April 24, 2012
- Slim, attractive design
- USB 3.0, Wi-Fi & Blu-ray
- Lots of graphics connectivity
- Excellent all-around performance
- Large external power brick
- Size constraints for future upgrades
The Dell Alienware X51 delivers serious performance, including enough for gaming, without costing you an arm and a leg. It has an attractive design, USB 3.0, Blu-ray, built-in Wi-Fi and an easy-to-access interior. While nearly an overall home run, it does have a few small design quirks.
Gaming PCs are definitely a category of their own, with flashy designs and powerful components they can get a little expensive. The Dell Alienware X51 looks to keep things around $1000 while still offering you what you'd find on more expensive gaming rigs. The design of this PC keeps things minimal too, so you don't have to worry about a huge chassis taking up all your valuable desk space.
The design of the Dell Alienware X51 keeps things simple without becoming boring. The chassis measures 3.7 x 13.5 x 12.5-inches (whd) and can be used either horizontally or vertically. It has a black finish that is beautifully accented with green lighting on the sides and an illuminated alien head on the front. In all it's about the same size as an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, which some users will enjoy.
Dell designed the chassis of this PC to be opened easily by removing one screw from the rear and sliding off the side panel. The interior layout of the X51 is different from most other desktop PCs due to the atypical size constraints. The design, while a little short on space, does allow for surprisingly easy access to all the major components inside, including the hard drive. To conserve room, there is no internal power supply. Instead, Dell gives you a massive external power brick to supply power to the PC. Because of the small interior size, you have to adhere to size restrictions if you decide to swap out or expand the X51. If you want to be able to completely customize your PC on the inside, including the option for dual-graphics, look elsewhere as there simply isn't enough space.
The Dell Alienware X51's port selection includes six USB 2.0 ports (two on the front), two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-out, mini-HDMI out, dual DVI-I out, Ethernet, RCA & S/PDIF digital audio out and a headphone jack. There's definitely a lot of graphics output options for this computer, which is always a plus for a gaming or home entertainment PC. There is also a slot-loading Blu-ray/DVD+/-RW combo drive and built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless networking. The addition of two USB 3.0 ports means that you'll have the ability to use high-speed USB 3.0 peripherals for years to come.
Our review model included the following specs: an Intel Core i5-2320 (3.0GHz) CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 7200RPM hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GT 545 discrete graphics with 1GB of dedicated video memory.
Performance with this model was very good and definitely above the category average. Gaming performance was exceptional thanks to the discrete NVIDIA graphics and decently fast Intel Core i5 CPU. PCMark7 benchmarks resulted in a score of 2,993, which is very good. Gamers looking for a PC that can handle today's (and tomorrow's) 3D games should take a solid look at the Alienware X51 if only for the performance. The sleek design and Blu-ray player just add to the PC's selling points for gamers and non-gamers.