CES 2019: The Alienware Area-51m is Dell’s biggest gaming gamble in years

We’d heard for at least the past six months that Alienware, Dell’s in-house gaming brand, was going to announce something very different at CES 2019. That big reveal turns out to be the new Area-51m laptop, a huge 17-inch gaming system that Dell calls “the world’s most powerful gaming laptop.” It’s the product of several years of design and engineering work, looking for new ways to present a very familiar product.

Now, if you’re thinking, “hey, isn’t the Area-51 a desktop?” You’re right. That very desktop-specific brand was chosen because of the desktop-level components inside. (Although Alienware has used Area-51 for laptops before, most recently around 2010.)

The ninth-gen Intel CPU and 20-series overclockable Nvidia GPU are both modular, which means they could actually be upgraded at some point, although in the case of the GPU, that’s mostly hypothetical at this point, you’d need new compatible parts to swap in.

Sarah Tew/Techhnews

This is also Alienware’s first laptop to support eight-core processors, 2.5Gbit Ethernet and 64GB of RAM.

In person, the look is streamlined despite its great heft and footprint. The body is made from a magnesium alloy and available in either white or matte black (called Lunar Light or Dark Side of the Moon), and it’s easily the most sophisticated-looking Alienware to date. Although it’s definitely not slim or light — this is still a 17-inch, 8.5-pound monster.

But somehow, the screen still manages to work in pretty slim bezels, plus a 144Hz G-Sync display. Below the screen is Tobii eye-tracking hardware, which I’ve never been able to get into, but purportedly has applications for esports and competitive gaming.

Dell claims the Area-51m will stay cool, despite the heavy duty desktop parts. It’s actually easy to believe considering how many vents are on this thing, including some new hex-shaped ones on the bottom.

Alienware Area-51m

Sarah Tew/Techhnews

The cooling tech is called Cryo-Tech 2.0, which covers the dual-intake, dual-exhaust airflow design, copper fin stacks, heat pipes and high-voltage fans. It’s frankly surprising this thing doesn’t require some form of liquid cooling.

Good configurations will get expensive, but it actually starts at just around $2,000 and should be available on Jan. 21st. Key specs include:

  • Alienware TactX keyboard with 2.2mm travel and per-key RGB LED lighting
  • CPU options: Intel Core i7-8700 (six-core), Core i7-9700K (eight-core), Core i9-9900HK (eight-core)
  • GPU options: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, GeForce RTX 2070, GeForce RTX 2080
  • 8GB to 64GB DDR4 RAM
  • Single, dual and triple storage options, from 256GB to 3TB
  • 10/100/1000/2.5Gbps RJ-45 Ethernet, Killer Wireless 1550 2×2 AC, Bluetooth 5.0

CES 2019: Every story so far: See all of Techhnews’s coverage of the year’s biggest tech show.

CES 2019 schedule: It’s six days of jam-packed events. Here’s what to expect.

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