Alienware’s recently announced X15 and X17 thin and light gaming laptops are clearly missing a port – and it’s not because they’re thinner and lighter.
The Alienware Graphics Amplifier external GPU has been discontinued, so these laptops will not need to use that proprietary port any longer. We didn’t hear whether or not it would offer an eGPU in the future, but instead, the company pointed us to the on-the-shelf Thunderbolt.
In 2014, Alienware first introduced the Graphics Amp for $299 and designed it as a portable graphics card to accompany it in the Alienware 13. It is capable of powering a wide range of desktop graphics cards and 4 devices when docked.
The device provides fully-sized USB ports. The combination was very nice to me. The company, however, added ports to its laptops and desktops over the years (including the Alienware Area-51M’s flagship Area-51 mini-tower and Alienware Alpha R2 console-sized PC). A built-in that is designed to be upgraded.
The AMP provided 460W of power to cover the GPU and has a price that has often dropped below $199, which has made it a competitive alternative to an eGPU that uses the manufacturer-agnostic Thunderbolt 3 port. It’s much more convenient than proprietary cables (and it’s usually able to charge your laptop, too).
Alienware did not specify when Amp was discontinued. Dell’s support page was last updated in April 2021 — so it does not seem to have added compatibility for the latest generation of NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards.
The new Alienware M15 R5 and M15 R6 do not include a graphics amplifier port as well. Certainly, Alienware lasted a long time with the idea of introducing new chips for the Area-51M laptop. It will be interesting to see if this is the end of Alienware’s dream of upgradeable laptops.