Dell unveiled a new 13 inch gaming laptop this summer, and now the Alienware 13 available for purchase for $999 and up.

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.

alienware 13_002

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.

alienware graphics amplifier

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.

alienware 13_001

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.

via Dell and Gizmodo 

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7 replies on “Alienware 13 gaming laptop supports optional desktop graphics cards”

  1. It’d be nice to see 13.3″ and smaller notebooks with more powerful CPUs with integrated graphics. I was hoping for Lenovo to eventually add a quad core option to the X200 series ThinkPads as the TDPs for Core chips lower but instead they went the opposite route with the X240 and used slower dual cores. If a company can dissipate the heat from a dedicated GPU then, hopefully, they can dissipate the heat from a quad core CPU with no dedicated GPU. What’re the TDPs for these mobile GPUs?

  2. Can the Graphic Amplifier use the full bandwidth of the 16x PCIe, or is it just limited to 1x speed? Because if it is, then there is a way cheaper DIY method you can use with any laptop with an ExpressCard interface.

    1. According to the Dell press release…

      The Alienware Graphics Amplifier connects directly to the Alienware 13 through dedicated PCI Express lanes, so any graphics card will have more than enough bandwidth to drive desktop graphics experiences.

      … but that’s all they say about it… So, it seems it will…

      1. Good catch, however… it doesn’t quite mean what you think it means…

        Mind, it does state a maximum of 12 lanes… The platform actually supports Up to 6 PCI Express* Gen 2.0 devices across 12 lanes… The 4×1 and 2×4 are just the default split options but configurations aren’t limited to just those and you usually won’t need more than 4 lanes for the usual other internal devices… leaving up to 8 lanes for the discrete GPU…

        After all, these are the same chips you’ll see in gaming laptops using internal discrete graphic cards… This specific model even comes with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M with 2GB GDDR5… and they could simply have a switch between it and the external Graphic Accelerator dock…

        While, graphic cards with their own dedicated memory generally don’t need as much bandwidth as GPU’s that have share system resources like integrated GPUs and that leaves more headroom for graphics performance…

        Though, you could still be right… a lot depends on how the system is configured and whether anything was specifically customized for this system or not but they’re claiming it’ll have the bandwidth performance and we’ll have to wait and see if it’s true…

        A normal PCI Express card port would definitely be limited to 4 lanes, for example…

        But one thing we can be certain, this system will never support simultaneous multiple GPU card configurations like a desktop system would…

  3. What I interface does it use to connect the laptop and graphic amplifier?

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