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Alienware's x15 and x17 Are Thinner than Ever, and Use Custom Element 31 Cooling

Alienware x15 and x17
(Image credit: Alienware)

Alienware is going thinner than ever with its newest gaming laptops. The X-series, comprised of the Alienware x15 and x17, are among the most svelte machines that Dell's gaming arm has ever produced.

Both the x15 and x17 are available in limited configurations today, with the full range available on June 15. The smaller laptop starts at $1,999.99, while the larger one begins at $2,099.99. 

Alienware x15 R1Alienware x17 R1
CPUUp to Intel Core i9-11900HUp to Intel Core i9-11980HK
GPUUp to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (8GB GDDR6), 90W TGP, 1,365 MHz boost clockUp to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (16GB GDDR6), 150W TGP, 1,710 MHz boost clock
Display15.6-inches, up to 1080p/360 Hz with G-Sync or 1440p/240 Hz with G-Sync17.3-inches, up to 1080p/ 360 Hz with G-Sync or 1440p/120 Hz
RAMUp to 32GB DDR4-3200Up to 64GB DDR4-3466 XMP
StorageUp to 4TB RAID0UP to 4TB RAID0
Size14.16 x 10.92 x 0.63 inches15.72 x 11.79 x 0.82 inches
Battery87 WHr87 WHr
Starting Price$1,999.99$2,099.99

At 0.63 inches thick (or 0.64 inches with a 1080, 165Hz display), the x15 is the slimmest gaming laptop that Alienware has ever made, while the 0.82-inch thick x17 is still its most lean in that screen size. Both feature an update to Alienware's "Legend" design, and the company claims many of the technologies it used to get the laptops this thin are patent-pending and "industry exclusive."

(Image credit: Alienware)

To get this thin, Alienware needs to nail the cooling. There are several new technologies involved, but the one the company is boasting the most about is its thermal interface material, which it has dubbed Element 31. It's a proprietary, gallium-silicon liquid metal material. The silicon should protect it from oxidation, meaning that it will last longer. The company is claiming a 25% improvement in overall thermal resistance over previous Alienware laptops. This is the special sauce that it hopes will get the X-series on our list of the best gaming laptops. (Note that Element 31 will only come in configurations with an RTX 3070 or RTX 3080). 

(Image credit: Alienware)

The system is cooled by four fans, which Alienware says it optimized based on location. The QWER keys and number keys, popular in esports titles, are all near the front intake fan to keep them cool. (These fans also cool the SSDs). The laptops' rear fans, for the CPU and GPU, exhaust out the back and intake from the top and bottom. The idea is to have positive pressure, with more cool air entering the laptop than leaving it. The 12-volt fans are designed for lower power and fan speeds, and Alienware claims they shouldn't be much louder than its existing gaming notebooks.

To control power, you can bias performance toward the CPU or GPU in the BIOS or Alienware Command Center software.

Will any of this majorly affect a benchmark? Probably not, Alienware claims. But it's promising more stability over long gaming sessions, keeping 11th Gen Core processors (up to a Core i9-11980HK on the x17 and Core i9-11900H on the x15) and up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (a max of 110W on the x15, and 165W on the x17).

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Alienware x15 and x17

(Image credit: Alienware)
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Alienware x15 and x17

(Image credit: Alienware)

Of course, some of the changes are on the outside. The thin chassis has what Alienware is calling "Dark Core," which is a remarkably fancy term for the simple act of putting black keyboard deck on the x15 and x17's white magnesium alloy chassis

The x17 will come with an option for its custom Cherry MX ultra low-profile mechanical switches, which won't be in the x15. Otherwise, both laptops will come with a new keyboard with 1.5 mm of travel, N-key rollover and per-key RGB lighting. Alienware is also bringing back RGB lighting on the touchpad, but that will only show up in models with an RTX 3080 GPU.

Both the 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch displays will come in 1080p options up to 360 Hz or 1440p options at 240 Hz, with G-Sync on the x15 or at 120 Hz on the x17. Other panel options include ComfortView Plus to prevent blue light, Advanced Optimus and the option for infrared cameras to log in with Windows Hello.

At this size, almost all of the ports, with the exception of the power barrel, have been relegated to the back. Alienware has always kept a number of ports back there, so of all the changes, it's definitely the smallest.

We hope to see how these perform this summer.

  • Kamen Rider Blade
    Is "Element 31" really just a fancy marketing name for "Thermal Putty"?
    Reply