I wouldn’t blame you if you took one look at Dell’s Alienware Concept UFO handheld gaming PC and its detachable controllers and decided it was nothing but a Nintendo Switch clone. But this little device is much more than that — because it’s got the guts of a full-fledged Windows computer.

Sure, you could use it to play games on the go — and that’s what it’s designed for. And you could plug it into a TV and use the wireless controllers for gaming at home. It’s designed or that too.

But with a 10th-gen Intel Core processor, Windows 10-based software, and two USB Type-C ports, this little computer could theoretically be the only PC you need. Connect a docking station and it becomes a desktop computer. And theoretically the same connectors that allow the controllers to attach to the sides could be used to dock other accessories, turning the UFO into to laptop or desktop gaming PC.

The only catch? As the name suggests — it’s just a concept for now. Dell has a fully functional prototype, but the company hasn’t committed to bringing this tiny, modular gaming PC to market.

Dell won’t provide many details about the hardware used in the prototype — which is fine, because if the company does start mass producing these things, it probably won’t be for another year or two, so the specs would likely change.

So we don’t know much about the CPU, GPU, memory, or storage. But we do know that the system features an 8 inch display, a headphone jack, and Dell did tell me that the USB-C ports are not currently a Thunderbolt 3 port, which means that you cannot connect an external graphics dock. But that could also be subject to change. For now, Dell says the system already has more horsepower than many gaming laptops.

This isn’t the first handheld gaming PC we’ve seen — the GPD Win 2 and Smach Z come to mind (although whether the Smach Z will ever actually ship remains to be seen). But Dell is a much bigger player in the PC space than either of those companies, and through its Alienware brand, it’s also a major player in the gaming PC space.

It’s also not the first modular gaming tablet with detachable controllers we’ve seen — but the only other high-profile example I can think of is the Razer Edge Pro which was released way back in 2013 and discontinued not long after.

Overall it’s exciting to think about Dell entering both the handheld gaming space and the modular mini PC space. But while the company is showing off a working prototype at CES this week, the company hasn’t yet announced any plans to actually sell this thing… or any details about how much it would cost if it were ever released.


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11 replies on “Alienware’s Concept UFO is a modular handheld gaming PC (much more than a Nintendo Switch clone)”

  1. Hopefully this comes out, and Razer should attempt something similar. I remember they have a Razer Switch blade concept, maybe it’s time to revisit that

  2. Better stick to your GPD Win 2 people.
    Other sites were saying it uses a 25W TDP laptop chipset, and a 720p display. Add to that the weird design (off-axis controller, angle-cut sides) and this thing won’t be great in practice. It’ll run slow, hot, and look bad.

    If they used a new Ryzen-4000 APU (15W) instead, with a 1080p screen, better controller, and proper ergonomics, then it could’ve been a winner. Heck, it could’ve been a great “convertible” moving from portable tablet, to handheld console, to laptop-dock, and to a proper Desktop/Console using an eGPU.

    Alas, we dream on ; )

    1. In videos I watched they said the games looked like they were running at 720p, but the screen itself was higher resolution. I don’ know for sure.

  3. Too big for portable gaming for me. Needs to be pocketable. Unless they mean portable around the house.

  4. I would love to have a portable gaming device with full windows. even if only to play some low spec games, emulators, and etc.

  5. With a lapdock, it could very well be the only computer I’d ever need…if it made phone calls.

  6. I’d definitely buy something like this from Dell. Warranty is important to me with devices like this.

    If I could offer them my 2-cents, I’d suggest leaving the controllers fixed to the device.

    My thinking is: if I have it docked to my TV, there’s no way I would want to use their controllers. I’d use my Xbox One controller anyday.

    1. I strongly agree on the warranty, in addition I will say the customer support Dell might be better as in you can reach someone over the phone. I have GPD Win 1 & 2, and it’s frustrating to connect with someone on my issues with GPD 2 battery. There should be dedicated technical support if the price will be similar to GPD, not everyone can just rely to google and communities.

  7. I wonder if it’s using an AMD SoC. I saw another video and the fans are super loud. Interested in what kind of battery the concept is currently getting.

    I wonder if Dell will actually bring this into the market. Definitely an interesting device from a company that has the resources to bring it into production.

  8. Lots of companies hopping aboard the Switch-clone train, but not a single one of them has the software edge Nintendo does with their custom-tailored games & exclusives.

    If this Alienware handheld comes out, I strongly suspect it will just be another curious footnote in the ongoing history of mobile gaming.

    1. Their “edge” is called Windows, with an existing library of games that spans 40 years and many online stores like Steam, GOG, Epic, etc. Not to mention you can use this as a multimedia hub and even for work since it is a PC, not a tablet whose only purpose is to be hardware DRM for kids games.

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