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Alienware 13 hands on: Thinner, smaller, and more powerful than its ancestors

As Alienware ushered me into a swanky room fit for a Bond villain, I couldn’t help but wonder what the company planned to show me in such lavish confines. Thankfully, no one beat around the bush for too long, and I soon felt like Agent 007 during one of his equipment briefings with Q, procurer of all things gadget-y and awesome.

Instead of a gun hidden inside a handkerchief or a grenade disguised as a rubber duckie, however, Alienware showed me its latest mobile gaming creation: the Alienware 13.

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The Alienware 13 weighs roughly 4.5 pounds, and is only 1 inch thick. Indeed, as I picked it up, I immediately thought that it actually feels like a gaming notebook I wouldn’t mind lugging around from Point A to Point B, unlike many other “mobile” gaming laptops that I’ve come across. A 9-pound 17-inch monster, not counting the power brick? That’s not exactly my idea of “portable.” The Alienware 13, however, is far from that.

On the components front, Alienware tells me that the Alienware 13 will be configurable with a range of Core i5 and i7 processors. I asked them whether the Alienware 13 will be available with 5th-generation Intel Broadwell chips once they’re released later this year, they told me that they would be eventually, though not necessarily once the system launches.

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The 13-inch display will be available in one of two resolution flavors; standard 1080p, and 3,200 × 1,800. Though the latter surely provides better looking images, keep in mind that it’ll also weigh down your framerates, and suck down battery life faster. The display will be available in both touch and non-touch models, and can be configured with either Windows 7 or Windows 8. On the GPU front, the options will top out at Nvidia’s GeForce 860M graphics processing unit. The rig runs pretty quiet too, though we didn’t get to game on it, so we’ll reserve full judgment on its noise-making nature until we get a review unit.

On the aesthetic front, the Alienware 13 is slathered in black, and features hints of lighting around the system, with a Mercedes Benz-like pattern on the lid. We weren’t wowed, but we weren’t put off either. In other words, it looked like something I’ve seen before. As soon as I opened the lid, the keyboard blazed bright red, though Alienware told me that the Alienware 13’s keyboard can be configured to emit a bunch of different hues.

There was one area of the Alienware 13 that we can’t figure what to make of. Along one of the sides, we spotted a rectangular port with a “Recycle”-like insignia directly to the right of it. Alienware wouldn’t tell us what it’s for, but if we learn more about it, we’ll bring that information to you. Our money is on a dock connector of some kind.

Alienware wouldn’t give me exact pricing details on the Alienware 13, or precise release date either. Expect it to be available for purchase by the time the holiday shopping season rolls around — so lets hope you’ve been good this year!