Dell is supposedly preparing to update its pint-sized gaming laptop sometime early next month. If the reports hold up, the Alienware M11x R3 will arrive with Intel's Sandy Bridge processors, quicker RAM and more storage. Processor options will include the Core i5-2537M (1.4GHz base with up to 2.3GHz speeds via Turbo Boost 2.0), i7-2617M (1.5GHz to 2.6GHz) and i7-2657M (1.6GHz to 2.7GHz).

System memory will include 1GB, 2GB, 4GB and 8GB options but it will operate at 1333MHz DDR3 instead of 800MHz. Mechanical storage will still start at 250GB but the maximum capacity will be increased from 640GB to 750GB. Samsung's 256GB P810 SSD will be offered on the side. The third revision is also expected to receive options for 3G, LTE or WiMax mobile broadband connectivity.

A few key specifications are still unknown, namely the graphics processor. Being a gaming machine, the chosen GPU could make or break the M11x's appeal. There is some concern that Dell will opt for Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics core instead of providing a discrete solution. The current system ships with a 1GB GeForce GT 335M, a mid-grade chip capable of running demanding tiles, if only on low settings.

It's also unclear whether the refresh will bring USB 3.0 as the existing model only comes with USB 2.0. The system will come in red, black and "SoftTouch" options, but we assume Dell hasn't made any drastic cosmetic changes. Pricing is unknown, but last year's Core i5-520UM model currently starts at $999 and we've always gotten the impression that Dell wants to keep the M11x reasonably affordable.