Alienware has been unsurprisingly busy since E3, where the company announced powerful VR-ready desktops, as well as its OLED 13-inch gaming notebook. But the news doesn’t stop there: Alienware recently announced an update for its other gaming notebooks—the Alienware 15 and 17 models—which includes a slight redesign, VR capabilities, and Tobii eye-tracking technology.
The new laptops look nearly identical to the original models, but closer inspection reveals a refined design. Alienware has abandoned the slanted corners of its older laptops in favor of an overall design that’s 20 percent thinner and allows for more efficiency. One of the biggest changes is the “disappearing” hinge design: the lid of Alienware’s new notebooks is set about an inch inward onto the chassis, so when you open it, the lid seems to disappear into its base. Yes, that means that part of the laptop’s chassis sticks out behind the hinge, but Alienware explains that it moved the heat exchanger to that spot, which in turn allowed the new notebooks to be slimmer than previous models.
Aside from the hinge change, the other design alterations are minimal, and Alienware was vague about the small changes to the notebooks’ keyboards. The company mentioned the new keyboard’s additional 2.2mm of travel, but the keyboard I had time with felt nearly identical to its much-loved predecessor. The strips of light have been moved from the top of the lid to its edges and the chassis’ sides, and the trackpads light up as well. Each model has a Windows Hello camera embedded near the display for quick access to Hello’s privacy features. Overall, the new laptops lose a bit of that futuristic feel, but they gain a dark elegance thanks to their anodized aluminum, magnesium alloy, and carbon fiber construction.
Here’s a quick list of what else the 15 and 17 models have in common:
- Intel Core i7 processors
- DDR4 memory running up to 2667 Mhz
- Nvidia 1000 series GeForce graphics (the 17-inch has a GTX 1080 card while the 15-inch has a GTX 1070 card)
- 68 Wh batteries with an optional upgrade to a 99 Wh battery
- IPS displays available in FHD or QHD options
With the larger 17-inch model, you also get bigger speakers and a subwoofer, an extra M.2 slot, and, arguably most excitingly, Tobii eye-tracking technology. Embedded just underneath the display is a shiny black strip that tracks your eyes as you look at different parts of the notebook. Tobii’s eye tracker can tell what you’re looking at on the display and even when you’re looking at the keyboard. It allows you to control certain games, as well as the backlights beneath the keyboard, with just a glance.
Alienware’s new laptops are VR-ready as well, compatible with HTC’s Vive and the Oculus Rift. They’re both able to connect to Alienware’s new graphics amplifier. While Alienware isn’t forgetting about its desktop family, the company is putting a lot of thought and effort into its notebooks. The line between laptop and desktop is blurring in the gaming world, and while some gamers will always prefer sedentary PCs, those who want the portability of a notebook don’t have to compromise much on features, power, or design anymore. The Alienware 15- and 17-inch notebooks are available to order now and will ship September 30 in the US and October 4 in the UK.
Pricing is yet to be announced, but the old Alienware 15 started at $1199/£1049, while the Alienware 17 started at $1499/£1299.