After a good deal of speculation, Dell has announced two new additions to its Alienware gaming brand and one updated favorite. The new flagship M18x desktop replacement notebook – modestly described by the company as the "most powerful 18-inch gaming laptop in the universe" – features a factory-overclocked second generation Core i7 processor, dual graphics and supports up to 32GB of DDR3 memory. The M14x comes in two display options, dual or quad Core i7 processors and an impressive eight hour battery life. The refreshed M11x gets treated to some new processors, USB 3.0 and HDMI 1.4 connectivity.

Alienware has now been under Dell's wing for five years and is constantly striving to push the gaming envelope to deliver features that are most important to gamers. Amongst the tick boxes this time were improvements to graphic and system performance, latency-free wireless HD streaming to big screen televisions and better battery life.

A refreshed favorite

Since the launch of the original notebook at CES 2010, the Alienware M11x has received no less than 51 Editor's Choice awards and the company has now taken the opportunity to offer a few improvements. The portable gaming powerhouse has been given overclockable Intel Core i5 2537M at 1.4GHz / i7 2617M at 2.6GHz CPU options with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 on Intel's mobile GS45 chipset, updated graphics featuring the NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M with up to 2GB of DDR3 graphics memory and up to 16GB of dual channel DDR3 memory.

There's an 11.6-inch WLED HD WXGA 1366 x 768 resolution display, a 2 megapixel webcam with dual digital microphones and a new soft touch finish with a Nebula Red option. Storage of up to 750GB HDD spinning at 7200 RPM or up to 256GB SSD is available and Kilpsch onboard speakers are said to offer impressive high definition audio performance. Physical connectivity is represented by two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 (with PowerShare Technology) ports, FireWire, Gigabit LAN and a 3-in-1 media card reader.

In addition to HDMI 1.4, the device also supports Intel Wireless Display (Wi-Di) technology. Wireless-N and Bluetooth 3.0 are also joined by the option of Intel WiMAX technology or Verizon LTE.

A user is given the option to configure various lighting zones, including keyboard and touchpad, and can also look forward to at least eight hours of gaming action between charges of the 63whr, 8-cell Lithium-ion battery.

The updated Alienware M11x is available now, with prices starting at US$999.

The first of the new additions

Responding to the needs of gamers wanting a slightly bigger screen and better performance than the M11x can offer, Alienware has launched the M14x with a 14-inch WLED HD 1366 x 768 resolution display as standard or an optional 14-inch WLED HD+ 1600 x 900 resolution white LED-backlit LCD display. It's powered by second-generation, overclockable, full voltage Intel Quad- or Dual- Core i7 processors with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, comes with discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M with up to 3GB of video memory and supports up to 8GB of 1600MHz dual channel DDR3 RAM.

There's an optical drive, 9-in-1 media card reader, two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 (with PowerShare Technology) ports, HDMI 1.4 to support connectivity on HDTVs and Gigabit LAN. For the gamer on the go, the company has included Wireless-N connectivity with optional Intel WiMAX technology or Verizon LTE and there's a useful 60GHz WirelessHD high performance wireless display option.

The Alienware M14x has the same storage options, audio capabilities, webcam and custom lighting controls as the M11x, and manages six hours of battery life from the 8-cell Lithium-ion battery, assisted by NVIDIA Optimus technology. It's available now for a starting price of US$1199.

Performance heavyweight: Alienware M18x

At the time of writing, the new Alienware M18x gaming desktop PC replacement notebook hasn't been given a product page but will be available from May, starting at US$1999. This monster benefits from an 18.4-inch FHD WLED 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution display, delivering claimed latency-free high-definition content over optional 60GHz WirelessHD or output to 3D displays. Dual graphics technology comes in the shape of AMD Crossfire X and NVIDIA SLI with up to 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory.

The device comes in either anodized aluminum black and red finish and is built on new Intel Huron River architecture with a new factory overclocked Intel Core i7 Extreme Quad Core processor up to 4GHz, with able support from up to 32GB of 1333MHz DDR3 memory. The company has brought in the programmable keys at the left of the keyboard from the desktop TactX keyboard which offers gamers 5 keys for 15 different shortcut assignments, including programmable macros and custom-assigned commands.

Both HDMI-in and HDMI 1.4 output feature, as well as mini-DisplayPort technology and battery life is said to be up to three hours on a single charge.

Announcing the new additions, Alienware's Frank Azor said that the company is currently playing the waiting game with Thunderbolt I/O technology, stating that "if there is an opportunity for it for our customer base, then we'll likely use it."

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