Dell has updated its Alienware 13 for the end of 2016. The new machine gets a complete redesign: it’s 21% thinner, packs GTX 10 series graphics card and it’s finally running a quad-core CPU.
The Dell Alienware 13 (2016) is purportedly the world’s first virtual reality-ready 13-inch laptop with some fairly muscular hardware inside. The device has a top-notch build quality with top and bottom panels being all aluminium. The display panel and chassis are both rigid, and even things like display hinge have decent tension and offer zero flex whatsoever. It’s only 0.92 inches thick, and weighs at almost 5.5 pounds which is a bit heavier than an average 13-inch gaming laptop, but the solidity is reassuring.
Dell also upgraded the TactX keyboard, which has got a cushy 2.2mm of travel and feels really responsive. The keys use zone lighting though I kinda wish they were individually lid. The trackpad is of the same style as the 15-inch model from the last year. It uses synaptic drivers and features a light-up surface with millions of colors to choose from in the AlienFX lighting software.
As for the display, the Alienware 13 has an OLED panel that runs at 2560×1440. It’s bright and has ridiculously high color gamut (Adobe 104%), making every detail pop. For those who can’t afford OLED, the company also offers models with either a 1366×768 TN or a 1920×1080 IPS panel, both LCD. Scroll down for pricing details.
Moreover, the internals like RAM and drives are easy to access and upgrade. There are two RAM slots which you can upgrade up to 32GB. You also have two M.2 drive bays, with the stock drive from Toshiba that offers pretty decent read and write speeds.
Alienware 13 (2016) Specs: GTX 1060, Core i7-6700HQ & 16GB of DDR4 RAM
The biggest complaint about the last year’s Alienware 13 was the CPU choice: it featured a dual-core Ultrabook processor. This year, the company listened to the customer feedback and went with the quad-core H-class CPU.
Priced at $1,199, the base model of the Alienware 13 packs Intel Core i5-6300HQ chip coupled with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. The Pascal based graphics card with 6GB GDDR5 is designed to deliver high frame rates at 1080p with settings cranked. Other specs include 8GB of DDR4-2133 RAM, 180GB M.2 SATA 6Gbps SSD, Killer 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and Windows 10 64-bit.
The top-end models pair the same GTX 1060 graphics with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU. The quad-core mobile part is clocked at 2.6GHz, but it can boost up to 3.5GHz when it needs to.
Alienware 13 (2016) Configurations
The top-shelf hardware makes the new Alienware 13 fully VR capable. It also supports the Alienware Graphics Amplifier for those who want future proofing for added peripherals. As for the ports, the laptop offers two USB 3.0 Type A ports, one Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, gigabit ethernet, HDMI 2.0, Mini DisplayPort 1.2, and two audio jacks.
Alienware 13 (2016) Performance Benchmarks
In terms of the performance, the initial benchmark numbers of the 13-inch gaming laptop are already here thanks to folks over at PC World. The ran the high-end Alienware 13 model (with Core i7-6700HQ and GTX 1060) through select gaming and CPU tests to see how it fares against rivals, including the 15-inch MSI GS63VR Stealth, which has the same CPU and GPU.
We can see that the baby Alien offers a solid performance in both synthetic and gaming benchmarks – though it’s a bit slower than the MSI notebook perhaps due to the latter’s marginally better cooling. Same is the case with the Handbrake Encode CPU test where the Alienware 13 takes 53 minutes to finish the test against the MSI GS63VR’s 51.5 minutes.
However, the new 13 gaming laptop has an edge when it comes to battery life. It packs a hefty 76 watt-hour battery compared to 65 watt-hour inside the the MSI GS63VR. The company claims the 76 Wh battery will last you around four and half hours of regular use.
In addition, the testing shows there’s no CPU throttling in games and even when running benchmarks, the clock speeds remain up. The fans spin when it’s idle but the operation is quiet. Under load, the sound is there but it’s still very tolerable. The thermal management is on point, keeping the system cool even under intensive performance.
To conclude, Alienware has done a fantastic job with this new edition 13-inch laptop. It might be a bit heavy for its size, but in exchange you get an extremely well-built machine that promises power, gaming prowess, and long-term durability. For those interested, the Alienware 13 (2016) is available now on Dell’s online store.