XPS 13 Ultrabook Exceeding Sales Expectations, Dell May Release Alienware Gaming Ultrabook

Posted on 05 May 2012 by

Dell seems to have found out that when you make a slim, powerful, and well-built computer, it sells! As is the case with the company’s XPS 13 Ultrabook which is currently has a month long shipping delay due to overwhelming demand, according to Dell.com. This demand will almost definitely lead to more Ultrabooks in the future from Dell, and possibly to a gaming Ultrabook from Dell’s Alienware gaming brand.

CNET.com reports on the XPS 13 exceeding Dell’s sales expectations:

We can’t build enough of them at the moment,” said Sam Burd, vice president of Dell’s Consumer and SMB (small and medium business) product group.

Burd says that Dell is experiencing nearly three times the expected demand. Apparently half of the sales for the XPS 13 are coming from the enterprise side — surprising at first until you realize that business people like long battery life and quick boot/resume times, too! If you go to Dell.com today to try to buy and XPS 13 through the enterprise section of the site, you’ll see “More on the way — due to overwhelming demand” with an estimated shipping date one month from now.

According to a tip received by Maximum PC, Dell could be looking to launch an Alienware gaming Ultrabook. According to the tipster, who claims to have spoken by phone to someone at Dell after voicing his dissapointment at the discontinuation of the Alienware M11x gaming laptop, he was told that the “current Ultrabook trend would lead Dell to release an Alienware Ultrabook” at some point later in the year. Given the demand that Dell has seen with the XPS 13, it’s likely that they would be looking to expand their Ultrabook portfolio, but questions remain.

Gaming prowess and thinness tend to have an inverse relationship in mobile computing. In the Ultrabook field, where the thickness of a computer must fall under a certain specification in order to be considered an Ultrabook, not much room is left for powerful gaming hardware. Would an Alienware Ultrabook simply include a discrete GPU, like we’ve seen on many other Ultrabooks thus far — if so, how would it be any more a ‘gaming Ultrabook’ than any existing Ultrabook with a discrete GPU? There’s also the related problem of the Alienware brand being widely considered as overpriced by most serious gamers. Is there room for an ‘overpriced’ gaming Ultrabook when Intel wants prices around $1000?

Chippy also makes a good case against discrete GPUs in Ultrabooks — they’re unlikely to impress a serious gamer who would likely go elsewhere for gaming needs, so why include them?:

Nvidia have a GT640M series design win in the Acer M3 but this is a classic example of why [having a discrete GPU could be] wrong in an Ultrabook. The Acer M3 is all over the place in terms of messages. Is it a thin and light laptop? No, it’s double the weight of some Ultrabooks. Is it a gaming device? No, it pulls some good peak frame rates but it’s nothing like the gaming experience that gamers are looking for. Is it going to help video editors? No, I doubt you’ll see high-end video editing software being used on Ultrabooks. Mainstream video editing is where it’s at and Quick Sync Video is doing an excellent job there. [Laptopmag proves that even Kepler doesn’t beat it. Link below] Does it help with ‘GPU accelerated’ browsing? Nope. At least not that any customer would notice. Is it going to improve video playback? What Ultrabook customer is looking for 1440p or 50Mbps playback? Stretching the Ultrabook over these markets is going to make it rip apart.

Besides, current-gen Sandy Bridge integrated HD3000 graphics are fully capable of running some of the best casual games out there. Upcoming Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks with integrated HD4000 graphics are expected to perform significantly better in the graphics department — if discrete GPUs are unlikely to truly satisfy core gamers, don’t battery- and cost-saving integrated graphics make more sense?

Razer, typically known as a peripheral manufacturer, recently entered the laptop market attempting something similar — a portable but capable gaming laptop which they call the Blade. Razer wasn’t aiming for Ultrabook criteria in terms of size and shape, but their result is telling of what we might find with an Alienware Ultrabook; the Blade is certainly more slim than other gaming laptops, but most accounts don’t paint it as suitable for the hardcore gaming experience.

What say the gamers among you? Do you think that an Ultrabook with a discrete GPU could satisfy your gaming desires?

  • TheraunSource

    Most mainstream consumers don’t care what the “hardcore” gamers think, that’s why the Wii sold so well. If you look at Steams average hardware userbase they are far below anything remotely close to a gaming PC (even though it’s an enthusiast community).

    Heres a little trick for everyone … if you want to figure out the future of MS/Intel than look no further than Mobile/ARM. Theres a reason MS is making W8 touch centric & theres a reason Intel is suddenly focusing on GPU power.

    MS cannot afford for PC’s to become expensive backend niche production machines like Apple can. Windows is MS core business, which also props up it’s 2nd most important business Office. Windows has always been a business focused tool at heart, the only reason it was successful in the consumer space is because there was no real alternative. But now there is huge competition because of mobile devices, MS absolutely HAS to make Windows more consumer friendly (touch centric, app store, games, simpler).

    It really is just that simple … none of these paradigm shifts are coincidence, they are all in response to mobile.

    • MrLockei

      You are absolutely 110% correct. The only thing I would add to it is on the hardware side. Intel is doing everything it can right now to ensure laptop (and future tablets) will be as thin/light as possible to compete with ARM based alternatives.

      Everything, & I mean everything Microsoft & Intel are doing right now is in response to Apple, Google, & ARM.

      In just my own personal opinion, after MS witnessed the failure of Windows Phone (as a future sustainable profits source) they have to be concerned that W8 ARM tablets will suffer the same fate. They can’t compete at the highend because of Apple/Android & they can’t compete at the lowend because of Android. I think MS & Intel are going to push X86/64 computing as hard as possible into the next generation & MS will slowly begin to back away from ARM.

  • Chippy

    @TheraunSource You said “If you look at Steams average hardware userbase they are far below anything remotely close to a gaming PC (even though it’s an enthusiast community”

    Do you have anything to back that up. It’s VERY interesting if it’s true.

    I agree with you on the gaming push from ARM partners though. Nvidia have done a 1st-class job. Qualcomm are close behind in promoting gaming on tablets. It will be interesting to do some comparisons with Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks later this year.

    • Tsuki

      Valve publishes user hardware statistics regularly.

      http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey

      The most popular video card is the nV GTX560, a distant second is the Intel HD3000. The most popular mobile discrete card is the GTX540M.

      • Chippy

        HD3000 is second? I thought most desktop Intel core systems had the HD2000 (plus any extra graphics card)
        Perhaps HD3000 is auto-detected? I find it hard to believe that HD 3000 is #2 unless it’s being auto-detected along with all the discreet options.

        • Chippy

          Ah. A closer look reveals that intel is 10% of overall by manufacturer. HD 3000 is 3% of total. That makes more sense.

  • Dan

    I’m just happy to see Dell doing well with the XPS 13… it is a beautiful model and it’s good to have an Ultrabook option to offer the corporates who know and trust Dell… this will ultimately help all Ultrabooks imho.

  • Ashan

    I’m surprised a $200 card is the most popular in a hardcore community like Steam. I have a few friends who build their own & they spend anywhere from $300 – $500 on their cards. Currently they are all going nuts for some new $1,000 card.

    I can’t believe Intel is even on the list AT ALL, that is just amazing. If this survey is truly optional, I wonder how many people with Intel graphics didn’t even bother to participate? It’s like those hands-on clinical surveys to find out the average man’s “member” size. Guys with small 1’s don’t even bother because they are embarrassed (Intel). So it skews the numbers higher as only “big” guys participate (Nvidia).

    What I think is really going to be interesting is how the W8 store is going to handle various hardware configurations. If people think Android is a mess, just wait until there are thousands of games (old, new, indie, blockbuster) in the W8 store with various hardware requirements.

    • Tsuki

      The Steam Hardware survey is an automatic diagnostic run by the Steam client. It reflects every computer with the Steam client application installed. Though, pretty sure you can tell Steam to not do it, but you have to actively refuse to participate rather than actively try to participate.

      The average Steam user isn’t “hardcore” at all. They are average PC gamers.

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