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Alienware's new graphics amplifier and laptop make portable high-end gaming possible

The dream for many PC gamers has always been to have a portable machine that can also handle the latest graphics-intensive releases, and Alienware has come up with a solution that moves that dream closer to reality with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. Released alongside the Alienware 13 — the company's newest gaming laptop — the near-8-pound, $299 box is meant to live on your desk, ready to be plugged into any time you feel the need for that extra GPU boost that a laptop just can't provide.

The new laptop comes in three different resolution variants — 1366 x 768, 1920 x 1080, and a touchscreen version at 2560 x 1440 — and supports Windows 8.1, 8.1 Pro, and 7 Pro. It's designed similarly to the other laptops Alienware has made since it was acquired by Dell in 2006, but is the company's thinnest ever at just one inch thick. While Alienware swears by the 13's standalone gaming performance, it also says gamers can expect over twice the average frames-per-second when combined with the graphics amplifier.

The $299 amplifier "tricks" the laptop into thinking it's a high-spec desktop that's equipped with graphics cards which wouldn't be able to fit into the 13's tight frame, allowing gamers to take advantage of a laptop's portability without limiting performance as severely as in the past.

The box supports a range of graphics cards like NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 600 series or AMD's Raedon HD 5000 series, and connects via a proprietary USB/PCIE cable — which means it will only work with the Alienware 13 (though the company hinted at it being forward compatible). Both the laptop and the amplifier will be available for purchase starting tomorrow, but the amplifier won't ship until mid-November.