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Dell Alienware Area-51 Core i7-980 X Infused Gaming PC
Date: Mar 23, 2010
Author: Dave Altavilla
Introduction and Specifications

When you think about the market for a pre-built, proverbial "Killer Gaming Rig," you have to consider the class of consumer that would have interest in this type of system. For the most part, the average do-it-yourselfer isn't going to take much interest here, save for perhaps the appreciation of all the bleeding-edge technology and design quality that is the hallmark of such a system.  That said, there is obviously a significant market opportunity for consumers that want top-of-the line components and build quality for enthusiast-class gaming performance and head-turning aesthetics, without the hassle of going at it the home-grown way.  Dell obviously saw this market opportunity when they snatched up the then not-so boutique system builder Alienware, back in March of 2006.

Historically, Alienware had been known for the same impeccable build quality and top-shelf components that put many a performance PC start-up on the map.  However their chassis designs were a bit over the top for some folks to handle.  With a pair of bulbous alien eyes looking back at you like a hood ornament with a bad attitude and bubbly, rounded high gloss chassis designs, Alienware machines were a "you either love 'em or hate 'em" sort of thing.  That said, four years later, Dell has managed to assimilate the Alienware colony and what has emerged is a significantly more refined and stylish chassis design along with the same bleeding edge component selection and build quality.

Also, being one of Intel's large customers, Dell more recently afforded their Alienware division the inside track on Intel's benchmark crushing Core i7-980X Gulftown 6-core processor and the resources to get it validated for delivery to market quickly.  We've had the new Dell Alienware Area-51 in for testing for a week now and have spent some quality time with the machine, helping it break its first sweat, globally we might add.  In the following pages we're happy to give you a first look at what Dell likes to think of as their Killer Alien gaming rig.  First we'll serve you up a quick video preview and then make sure to journey on for a deep dive look and benchmark analysis of the new Alienware Area-51 gaming PC.

Don't miss our deep-dive look and detailed performance analysis on the pages that follow...

Alienware Area-51 Gaming PC
System Specifications

  • Core i7-980 X 6-Core Processor - 3.33GHz
  • Alienware  High-Performance Liquid Cooling - Self Contained
  • 3.8GHz and 4GHz Factory Overclocks
  • Alienware  Approved Intel  X58 ATX Motherboard
  • 6GB DDR3-1333 System Memory
  • 2 x Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 - 1TB Hard Drives RAID 0
  • Dual 2GB GDDR5 ATI Radeon  HD 5970 - ATI CrossFireX & DirectX 11 Enabled
  • 6X Dual Layer Blu-ray Disc  Burner (BD-RE, DVD±RW, CD-RW)
  • Alienware approved 1100 Watt, multi-GPU Power Supply
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Base Price $1999;  $4569 - as tested with keyboard and mouse

A quick rundown of the system specs let you know that the build-out we received means business.  From the Core i7-980X, with its self contained water cooler to its dual Radeon HD 5970 graphics card with 4 high-end AMD ATI graphics processors under the hood, this machine is hell-bent for high frame rates and very little compromise.  In graphics cards and Intel processors alone, you're looking at $2200 - $2300 worth of components.  The "as tested" price for our system comes into focus a bit more when you consider the horsepower under its hood, though we might suggest an SSD might have been in order as a boot drive, though there are obvious pros and cons to this, not the least of which is added cost.  Regardless with a pair of Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB drives in RAID 0 and 6GB of DDR3-1333 memory on board, this machine is well-rounded enough in all the right places.  If you're looking for bone-crushing gaming performance or perhaps a workstation that looks good and tears through just about anything you can throw at it, the Area-51 model we'll show you in the pages ahead, should fit the bill nicely.

The Alienware Area-51 Gaming PC

Mammoth, that's the first word that came to mind when we bent over to pull the Area-51 from its shipping containers.  There are two boxes actually, an inner protective box and a larger outer shell box that keeps the inner container from taking little if any abuse.  The Area-51 weighs 84lbs and if you are the only person carrying the machine, we'd suggest you follow Zombieland Rule #18 and limber up first.



The chassis is built with a heavy gauge painted aluminum and if you look closely, you might noticed our system took a little hit courtesy of the shipping company.  The paint and finish however, as you can see, held up very well and looks sharp as a tack with its "Lunar Shadow" silver finish.  The other color option is "Cosmic Black".  It's no coincidence that Dell is going with automotive-style color branding on the line of machines.  The paint quality is of automotive class workmanship. In the top right shot above, you can see the 1.1KW power support that has a chrome handle attached to it.  If you pull the handle down, it unlocks the PSU from the case and you can slide it out for cleaning or service, should the need ever arise.


Another rather distinctive feature of the Area-51 is its top ventilation system that consists of a series of motorized vent louvers that move up or down, depending on how much heat builds up in the chassis.  These vents are keyed off fan speeds inside the case and temperature thresholds in the BIOS can be set to affect the pitch of the vents and fan speeds based on the settings you provide.  You'll also note the nice lighting accents throughout the chassis design.  This is courtesy of Alienware's signature  AlienFX  lighting system which we'll take a closer look at next.
The Bundle and AlienFX

There's little question Alienware built this machine with the gamer in mind and hard core gamers definitely like break out the bling.  Case lighting has been around in the system modder community for many years and it has gone mainstream enough that even big companies like Dell are getting into the action for both desktops and notebooks.



The screen shot above is taken from Alienware's AlienFX software, which is a component of the entire Alienware Command Center package that we demonstrated for you in our introductory video on the front page.  AlienFX allows you to change lighting color from a myriad of choices and apply the color to one of five different locations around the case.  It's a really nice touch that functions quite well and looks great.  In the Command Center you can also adjust things like the top vent position and at what temperature they should open up to let more air out of or into the case.  There is also a thermal monitoring section in the command center as well.  On a side note, there's also a small push panel in front of the first, top vent louver, that when pushed in, exposes three USB 2.0 ports, Firewire, eSATA and front panel audio ports.

Finally, with the Area-51, Alienware includes a really nice programmable gaming keyboard, a precision gaming mouse that looks to be of the Logitech G8 variety, an Alienware gaming mouse pad, along with various cables and adapters, a driver and recovery CD, and a well made, descriptive leather-bound owner's manual.  Or is that "pleather?" Regardless, it's nice.

Inside Alienware Area-51 Gaming PC

If build quality is a primary metric for you with respect to system selection, (and for whom could it not be?), then the Alienware Area-51 is something to take note of.  The machine we received set a standard in terms of both quality component selection and overall system design, materials quality and layout.

The Alienware's Wall of Storage

Each side panel of the Area-51 pops open by lifting up on a small lever on the top back area of the case.  Once the latch is released you can open the door and take it off its hinges completely. The right side panel opens to expose the 6-bay drive cage that is lighted even when the system is powered down and unplugged from wall power.  Each bay has two quick release buttons that allow a hard drive to lift up off each SATA data and power connector, for installation or replacement.  Take note however, this drive cage is not hot-swappable and the system needs to be powered off before adding or removing hard drives.  We're a little disappointed at this shortcoming, especially since we're of the mindset to run a RAID 1 array for critical bulk storage as a means of backup redundancy.


Behind the left side panel of the case is the Area-51's component area where a custom Intel X58-chipset based motherboard was home to a plethora of the latest computer hardware.  The self-contained water cooler Alienware chose appears to be similar to the Asetek LCLC or the Corsair H50.  There is a small radiator mounted to the top of the case that has an exhaust fan positioned over it as well.  Swinging open a secondary semi-translucent plastic door exposes the card slot area of the motherboard which in our system was heavily occupied by two Radeon HD 5970 graphics cards setup in CrossFire X mode.  The back edge of each card is fitted with an additional retainer tab that plugs into a card rack and keeps the cards evenly spaced within each of their slots. For system memory, three 2GB Elpedia DDR3 10666 memory sticks offer up 1,333MHz of bandwidth, which is plenty enough for the Core i7 platform, as we've shown you previously. Incidentally, the power supply is just barely visible here but it's a 1100 Watt custom Dell supply that was more than capable of handling the power of these two monster graphics cards under full load, even with main processor overclocking.


Like the back side storage rack, the entire internal area of the case is adorned with bright blue LED lighting.  Again these lights require no wall power at all and turn on when the case door is opened but shut down when closed.  It definitely does make for a handy setup working inside the system.  Wiring inside the Area-51 is fairly neat but not what we would call impeccable. Most cables are wrapped behind the motherboard where possible  and there are a few custom cable routing brackets and harnesses, but we would have preferred a few more zip-ties for the little stuff.  However, airflow inside the case is relatively unrestricted and the active heatsink and fan combo on the Intel X58 chip is a beefy cooling solution that ensures stability under pressure.

Test System Configurations and SANDRA

HotHardware's Test Systems
Performance Comparisons

Dell Alienware Area-51
Intel Core i7-980 X 3.33GHz
Alienware X58 ATX
6GB Elpedia DDR3-1333
ATI Radeon 5970 CrossFire
2x1TB Seagate HDD RAID 0
Win 7 Home Premium x64

Price: $ 4,419.00 USD

Digital Storm i750
Intel Core i5 750 @ 3.8GHz
4GB Mushkin DDR3-1600
1TB WD Caviar Black
Vista Home Premium x64

Price: $ 1896.00 USD

Origin Genesis
Intel Core i7-920 @ 3.8GHz
EVGA X58 SLI Classified
6GB Corsair DDR3-1600
2x ATI Radeon 5970 Crossfire
2TB WD Caviar Black RAID 0
Win 7 Home Premium x64

Price: $4,999 USD

CyberPower Gamer Extreme 3000
Intel Core i7 860 2.8GHz
Asus P7P55D Delux P55
4GB Kingston DDR3-1600
1.5TB Seagate HDD
Vista Home Premium x64

Price: $ 1,599.00 USD

We began testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, which stands for System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. The 3.3GHz Core i7-980 X Dell Alienware system proved rock-solid-stable at 3.8GHz, never crashing even under full load throughout all our benchmarks, so we left it configured that way.  Please note, this is a preset Dell configuration in the BIOS that configures the Core i7's maximum Turbo Boost multiplier to 28X.  However, Dell ships the system at a stock reference clock of 3.33GHz. 

Preliminary Testing with SiSoft SANDRA 2009
Synthetic Benchmarks

The outcome of our SANDRA performance tests are what we'd call a no brainer. The 6-core Core i7-980X enabled Alienware Area-51 ripped through the Arithmetic and Multimedia benchmarks, offering up to an 80+ percent performance gain in the arithmetic test and over 50% more headroom on the multimedia test.  Intel's Hyperthreading technology affords the Gulftown-based Area-51 four more logical cores to process workload in addition to its significantly larger on-chip cache.  On the memory bandwidth side of the equation, the Area-51 fell slightly behind the Origin Genesis system, with its DDR3-1600 (versus Alienware's 1,333MHz) memory at the helm.  We'll look into whether this makes any significant difference in performance in more real world applications coming up shortly.

Just for a quick cursory glance, we thought we'd show you the SANDRA Physical Disk test performance graph for the RAID 0 array of the new Area-51.  It's not a barn-burner of a storage subsystem but the pair of Seagate Barracuda drives in RAID 0 certainly offer a fair degree of bandwidth, approaching SSD-like speeds, though random access latency is of course order of magnitude slower for spinning media.

PCMark Vantage

Next, we ran the test systems through Futuremark‚Äôs latest system performance metric built especially for Windows, PCMark Vantage. This benchmark suite runs through a host of different usage scenarios to simulate different types of workloads including High Definition digital video playback and editing, gaming, image editing and manipulation, music compression, communications, and productivity. We like the fact that most of the tests are multi-threaded as well, in order to exploit the additional resources offered by multi-core processors. We used the 64-bit version of the benchmark and defragmented the hard drive immediately prior to running it. However, since the Origin PC used an Intel SSD instead of a standard hard drive, we avoided defragging the drive in favor of using Intel's TRIM utility.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance

Since PCMark Vantage is highly sensitive to file system performance, it turned out that more cores in the Core i7-980 X-enabled Alienware Area-51 didn't equate to a higher score.  In reality, balanced system performance is more important for for some of the office and multimedia type applications that comprise the PCMark Vantage test suite.  Here, even though the Area-51 is built upon a 2TB RAID 0 storage array, it couldn't quite keep pace with the Intel SSD that Origin configured with their system.  Of course you could configure a 256GB SSD option on the Area-51 for about a $300 up-charge, which would likely propel the system ahead of the Origin PC.  It's all a matter of priorities as they say.

Cinebench R10

Cinebench R10 is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation tool suite used by 3D animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. It's very demanding of system processor resources and is an excellent gauge of pure computational throughput.

Cinebench R10
3D Renderi

Cinebench is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The rate at which each test system could render the entire scene is represented in the graph below.

Here it was no contest for the Area-51 and its overclocked Core i7-980X processor in the multi-threaded instance of this benchmark.  Cinebench R10 favors the Alienware Area-51 by a 35% performance advantage for the multi-threaded test but rates the system on par in single-threaded performance to the like clock speeds of the overclocked Core i7 920 processor in the Origin system. 

Update - 3/23/10 - 4:30PM EST:  We also decided to toss in a set of 4.3GHz numbers with the Area-51, just to show you how far we could push the machine and its upside potential.  It was completely stable through several rounds of testing at this speed.  These scores are easily the fastest we've seen from any desktop processor configuration to date.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DirectX Gaming

3DMark Vantage

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Performance preset option, which uses a resolution of 1280x1024. As always, tests were looped 3x.

Results from 3DMark Vantage Extreme Preset - Graph above represents performance preset scores.

This is an interesting analysis from a standpoint of how important multi-threaded processing horsepower is to 3DMark Vantage.  Remember, the Origin Genesis system is also configured with a pair of AMD ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics cards in CrossFireX.  As a result, what you're seeing his is the variance in performance that the Gulftown six-core Core i7-980X offers versus a similarly overclocked Core i7 920 series processor.  The result is a mere 5.5% advantage for the Area-51, though clearly this is a GPU intensive benchmark that is only affected so much once you reach a certain level of host CPU performance.

Dirt 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum

Next we fired up a couple of the latest generation of game titles to step the Area-51 through its paces a bit more.  In all cases, the highest image quality settings were chosen since a machine like this is more than capable of rendering best of class visuals in virtually any game title on the market today.

Dirt 2
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance

Dirt 2

Dirt 2 is a racing game released in September 2009, and is the sequel to Colin McRae: Dirt.  Codemasters delayed the PC version of Dirt 2 so that they could enhance their Ego engine with DirectX 11 effects. The engine displays certain bleeding-edge rendering technologies like hardware-driven tessellation, which is used for a more detailed audience, tessellated clot as well as a more realistic water that has lifelike ripples, waves and splash effects. DX11 also affords the game more impressive post-rendering motion blur, filtered soft shadows and lighting effects.  Dirt 2 is also a solid benchmark for multi-core processors since DX11 is designed to take advantage of multi-threaded system architectures.

First, we should note that, for optimal performance, we had to update the graphics drivers of the Area-51 to the latest available Catalyst 10.3 series drivers available at the time from AMD. Regardless, though we didn't have the rest of the field of test systems to compare to, the Alienware Area-51 blew through Dirt 2 like a nitrous-infused Baja racer on a Jolt cola binge.  Even at 30" panel resolutions of 2560X1600 with 4X AA, the system punched out well over 100 fps in the standard benchmark utility that Dirt 2 has built into the game.  In short, if you're looking for top notch DX11 performance, the Area-51 and its CrossFire X, Radeon HD 5970 graphics setup will deliver the goods and rip a few donuts on your lawn before it blows the doors off your domicile.

Batman - Arkham Asylum
DirectX Gaming Performance

Batmat:Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a third-person action game developed by Rocksteady and is arguably the best comic book videogame of all time. Cast as the Dark Knight, you track down the Joker and bring him back to Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. However, the Joker escapes and takes over the asylum filled with hundreds of villains, which you must battle in this dark and creepy world. Gameplay consists of fist fighting, attacking from the shadows, and exploration. We tested the game using the built in benchmark at 1900x1200 with no anti-aliasing, PhysX off, and every graphical options set to their maximum values.


In the top chart above, we decided we'd show you how the Area-51 peforms versus a group of its peers and at HD resolutions of 1920X1200 with no anti-aliasing enabled, it performed well but only marginally better. In the second series of tests we ran, silky smooth frame rates were maintained even with AA turned up to 4X and 8X levels at super high resolutions.

Far Cry 2, Crysis

If there were ever a game title that we'd call "long in the tooth" for benchmarking purposes, it would have to be Crysis.  Ever-popular with snarky discussion board lurkers, looking to jab into the conversation about literally any tech-related product with the tired, exhausted, seemingly age-old question, "but can it play Crysis?"; is the epitome of worn-out. Regardless, both Crysis v1.2 and FarCry 2 are still murderously demanding on overall system performance, so we've got those numbers for you here as well with the Area-51 pushing the pixels.

FarCry 2
DirectX Gaming Performance

FarCry 2

Like the original, FarCry 2 is one of the more visually impressive games to be released on the PC to date.  Courtesy of the Dunia game engine developed by Ubisoft, FarCry 2's game-play is enhanced by advanced environment physics, destructible terrain, high resolution textures, complex shaders, realistic dynamic lighting, and motion-captured animations.  We benchmarked the graphics cards in this article with a fully patched version of FarCry 2, using one of the built-in demo runs recorded in the "Ranch" map. Of the three available, we used the Ranch (Short) option.  The test results shown here were run at a resolution of 1920x1200 with 8X AA and Ultra High Quality presets enabled concurrently.

                                                  * Alienware Area-51 - 2560X1600 4XAA:
  79 fps

Largely GPU-bound, FarCry 2 shows modest gains for the similarly configured Alienware Area-51 versus its closest competitor, the Origin Genesis system.  Further, even at a 30" panel native resolution of 2560X1600, with 4X AA turned on, we're able to maintain near 80 frames per second performance.

Crysis v1.21
DirectX 10 Gaming Performance


Crytek's game engine visuals in Crysis are some of the most impressive real-time 3D renderings we've seen on a computer screen even as of today. The engine employs some of the latest techniques in 3D rendering like Parallax Occlusion Mapping, Subsurface Scattering, Motion Blur, and Depth-of-Field effects, as well as an impressive use of Shader technology. The single player, FPS Crysis is a smash-hit, and rightfully so. We patched the game to v1.2 with all of the game's visual settings to 'High' at 1920x1200 resolution to put a significant load on the systems' graphics engines being tested.

                                               * Alienware Area-51 - 2560X1600 4XAA:  86 fps

Now you know why Crysis gets the wrap it does in the media and in online discussion threads.  Even with identical graphics subsystems, the 6-core powered Alienware Area-51 posts a 23+ percent gain in performance over the quad-core based Origin Genesis.  This performance edge is driven virtually exclusively by the additional CPU power under the Area-51's hood.  Finally, even at High Quality settings, with 4X AA turned on at 2560X1600 resolution, the Area-51 clips through Crysis taking down rendered frames with M16-class fire power.

Overclocking, Acoustics and Power Consumption

Of course, with its water-cooled six-core chip just begging for a beating, we decided to throw down the overclock gauntlet and see how far we could take the Alienware Area-51.  We didn't spend a lot of time tweaking speeds and feeds, but did turn up both processor and system memory clocks to rather impressive levels, with full stability we might add.

Overclocking The Core i7-980X Extreme
Pedal To The Metal

Intel's Six-Core Core i7-980 X at 4.3GHz

Seen above is a pass through of Cinebench R10, which tends to be a good measure of system stability for both processor and memory, since it will occupy these resources at 100% utilization during a test run. Here our Core i7-980X Intel Turbo Boost multipliers are set to 32X for all cores in the processor resulting in a 4.3GHz overclock, give or take a few MHz for clock drift.  With 12 threads humming a long at 4.3GHz and DDR3-1600 system memory speeds dialed in, we scored 33665 in Cinebench R10 which equated to another 12% gain even over the 3.8GHz overclock of the base test setup we benchmarked the system at for all tests; and again, the machine was fully stable.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

We'd like to cover a few final data points before bringing this article to a close. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test systems consumed using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here.

There is no question, a system like the Alienware Area-51 is going to draw copious amounts of power.  If you're the green, efficient computing type, you certainly need not apply for a machine like the Area-51.  As you can see here, we were able to realize 736 Watts fully loaded and overclocked to 4GHz with the machine, which is still comfortably beneath its power supply's 1100 Watt rating.  We would definitely recommend more than just a simple surge protector for a machine of this power, caliber and price range.  For the Area-51 we'd suggest you pick up a quality Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), but not just for preserving critical data in the event of power loss, but also for protecting the machine better from power dips, surges and fluctuations.  When power draw gets this high and the risk factors of expense scale with it, a UPS is definitely the way to go.

A Note On Acoustics:
With all this horsepower under its hood, you might assume that the Area-51 produces a fair bit of noise but that's not the case at all.  During processor benchmarking, even when heavily overclocked at times, the system remained very quiet for a machine of its caliber. Remember, our machine was built with water cooling for the processor.  It was only under rigorous gaming benchmark conditions that we heard the fans on the two Radeon HD 5970 series graphics cards spin up to more noticeable levels.  This is par for the course with any ultra high-end graphics card these days, though the sound emanating from the Area-51 was still very reasonable even under heavy duty gaming workloads.

Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary:  The Dell Alienware Area-51 with its hot off the wafer fab Core i7-980 X six-core processor, put up some of the fastest benchmark scores we've seen to date from any desktop system.  From a gaming perspective, its graphics configuration of dual Radeon HD 5970 cards in CrossFireX offers about as much horsepower as you could muster currently in a pair of PCI Express graphics slots.  The machine took the lead position in every gaming test, though the quad-core Origin system often kept pace at a close second, due to its identical GPU configuration.  The only test where the Area-51 came up a little short was our PCMark Vantage run, where the Area-51's 2TB RAID 0 array of standard hard drives didn't hold up as well against the SSD-enabled Origin system.  Of course Dell offers an SSD storage option for the Area-51, which would undoubtedly close this gap or more likely push the Area-51 ahead past all of the test systems we looked at here today.

Dell's Alienware Area-51 "is what it is," as they say.  It's big, bad, ridiculously powerful, seriously well-built, definitely expensive, and in our opinion, gorgeously designed and styled.  The fit, finish and various high-end amenities of the machine put it in a class by itself in the market.  We'd offer that it sets a standard for many of the boutique system builders out there looking to make a name for themselves.  Dell's Alienware division obviously has the advantage of vast design resources they can bring to bear on key features like chassis designs that offer functionality otherwise unavailable from third party vendors.  We're smitten with the Area-51's ventilation system with its LED-lit and mechanized vent louvers and also its quick-release side panels that swing open for instantaneous access to system components.  Also, though it's not perfect (hot-swap bays please!), the Area-51's wall of storage drive cage offers ridiculously easy access to your storage array and we love the efficient use of space on the back side of the chassis.  If you installed even four more hard drives to the system, it wouldn't require any additional cabling and you just snap the drives into their slots, which takes no more than 30 seconds or so.

From a performance standpoint, there's really not much more to say; the Area-51's numbers speak loud and clear for themselves.  If you're looking for quite literally the fastest desktop PC on the earth, courtesy of Intel's new Core i7-980 X six-core processor, Dell Alienware will allow you to configure it with a few simple mouse clicks and will deliver it to your door in a box that could double as a casket for you as well, eventually.  If it were up to us, we would have gone the way of the SSD for our OS boot drive and maybe configured a RAID 1 array for bulk storage and regular back-ups.  An SSD would alleviate just about the only system bottleneck the Area-51 model we tested has, though that option is of course readily available to choose as well.  The only true caveat with the Area-51 is price.  You've definitely got to pay to play here.  With a base price of $1999 and our as-tested price of $4400, the machine is definitely catering to an audience where price is secondary.  The machine also comes with a 1 year basic service plan and warranty, though upgrade options for 3 and 4 year extended plans are a available, again for a price. 

Could you build something this fast yourself and save more than a few pesos?  Sure you could but we'd venture to say you couldn't do it with all of the features and build quality that the Area-51 offers.  When it comes to simply bad-ass killer gaming rigs, unless you've got a professional shop and a mechanical engineering degree, the Alienware Area-51 offers a desktop computing experience like none other we've seen thus far.


  • Core i7-980X Benchmark Bruiser
  • Hot-Rod Chassis Design
  • Great Case Lighting
  • Wall of Storage Drive Cage
  • Water-Cooled Goodness
  • Killer Core i7-980 X Overclocks
  • Expensive For Sure
  • Drive Bay Not Hot-Swap
  • Expensive Extended Warranty

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