That means when I hooked up the Oculus Rift, I needed one port for the headset, one for the camera, and one for the Game controller (in this case the wireless adapter for my Xbox One ($419 at Amazon Marketplace) controller). That's one more traditional USB-A port than the system has, so I needed to get creative.
I tried a couple of different USB-C dongles and experimented using them on different ports and with different devices until I found a combination that worked. The Xbox controller wireless adapter, for example, didn't play nice when attached via a USB-C dongle, so I eventually used that for the Rift sensor, and finally got everything working. Once I did that, VR was no problem, but I was left with an awful tangle of wires and adapters cluttering the workspace.
Nvidia's new 10-series GPUs are a big step forward, as they merge the previously separate desktop and laptop versions, getting rid of the lower-performing "M" series of laptop graphics chips. The 1060 is the new entry-level card, works with VR headsets, and is also a strong performer in everyday 2D gaming (although not on the same level as the new 1070 and 1080 GPUs).
I loaded up the brand-new Battlefield 1 from EA, and it played very smoothly at the native 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution and medium detail settings. It also looked great on the OLED display, which helped with its deep blacks and bright colors.
As we said of the OLED Alienware 13 from a few months ago, compared to the best OLED big-screen TVs, the colors on the Alienware display look oversaturated. The greens are too green, the blues too blue. The glossy screen also picks up a good amount of room glare. You're getting a great-looking, punchy image, but at the expense of color accuracy.
Brightness, however, is excellent. Blacks are very close to true black and the contrast is phenomenal.
This new Alienware 13 also gets a big application performance boost over the previous model, largely because it jumps from a low-voltage Core i5-6500U processor to a more powerful Core i5-6700HQ. Battery life, however, take a step back, possibly for the same reason. The newest Alienware 13 ran for 3 hours and 46 minutes on our streaming video playback test, while the older U-series model ran for more than double that time. If you're gaming while unplugged, good luck getting more than an hour or so of playtime.
Hard to resist
With its fantastic OLED display, very good (for a 13-inch laptop) graphics performance and support for VR headsets, this redesigned Alienware 13 is a great all-around gaming laptop if you want something less bulky than a big 17-inch model. But it's not perfect. My handful of issues, from short battery life to fewer full-size USB ports than needed, may sound like nitpicking, but they're important, especially in a laptop that costs more than $2,000.
However, Alienware deserves credit for hitting the major points on my imaginary gaming laptop wish list, and once I figured out how to juggle my dongle-and-port problem, it quickly became my favorite current system for PC games.
Note that in the performance charts below, this new version is referred to as the Alienware 13 R3, while the model we reviewed earlier this year is the R2 version.
|Alienware 13 R3 (OLED)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060; 512GB SSD|
|Alienware 13 R2 (OLED)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U; 12GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M; 256GB SSD|
|Razer Blade (14-inch, 2016)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2133MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M; 256GB SSD|
|HP Omen||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2400MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD|
|Origin PC Eon-17X||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); (oc) 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2666MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080; 512GB SSD|