Alienware X51 Review

Updated April 30, 2014
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Alienware X51

The Alienware X51 is a seductively slim and solid desktop PC. It delivers strong performance for everyday tasks and can handle moderate gaming in its base configuration. Others configurations that beef up power, storage, memory, graphics, add a Blu-ray drive and more are available, but also add a bit to the bottom line.

PerformanceProsCompact design, Great gaming up through 1080p resolution, Supports up to three monitorsConsLimited room for internal upgrade , No solid-state drive, No SD card slot

Design

Streamlined, modular, with plenty of ports. Sized to be not much larger than a gaming console, the Alienware X51 can feel as at home in a home entertainment system as it does on a desktop. Featuring a matte black case with glossy black and chrome accents, the X51 is attractive without being too flashy -- not counting the typical alien-like lighting accents and the alien face that rotates depending on the computer's orientation (either vertical or horizontal). You can open the case to access the internal components, but upgrade possibilities are limited as space is tight and there are no empty bays or slots (at least not in the configurations most testers test). Heat can be a problem in such a small system -- which is why relegating the power supply to an external brick isn't an awful idea. The fan is powerful -- and loud. Connectivity is robust and includes eight USB ports (six are USB 3.0), digital (optical) audio, seven-channel analog audio and more. Video connectivity will vary with the video card but an HDMI output is built in. The optical drive (DVD burner, Blu-ray player available with upgraded configurations) is slot loading. The computer comes bundled with a wireless keyboard and mouse, but most say that the standard set is no better than mundane.

Support & reliability

Generally adequate. Dell, which owns Alienware, backs the X51 with a one-year limited warranty. There's free phone support access for in-warranty customers. If a hardware problem can't be resolved through DellConnect's remote diagnosis, there's home repair service throughout the warranty period. Relatively pricey extended service contracts are available as well. Dell's customer support centers have come under intense criticism in the past, but recent feedback reports that things have somewhat improved.

Value

Top-notch gaming value. Serious gamers will want to budget extra for some of the many available upgrades. But even in its base configuration, the Alienware X51 delivers an impressive bang for a reasonable buck.

Our Sources

1. HotHardware.com

Haswell-Infused Alienware X51 R2 SFF Game PC, Paul Lilly, June 13, 2013

HotHardware.com gives the Alienware X51 its Editors' Choice award. The configuration tested is pricey (around $1,850), but for those who can handle the cost, the X51 "delivers a premium gaming experience in a compact design that's both stylish and well-suited for the living room."

2. Computer Shopper

Alienware X51 (2013) Review and Ratings, Matt Safford, Aug. 23, 2013

ComputerShopper.com gives the Alienware X51 only a so-so rating, but its Good for Gaming designation. Matt Safford simultaneously likes the compact chassis but dings its small size, which limits expandability. Game performance is called good.

3. DigitalTrends.com

Dell Alienware X51 (2013) Review, Matt Smith, June 6, 2013

Matt Smith calls the Alienware a "quick, small and surprisingly affordable gaming PC." Loud fan noise and limited upgradability are the most noteworthy concerns.

4. PCMag.com

Readers' Choice Awards 2014: Laptop and Desktop PCs, Ben Gottesman, Feb. 11, 2014

Each year, PCMag.com asks readers about their satisfaction with the computers they own. Dell, which owns Alienware, finishes in the middle of the pack in most categories.