Alienware Area-51m is a Beautiful, Monstrous Desktop Replacement

Forget the Alienware aesthetic as you know it. The company’s Area-51m takes an entirely new approach to the gaming laptop lineup’s industrial design and makes it modern, sleek and almost entirely upgradeable. The company announced it here at the CES electronics trade show. It launches on January 29 with a $2,549 configuration, though lower-priced options will be on the way later in the year.

The new laptop will feature 9th Gen Intel desktop chips, Nvidia RTX graphics cards, up to 64GB of RAM and up to 2 TB of storage in a RAID0 configuration. The display It’s the closest I’ve ever seen to a true desktop in a laptop’s body. The specs alone make it seem worthy of the Area 51 name, which was previously referred for its most powerful desktops PCs.

Oh, yeah, most of those parts are user-replaceable, too. You can upgrade the CPU (if it’s compatible with Intel’s Z390 chipset), RAM and storage, and, a surprise for a gaming notebook, the GPU. You’ll have to be comfortable taking out the cooling solution, of course, and Dell will be selling proprietary modules with Nvidia’s RTX graphics, so hopefully they keep supporting it. The powerful parts are primed for overclocking with the Alienware Command Center, which now not only offers performance control for the CPU, but also the GPU, RAM and the fans.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Alienware Area-51m
CPUUp to Intel Core i7-9700K or Intel Core i9-9900K desktop CPUs
GPUUp to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 (8GB GDDR6)
RAMUp to 64 GB DDR4 2400MHz
StorageUp to 2 TB RAID0 (2x 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD and 1 TB SSHD)
Display17.3-inch, FHD, up to 144Hz, optional G-Sync and Tobii eye tracking
Battery90 Whr
PortsHDMI, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, Alienware Graphics Amplifier, 2x DC Power, 3x USB 3.1 Type-A, Thunderbolt 3, headset jack, headphone jack
Dimensions16.1 x 15.9 x 1.7 inches / 410 x 402.5 x 42 mm
Weight8.5 pounds / 3.9 kg
Starting PriceLaunching at $2,549 with lower priced configs coming later

Alienware calls the new design language “Legend,” and it’s likely that we’ll eventually see this trickle down to the rest of Alienware’s lineup. For now, though, it’s just on the Area-51m. The company studied robotic designs, simplistic modern designs and some human elements to come up with the new profile. It’s not slim (it can’t be with those desktop components), but it’s covered in clean, curved lines and beautiful lights. It comes in either white (Lunar Light) or black (Dark Side of the Moon) with magnesium alloy construction and an A51 logo and RGB Alienware icon on the top.

The new design has also done away with one of my biggest frustrations with Alienware for the last several years. Three of the four bezels are now thin, so it doesn’t distract from the otherwise gorgeous design. Alienware claims those screens will hit 300 nits of brightness.

The design keeps Alienware’s trademark hump to put the ports on the back for easy docking and to improve cooling. There’s an RGB light around this hump that makes it look like a spaceship primed to take off. There are also honeycomb-shaped vents on the bottom for more intake and vents on the sides for extra exhaust. The top-end configs have eight heat pipes running through the machine.

Alienware’s 17.3-inch FHD display will come in 60Hz and 144Hz options, with variations for G-Sync and Tobii eye tracking.

If you bought into Alienware’s Graphics Amplifier ecosystem years ago, you’ll be comforted to know that it’s still supported on this new model with a port for it on the back. Other ports include Thunderbolt 3, three USB 3.1 Type-A ports, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort.

Additionally, at CES, Alienware announced the Alienware m17, a 17-inch version of its thin-and-light gaming laptop. It will support Nvidia’s RTX Max-Q GPUs and maintain the old spaceship-themed design in silver and nebula red.

I can’t wait to take the Area-51m through its paces when it hits our labs, as well as see how it is to upgrade, and you can be sure we’ll test the new m17 as well.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon

  • rabbit4me1
    I yell yell copyright infringement!!!! Looks like they modified a razor case!!!
  • Roland Of Gilead
    Please elaborate! Care to give the specs of the quoted model price of $2549 or do we assume it's the 9900k/RTX2080/64gb Ram etc? Or is it another lead down the garden path, with actual top end spec/prices to be much more than the quoted price.
  • jaseg
    "You can upgrade the CPU (if it’s compatible with Intel’s Z390 chipset), RAM and storage, and, a surprise for a gaming notebook, the GPU"
    Oh, just just like we used to be able to do, before Alien'Dell'ware started to cut costs.
    It is most welcome though, as my 17R3 is now ready for updating.
  • coolitic
    Ahh, the old-style Alienwares that I know and love; a proper desktop replacement
  • danny.a.berry
    The $2549 model is as follows:
    i7 8700
    8GB RAM (2x4 for dual channel)
    1TB SSHD
    1080p 60hz display.

    The 9900k with 32GB RAM, RTX2080, 512GB Raid 0 + 1TB SSHD, and 1080p 144hz tobii eye tracking screen is $4250.

    The stupidest thing to me about this laptop is that they do not offer the 8700k as a processor option. The only options on their website are: 8700, 9700k, 9900k