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Alienware X51 Review

The Alienware X51 is a beautiful machine designed to make Alienware’s high end performance machines more accessible to gamers by offering a lower price point while maintaining Alienware’s quality product offering.

I knew the machine was small, but when I took it out the box I was surprised by just how small it is. The attention to detail is clear from the outset. The Alienware X51 can stand upright or lie on its side (with the Alienware logo rotatable should you prefer the latter option).

The Alienware X51 is just 34.3cm in height at its highest point at the front and less than 10 cm wide. It truly is a console-sized machine and is just as aesthetically pleasing.

The first thing I noticed when taking it out the box is of course the external power supply. It’s no wonder they’re able to get the machine that small. The DVD drive also sits vertically, enabling the reduced width of the machine.

Alienware X51 PC Powering up the Alienware X51 is a sight to behold

Powering it up was a sight to behold. Firstly, the machine is almost silent. Placing my ear next to it reveals a slight hum, but other than that it’s very quiet. The review units came with top-of-the-range hardware, which I’ll get into in a moment, so when after starting the machine it booted up to a slick start screen in about 40 seconds and was ready to go in under a minute.

The Alienware X51 came with a standard Alienware mouse and keyboard which don’t light up but do have the Alienware branding on them. Fortunately I have the Alienware peripherals including the TactX keyboard, mouse and headset.

The PC comes with three pieces of software: AlienFusion for power management, AlienFX to customise the LEDs on the case, and AlienAdrenaline, which allows you to set up profiles for each game.

As soon as I was in, I used AlienFX to customise the colours on the two side lighting panels, the keyboard and the mouse. There were presets already available or you can select your own colour scheme.

From there I installed the software for both the mouse and the keyboard which enabled me to customise them to my liking for different scenarios (gaming, work etc) through the setting up of profiles.

Alienware X51 PC The Alienware X51 has two high speed USB ports on the front and two on the back. It has a microphone-in and speaker/headphone-out on both the front and back and can come equipped with a Blu Ray drive as well.

Under the hood:

With the machine set up and ready to roll, it was time to get ready for some gaming. Looking at the hardware, the Alienware X51 has various hardware options starting with an Intel Core i3-2120 (3M Cache, 3.3 GHz) processor with 4GB of RAM, a NVIDIA GeForce GT 545 Graphics card and a terabyte SATA hard drive.

It ramps up to an Intel Core i7-3770 (8M Cache, up to 3.4 GHz) processor, with 16GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 and a two terabyte SATA hard drive. You can take various combinations in between on the different components.

The review unit came with i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555, plus a wireless card – and it is blisteringly fast.

The Alienware X51 has two high speed USB ports on the front and two on the back. It has a microphone-in and speaker/headphone-out on both the front and back and can come equipped with a Blu Ray drive as well.

On the back you’ve got your power-in, two screen ports, an additional four standard USB ports along with the HDMI and network ports. The NVIDIA graphics card has two DVI-I ports as well as a mini HDMI port allowing you to connect a total of three monitors.

Alienware X51 PC The DVD drive sits vertically on the Alienware X51.

Getting into gaming

In getting set up to game I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a neat little trick with Origin. All my games are installed on an external along with my My Documents folder so if I have to move around I take all my content with me.

I installed Origin and pointed the game folder at my external drive where all the Origin games were stored. (I have a Telkom Do Uncapped Premium account on a 10Mbps line, so downloading them again would not be a problem from a bandwidth point of view, although taking the time to download them would be a minor annoyance. Turns out, I didn’t have to download anything.)

Once the folder was changed, Origin still requested me to download the games. However, on clicking the download button, the game jumped from 0% to 99% in a second and then stated that it was installing. Straight after that I was able to play each game without any hassles.

In terms of performance, the Alienware X51 handled Battlefield 3 and Diablo 3 just fine. AlienFusion allows you to set up specific profiles around each game. For example, your VoIP application can be set to start up as soon as you start a multiplayer game.

Built for convenience

The Alienware X51’s start at the recommended retail price of R10 999.

Now many gamers may say they can build a PC with the same specs for less and that may be true, but that’s not the point. The Alienware X51 is designed to be a high quality product which is easily upgradable.

Both the graphics card and optical drive are contained in metal brackets which interface with the body of the machine, making them so easy to dismantle.

And if you want to use the Alienware X51 as part of your home entertainment set up, it’s quiet and aesthetically very pleasing.

Lastly, if you’re a keen LAN gamer, the Alienware X51 is a synch. You just pop it in a bag with your peripherals and take your screen under your arm. Once you get to the LAN you’ll be up and running in seconds.