Portable gaming has been a project companies have been tackling for a long time in the PC market space. Typically, their solution is a bigger, and thicker, laptop. Alienware is trying something new (although companies such as Sony has flirted with the idea) with a standard laptop being powered by an external graphics card.
Alienware Graphics Amplifier is a $299 external ‘box’ you can plug into your laptop through dedicated PCI Express lanes for extra graphic processing power. It houses either AMD or NVIDIA graphics cards, with support for full length, dual-height graphics cards using up to 375 watts of power. Plus, it has four USB 3.0 ports for your peripherals, and you can output directly to your external displays. The one catch is that it only works with the Alienware 13 laptop.
The Alienware 13 (name comes from its 13 inch display) laptop starts at $999 and is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 860M graphics card with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory. It comes in three different resolution sizes, starting at 1355 x 768 standard display (which you will want to upgrade), up to a 2560 x 1440 touchscreen. The body is one inch thick and weighs in at 4.5 pounds. It comes with Windows 8.1, and 8.1 Pro or 7 Pro are optional upgrades.
So, at the basics, this solution will cost you $299 + $999 = $1,298.00, minus an external display. Now, depending on your use cases, it may not be the best deal. You could build your own, slightly cheaper desktop computer, and still have a couple hundred dollars to spend on a cheap laptop or tablet. If, however, you primarily need a laptop, this is probably the best way to go. For example, if you’re a student, you could have the Amplifier and a display set up in your dorm but still have a laptop you can carry around.Further reading: Alienware, Gaming, Microsoft, OEM