As expected, Dell has unveiled three Sandy Bridge-powered Alienware gaming notebooks: the M11x, M14x and M18x. Starting at $999, the 11.6-inch M11x R3 weighs less than 4.5lbs in its lightest configuration and carries a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-2537M or 2.6GHz Core i7-2617M, Nvidia GeForce 500-series graphics (the GT 540M and/or 555M seem likely) along with Optimus to switch between integrated and discrete solutions.

The smallest system can be outfitted with 4GB to 16GB of DDR3 1333MHz RAM, up to 750GB of mechanical or 256GB of flash storage, a Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi audio chip, and your choice of Windows 7 Home, Professional or Ultimate. Other specs include a 2MP webcam, various WLAN and WWAN options, Bluetooth 3.0, WiDi, USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4 output, a 3-in-1 card reader, and an eight-cell battery with an eight-hour autonomy.

Dell sticks with that general framework through the other two systems, barring form factor-related changes. For instance, the 14-inch can be purchased with a quad-core 2.4GHz Core i7-2820QM, 1600x900 display if preferred over the 1366x768 panel, it gains a VGA connector, and it gets six hours of life per charge with the same battery. Naturally, it's also a bit heavier with a starting weight of 6.45lbs, while the base price jumps up to $1,199.

Meanwhile, Dell says its flagship M18x is the most powerful gaming notebook available -- and at 16lbs, it's probably the heaviest too. The 18.4-incher will be offered with a factory-overclocked 4GHz Core i7 Extreme, dual-graphics chips from both Nvidia and ATI, support for up to 32GB of RAM, a 1080p display, HDMI input, and five programmable keyboard keys. Pricing starts at $999, but you can expect to pay far more for a fully loaded model.