So last year I got the Alienware 13 r2 with the OLED panel and Graphics Amplifier. I picked it up to upgrade from my aging M11x I usually use to run Traktor and play games like Left 4 Dead, CS, Street Fighter IV and Payday. It’s still good for Traktor and DJ duties but I wanted a system that could run some of the newer games I play like Overwatch, Street Fighter V ect.
Here is a retro review on the m11x so you can see what I am talking about. Though I wouldn’t recommend buying now as the prices on ebay are way too high for used.
I really liked the Alienware 13 and it’s improvements including the OLED screen. It was what I wanted and something I felt made sense in it’s niche, a gaming ultrabook.
It has excellent Display lag making it a great portable fighting game machine.
The Alienware R3 recently came out and adds a quadcore CPU to the mix while all the older systems feature dual cores.
So what’s to complain about? Battery life.
the i5 and i7 HQs are both 45W TDP, vs 15W TDP for the old dual cores on the R2.
The AW 13 R2 with the GTX 965M will get about 2.5 hours more battery life than the R3 with 1060. If not gaming then Optimus is used so this is clearly the fault of the processor. Some reviews are saying it’s even half the battery life of the old model.
Alienware even bumped up the capacity of the batteries from 51 Watt-hours to 76 Watt-hours. To me battery life and portable use is the most important feature of a 13 inch system and now it’s battery life is as low as 17 inch desktop replacements. So why not buy the 17 inch instead? You’ll get larger 99 Watt batteries, more room for heat dissipation, drives and possibly upgradability?
The alienware 13 r2 was a cool but limited system admittedly. I mean a 13 inch laptop shouldn’t be anyone’s MAIN SYSTEM period right now.
I only ever recommend laptops to people who have to save space and/or travel an assload.
My recommended build order for musicians and people that travel frequently are:
- Build the strongest desktop you can buy. 60% of budget
- Build the most portable PC you can buy that can still accomplish your tasks today. 40% of budget.
- If you come under budget or find yourself doing well on an off year you need to upgrade neither of the above check out a “desktop replacement” laptop.
So if I were to buy entirely from Alienware my ideal config would be let’s say at a $2000 budget the $1200 Alienware Aurora with the $150 processor and liquid cooling upgrade and the cheapest we could do mobile from Alienware would be their base model $900 alienware 13 which puts us a bit over but this is just an example so you get the idea, of course you could buy from another company with cheaper offerings, right down to asking yourself do you NEED all these features mobile and even get yourself a Chromebook. I tend to do a bit of gaming, some graphic design, even video and audio plugins that use CUDA so I can [kinda] justify a gaming laptop) Point is prioritize the desktop for price to performance. Prioritize your mobile set up for portability.
It’s a machine that can work on the go, as well as play Street Fighter, Battlefield, every emulator in God’s creation, as well as the multiplayer and lan games you’d expect(never tried it with MOBA’s or RTS but I’m certain it can run those.)
This plus the graphics amplifier(which I got for free) was a great configuration, I had portability and battery life on the go, plus the ability to get more horsepower when and where I could plug in. It was a gaming ultrabook.
What we did with the R3 is slap a quad core in there I guess to put a “VR Ready” sticker on the device but didn’t ask ourselves if we should.
Sure there’s a lot of people that are happy to have the quad core in there, but this should really be all about options. Last years laptop was $899 as well for the dual core vs $999 this year and I’m sure a lot of people would either snag a dual core at that price for portability, or gladly upgrade for like $100 and lose it for more horsepower.
IMO It’s horsepower the system didn’t need for what it does well.
Most of the time on laptops of these sizes you can get away with running a game at 720p or at the most 1080p. Remember this is a tiny ass 13 inch screen.
According to Raymond Soneira, the president of screen-testing company DisplayMate, you need a panel with at least 172 pixels per inch (PPI) to ensure that you can’t make out the dots from 20 inches away, a typical laptop viewing distance. A 15.6-inch laptop with a 1366 x 768 display has a PPI of just 100, which means that photographs will look like pointillist paintings and text may remind you of the characters on a dot-matrix printout. Laptops with 14.1-inch, 13.3-inch and 11.6-inch screens are only a little sharper at this resolution, with PPIs of 111, 118 and 135, respectively.
You’ll notice at 13.3 we are up to 166 inches, which is pretty close, you are literally an inch from not being able to see the pixels and having a perfect “retina image”. If you typically game sitting more than a foot and a half away from this thing you are good!
To justify the quad core and overall higher consumption you might say “ok well what if I plug it into a monitor?” Than you are at a plug and can overclock it.(or have a PC much cheaper) “What if I’m using the graphics amplifier because it’s bottlenecking the GTX Titan I bought for my 13 inch laptop for some reason instead of putting it in a desktop where you can overclock it” Well you are still at a plug(and could have a PC much cheaper) “What about being VR ready?”…ect…ect all the “problems” before were things you wouldn’t like while it was plugged in and could have bought either a bigger laptop for or a desktop.
You know things Alienware sells too!
Now thanks to those peoples input we have a weaker portable device! One that’s hotter, and can’t be away from the socket as long.
From the longest lasting portable gaming laptop to one that’s beaten by the HP Omen, the Blade, and a lot of bigger laptops honestly it makes more sense to buy now!
tldr; before the Alienware 11 and 13 were my go-to laptop for planes, mobile use, shows ect but they made it into a worse version of a 17 inch gaming behemoth.