Dell Alienware Area-51 Core i7-980 X Infused Gaming PC

Article Index

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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