is more prominent for the m17, at 11 percent thinner. But don’t let the size fool you. Inside are significant performance increases provided by the updated hardware.
Big power, small package
Base configurations for both notebooks start with an Intel Core i5-9300H quad-core CPU with 8MB Cache that reaches 4.1GHz with Turbo Boost; 8GB of DDR4 2666MHz memory; and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB GDDR5 RAM.
They max out with Intel Core i9-9980HK 8-Core CPUs with 16MB cache that reach 5.0Ghz w/Turbo Boost; 16GB DDR4 2666MHz memory; and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8GB GDDR6 memory.
All CPUs have dynamic overclocking, which will constantly monitor internal thermals to maintain turbo speeds for as long as possible. RTX 2070 or 2080 configurations will include “hyper-efficient voltage regulation” built onto the motherboard, which enables 8-phase graphics voltage regulation and 6-phase processors voltage regulation. In short, the system will feed power to the graphics cards and processor more efficiently, thereby holding maximum performance for a longer period of time.
To keep things cool, there’s a series of hexagonal-shaped vents above the keyboard, which might be mistaken for speaker grills. They are actually intake vents with a matching one underneath, while exhaust vents are found on the rear and sides. According to Alienware, the Cryo-Tech Cooling 3.0 technology improves airflow efficiency by 10 percent on the m15 and 20 percent on the m17, better cooling critical areas such as the CPU and GPU.
Emphasizing performance, the notebooks will only offer SSD and Optane configurations. That might sound expensive, but you won’t have spinning drives to slow your load times down. Those who want absolute top performance may choose to have an SSD RAID configuration. If that sound like too much, then perhaps the Alienware brand isn’t for you. Its parent company Dell offers a series of more affordable gaming notebooks such as the G3 15, which it also showed at Computex. However, the lower price tag also means you won’t get the high-end hardware.
Both the m15 and m17 notebooks have 76Wh lithium-ion batteries and can be docked to an Alienware Amplifier, which can be purchased separately, to use a true desktop video card, including those made by AMD.
Dell is pricing both of the two new laptops to start at $1,499 USD.
Wired for sound
In addition to the new line of thin and light gaming notebooks, Alienware unveiled its new gaming headsets as a follow-up to last year’s wireless AW988. These new versions are wired, cost significantly less than the wireless headset, and come in two versions: stereo (AW310H) or 7.1 surround sound (AW510H).
Both headsets feature retractable boom mics and ear cups that slide up and down the band for comfort or rotated for storage. The headsets are also designed with 50mm 20Hz – 40KHz drivers and memory foam earcups for long-term wear. They come in black or white colors to match Alienware’s Legend aesthetic. In fact, the two models look practically identical to each other. About the only way to tell them apart without putting them on is by the cushioning on the headband. The stereo model has cloth cushioning, while the surround sound headset uses a leather-like material.
The headsets also include removable 3.5mm audio cables where the volume controls are located. However, only the surround sound model will come with a detachable USB connector.
Prices start at $79.99 for the stereo headset, but by spending an extra $20, you can have 7.1 surround sound at $99.99. To put that into perspective, the Alienware wireless gaming headset costs $229.99, so being tethered brings tremendous savings with it.
All the newly announced Alienware hardware and peripherals will be available for purchase in June.