Alienware X51 R2 Small Form Factor Game PC, Haswell-Infused

Introduction & Specifications

Remember the Twilight Zone episode in which a race of 9-foot aliens descended upon Earth with seemingly benign intentions? They shared advanced technologies with the human race and appeared to live by a code outlined in a book that U.S. government cryptographers figured out was titled, "To Serve Man." The horrifying reveal at the end of the episode was that it's actually a cookbook, lending a whole new perspective to its contents and what those space invaders were really up to the whole time.

The point being here, is that things aren't always what they appear to be. And so it is with Dell's Alienware X51 R2, a small form factor (SFF) gaming PC in console digs. It's shaped similar to Microsoft's Xbox 360 Slim, and though it's slightly larger than either a 360 or PlayStation 3, the X51 R2 would be right at home in a living room setting nestled next to a large screen TV. Indeed, it's adept at running Steam's Big Picture mode, and if your primary objective is to play games in the living room, go ahead and consider the X51 R2 a hybrid game console.

We know from our autopsy that the X51 R2's internal organs are decidedly PC, just like the original X51 that Dell beamed into our lab last year. The R2 model we're dissecting here today is evolved with Haswell DNA, the codename for Intel's 4th Generation of Core processors. It also has 16GB of speedy DDR3 1600MHz memory, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 graphics card, and a Micron RealSSD 256GB solid state drive (SSD) all working in tandem to, uh, serve man (or woman, as the case may be), only without the chilling plot twist. Here's a look at the full monty:

Dell Alienware X51 R2 Small Form Factor Gaming PC
Specifications & Features
Processor Intel Core i7 4770
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Chipset Intel Z87 Express Chipset
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4600
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670

Memory 16GB DDR3 1600MHz DRAM
Storage Micron RealSSD C400 256GB solid state drive
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB (5400 RPM) hard drive
Optical Blu-ray reader
Networking Dell Wireless 1506 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN
Front Panel Ports
2 x USB 30; Headphone and Mic
Rear Panel Ports
4 x USB 3.0; 2 x USB 2.0; GbE LAN; HDMI; Optical S/PDIF; Audio inputs
Sound Integrated 7.1 channel surround sound
Power Supply 330W (19.5V, 16.9A)
Dimensions 13.504 (H) x 12.52 (D) x 3.74 (W) inches
Weight 12.1 pounds
Manufacturer Warranty 1-year
Pricing: Starting at $699 -- $1,849 (as configured)

Dell didn't get carried away playing into the Alienware theme with far-fetched technologies and parts that are in short supply here on the third rock from the sun, and instead wisely chose to balance performance with affordability. There's not a single component that's over the top in terms of power or price, but as a whole, the component selection has the potential to deal some damage to our performance metrics. We'll get to all that soon enough, but first let's perform an autopsy.

Before we dive in, we want to point your attention to the large 330W power brick. This is how Dell was able to build a compact gaming machine and avoid two potential problems: size and heat. By removing the internal power supply from the equation, the X51 R2 is able to maintain a relatively svelte stature and can also run quieter since there isn't a need for a PSU fan to expel hot air.

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