13″ Alienware ANW13-8636SLV via Amazon
Alienware 13 ANW13-8636SLV is a 13 inch high performance modern gaming laptop that brings innovation, power and performance together with a Broadwell Intel i7 processor, very large memory and Solid State Drive, very high screen resolution QHD display and most importantly the GTX 860M graphics card for mid-upper range gaming performance- able to run the latest games at very high settings and very decent frame rates smoothly. It is not a particularly low-cost laptop (and there is a good discount on Amazon at the time of this review) but let’s see it in more detail to figure out if it would be the right machine for you.
Alienware 13 ANW13 includes the dual core Intel i7-5500U processor (4MB cache) at 2.4GHz speed up to 3.0GHz with turbo and hyper threading (two cores and four threads) for boosting performance in demanding tasks, massive 16 GB dual channel DDR3L SDRAM at 1600Mhz (2 x 8GB) for multitasking of even the most demanding stuff and the system supports a max of 16GB, 512 GB M.2 Solid State Drive for both speed and great storage space (same size as the hard drive on regular budget laptop, not HDD but a lot faster SSD that offers way better overall speed and start-up times) and English Windows 8.1 operating system which will soon be Windows 10 if you wish to download it for free. I7-5500U is an ultra low voltage CPU so probably not the best choice for a powerful gaming PC even though it is an i7 (at least not as fast as regular i7 processors) but sure does the job well, partnered with the 512GB SSD.
Matte 13 inch QHD+ LCD touch display with very high 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution offers awesome sharp and clear graphics, up to 178 degree very large viewing angles and realistic colors with the IPS panel and anti-reflective 400-nits brightness display with touch technology (which is often not all that necessary for gamers but still a nice feature to have with the way Windows 8.1 is designed). Graphics card is the upper mid-range NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M with 2GB GDDR5 dedicated video memory and will easily handle the modern games at higher settings but with a lot of the most demanding games the QHD+ resolution available on this PC will not be supported and you’ll need to stick with Full HD and the frame rates will be acceptable for even the hardest and most current games and with older games frame rates and resolutions this will go up. Good quality sound is offered by the 2.0 configuration Klipsch certified speakers and Sound Blaster software. It has a great 2 megapixel FHD webcam with dual microphone array to use on Skype or other programs when you’re gaming with mates.
Alienware ANW13 weighs 4.54 pounds and measures 1.1 x 12.9 x 9.3 inches, which means lightweight, compact and portable unlike most of the other gaming laptops but still heavier than the regular 13 inch machines- Dell claims it to be lighter, slimmer and with longer battery life than any Alienware they created before (40% slimmer than Alienware 14). You may expect up to 8 hours of battery life in regular net surfing from its 4-cell 52W lithium ion battery and energy efficient storage- SSD and CPU despite the powerful GTX 860M that uses up a bit of battery and this will be half of that if you’re gaming so you will need to keep it plugged in despite being designed to be such a portable gaming unit. It has a metal reinforced backlit keyboard with AlienFX backlit keys that feel really nice to type on or great for when you’re gaming but no 10-key numeric pad because of its compact 13 inch size. Connectivity options include the 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 tied to wireless card for connecting a gaming mouse or other Bluetooth devices, Ethernet built by Killer Networks- Gigabit Ethernet with RJ-45 connector, 3 x USB 3.0 ports and Mini DisplayPort for external display connection, an HDMI output, FastAccess Facial Recognition, 1 x Earphone out but no Optical Drive and no Media Card Reader.
Conclusion: Alienware ANW13-8636SLV is a very capable and powerful gaming laptop with a beautiful modern design for great at-home gaming (but also quite portable to be taken out and about- lightweight, slim and long battery life) with premium specs and features. Despite all that power and heavy gaming performance it stays cool even after hours of operation or gaming with the way it is designed for ideal thermal dissipation of carbon fiber filled composite and copper sinks- things will run smoothly while staying cool. There is no antivirus software installed on it but the trial version of Microsoft Office which you can extend by purchasing at the end of trial and for antivirus you may want to simply download the free AVG or Avast online and comes with a 12 month In-Home warranty. Gaming laptops tend to have larger displays and thicker cases so this 13 inch display on this compact machine may appear strange at first to some but bear in mind that this Alienware is also designed for portability and gaming on the go. Connectivity options are great as you can connect many peripherals through its three USB 3.0 ports DisplayPort and HDMI or Bluetooth enabled devices wirelessly. The 5th generation Intel i7-5500U may not be the most powerful i7 out there but the very large 512GB SSD will greatly contribute to the super snappy performance of this great gaming machine, so what you’re getting is a great combination of looks/design, power/functionality/speed and portability with great user friendliness and it sure seems to be good value for money.