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Alienware X51 R2 review

Richard Easton
3 Jul 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
999
inc VAT

The Alienware X51 R2 makes a decent living room gaming PC although it is a bit pricey

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core, 3.5GHz Intel Core i7-4790, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 2X USB, 4x USB3, Total storage: 1TB Hard disk, Display: N/A, Operating system: Windows 8.1

Many of the gaming PCs we see come in gargantuan cases, but the Alienware X51 R2 is different, coming in a compact if visually challenging chassis. It’s small enough to sit near your home cinema equipment without looking out of place, and you can lie it horizontally or stand it vertically.

Alienware X51 R2

We’re not particularly keen on the design of chassis, but it is distinctive and we think younger gamers will love it. The chassis has various lighting combinations that you can customise in the Alienware Command Centre which even extends to the alien logo on the front of the system. Happily, you can rotate the alien’s face to match the system’s orientation as well. The system measures 343x95x318mm, which is around the same size as your average games console.

You can purchase the system in one of four standard configurations, but the model we’ve reviewed is third in the line-up, and has a quad-core Intel Core i7-4790, 8GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card.

The Intel Core i7-4790 runs at a base clock speed of 3.6GHz, but can Turbo Boost to 4GHz. The i7-4790 is a solid performer and the X51 R2 scored 110 overall in our application benchmarks, so you’ll have no problem performing any desktop task, such as video- or photo-editing, watching movies and using Microsoft Office. Indeed, the X51 R2 had no problem playing our Ultra HD test videos, making the X51 R2 a viable media PC as well as a games machine.

CRISIS-FREE CRYSIS 3?

The installed AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card performed well in our gaming tests, producing a silky smooth 70.2fps average frame rate in our Dirt Showdown test at a 1,920x1,080 resolution with High graphics quality and 4x anti-aliasing. The average frame rate improved even further to 126.4fps when we reduced the resolution to 1,280x720. This is good news if you plan on connecting the X51 R2 to a 720p television.

Understandably, the frame rates were lower in our more challenging Crysis 3 benchmark. With the game running at a resolution of 1,920x1,080 with graphics quality set to Very High (the maximum quality setting), the X51 R2 produced an average frame rate of just 23.9fps, dropping as low as 16fps during more intense scenes. This isn’t smooth enough to be considered playable. Dropping the graphics quality to High resulted in a much smoother 37.4fps, though, and the game still looked great.

The Radeon R9 270 is certainly capable of playing most games at Medium to High settings, and its size means it’s a great way of gaming in your living room. As an extra test, we played Tomb Raider at 1,920x1,080 with High graphics quality and were pleased to see a comfortably smooth average frame rate of 57fps.

Alienware X51 R2 interior

EASY UPGRADE

It’s relatively easy to upgrade the components in the Alienware X51 R2. You only need to remove a single screw to remove the side panel, but you’ll need to remove the graphics card from its metal cage to remove the graphics. If you do install another graphics card, be aware that the X51 R2 only has a 330W power supply. You can also access the X51 R2’s hard disk should you want to swap it for another one. The X51 R2’s power supply is external, which allows for a smaller chassis but means you have to suffer a large power brick.

As for connection ports, there are four USB3 and two USB2 ports at the back. There’s also an additional two USB3 ports on the front of the system. The graphics card has two DVI, one HDMI and a DisplayPort output, and there are six analogue connections for up to 7.1 channel audio. The X51 R2 shows its home entertainment credentials by also including S/PDIF and coaxial connections for surround sound, and a Gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11ac Wi-Fi adaptor take care of networking.

Alienware X51 R2 rear ports

Overall, we liked the Alienware X51 R2. It provides good gaming performance and its unique case is more charming than a drab, bulky box. Like its predecessor, though, the X51 R2 doesn’t avoid the issue that you can find better value elsewhere. The Yoyotech Warbird Nightblade 1.1 comes in a less attractive case, and it might not fit in so well with a home media centre, but it provides a superior gaming performance and a better overall configuration. The Nightblade also gets a boost with its more powerful AMD Radeon R9 270X graphics card, which has an impressive 4GB of memory and produced an excellent 44.9fps in our Crysis 3 benchmark.

The CyberPower Zeus Mini A-300 is a good alternative and costs less. It didn’t perform quite as well in the gaming or application benchmarks but the inclusion of a 128GB SSD and the possibility of overclocking the AMD Kaveri CPU make it a compelling choice. Even so, the Alienware X51 R2 is still a great living room PC that’s quieter, well built and is sure to make gamers happy.

CORE SPECS
ProcessorQuad-core, 3.5GHz Intel Core i7-4790
Processor socket1150 LGA
RAM8GB
Memory typePC3-12800
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardCustom
Motherboard chipsetIntel H87
PORTS AND EXPANSION
Front USB ports2x USB3
Rear USB ports2X USB, 4x USB3
Other ports
Networking1x 10/100/1000, 802.11ac
Case typeSFF
Case size HxWxD345x97x325mm
PCI (free)0 (0)
PCIe x1 (free)0 (0)
PCIe x16 (free)1 (0)
Serial ATA (free)3x SATA3 (1), 1x mini PCIE (0)
Memory slots (free)2 (0)
Drive bays 2 1/2" (free)0 (0)
Drive bays 3 1/2" (free)0 (0)
Drive bays 5 1/4" (free)0 (0)
STORAGE
Total storage1TB Hard disk
Memory card readerN/A
Optical drive typeSlot-Loading Dual Layer DVD Burner (DVD RW, CD-RW)
GRAPHICS
Graphics card2GB AMD Radeon R9 270
Graphics/video ports2X DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort
SOUND
Sound cardRealtek ALC887
Sound card outputsS/PDIF, coaxial, stereo line out, mic in, line in
SpeakersN/A
DISPLAY
DisplayN/A
Native resolutionN/A
InputsN/A
OTHER HARDWARE
KeyboardAlienware Multimedia Keyboard
MouseAlienware Standard Optical Mouse
ExtrasN/A
SOFTWARE
Operating systemWindows 8.1
Operating system restore optionWindows restore disc
BUYING INFORMATION
WarrantyOne-year NBD with Premium Phone Support
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£998.99
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)
Supplierwww.dell.co.uk
Detailswww.dell.co.uk
Part CodeX51-R2