Alienware’s flagship laptops go on a diet for CES 2015

The Nvidia GTX 980M is a big deal in mobile graphics, but popular gaming laptop brand Alienware hasn’t updated to embrace the new hardware – until now. And it appears the wait was worthwhile.

First, the hardware; Alienware’s 15-inch and 17-inch models are receiving an update to GTX 900M graphics. Options include the 965M, 970M and 980M. There’s one AMD Radeon, the M9 M295X, available. The laptops also offer 4th-generation Intel Core processors, up to 16GB of RAM and multiple storage devices including ultra-quick M.2 solid-state drives.

All of this should mean quicker performance, of course, but there’s more to the equation than that. Nvidia’s chips are efficient. That means lower power draw, less heat, and thinner design. Both systems are 20 percent thinner than their predecessors, so the 15-inch model is now 1.4 inches slim and weighs seven pounds. The 17-incher is almost identical in girth but weighs a bit over eight pounds because of its larger display.

Alienware 15

Alienware 15

The 15-inch update also receives a new, optional 4K “TrueLife” display that can hit a maximum brightness of 350 nits. Users who opt for a standard Alienware 15 will receive a 1080p anti-glare panel instead. Its big brother only offers 1080p in anti-glare and TrueLife flavors.

Connectivity is virtually the same for both. There are four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4, Mini-DisplayPort, audio jacks, Ethernet, and a 9-in-1 SDcard reader. Wireless connectivity includes 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1.

And then there’s the Alienware Graphics Amplifer. This unique peripheral lets owners pair their laptop with an external desktop graphics card housed in a unique casing built by Alienware. The port for the Graphics Amplifier is standard but the casing, which is $300, must be purchased separately, and it does not come with a desktop card installed by default.

Eager gamers will be happy to know no waiting is required. The Alienware 15 and 17 can be purchased later today through the company’s website. The 15 starts at $1,199 and the 17 starts at $1,499.