Alienware Area 51m brings desktop gaming PC power to the laptop at CES 2019

Taking the guts, and name, of a classic desktop for one the the biggest PCs of CES 2019.

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Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
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The new Alienware Area-51m laptop has arrived, and it's a monster. A big reveal from Dell's in-house gaming brand at CES 2019 had been rumored for months, and this huge 17-inch gaming system more than lives up to the hype: Dell calls it "the world's most powerful gaming laptop," and it's the product of several years of design and engineering work.

Watch this: The biggest Alienware reboot in years is the Area 51m laptop

Now, if you're thinking, "hey, isn't the Area-51 a desktop?" you're right. That very desktop-specific brand was chosen because of the desktop-level components inside. (Although Alienware has used Area-51 for laptops before, most recently around 2010.)

The ninth-gen Intel CPU and 20-series overclockable Nvidia GPU are both modular, which means they could actually be upgraded at some point, although in the case of the GPU, that's mostly hypothetical at this point, you'd need new compatible parts to swap in.

Alienware Area-51m
Sarah Tew/CNET

This is also Alienware's first laptop to support eight-core processors, 2.5Gbit Ethernet and 64GB of RAM.

In person, the look is streamlined despite its great heft and footprint. The body is made from a magnesium alloy and available in either white or matte black (called Lunar Light or Dark Side of the Moon), and it's easily the most sophisticated-looking Alienware to date. Although it's definitely not slim or light -- this is still a 17-inch, 8.5-pound monster.

But somehow, the screen still manages to work in pretty slim bezels, plus a 144Hz G-Sync display. Below the screen is Tobii eye-tracking hardware, which I've never been able to get into, but purportedly has applications for esports and competitive gaming.

Dell claims the Area-51m will stay cool, despite the heavy duty desktop parts. It's actually easy to believe considering how many vents are on this thing, including some new hex-shaped ones on the bottom.

Alienware Area-51m
Sarah Tew/CNET

The cooling tech is called Cryo-Tech 2.0, which covers the dual-intake, dual-exhaust airflow design, copper fin stacks, heat pipes and high-voltage fans. It's frankly surprising this thing doesn't require some form of liquid cooling.

Alienware Area 51m photos

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Good configurations will get expensive, but it actually starts at just around $2,000 and should be available on Jan. 21st. Key specs include:

  • Alienware TactX keyboard with 2.2mm travel and per-key RGB LED lighting
  • CPU options: Intel Core i7-8700 (six-core), Core i7-9700K (eight-core), Core i9-9900HK (eight-core)
  • GPU options: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, GeForce RTX 2070, GeForce RTX 2080
  • 8GB to 64GB DDR4 RAM
  • Single, dual and triple storage options, from 256GB to 3TB
  • 10/100/1000/2.5Gbps RJ-45 Ethernet, Killer Wireless 1550 2x2 AC, Bluetooth 5.0

See all the best laptops from CES 2019

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This story was originally posted at 9:22 a.m. PT.

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