It’s the company’s smallest laptop designed for gaming and it combines an Intel Haswell processor with NVIDA GeForce GTX 860M graphics, 802.11ac WiFi an Ethernet jack, HDMI and mini DisplayPort, and 52 Whr battery.
But what really makes the Alienware 13 unusual is that you can use a desktop graphics card with the laptop… for a price.
Dell is offering an optional accessory called the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. It’s basically a box that can hold a dull-length, dual-height PCI Express x16 graphics card. Plug it into the Alienware 13 and you can use desktop-class graphics instead of the mobile graphics card built into the laptop.
The Graphics Amplifier also has 4 USB 3.0 ports and a 375 watt power supply.
The box is actually bigger than the laptop itself, so you probably aren’t going to take it with you for gaming on the go. But it lets you use your gaming laptop as the only gaming system in your house… and it could allow you to hold onto your laptop longer since you can upgrade the desktop graphics card as often as you’d like.
Dell’s not the only company to offer a gaming laptop with an optional accessory for housing a desktop graphics card: MSI recently unveiled the GS30 Shadow laptop and GamingDock system. But MSI’s solution isn’t available for purchase yet.
While the Alienware 13 laptop has a starting price of $999, you’ll have to add $300 to the price if you add a Graphics Amplifier to your cart… and the price will climb even higher if you add a graphics card. While you can bring your own, Alienware lets you configure your system with a GeForce GTX 760, 970, or 980 graphics card with prices ranging from $290 to $689.
An entry-level Alienware 13 includes 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and a 13.3 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display. It measures about an inch thick, weighs about 4.5 pounds, and has a carbon-fiber case.
Dell also offers models with up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage, or a 512GB solid state drive. Display options include 1920 x 1080 pixel and 2560 x 1440 pixel screens.