Hands-on: Alienware announces its first VR-ready notebooks at PAX West

The new Alienware 13, 15, and 17 will allow customers to jump into the world of VR right out of the box.


Alienware is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year by not only refreshing its brand, but by introducing its first-ever VR ready notebooks: the new Alienware 13, Alienware 15, and Alienware 17.

These new Alienware notebooks are nearly 25% thinner than previous models with a hinge-forward chassis to help improve its heat management, which should give gamers more time with their laptop without it heating up to ridiculous temperatures. Those aren’t the only visual changes Alienware is making to its lineup of notebooks as it’s changed the layout of its lighting, now around its perimeter in addition to its keyboard / trackpad lighting, as well as improving much of its internal specs. This includes supporting Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 10-Series GPUs, an overclocked Intel Core i7 processor, and DDR4 memory running up to 2667 Mhz.

In previous iterations of Alienware’s notebooks, it would house its thermal and heatsinks below the keyboard, causing it to fight for precious real estate with the keyboard for space. Now that the heatsink is located in the rear of the notebooks, it not only allows for improved cooling of its internals overall, but also helps it achieve a thinner form factor.

Speaking of keyboard, Alienware has made some minor changes to the keyboard of its notebook lineup to offer a different feel, which I found to be much more springy than previous iterations. The illuminated touchpad also makes a return, but this time, the company decided to add mechanical buttons rather than make the trackpad itself clickable, but you’ll still be able to tap and use Windows 10-supported gestures.

The three notebooks feature an RJ45 port, DisplayPort, Killer Ethernet and Wireless, an HDMI port, Thunderbolt, two USB-C ports, a USB 3.0 port, an audio port, and the Alienware Graphics Amplifier port. The Graphics Amplifier port allows users the option to plug into the company’s Graphics Amplifier, which then makes it possible to use a desktop-grade graphics card on your laptop, or any other Alienware product that comes with the port, like the Alpha R2. They also come with Microsoft’s Hello camera, although the Alienware 17 comes with an option to upgrade to a Tobii Eye-tracking camera.

One of the most impressive improvements Alienware has made to its lineup of notebooks is the fact that you’ll be able to play VR games without any outside help. All three notebooks come with a 1060 GPU by default, with the option to upgrade to a 1070 in the Alienware 15, and a 1080 in the Alienware 17. I was able to play the Bullet Train demo on the Alienware 17 during my meeting, and I was completely blown away at how responsive the experience was. I didn’t notice any slowdown, hiccups, or anything else that would have impeded my ability to enjoy my VR experience of pulling bullets and missiles from midair to then throw them back at my enemies.

Alienware has yet to reveal the price points for any of its notebooks, although it says it will be revealing that later this month. As for the Alienware 13, the company expects it to become available in November.

This preview was based on a pre-release demo of these notebooks at an event where food was provided by Alienware, but not accepted.

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