Gaming laptops are getting wonderfully weird in 2019

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The gaming laptop renaissance is upon us. For the past few years, they’ve been getting thinner, lighter and more powerful, thanks to NVIDIA’s 10-series Max-Q graphics cards. But this year at CES, they got truly weird and wild. Alienware’s Area 51m lets you swap out its CPU and GPU, like a proper desktop! ASUS’s ROG Mothership is basically an all-in-one PC masquerading as a notebook. And Acer’s Predator Triton 900 has one of the craziest hinges we’ve ever seen.

The big takeaway? PC makers are experimenting more with gaming laptop designs than ever before. That’s a good thing for consumers, since it’s leading to potentially useful new form factors. And it’s even better for the PC industry, since all of that competition will hopefully spur every company to be a bit more innovative. Not everyone will need these machines, but the lessons PC companies learn from them could eventually trickle down to all of their computers.

Take the Alienware Area 51m. It seems like an almost impossible creation — it’s a 17-inch notebook powered by Intel’s latest desktop CPUs and chipset, as well as NVIDIA’s RTX 20-series GPUs, all in an 8.5-pound package. Once you open it up, you can swap out the CPU, GPU (via Dell’s Graphics Form Factor card), storage and RAM. It basically gives you most of the customizability of a gaming desktop in a sleek laptop. Sure, it’s heavier than the sub-five pound gaming notebooks we’re seeing these days, but plenty of players still opt for heavier machines if they’re tinkering-friendly. The Area 51m could be just what a PC gaming addict needs.

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