Alienware's Console-Sized X51 PC Gets Skylake, Liquid Cooling, And Extra Graphics Horsepower

Andromeda Campaign Stadium 01 x51r3

I'm about to make some enemies, but I firmly believe console-sized gaming PCs like the Alienware X51 and Falcon Northwest Tiki are poised to assimilate their behemoth desktop competitors, zap them with shrink rays, and usher in powerful 4K gaming in diminutive mini-ITX packages. We're not quite there, but today Alienware has abducted the former incarnation of its X51 PC and replaced it with a revised system that represents one confident leap in that direction. 

When last the Alienware X51 descended upon HotHardware, it was clearly designed to take on game consoles like the Xbox 360, right down to its massive external power brick. And the X51 inspired nearly all the compact PCs you see on the market today. This time around, it's been given a few meaningful upgrades that potentially put it on the same playing field as much more expensive enthusiast PCs. Yep, the power brick is still there, but in Alienware's defense it does serve to keep the X51 cooler and quieter. 

Check out what Alienware packed inside our review unit's 3.74-inch thick frame:

Dell Alienware X51 R3 Small Form Factor Gaming PC
Specifications & Features
Intel Core i7 6700K (Overclocked)
Operating System
Windows 10 Home Premium
Intel Z170 Chipset
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X (with optional Graphics Amp)

16GB DDR4 @ 2133MHz
256GB PCIe SSD + 2TB 7200RPM HDD
None (Options available)
Intel 7265 802.11a 2x2
10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN
Front Panel Ports

2 x USB 3.1; Headphone and Mic
Rear Panel Ports

4 x USB 3.0; 2 x USB 2.0; GbE LAN; HDMI; Audio inputs
Integrated 7.1 channel surround sound
Power Supply
330W External Power Brick (19.5V, 16.9A)
13.504 (H) x 12.52 (D) x 3.74 (W) inches
12.1 pounds
Manufacturer Warranty
Starting at $1049

The X51 system we met a couple years ago was impressive given its size, but it didn't scream bleeding edge. The PC gaming world moved on, and it moved on with characteristically dizzying speed. Now we're living in a world with Intel's brand new Skylake architecture, DDR4, blazing fast SSDs, and graphics card solutions that finally deliver playable framerates at 4K resolution. Alienware is keeping in step. 

The new X51 launching today has an Intel Core i7-6700K overclocked to 4.4GHz, which is chilled by a custom liquid cooling solution. DDR4 Memory clocked up to 2133MHz also makes the cut, as does USB 3.1. How about M.2 PCIe SSDs with available bandwidth up to 4Gb/s? Check. Thankfully they've made the jump to 7200RPM hard drives, something they're also remedying in the upcoming Alienware Alpha revision and Steam Machines

By the way, you don't have to buy an X51 with all the trimmings. Alienware's baseline configuration starts with a GTX 745 (you can also opt for a Radeon R9 370), 8GB of DDR4 memory, and a 1TB 7200 RPM hard drive. 


There's one catch, and that's the X51's power restrictions. With a hard cap of 350W via its external power supply (similar in size to the Xbox One's brick), and space considerations, they can't exactly toss in an Nvidia Titan X or AMD Radeon Fury. The solution? Alienware's $199 Graphics Amp, an external housing that acts as a dock and syncs up with the X51, accommodating a full-size desktop GPU like the Titan X or 390x. 

This is especially welcome news for consumers already entrenched in Alienware's ecosystem, specifically those with laptops that support the Graphics Amp, since it's easily interchangeable. Sure, it becomes much less discrete, but it's nice that the X51 has this duality where it can exist as an inconspicuous living room PC, or a full on desktop tower. Even with the Graphics Amp in tow, it still consumes less space than traditional mid-tower cases. 

In our upcoming review, we tested the X51's gaming performance with both its included GTX 960 and optional Graphics Amp rocking Nvidia's Titan X. Needless to say, it puts the X51 at parity with similarly outfitted systems from boutique vendors costing thousands of dollars more. We wanted to present an exhaustive review that left no stone unturned, so come back in a few days for our detailed analysis.

In the meantime, the updated X51 is available now at Dell's website.