LAS VEGAS -- Dell's Alienware machines have never been one for subtlety, prioritizing raw power over fanciful notions like portability. The updated models announced today at CES are a tad slimmer than Alienware's older wares, though your spine is unlikely to notice.
The Alienware 15 weighs in at 7.07 pounds, which paradoxically makes it the lightest 15-inch Alienware notebook ever. An aluminum chassis coupled with "carbon-fiber filled materials" also lends the machine some sturdiness without packing on additional heft -- it's 1.3 inches thick, thinner than any of Alienware's previous 14- or 15-inch options.
Being an Alienware machine, you can expect plenty of lights: there are ten programmable lighting zones arrayed about the machine, so you can color coordinate to your heart's content. The machine also offers an optional 4K display, though even full-fledged gaming desktops have trouble pumping out playable frame rates at that resolution.
Of course you're likely here for the what's inside the beast. You can chose between discrete AMD Radeon and Nvidia GeForce GPUs, paired with a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor. The power-saving fifth-generation Broadwell processors might be all the rage here at CES, but we're unlikely to see much of a performance bump there until quad-core models are available later this year, so the part makes sense here. You can also outfit it with up to 16GB of RAM.
The standard storage option is a sluggish 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive, so you'll likely want to fork over a bit extra for a solid state drive. As expected, don't expect too much in the way of battery life: Dell says you can expect up to just over 7 hours of battery life.
The Alienware Graphics Amplifier port makes an appearance here too. We got our first real glimpse of this with theback in October: this proprietary port lets you pair your laptop with a box that hosts a desktop GPU, allowing you to swap over and get significantly more gaming power (after a reboot). The amplifier will also automatically over-clock the laptops Core i7 CPU, for a bit of extra oomph.
Of course, given that the desk-bound Amplifier costs $200, and a top of the line desktop-class GPU can easily hit $500, I'd argue that you're most of the way to a proper gaming desktop already. Your own needs may vary, of course. The Alienware 15 is available in the US today, and starts at $1,199. International pricing and availability has not yet been announced.
If that isn't quite large enough for you, consider the Alienware 17. It's a pound heavier but only slightly thicker, and the base model offers a fourth-generation quad-core Core i7 CPU. There is no 4K option on the 17-inch display, but you'll be hard pressed to find hardware that can comfortably tackle 4K resolutions at a decent clip, so that makes sense here. It's available today in the US starting at $1,499, and also supports the Alienware graphics amplifier if you need a bit more power. International pricing and availability has not yet been announced.