Alienware teased the new, smaller version of their gaming laptop in August. Available today, the Alienware 13 is the 4.5 pound little brother to the Alienware 14, but this gaming laptop has a twist. Alienware is offering an add-on Alienware Graphics Amplifier, which lets you plug a desktop GPU into this portable machine to dramatically increase performance.

Let us take a quick look at the new Alienware 13 though. While not as small as an ultrabook, it is significantly thinner than the 14 inch model, coming in at just under 1 inch thick. This, coupled with the two pounds less weight than the larger model, should make it a lot more portable.

The CPU will be Intel i5 and i7 Haswell U series parts, and the GPU offerings will be up to the NVIDIA GTX 860M. This will power a display, which at the default configuration is a lowly 1366x768 IPS panel, but luckily the display can be upgraded significantly with 1920x1080, and 2560x1440 options, as well as optional touch.

The base $999 model also comes with a 5400 rpm 1 TB hard drive as the base option, however the laptop can be outfitted with SSDs as well. In late 2014, it seems hard to believe that a $999 computer can still come with a slow mechanical hard drive, so hopefully the upgrade to SSD storage does not break the bank.

The star or the show though is the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, which is a first for this segment. Ryan will be covering this in full, but this $300 add-on is certainly a unique offering from Dell. With a dedicated 460 watt power supply just for the GPU, the amplifier should help the Alienware 13 with thermals when gaming on the discrete GPU. However, you can fall back to the GPU built into the laptop when you are on the go. Hopefully this adapter gets added to the entire Dell laptop line.

Unfortunately, details are light on this launch, with Alienware not releasing any press releases at the time of this writing. Check in to starting today to check out all of the available pricing and options for the Alienware 13.

Sources: Gizmodo Hexus

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  • djc208 - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    Not sure how this could be added to the entire Dell linup, wouldn't it basically have to be connected by a big pipe to handle that kind of data to the external GPU? Probably Intel's Thunderbolt which would make sense with the price point this thing sells at. Not going to be very likely on a $399 Dell 15".
  • tipoo - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    So what's this interface like in terms of latency and bandwidth? Does it take a performance hit to the GPU like Thunderbolt does?

    Pretty cool though, this is something a lot of users expected to take off years ago but never really materialized. If you're planning on using one of these, I guess the idea would be spend as much on the CPU as you can, since you still can't upgrade that while you can upgrade the GPU.
  • Zap - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    Depends on the CPU. While unlikely for a thinner/lighter notebook, higher end mobile CPUs can be had socketed.
  • Flunk - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    Haswell U => BGA packaging, which means it's soldered in. I would have liked to see a version with a full-speed quad core and no d-gpu integrated. Maybe that's the sort of thing we might get if the external GPU idea takes off.
  • PrimozR - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    That would be awesome and i can see it being useful for some professional users as well, maybe stick a quadro in the case and have a powerfull meeting/off-site PC that can still pack a punch when in office and using say a pair of big monitors.
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    Will you be testing against any of these other external GPU enclosures?
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    I'm really looking forward to this review.

    Gizmodo says they're using a proprietary connector instead of thunderbolt (presumably to do an endrun around the driver integration problems that have stopped other would be TB GPU boxes from getting Intel certification); but doesn't mention how much PCIe is being pumped over it. Offering at least 4x PCIe instead of the 2.5x that thunderbolt tops out at would be a large bump in some more bandwidth hungry games.
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    Well, Thunderbolt 2 does PCIe 2.0 x4, although there is a little additional overhead.
  • limitedaccess - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    Haswell ULV is limited to 4x1 and 2x4 PCie 2.0 lane configurations (for a maximum of 12). It doesn't support PCie 3.0 or a 16 lane configuration.

    This is actually the first x60m or higher GPU I know of offered with a ULV.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    I wonder if you could aggregate the two 4x clusters together via something similar to a PLX but working in reverse.

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