Wednesday, January 8th 2020

Alienware Shows Off Concept UFO - a Portable, Tablet-like Mini PC

At CES 2020, Dell's gaming-inspired division, Alienware, had a handful of new products to showcase. Among these, we found a new product that is still in development called the Concept UFO. The UFO is a concept product that hints a new development strategy for gaming PCs, and that is a portability first approach. Inspired by Nintendo's Switch console, this computer puts gaming PCs on the go. Designed to be a handheld based solution, this PC is based on Windows 10 operating system so you can be sure that all of your existing game libraries are also playable on it as well.

Having an Intel processor as its base, the Concept UFO uses Intel's iGPU to power an 8-inch display of unknown resolution. While we don't know which architecture is powering the UFO, we speculate that Ice Lake is behind it. Our speculation is based on an assumption that, if the concept is capable of playing games, Alienware would put as high-performance iGPU as possible, and such performance is currently only found inside Intel's Ice Lake processors, in form of Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics. Frank Azor of AMD tweeted a question if anyone would like to see this product come with new AMD 4000 series of Ryzen mobile processors, so we could be in for a surprise, given that final specifications are not determined. Ryzen 4000 series would represent a perfect choice as it offers a lot of CPU and GPU power in a mere 15 W TDP package, however, we don't know what solution will be present in the end.
Additionally, when not using the PC as a mobile device, it can be "docked", meaning that it would gain access to the additional power and become a real home theater gaming PC. The integrated controllers can be taken off in that situation and then be used as a single controller like shown in the picture above. As far as I/O options are concerned, there is one unknown video output and one USB type C port at the top of the device, used for charging. As this is only a concept product, for now, we don't know if it will make it to the market, however, we can hope it becomes a reality this year.
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29 Comments on Alienware Shows Off Concept UFO - a Portable, Tablet-like Mini PC

#1
sepheronx
Or just get a nintendo switch. Which will guarantee be cheaper than this and run its games far better than this can run PC games due to iGPU.......

Neat idea I guess, but the iGPU will be a huge limiting factor here. And probably the price tag as well.
Posted on Reply
#2
Raendor
sepheronx
Or just get a nintendo switch. Which will guarantee be cheaper than this and run its games far better than this can run PC games due to iGPU.......

Neat idea I guess, but the iGPU will be a huge limiting factor here. And probably the price tag as well.
Not at all. First revision of switch has a 12w tdp. Ryzen 4000 at 15w is so much more powerful than switch. I like my switch cause it's portable, but if I knew this alienware wouldn't cost way way more than it, I'd get it in a heartbeat and throw switch away. Nintendo games are shallow and lame. It's worth only because of portable ports of big games like Skyrim and Witcher.
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#3
Unregistered
Yes, the 15w Ryzen 4000 would be a huge upgrade, but even with this great APU, if the device would still be handicapped by running Windows and wasting APU resources and battery life for it.

The Switch can run on a low end ARM chip in large part because of the lean OS it uses.
#4
Chomiq
Poor attempt at Switch ripoff, they'd get sued by Nintendo for most of their "unique" features.
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#5
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Actually...it has a Ryzen...could be a lot better than a Switch because Windows x86, not proprietary (Nintendo)/Android (NVIDIA) ARM. That means access to your entire existing game library. The only concern is control...but looks like they got that well covered because they are mimicking Xbox controllers which are already well supported in Windows games.

Not for me but I could see this taking off especially if the price is right.
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#6
kurosagi01
Sadly its not running anything AMD though as it has Intel CPU so changes are it is using Intel new iGPU or maybe even a better Nvidia tegra chip thats currently in Switch? Theres no mention of the actual GPU yet or battery life etc yet but you can see Nintendo aren't going to be keen on this as it pretty much does what the Switch can do.
Certainly be interesting to see the type of battery life it can do in portable mode, I can get about 2-3 hours with 40% volume and brightness at about 60-80%.
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#7
silentbogo
CPU part is more than adequate (even on the lower-end of 4000-series), but specs have been announced at CES and the biggest iGPU in this lineup is an "updated" Vega 8, which optimistically will perform on-par with current-gen Vega 11. It's definitely better than any of the current and upcoming ryzen embedded devices, but still a far cry from "gaming", especially on Win10. Plus, it's gonna be ~2-3 times more expensive than Switch... :D
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#8
sepheronx
Raendor
Not at all. First revision of switch has a 12w tdp. Ryzen 4000 at 15w is so much more powerful than switch. I like my switch cause it's portable, but if I knew this alienware wouldn't cost way way more than it, I'd get it in a heartbeat and throw switch away. Nintendo games are shallow and lame. It's worth only because of portable ports of big games like Skyrim and Witcher.
No, because switch games are designed around switch architecture so they can make it efficient for the hardware. This is a computer acting as a switch and since games won't be optimized around the hardware, chances of it running anything half decent on decent settings is really low.

And fact that Nintendo makes its money not on hardware sales but on software sales is something to take into consideration. Alienware will make their money on hardware sales so price will be exorbant.
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#9
sam_86314
Am I the only person who is very interested in this? This would be an excellent mobile emulation machine. Even Cemu runs reasonably well on Intel iGPUs. It would also be perfect for Steam In Home Streaming.

Let's just hope the price is reasonable. Probably shouldn't get my hopes up since it's an Alienware.
Posted on Reply
#10
silentbogo
sepheronx
This is a computer acting as a switch and since games won't be optimized around the hardware, chances of it running anything half decent on decent settings is really low.
It's actually quite easy to find a good approximation of the performance: Udoo Bolt v8 has been reviewed quite a few times, and there's also only one (I mean actually singular) review for Smach Z with similar horse power under the hood. Add ~25% more FPS, and that's what Alienware device tops out at. Basically 720p medium/low for lightweight titles. I was even more surprised to see that old Vega 8 can't handle League of Legends in FHD Low...
sam_86314
Am I the only person who is very interested in this? This would be an excellent mobile emulation machine.
Only if you are willing to pay a huge premium for this portability. It won't be cheap, especially on newer chips and in small production runs. Just look at the ones made on older embedded APUs: Udoo bolt v8 retails at $400+ just for the board, and idiots at Smach (if you remember those guys) more than doubled the price of their non-existent portable console just to make their ends meet (it's now listed at $700 or €700 for the bare-minimum config). Even super-optimistically, it won't be cheaper than the cheapest Ryzen laptop w/ similar specs (e.g. upwards of $500).

Plus, it's still gimped by iGPU (e.g. don't expect 60FPS@720p in RPCS3 or Cemu).
Posted on Reply
#11
notb
yakk
Yes, the 15w Ryzen 4000 would be a huge upgrade, but even with this great APU, if the device would still be handicapped by running Windows and wasting APU resources and battery life for it.

The Switch can run on a low end ARM chip in large part because of the lean OS it uses.
Seriously, I'm not sure where you're getting all these ideas.
Windows 10 is very light when taken care of. It won't even consume 5% of what this 15W CPU offers.
Yes, a bare custom OS would be lighter. But it also wouldn't run other apps you may want: an e-book reader, Excel, a browser...
This is basically an ultrabook connected to an Xbox controller. We know it works well.

And you'll still be able to connect a BT keyboard and turn this into a functional mobile PC, whereas Switch (being a really amazing gaming platform) is still waiting for a Netflix client.
FordGT90Concept
Actually...it has a Ryzen...
What would be the point of using Ryzen in this? Higher idle, same level IGP, unknown supply and shipping date.

It's been confirmed to use Ice Lake. They exist. They work. They can be easily replaced with Tiger Lake in few months. Intel's 10nm pouring through all channels now. ;)
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#12
Super XP
Chomiq
Poor attempt at Switch ripoff, they'd get sued by Nintendo for most of their "unique" features.
That I have to agree with, especially with how the controllers connect to the sides of the screen.
That alone is a Nintendo Patent which I am sure Nintendo would like to have for themselves.
Posted on Reply
#13
notb
Super XP
That I have to agree with, especially with how the controllers connect to the sides of the screen.
That alone is a Nintendo Patent which I am sure Nintendo would like to have for themselves.
1. The general idea is the same. Technically it's different.
2. Seriously, let Nintendo fight for their rights. What if Dell paid them for license?
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#14
Ravenmaster
Easiest lawsuit of Nintendo's life if Dell choose to launch this product.
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#15
lexluthermiester
Ravenmaster
Easiest lawsuit of Nintendo's life if Dell choose to launch this product.
Incorrect. If that were the case a whole host of tablet makers would have been in legal trouble. That just hasn't happened.

I like this thing, looks very promising. Dell might have a winner on their hands if they market it right.
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#16
Chomiq
lexluthermiester
Incorrect. If that were the case a whole host of tablet makers would have been in legal trouble. That just hasn't happened.

I like this thing, looks very promising. Dell might have a winner on their hands if they market it right.
Except Switch games, even if they are ports, are optimized for the platform. What Dell has in mind is a portable PC. Sure it might run F1 2019 ok'ish but what about other games?
As for patents:
Detachable controllers, that thingy that makes them work like a gamepad, hell even the kickstand are a blatant ripoff of Nintendo's designs.
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#17
ShurikN
notb
Intel's 10nm pouring through all channels now. ;)
Who would've thought that the biggest joke of 2020 would come in January.
Posted on Reply
#18
notb
ShurikN
Who would've thought that the biggest joke of 2020 would come in January.
Laugh as much as you want. You'll see soon enough. :)
Chomiq
Except Switch games, even if they are ports, are optimized for the platform. What Dell has in mind is a portable PC. Sure it might run F1 2019 ok'ish but what about other games?
All games meant to be run on this are optimized for the platform as well (Windows!). Don't worry so much.

Seriously, this is just a 15W SoC (likely Ice Lake G7 for now, Tiger Lake successor later this year). We know what these SoCs can do.

Funny how 15W Intel/AMD SoCs are OK for casual gaming when we're discussing laptops, but suddenly not sufficient in a mobile console. That makes absolutely no sense. :D
Detachable controllers, that thingy that makes them work like a gamepad, hell even the kickstand are a blatant ripoff of Nintendo's designs.
Ripoff it may be (at least partly).
Material for lawsuit that some here expect - not really.
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#19
lexluthermiester
Chomiq
As for patents:
Detachable controllers, that thingy that makes them work like a gamepad, hell even the kickstand are a blatant ripoff of Nintendo's designs.
Nintendo might have patents for their specific design but they have no claim on the concept, on any level. If you want to get serious, Nintendo copied a lot of Android tablets that came out way before the Switch..

Lon over at LonTV had a upclose look at it! I'm thinking strongly about getting one.
@11:53
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#20
gaximodo
Alienware redefines ugly.

Simply straighten the frame will make the design tolerable.
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#21
Tartaros
Super XP
That I have to agree with, especially with how the controllers connect to the sides of the screen.
That alone is a Nintendo Patent which I am sure Nintendo would like to have for themselves.
Not at all. The concept of a a gamepad attached to a tablet or phone that can be used as a regular pad unattached has been around android phones since 2012 at least. There are some chinese brands who did some interesting ones, like Ipega. Also, logitech had their own device for 5g Iphone / Ipod touch.

I'd rather pick this than a Switch, there are many more games and you can use it as a regular pc, the problem is the probably high price. I recently purchased a hp x360 with a mx250 and it can run games decently for what it is.
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#22
notb
Tartaros
I'd rather pick this than a Switch, there are many more games and you can use it as a regular pc, the problem is the probably high price. I recently purchased a hp x360 with a mx250 and it can run games decently for what it is.
Probably around entry-level Ice Lake laptops ($500-600 for i5-1035G7 - IMO the best SoC for this), so less than twice as much as Nintento Switch.

But the key selling point here is not console price, but choice of games.

Moreover, if you're also a PC gamer, you play the same games, so there are potentially enormous savings on that front.
Posted on Reply
#23
Tartaros
notb
Moreover, if you're also a PC gamer, you play the same games, so there are potentially enormous savings on that front.
We are talking about Alienware. This won't be remotely close to 500-600$, even if sanity demands that. Which is a pity.

Maybe a toned down version with a 10th gen Celeron and a smaller screen would be more closer to that. But I would put my money on Microsoft pushing ARM Windows and CFW Switch than expecting a x86 portable gaming device with a reasonable price.
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#24
Logoffon
Call me a kiddo (since I don't play hardcore/PC games), but I'd still pick Switch over this anyway.

I don't think that many mouse-and-keynoard games will be optimized well for gamepads, let alone the ability to run in high quality on this gaming 2-in-1, unless of course they smack in Core i9-10980HK and RTX 2080 in a body that's at least one brick thick.
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#25
lexluthermiester
gaximodo
Alienware redefines ugly.
I think it's cool looking, and I have a thing for gaming tablets.
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