Dell Alienware X51, SFF PC Gaming Refined

Test Setup and SANDRA

Test System Configuration Notes: All of the test systems in this article were factory-built machines that we tested exactly as they were setup from the factory, with a few small exceptions.  We ensured that Windows 7 power plans were set to high performance and that system sleep or hibernate settings were turned off, as well as screen savers. Also, systems allowed to pull down any/all Windows updates for the hardware and software enabled on the machines.  From there, we installed all benchmark and game software and then hard drives were defragmented. The systems were then rebooted and we commenced with all testing.

**Note:  We'll point out that the reference numbers we're comparing the Alienware X51's performance to were taken from full-sized multimedia and gaming desktop systems. Other than the X51, the rest of our test systems are full- or mid-ATX towers.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Specifications & Features
Alienware X51:
Core i5-2320 3GHz
8GB Dual Channel DDR3-1333
1GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555
1TB  WD 7200RPM HD 6Gbps
330 Watt PSU
Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
Dell XPS 8300:
Core i7-2600 3.4GHz
8GB Dual Channel DDR3-1333
1GB AMD Radeon HD 6770
2TB Seagate 7200 RPM HD 6Gbps
460W PSU
Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
iBuyPower BTS11:
Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz
8GB Dual Channel DDR3-1333
1GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti
750GB WD 7200 RPM HD 6Gbps
700W PSU
Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
HP Pavilion Elite H8 1050:
Core i7-2600 3.4GHz
10GB DDR3-1333
1GB AMD Radeon HD 6850
1.5TB WD 5400RPM HD 3Gbps
460W PSU
Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
SiSoftware SANDRA{Title}
Synthetic Preliminary Measurements
We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA 2011, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2012 suite with our test systems (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cache and Memory, and Memory Bandwidth). All of the scores reported below were taken with their processors running at its default settings, with Turbo enabled, and with 8GB of RAM running in dual-channel at 1333MHz.

In terms of raw general compute power, the Core i5-2320 quad core CPU in the Alienware X51 is no match for the Core i7 quad-core processors in the HP and Dell XPS systems.  Furthermore it doesn't keep pace with the higher clock speed of the 3.3GHz Core i5-2500K in the iBuyPower system either.  However, again, the X51 is built as a gaming system first, so we'll see if this translates to a noticeable deficit beyond these pure synthetic measurements that don't take into account other subsystem performance in the X51.

In terms of storage subsystem bandwidth and memory bandwidth, the Alienware X51 keeps pace with these full-sized machines. The Physical Disk benchmark rates the WD Caviar Blue drive in the X51 at about 105MB/sec on average, just a hair behind the WD 750GB and 2TB Seagate drives found in the iBuyPower and Dell XPS systems.  Memory Bandwidth is rated at 17.5GB/s for the X51, right in line with the other 8GB installations but just ahead of the 10GB setup in the HP Pavilion H8.

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