Alienware 13 R3 Review: OLED, GeForce 10 Pop And Performance

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Alienware 13 R3 Final Thoughts And Rating

Performance Summary: Take whatever preconceived notions you have for gaming performance in a 13-inch notebook and toss them right out the window. The Alienware 13 R3, with its GeForce GTX 1060 GPU and quad-core Skylake CPU, shatter all traditional expectations for performance of notebooks in this size and weight class. Though other very recent generation 5 pound machines, like MSI's Apache Pro we tested, can offer similar performance, very few if any other machines on the market currently can offer the same sort of performance in the Alienware 13's footprint. In all of our tests, Alienware's 13.3 inch notebook performed like a 15 - 17 inch desktop replacement machine, and it offered top-shelf gaming performance even at high or ultra image quality settings in cutting-edge current gen game titles.   

Alienware 13 R3 Gaming Notebook
The new Alienware 13 marks a definitive, solid progression on all fronts, from build quality and industrial design aesthetic to its break-out performance. It's not without a couple of caveats, at least with the config we tested, of course. First, an SD card slot would have been appreciated and one would think Alienware could find a spot for it somewhere in this machine. Also, battery life, though respectable for a laptop with this kind of firepower, was a little softer than expected with its upsized 76 Whr battery. This was in part due to the higher-end quad-core CPU and 16GB of 2400MHz memory in our eval unit, however, and you could likely realize better battery life by scaling things back in these areas. That said, at about 4 hours of up-time watching HD video content, the AW 13 still holds up relatively well, considering what the machine is capable of performance-wise overall. And of course, going with its lower-end FHD display option would offer even better power efficiency with far fewer pixels to light up.

But alas, you simply have not lived until you've laid eyes on the well-saturated, high contrast goodness that is an OLED display. In the Alienware 13 it's sublime, whether gaming, watching movies, working or browsing the web. Scaling down to lower res for gaming, though likely not necessary in most titles, looks great as well. Couple that gorgeous panel with the upgrades in build quality and material that Dell-Alienware brought to the table with the new AW 13 and you're looking at one of the best built and performing gaming notebooks on the market currently. Starting at $1199 for the base model with FHD display, which includes 8GB of RAM, an SSD and a GeForce GTX 1060, the new Alienware 13 offers strong value as well.

AW13 Dell XPS13 Side by Side
A little bit of Yukon Cornelius - Silver And Gold

Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't quickly mention how Dell has been surging with fantastic notebook designs as of late, whether you consider the Alienware 13 R3 or its more mainstream performance counterpart the XPS 13, which has been recently revamped with Intel's Kaby Lake CPU platform technology. In the premium notebook category, Dell is continuing its current trend of fleshing out compelling, innovative designs that turn heads and light-up performance metrics. Guess which machine we'll be taking to the test bench next? Stick around...
hothardware editors choice

  • Fantastic gaming and general performance
  • Gorgeous OLED display
  • Quiet when idle
  • Great build quality
  • Competitively priced
  • Middling battery life in this config
  • A little on the heavy side

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