Alienware 15 and 17 mark Dell's first VR-ready gaming laptops with brand new design

Alienware 17

Updated: the Alienware 15 and Alienware 17 are officially up for pre-order and we've updated this post with pricing information.

Alienware has finally brought some much-needed agility and versatility to its 15- and- 17-inch gaming laptops. Both notebooks have received a massive overhaul not just in components, but chassis design and unique features.

For starters, Dell's gaming division has drawn liberal inspiration from competitors like Gigabyte's Aorus series of notebooks, while maintaining a very obvious identity. The new design sees the screen hinge move a few millimeters forward, toward the keyboard deck, making room for far larger heat vents in the rear and thus an overall thinner profile – nearly 25% thinner, Alienware claims.

The storied PC gaming firm also opted to improve its keyboard with a set of TactX keys cribbed from its own lineup of desktop gaming keyboards. The new keys offer a deeper 2.2mm of travel for punchier feedback and N-Key rollover, a feature that better registers simultaneous keystrokes to alleviate 'ghosting', or unregistered keystrokes.

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Alienware 15

The new Alienware 15 next to an old Alienware 13

There's plenty to love on the inside, too

Take solace in knowing that the new 15 and 17 laptops will come packing the range of Nvidia's latest 1000 series of GeForce GTX graphics chips. These notebooks also get to debut the AMD RX 470 for the first time on notebooks.

Intel Skylake processors up to Core i7 (with dynamic overclocking) are on tap as well. You might not need that Alienware Graphics Amplifier for that much longer, as Nvidia's latest mobile chips can handle VR gaming with ease.

Adding to the power profile, both versions of the laptop will feature up to 1TB SSDs and 32GB of DDR4 RAM running at up to 2,667MHz for snappy multi-tasking.

Also coming standard on both laptops are HD webcams with IR sensors for Windows Hello login. But, the 17-inch can come packing Tobii eye-tracking optics, like those found in the MSI GT72S G Tobii.

Alienware 17

This is what we like to call 'exploded view'

The 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch notebooks will both house 1,920 x 1,080 displays with in-plane switching (IPS) and up to 300 nits of brightness. (Plus, optional, 120Hz Nvidia G-Sync screens will be on offer.)

The two laptops will be powered by 68 Watt-hour batteries with optional 99Whr versions, with Alienware rating the latter for 7 hours of battery life in the 17-inch model.

All of this will come in an anodized aluminum frame with touches of magnesium alloy, all steel-reinforced and with copper thermal piping.

As for pricing, the Alienware 15 starts at $1,349 while the base model Alienware 17 costs $1,499 (about £1,155, AU$1,990). Both units come with an Nvidia GTX 1060 (6GB of video RAM), 8GB of memory and an 1TB HDD, however, the Alienware 15 comes with an Intel Core i5 processor while the Alienware 17 comes with Intel Core i7 standard.

Additionally, the Tobii-equipped Alienware 17 runs for $1,749 (about £1,350, AU$2,320) with an additional 128GB SSD.

Pre-orders are available now and Alienware has told us units will begin shipping on September 30th.

A third, but not least, close encounter

Alienware would be remiss to mention nothing of its most iconic gaming laptop, the Alienware 13. While not much, what we know is that the new version of the 13.3-inch notebook will hit the market in November 20% thinner than it was before and housing the latest Nvidia Pascal graphics.

Alienware's latest gaming laptops could be the ones to beat through mid-2017, but stay tuned here for more news on these throughout autumn and, ultimately, our full review(s).

Joe Osborne

Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.