Dell has officially unveiled its new Alienware X series of ultra-thin gaming laptops, the x15 and the x17, which are notable for being the company's thinnest gaming laptops to date.
This a big deal because it highlights where the high-end gaming laptop business is headed: towards thinner, lighter, more subtle chassis designs, made possible in part by the compact power of Intel's 11th Gen processors.
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Both the Alienware x15 and x17 pack the latest Intel 11th Gen CPUs and Nvidia Geforce 30-series GPUs into chassis that are thinner than an inch thick, with the option of sporting a 4K display (on the 17-inch version) and up to 64 GB of RAM.
Alienware x15, x17 price and availability
All configurations of both the 15-inch x15 and the 17-inch x17 go on sale in the U.S. June 15th, with respective starting prices of $1,999 and $2,0999.
Limited quantities of both laptops are currently available for sale via Alienware's website, as well as at select Best Buy locations and Best Buy's own website.
Alienware x15, x17 specs
|Alienware x15||Alienware x17|
|Price||$1,999 to start||$2,099 to start|
|Display||15-inch 1080p @ 165Hz, 360Hz; 1440p @ 240Hz||17-inch 1080p @ 165Hz, 360Hz; 4K @ 120Hz|
|CPU||11th Gen Intel i7/i9||11th Gen Intel i7/i9|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce 3060/3070/3080||Nvidia GeForce 3060/3070/3080|
|RAM||16/32 GB RAM||16/32/64 GB RAM|
|Storage||256GB - 4TB SSD w/ RAID options||256GB - 4TB SSD w/ RAID options|
|Dimensions||14.6 x 10.9 x 0.62-0.64 inches||15.7 x 11.7 x 0.82-0.84 inches|
|Weight||5 - 5.2 lbs||6.6 - 7 lbs|
Alienware x15, x17 design
Laptops built to play games well have long had a reputation for being bulky, heavy, and unattractive, but that reputation is slowly changing. Alienware's new x15 laptop is one of the best examples yet: at just 0.62-0.64 inches thick (depending on which display option you configure it with) it's nearly as thin as the MacBook Air with M1, though it's almost twice as heavy.
Even with such a remarkably thin chassis, the design of the x15 and x17 leave little room for confusion about whether this is a laptop for work or play. As design standards evolve and gaming laptops increasingly look like they're made for normal people, the Alienware X series laptops cleave to the company's classic "out of this world" aesthetic with programmable micro-LED lighting (including the glowing alien head logo) and fanciful vent designs.
To vent air effectively and keep these ultra-thin laptops cool when everything's firing on all cylinders, Alienware's X series laptops have a new four-fan design which circulates air around the components. Notably, the company says it's patenting Smart Fan control tech that taps into AI to help independently regulate each fan's performance based on readings from sensors embedded throughout the chassis.
These new laptops also have a special temperature control mechanism (dubbed the Thermal Control Circuit offset) that allows owners to set a temperature limit in place. The laptop will then do whatever it can to ensure CPU temperature stays within the limits you've imposed, cycling cooling up and down as needed.
Finally, if you prefer your keys to be clicky you may also appreciate that the larger Alienware x17 can be configured with a low-profile mechanical keyboard that uses Cherry MX switches.
Alienware x15, x17 outlook
Alienware's X-series laptops look well-suited to deliver on their promise of high-end gaming PC performance in an ultra-thin package. The x17 is particularly intriguing because it offers the rare combination of a discrete Nvidia GeForce 30-series GPU, a 4K screen, and an ultra-thin (though still hefty) chassis.
Of course, these laptops aren't exactly affordable, and we'll have to get some in for testing and review before we can say if they're a wise investment. An ultra-thin gaming laptop with killer components loses a lot of its promise if it can't last more than an hour or three on a full battery, for example, and heavy-duty Alienware laptops with flashy RGB lighting are notorious battery hogs.
Still, it's exciting to see this kind of progress being made by vendors trying to eke out as much performance as possible from what's on the market. Laptop components (like Intel's 11th Gen CPUs) are smaller and more powerful than ever, so as the world eventually recovers from ongoing chip shortages look forward to more progress towards thinner, lighter, more performant laptops.