Alienware needed to repair the gaming laptop. Today's laptops are not broken in themselves: they are thinner, lighter and more powerful than ever before. But like game desktop computers have become increasingly explosive and overloaded, most mobile machines are focusing on ""Laptop" things on the "games" part. So, what would it look like if you built a gaming laptop in 2019, a computer that could not only compete with its desktop counterparts, but also replace them entirely? It would probably look like Alienware's new Area-51m, presented at CES 2019 as "the most powerful gaming laptop in the world."

The Area-51m was designed to usher in a new era for the long-time computer game company as well as for the computer gaming world in general. "We told our engineers:" Build a monster and see what you can do. "And they came back with the Area-51m," said Alienware co-founder Frank Azor. The edge.

The Area-51m responds simultaneously to two problems: the first, the trend I've mentioned about manufacturers who are turning to less powerful and more portable gaming consoles, such as the Razer Blade or Asus Zephyrus S. Ce Not that these laptops are bad – for some, they establish an indispensable balance between work and play as computers capable of handling the newest games, but also offering the type of battery, the Design and performance needed daily by a driver, whether it be school or professional. (We have been following the trend since 2013.)

Today's gaming notebook is typically the scrap of the future

The other is the fundamental problem of almost all gaming laptops: unlike their desktop counterparts, no matter how advanced your machine is, there is basically a clock that counts and that counts up to the obsolescence, from the moment you buy it. Without the ability to upgrade critical components such as the processor and graphics card, a day will come when you will not be able to run the latest games.

The Area-51m seeks to solve both of these problems by borrowing heavily from the desktop market reading book. In fact, essentially is a desktop computer that can support the same Intel Core desktop processors, but with a built-in battery, monitor, and keyboard. More importantly, unlike almost all other gaming computers, the Area-51m is designed for you not only the hard drive, RAM and battery, but also the processor and graphics processor.

Alienware really wants its users to disassemble all of this, as if it were a full-fledged desktop, with easily removable screws and labeled guides printed in the laptop's chassis for you. help to disassemble or reassemble specifications for each screw if you lose track of it while driving). Tabs help you remove delicate laptop cables by hand without damaging them. It also tells you the exact order of tightening the CPU / GPU gigantic cooler screws to tighten it properly.

Let's be clear: this is not a job you can do without a lot of screws and thermal paste. But that does not seem more difficult than building a desktop.

Azor considers, in many ways, the Area-51m project as a way of returning to the sources of society. Technically, "Area-51m" was the name of the company's very first laptop, about 17 years ago. "We thought, if we were Alienware [in] 2001 … what would we do now? "

"This is absolutely not a mass machine."

He says the goal was not to build something super lightweight, portable, traditional or with a great battery life (more on this in a second). Instead, the Area-51m is a testament to the type of product that Alienware could create if there were no price constraints or practical limitations, leveraging the company's extensive PC gaming experience. to create the best possible laptop for the fans have brought them up to now.

"It's absolutely not a mainstream machine," says Azor.

For hardcore players, there is a lot of firepower. Alienware offers the Area-51m with the fastest gaming processors you can buy, with the GeForce RTX 2080, the toughest GPU for laptops, with the 9th generation i7-8700, i7-9700K or i9-9900K Intel. Although GeForce RTX mobile graphics chips recently announced by Nvidia are not enough As powerful as the desktop versions, Azor explains that the Area-51m uses a full version that is overclockable, with capture rates between 5 and 10% of the desktop graphics card.

An Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU, integrated into a Dell Graphics Form Factor (DGFF) switchable card.

And if that's not enough in a year, we come back to the intriguing idea of ​​exchanging these pieces. Due to the customizable nature of the Area-51m, you can technically house any Intel chipset compatible with the Intel Z390 chipset, and the graphics card can also be upgraded in theory.

There is a trap, however. Alienware uses its proprietary Dell Graphics Form Factor (DGFF) cards for 51m zone GPUs, and since neither Nvidia nor AMD has promised to make future chips compatible with that format, Alienware can not promise future bids either at the level. The company believes that future GPUs are likely to be small enough and will not have enough power to adapt to the DGFF board, but this is not certain.

Azor said he would like to incorporate the DGFF format into the future Alienware and Dell G series gaming laptops, which would in turn create a bigger market for graphics cards, but he might not be able to justify: does not show demand, it will be a novelty and then it will disappear, "he admits. But the interest could also come from other PC makers – Azor said he was ready to discuss with Dell competitors the possibility of letting them also use DGFF cards.

Even that might not be enough if Nvidia and AMD are not fully engaged, though. There has long been an "MXM" standard that would theoretically allow you to upgrade laptop graphics, but technical support was poor and consumers had never really been able to buy an MXM graphics chip.

Each fan has its own small mounting screw and power connector. In the first design example that Alienware sent us, they were among the only connectors that were not clearly identified to facilitate disassembly.

Another thing to consider is that the battery life should not be excellent. The company expects a "few hours" of regular use and "45 minutes, perhaps" while actively playing. The Area-51m features a 90Wh battery, one of the largest you can carry on a plane, and still needs two AC adapters to run at full speed: a smaller 180W adapter, designed to be more portable if you wish. Take your laptop with you and you do not need maximum performance; and a choice of one second 180W charger, 240W charger or 330W charger according to your choice of graphics card.

Two big adapters, and you'll want to have at least one

You'll have to use both in tandem to get a complete experience, because nothing is possible in math: a desktop-type laptop needs a desktop-type power supply, one way or another. But the different power adapters will not necessarily slow down your upgrade potential: Alienware has announced that it will ship the power brick you need and that it might be a technician to install it when he will sell you a new graphics card.

There are also many options for the 17.3-inch 1080p display on the Area-51m, ranging from a 60Hz base panel to a 144Hz option with Nvidia G-Sync and an integrated eye tracking platform Tobii. The plethora of choices also apply to storage, with two PCIe M.2 SSD slots and a hard drive bay that offers many options for configuring your storage configuration. The Area-51m also offers four RAM memory slots, supporting up to 64GB of memory at 2400MHz.

In terms of ports, there are the two above mentioned DC power outlets, a Thunderbolt 3 port, three USB 3.1 ports, HDMI 2.0, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet port and Alienware graphics amplifier port – practical in case of swapping the internal GPU as you hoped. Also worth mentioning is the weight of the Area-51m: with a fully configured laptop, it's not really light, even though the magnesium alloy chassis makes it slightly lighter than its predecessor, Alienware 17.

In addition to all the impressive internal changes proposed here, the Area-51m also offers a brand new "Legend" industrial design language, designed to pave the way for the brand with a sharper, more focused and more economical style. aggressive look of old Alienware products. While the Alienware Area-51m domain needs to show the way, expect its design to spread to future computers.

So, even if your next Alienware looks more like the thin and light m17 (which the company also just announced at CES), ideally, the philosophy of the flag that the company will plant here will continue to influence the more centered models of the big ones. market demands, too.

You see the color "Lunar Light" Alienware. It will also be available in "Dark Side of the Moon".

Which brings us to the largest number related to Alienware Area-51m: $ 2,549, which is the starting price you will pay for the first available configuration on January 29th. This gives you an Intel Core i7-8700 processor, a RTX 2070 graphics processor, a 1TB hard drive, 8GB of DDR4 memory and a 1080p 60Hz display. It is in no way the total capacity of the Area-51m, but the beauty of what Alienware has built here means that, with the possible exception of the display, all of these components can be upgraded down the line if you need more power in the future. .

The Area-51m is unlikely to be a bestseller: the size and selling price imply a limited audience, even in the best of scenarios. But that's not really the goal. As Azor comments, "This product is primarily focused on what we should do for our customers, which we would be absolutely proud of and with which we would have an absolute explosion."

From what we've seen from the 51m zone show up to now, it seems that they have more than succeeded in this regard.