Small is not necessarily bad. Take the Alienware 13 example. This is a 13-inch gaming rig that mirrors its larger brothers with the same customisable back-lighting. Though the rig lacks the same high end specs as the Alienware 17, the Alienware 13 comes with an Intel Core i7 processor and a Nvidia GPU that offers more than enough power. This is a very affordable PC for gamers who want a rig that is truly portable.
As the smallest gamin rig in the Alienware line the 13 is still extremely cute. The laptop still adheres to all the same design conventions as the larger models in the range. The lid is built from a durable mixture of carbon fibre and plastic plus there are two LED strips which accentuate the glowing alien head at the centre.
The palm rest is luxurious making use of a black soft-touch finish that results in a typing experience that is very comfortable. The backlit keyboard glows and rests between a power button that is disguised as a another glowing alien head and the large touchpad. On the right side of the laptop you will find a USB-C port, a Gigabit Ethernet port and an obligatory USB 3.0 port. On the left hand side there is yet another USB 3.0 port as well as jacks for microphone, headphone and power adapter. The HDMI port along with Alienware proprietary port for the Graphics Amp are located in the rear waiting to kick things up a notch.
The ultra-high-resolution display on the Alienware 13 looks so good you will want to touch it and we advise that you definitely should. The 10-point capacitive touch screen is both responsive and agile which is ideal if you like playing touch sensitive games like Angry Birds. You should take the time to appreciate the beauty of this display which has a resolution of 3200 x 1800. 4K video on this screen looks nothing short of spectacular with details so sharp you will be able to pick out fine lines and deep blacks.
When the sRGB gamut test which measures colour reproduction was run on the Alienware 13 the machine scored 106.4 per cent which is well above the 79 per cent average for ultra-portable laptops. When the machine was tested for colour accuracy it scored 3 with 0 being perfect. That is still far better than the 5.8 average and certainly better than rival machines made by other manufacturers. When the Alienware 13 was tested for brightness, it scored 317 which is much better than the 254 average and more than enough to outshine its competitors.
We still don’t know how Alienware was able to fit in a pair of high quality Klipsch speakers into the Alienware 13 compact frame. When the speakers are paired with Creative’s Sound Blaster software you get clear buoyant audio. There are three available software settings for gaming, movies and music and you will find if you are listening to songs than music is certainly the best option.
Keyboard and Touchpad
If you want a super comfortable typing experience, then you will not be disappointed by the Alienware 13. The laptop has a full size traditional TACTX keyboard that more than delivers comfy feedback. When the keyboard was tested it was able to handle 62 words a minute without breaking a sweat. The touch-pad comes in at 4.25 x 2.75 inches and offers more than enough real estate for a two fingered scroll, a three finger swipe or a pinch and zoom.
While it may not be a DLSR the integrated camera on the Alienware 13 is more than adequate when you want to video chat or broadcast your latest gaming achievement. The 2-megapixel camera does a fine job capturing skin tone and bright colours. You will be able to make out fine details on a clear picture with this camera that does exactly what it’s meant to do.
The Alienware 13 can get hot when you are gaming or watching video. It does tend to start off well enough with the touch-pad temperature of 30 degrees Celsius following 15 minutes of streaming full-screen videos. The keyboard hit a temperature of 33 degrees which is slightly lower than what is recommended by benchmark tests. The bottom vent of the device was the warmest coming in at 42.7 degrees. If you are using the device for gaming, you will find that baseline temperatures are a little bit hotter. You won’t want to place this laptop directly on your lap.
Gaming and Graphics
The Alienware 13 comes with a mid-level, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M GPU with 2GB that provide solid frame rates especially when you play games at 1080p. Some of the games that were tested ran at a very steady 32 frames per second at 1080p which is better than the 30 fps required for games to be played at that resolution. When the Bioshock infinite benchmark test was run, the 13 performed just about average.
The Alienware 13 ships with Intel’s 6th Generation Core Series CPU’s which are also known as Skylake. According to Intel these processors offer quicker performance, the ability to over-clock the processor and deliver longer battery life. All of this is ideal for gamers who like to squeeze all the performance they can out of their systems. When the laptop underwent real world stress tests with games and streaming video running simultaneously along with multiple open tabs the Alienware 13 R2 and its 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U CPU with 16GB of RAM faced no difficulties whatsoever. When the Alienware was tested for File Transfer on its 256GB PCIe SSD it completed the task in 28 seconds which amounts to 181.7 Mbps, easily surpassing the competition.
The Alienware 13 is small, which means it is light enough for users to take anywhere, however you are going to need to carry the power brick with you. When the battery was tested using continuous streaming over Wi-Fi it was able to last a little over 3 hours and 16 minutes. If all you are doing is streaming video the system lasts much longer and was able to survive just over 5 hours.
Just because the Alienware 13 is the smallest in the product range, doesn’t mean it can’t compete with the big boys. It is ideal for curling up on the couch with or stowing away in your knap sack when you are going on a long trip. The amazing super high resolution display and powerful speakers make this laptop a multi-media powerhouse. The laptops entry prices are far less expensive than rival mobile gaming laptops that typically start much higher. If you don’t mind staying close to a power outlet, the Alienware offers a fantastic mix of customisation, performance, functionality and affordability.