Gaming Performance

This is the real measure by which the Alienware X51 will be judged. Alienware seems to have tried to cram as much GPU power as possible into the X51, but I do have to wonder if AMD's (admittedly now outdated) Radeon HD 6850 might not have been a better choice. The HD 6850 certainly fits well within the X51's power envelope, but then again, the end user would lose the benefit of NVIDIA's Optimus power-saving technology. That said, the benefits of that technology on the desktop are a little bit foggier than they are in a notebook. It's really a tough call either way, depending upon your usage model.

Where our charts unfortunately are going to come up a bit short are in comparisons. Because we recently revamped our gaming benchmark suite, there's only one system we can compare the X51 to: the recently-reviewed AVADirect Silent Gaming PC. That isn't necessarily a fair fight, either, with AVADirect's system costing 2.5 times as much and enjoying a GeForce GTX 580. Still, one data point is better than none, but try to maintain perspective: Alienware is targeting 1080p gaming, but our desktop gaming suite is brutal, and the GTX 580 is roughly twice as powerful in hardware.

In case you missed it, note that again we're using the same selection of games as our laptop reviews, only we're running 1080p using our Mainstream and Enthusiast settings. Since we don't have all of the previously reviewed systems available, we've included the only 1080p Mainstream results we have right now in one chart.

Batman: Arkham City

Battlefield 3

DiRT 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Portal 2

Total War: Shogun 2

What's impressive is that the X51 actually posts fairly strong numbers in our gaming testing. Anti-aliasing is going to be out of the question in many cases (e.g. the Enthusiast results), but Alienware seems to have largely been successful in achieving what they set out to achieve: the GTX 555 version can definitely handle our Mainstream 1080p gaming suite.

Where things do get a little foggier is the Optimus support. Total War: Shogun 2 flat out refused to run while the IGP was enabled; we had to connect the monitor directly to the video card instead of the IGP's HDMI port to get the game to work. This bug was reported to NVIDIA and Alienware, and since the X51 uses standard NVIDIA drivers this should hopefully be fixed in the future.

We also discovered a minor hiccup in our testing suite involving the monitor we use for testing desktops: the Acer HN274H has a bug where it can incorrectly report the resolution it supports, regardless of HDMI, DVI, or VGA connection, and this bug reared its ugly head in Civilization V testing on both the X51 and on the AVADirect system. Unfortunately, despite working with NVIDIA on the issue, we didn't figure out it was the monitor until the X51 exhibited the same issue (refusing to benchmark at 1080p and knocking the resolution down to 1680x1050), so we don't have results for AVADirect's tower. That said, the X51 was able to produce over 30fps in Civilization V (34.7 at Enthusiast and 43.6 at Mainstream 1080p to be exact.)

System Performance Build, Heat, and Power Consumption
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  • Meaker10 - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Xotic pc 16f2 barebone. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Except a barebone doesn't come with a CPU, or hard drive bays, or memory. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Er...or hard drives. Derp. Reply
  • Meaker10 - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    This is a customised barebone, so the price includes a dual core CPU, 8GB of ram, HDD, wireless and OS.

    It would also ship with brackets for a second HDD.

    Plus it supports raid.
    Reply
  • kasakka - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    The mobile graphics chips are nowhere close to the speed of their desktop counterparts. A GTX460M or whatever they've rebranded it as 5xx is about the same as a desktop GTX260, a several years old GPU.

    Personally I'd love to see more gaming PCs like this, but simply ditch the optical drive for more space so a bigger PSU, graphics card and cooler can fit in.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    This thing has no PSU inside the case, so ditching the ODD would not give you more space for the PSU and without a bigger PSU you can't have a beefier GPU. Reply
  • Mark_Hughes - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    I like this system, If I where looking right now this would certainly be high on my list, I normally use laptops, but one of my laptops hardly ever moves from the desk, this would make a great replacement when the time comes. Reply
  • Swirlser - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Congrats to Dell on once again messing up and being blinded by its continuing race to the bottom.

    As if it wasnt bad enough a few years back when they bought Alienware and began pegging their XPS against it and now have taken what little was left of the BRAND and killed it with this bargain basement offering, quintessentially the opposite of what Alienware *was* about.

    Im embarrassed that once upon a time I bought an Alienware, it cost 5,100 euro (monitor not incl). It was without a doubt the worst purchase Ive ever made, Ive had rather expensive cars experience less depreciation than that did! In the 6 weeks it took to deliver it, a dual core version of what I bought had come out (that'll give an idea how long ago it was). While money isnt particularly an issue and whether you like it or not, theres always something better around the corner, it still stung that before I even opened the box it was outdated. Fine, that was my own fault for not doing more research - in fact I did none. So my bad on that! BUT, even ignoring that, it was still a stupidly overpriced box that within a year I was itching for an upgrade.

    Thankfully, I've since seen the light. I have done the lego route on my last 4ish rigs and its been a joy. Forget the cheaper price tag, just being able to hand pick each part, incl the case, the motherboard, the ram (none of which you get control over with an Alienware). Heck last time I checked they did away with picking a colour scheme (cba to check if its back or not).

    Dell have a bargin basement brand already, its called Dell. A shrinking niche market the Alienware brand may have been, but it *was* that - a brand. Not anymore.
    Reply
  • KitsuneKnight - Saturday, February 18, 2012 - link

    Are you seriously lamenting that Dell is making Alienware sell more reasonably priced machines in the same post as you tell us the wonderful story of how the "worst purchase [you've] ever made" was a 5,100 euro Alienware machine that was an overpriced piece of junk, and outdated by the time you opened the box?

    Um... what?
    Reply
  • seapeople - Saturday, February 18, 2012 - link

    I was talking to a guy at work once who had just built his first new computer and I asked him why he didn't just get one from Dell, since you don't save all that much money. He used the argument about how great it is that you can pick each an every single component, whatever motherboard you want, the CPU, ram, etc...

    I then asked him "Oh, ok.. what CPU did you get?"

    His response was "Um, I don't remember. I think it was Intel something or other. It was a quad core I'm pretty sure." (He had just finished building it about a week before)

    So I said, "You mean, like a Q6600? Did you overclock it?"

    "I... I just don't remember. Overclock? What's that?"

    Then he went on to tell me how his computer kept crashing every few minutes, but he didn't know what to do so he just used it like that. It's people like you that lead poor, unknowledgeable saps like this astray.
    Reply

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