Graphics Performance

Performance results in 3DMark are exactly what I expected from the combination of a high-end Intel quad-core CPU and the GTX 1060 6GB. In the Time Spy benchmark, you'll see the GTX 1060 outperforming the GTX 1050 by 89 percent, while the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 are 44 and 75 percent faster respectively.

In games, the Alienware 13 performs very similarly to other GTX 1060 laptops. It's two percent slower than the MSI GS43VR, and roughly on par with the MSI GS63VR on average. Strangely, the Alienware 13 is 3.5 percent faster than the Alienware 15 on average.

My general thoughts on the GTX 1060 in gaming laptops hasn't changed with the Alienware 13. This GPU is well suited to 1080p gaming, and it performs very well in titles from a few years ago. In more modern titles, especially the most punishing games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, you'll be hovering around the 30 FPS mark with ultra settings, so in some circumstances you'll have to turn down the quality if you'd rather play at 60 FPS.

At this stage, the GTX 1060 is as good as it gets in this form factor; there are no GTX 1070 laptops smaller than 15 inches, so if you want more performance, it's not possible to upgrade further.

Thermal performance of the Alienware 13 is average. Using AIDA64's stress test on the CPU only, the CPU sat at around 88°C with only moderate fan noise. Even with this intense workload, it took the fans a full six minutes to spin up from a reasonably quiet state, which is much better than other gaming laptops I've tested. If you're not using the GPU, you can expect the Alienware 13 to remain quiet for the most part, and even under load, the fan noise is pleasant enough.

Hitting the CPU and GPU together in AIDA64 punishes the Alienware 13. The system gets noticeably louder, with the GPU sitting around 90°C and throttling impacting CPU performance. Luckily this sort of test is a worst-case scenario for the laptop, and you won't see these sorts of figures in typical games.

Playing Hitman, the Alienware 13's GPU hit 85°C while the CPU sat at 86°C (both 100% utilization), which is above average for a GTX 1060 gaming laptop. Fan noise was lower than in the AIDA64 stress test, but still very noticeable and quite loud.

Raising the laptop off my desk by four centimeters lowered the Alienware 13's temperatures by nearly 20°C on both the GPU and CPU, indicating there is an airflow issue preventing enough cool air from being sucked in through the vents along the base of the laptop.