Alienware X51 review

26 Mar 2012

A well-designed and striking living room PC to challenge consoles, but it treads a fine line on gaming power

Price when reviewed 
798
4

Dell’s Alienware brand produces enthusiast PCs that generally don’t try to compete on price with smaller bespoke builders. Its latest system, however, represents a change to that tactic. The X51 is a small-form-factor PC that takes Alienware’s gaming expertise and attempts to sell it to the living room masses.

It’s immediately clear that the X51 is designed to challenge consoles. It’s all glossy black plastic and sleek curves, and familiar Alienware touches can be spotted throughout. The stylised UFO on the front of the machine lights up and can be rotated to suit the PC’s orientation, just like the PS3 logo, and the side of the case is adorned with illuminated panels and otherworldly characters.

The X51 is small, too: it stretches 344mm lengthways, and it’s only 94mm wide, which means it will fit into spaces traditional PCs won’t. It also means Alienware’s designers have done a superb job in managing to cram in a fully functional gaming PC.

Alienware X51

The bespoke motherboard, for instance, hosts the processor, DIMM sockets and most other key components, but there are two daughterboards – one for many of the internal connections and headers, the other handling links to the front panel and various lights. A separate board rises from the PCI Express x16 slot to rotate the graphics cards through 90 degrees, and the card is held in a sturdy metal caddy. The sizeable gap beneath it is partly left for air to reach the GPU, and partly to give Alienware somewhere to fit the 3.5in hard disk.

It’s a superb piece of compact design, with cables routed discreetly throughout, and care taken over component placement. Upgrade space is understandably at a premium: the DIMMs, processor and wireless card are easily accessible, but you only get the single graphics card slot and it takes some effort to extract the card itself or the hard disk from the metal frame. This PC isn’t meant for tinkering.

The living room case also means concessions on the core components. You get a 3GHz Intel Core i5-2320 and 8GB of RAM, which carried the X51 to a score of 0.87 in our application benchmarks. That’s nothing particularly special for a PC at this price – even the £599 Chillblast Fusion Elixir overclocked a Core i5-2500K to score 1.1.

Details

Price ex VAT £665
Price inc VAT £798
Overall rating 4
Performance 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000GB
RAM capacity 8.00GB

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 3.00GHz
Processor socket LGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan) Dell low-profile

Motherboard

Motherboard Dell proprietary
Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

Graphics card Nvidia GeForce GTX 555
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GTX 555
DVI-I outputs 2
HDMI outputs 1
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Seagate Barracuda 7200.12
Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 931GB
Internal disk interface SATA
Spindle speed 7,200RPM

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer

Additional Peripherals

Sound card Realtek HD Audio

Case

Chassis Alienware proprietary
Case format Small form-factor
Dimensions 94 x 330 x 344mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 1
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Partition
Software supplied AlienAutopsy, Command Centre

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 45W
Peak power consumption 214W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 128fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.87
Responsiveness score 0.90
Media score 0.89
Multitasking score 0.82