PAX Notes: A frank discussion with Alienware guru Chris Sutphen

Hidden away behind one of the Alienware booth’s walls was a secret room barely big enough to hold a couple of chairs and a small desk. Seated inside of it was one very hoarse Chris Sutphen whom spent the PAX Aus weekend doing his best to talk above the showroom’s deafening roar. Global Marketing Director at Alienware Chris was kind enough to grant me entry into his showroom sanctuary for a quick chat about the company’s move into OLED as well as their recent brand redesign and what that means for them moving forward.

“OLED is a major focus for us,” Sutphen says kicking off our conversation, “It started 3 years ago on the 13 and now as it’s become possible we’ve incorporated it into the m15.”

Alienware’s early adoption of OLED tech has had it on the forefront of gaming displays, but up until this point on a limited stage. As pricing has decreased and the quality of mass production improved the displays have now finally made their way into Alienware’s full laptop lineup.

The new OLED panels offer a response time unthought of with traditional displays. Each pixel can activate in just 9ms on the company’s high-end configurations. This is complimented by the high refresh rates available depending on your configuration. The m15’s base panel operates a 4K display at 60Hz for example but can be swapped out for either a 144Hz or 240Hz option based on your requirements and budget.

“I had a pro Street Figther come up to me at CES early in the year,” Chris tells me, “He would only use an OLED display to ensure it registered as frames to his inputs as possible. That was something unachievable until now with the technology we have access to now and we want to bring that to everyone.”

Laptops are only half the story though. Recently announced at Gamescom and on display at PAX Aus was the company’s first foray into large format displays with a 55″ OLED panel aimed at gamers.

The 4K, 120Hz display boasts 4 HDMI ports along with a single DisplayPort for the highest quality of big-screen PC and console gaming. It’s not going to be cheap though, Chris revealing the monitor was set to go on sale next month for a lofty A$8,999.

In addition to new markets and new tech come a new look for Alienware in 2019. The company unveiled a refreshed branding in their industrial design they refer to as the “Legend ID”, which they’ve applied across the entire product lineup.

“It took us just on three years to work on that change,” Chris says, “There were over 30 designs derived from our roots and mixed with pop culture, which we went back to our community and fans for feedback and research on.”

The new look is certainly bold and aims to serve the brand for the next five years. Some have found it quite affronting but according to Chris that was kind of the point.

“In the end we actually went for a combination of designs and ignored the one that tested best,” he says as we wind up, “We wanted to be bold and iconic, not to replicate what was already out there.”