Alienware 13 R3 With GeForce 10 And OLED Eats MacBook Pros For Lunch (Hands-On)

Alienware 13 front view

Update: 11/11/2016 -Our full deep-dive review of the Alienware 13 R3 is now live. Please head here for all the details, benchmarks and analysis.

Dell's Alienware division stepped up today with a new, compact and powerful weapon in its laptop arsenal with the announcement of the redesigned Alienware 13 notebook. Now, before you get all misty about the headline, we understand Apple's latest MacBook isn't optimized for gaming, but the comparison of what can be done in a 13-inch notebook frame can still be made. We're just having a little fun with it. Unlike Apple's MacBook Pro and the revamped Microsoft Surface Book, the Alienware 13 R3 (3rd revision) is a different class of machine altogether, targeted at power users and gamers that want more performance and punch, rather than shaving millimeters in the all too worn-out battle for the thinnest laptop. Built in a 5.8 pound, 13-inch frame, Alienware has retooled both the skins and the power plant of the AW 13. It's built with some of the highest-end notebook components on the market currently, save for perhaps its GPU, which is more of a desktop-class graphics chip. In addition, Alienware's delicious OLED display option returns in this machine with 400 nits of brightness, a QHD 2560X1440 resolution and gobs of saturation and pop.

We're working with a Core i7-6700HQ-powered machine (Intel Skylake) with an on board GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. As we've shown you previously, NVIDIA's Mobile GeForce 10 series graphics processors are essentially desktop-class GPUs reworked in mobile configuration. As a result, you get VR-ready, high performance gaming capability in a notebook form factor. Couple that horsepower with a fast SSD, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a buttery, punchy OLED display and you've got 13.3 inches of compact gaming goodness in under 6 pounds.

Here's a quick tour of the Alienware 13 R3 we're testing for full review now, as well as a few benchmark numbers to whet your whistle... 

Alienware 13 display fully down2
Alienware 13 trackpad lit

A couple of notable design changes are that the new Alienware 13 R3 is slightly lower profile in spots, and more angular as well, with a new hinge mechanism that allows the machine to swing open a full 180 degrees. The trackpad area is also illuminated now and, in addition to seven other zones, including the keyboard area, can be custom lit to any color of the rainbow with Alienware's AlienFX software.  

Alienware 13 read view
A certain Dell exec, who shall remain nameless, calls it "The Kardashian"

And yes, another "feature" of the machine is its bump-out on the back. Known internally by some at Alienware as "The Kardashian," baby's got back, so to speak and this area is home to the Alienware 13's dense copper heat pipe cooling system and fan assembly that exhausts warm air out the back and side edges. It's also home to a number of IO options, including an Alienware AMP port, a Thunderbolt port, USB 3.0, DisplayPort, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and the power jack.

But how does the Alienware 13 handle laying down the lead? You'll have to swing back for our full review in the coming days to see, but here's a quick tease... 
AW13 Modor Benchmark

AW13 Tomb Raider Benchmark

Gears of War Screen Shot
Gears of War 4 For Windows Benchmark Run

AW13 Gears Of War 4 Benchmark

Here you can see the new Dell Alienware 13 hangs with much larger 15-inch machines equipped with the same GPU and CPU power plants,  and it then surpasses the previous generation Alienware 13 machine by almost a factor of two. As the saying goes, what a difference a refresh can make. 

We tossed a few runs of Gears Of War 4 over resolution just for kicks and the Alienware 13 kicked it up a notch there too, with 60 fps performance at High image quality settings at a 1080p resolution. Incidentally, the machine also scored a 7.1 on the SteamVR performance test, showing it was also "VR Ready." Stay tuned in the days ahead as we step through the rest of the design, software and benchmark details of the Alienware 13 R3. For now, we're going back to work, gaming. It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.