Alienware X51 Review


Not everyone likes the idea of a huge tower, especially if they're looking for a PC to take to LAN parties, where gamers set up a local area network and play multiplayer games. The X51 comes in a small package, but in the configuration we reviewed, it packs a lot of punch.

Most users think of gaming PCs as giant, heavy desktop systems, but Dell took a much different design approach with its Alienware X51 (starting at $699; $999 as reviewed, Amazon) system. The PC looks more like an Xbox 360 or PlayStation than a gaming tower, yet it still provides plenty of power, according to Alienware X51 reviews -- if you choose the right version. The cheapest X51 starts at $699, and although it's a solid PC in its own right, it's not cut out for serious gaming. Most Alienware X51 reviews refer to a higher-priced version with a faster processor and an upgraded video card. At Hot Hardware, a reviewer writes that the video card exceeded his expectations and the machine is quiet to boot. Those factors help earn the Alienware X51 an Editors' Choice nod from the site. The system receives the same award from PC Mag, where an Alienware X51 review cites its smooth performance in testing. The reviewer notes that the X51 isn't quite as powerful as larger, more expensive gaming PCs, but its still does the job. An expert reviewer at CNET likes the design in spite of the performance that had to be sacrificed to create such a small PC, and notes that the slim machine includes a full-size video card.

The version we review here includes a Nvidia GeForce GTX 555 video card, an Intel Core i5-2320 CPU, and 6GB of RAM running at 1,333 MHz. It also comes with a 1TB hard drive, the usual DVD-RW drive, and, unlike most gaming PCs, a built-in wireless card.

Compared with most other gaming PCs, the Alienware X51 is a bit of a different animal. It's designed to be portable as well as powerful, which makes it a good system for LAN parties, where gamers use local area networks to play multiplayer games. While the version we reviewed is solid, for a couple hundred dollars more, you can upgrade to an even higher-end X51 with a more powerful Intel Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM.

Michael Sweet

Michael Sweet writes about consumer electronics. If something runs on electricity or ones and zeroes, he's interested in it. Sweet has written about PC technology and consumer electronics for 14 years.

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