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Reviewed: Alienware X51

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Shawn Baker

Page 1: Reviewed: Alienware X51

alienware x51 skylake test teaserOver the course of a game consoles life cycle, users might get the chance to see a slight hardware upgrade. PC users on the other hand are graced with the ability to upgrade not only more often, but see upgrades that bring with them a significant performance increase at times. Still, the smaller the PC, the harder it is to upgrade it. Equipped with real desktop hardware, the Alienware X51 even sees itself with a water cooling system. With the latest Skylake CPU, Maxwell graphics and snappier SSD, we see how the new X51 performs.

Although games consoles may be much cheaper and perhaps a little more compact than a gamers PC, over a span of years they evolve only slightly. The hardware of the Sony PlayStation 3 for example hasn’t been improved in terms of performance for over seven years. New manufacturing Process techniques only improve on efficiency making the console smaller and cheaper. Graphically, however, the Sony consoles was already maxed out and overtaken by the PC very quickly. While it’s possible to get a good gaming computer for $500 that is capable of playing games at FullHD, straight away you’ll find yourself lowering the detail to get playable FPS. Newer games become an even bigger problem as updated engines are used that are even more intensive.

For all the flaws of a console, though, they continue to sit in millions of peoples homes and are their primary game machine. It’s no wonder that Valve wanted to take on the market head on with the Steam Machine. While we checked out the ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN970, an almost precursor to the flurry of Steam Machines that are expected, it wasn’t for everybody. While performance is okay thanks to a Broadwell CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, the upgradability of the ZOTAC box is extremely limited. So with all that in mind, today we see Alienware up the ante with their X51. With true desktop hardware in the CPU, memory, SSD and graphics cards, the ability to upgrade at a later date is possible.

As usual, there are multiple configurations of the Alienware X51. The smallest version comes paired with a Core i3 CPU and GeForce GTX 745. The top model sees a Core i7 CPU and at Radeon R9 370. Options including faster graphics card, more memory and additional SSDs are all available. Special features within the system includes all devices being paired with new Skylake processors and full size graphics card with the help of a riser card. CPU cooling is achieved with the help of a liquid cooling system. With prices ranging from about $700 to $1600, the compact 343 x 318 x 95 mm device comes in significantly more expensive than the current generation of gaming consoles from Sony and Microsoft.

Our particular test model carries with it the Core i7-6700K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory, a total of 16GB DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD paired with a conventional 2TB HDD for added storage.

The Alienware X51 at a glance
Manufacturer and nameAlienware X51
Street Price: about $1,500
Homepage: www.dell.com/
hardware 
Dimensions: 343 x 318 x 95 mm (L x W x H)
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K, 4x up to 4.2 GHz
Graphic card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960, 2GB of GDDR5
Mass storage: 1x 256GB SSD M.2
1x 2TB SATA III HDD
Memory: 2x 8192 MB DDR4-2133
Anschlüse: 2x USB 3.1
4x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
1x HDMI
3x DisplayPort
1x DVI
1x LAN (RJ45)
5x 3.5mm jack
Others: WiFi (802.11ac)
Bluetooth 4.0
Connection for Graphics Amplifier

On the following pages we’ll take a look at the performance, power and volume of the Alienware X51.