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Laptops

Alienware brings marginally lighter gaming behemoths to CES 2015

Dell's latest gaming laptops offer beefy specs in marginally slimmer shells.

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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.

Alienware 15

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The Alienware 15 Dell

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.

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Dell

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.

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Dell

The Alienware Graphics Amplifier port makes an appearance here too. We got our first real glimpse of this with the Alienware 13 back 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.

Alienware 17

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The Alienware 17 Dell

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.

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