Dell’s botched attempt to create an upgradable Alienware gaming laptop has sparked a class-action lawsuit.
Last week, a consumer filed a complaint against Dell for falsely advertising the upgradability options for the Alienware Area-M51. The system’s first edition arrived in 2019 as a rare gaming laptop that could supposedly let you swap out the CPU and GPU for newer components.
Indeed, Dell itself marketed the Area-M51 R1 as a product with “unprecedented upgradability.” But a year later, the company told owners who bought the laptop they wouldn’t be able to upgrade their Area-M51 units to newer CPUs or GPUs from Intel and Nvidia.
The controversy sparked San Francisco resident Robert Felter to file a class-action lawsuit that demands damages from Dell. According to him, Dell used the upgradability claims to try and boost sales for the Area-M51 laptop. “To the gaming consumer, this ‘unprecedented upgradability’ as Dell described it, i.e. a laptop that is upgradable like a desktop, is the elusive holy grail of mobile computing,” the lawsuit says.
In July, 2019, Felter purchased an Area-M51 R1 laptop for $2,700, believing he could improve the hardware over time, citing Dell’s own website and advertising. However, the company later told him he wouldn’t be able to upgrade his machine to Intel’s 10th-generation CPUs or Nvidia’s RTX 2000 Super GPUs.
“In fact, the only way Plaintiff could own a laptop with these newly released upgraded Core Components was to spend several thousand dollars more than what an upgrade would cost to purchase the then-newly released Alienware Area-51M R2 or a similarly equipped laptop from another manufacturer,” the lawsuit adds.
Dell declined to comment the lawsuit. But it’s clear the case will hinge on how far the company went to promote the upgradability claims. The company previously said the Area-51M R1 does support upgradability—just only within its current generation of CPU and GPU components. Hence, you can swap out the laptop’s RTX 1660 Ti GPU for an RTX 2080, but not go beyond.
Felter’s lawsuit is seeking class-action status for affected Alienware Area-M51 owners based in nine states, including Arizona, California, and Oregon.