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

Internal Autopsy

As you're about to see, Dell deserves major kudos for coming up a with a case design that can not only accommodate gaming grade components, but fit them together in a precise way that borders on obsessive compulsive. Dell isn't showing off, mind you, but ensuring that its X51 R2 is both fast enough and able to dissipate enough heat to keep the parts firing on all cylinders.

You'll quickly discover how tightly packed everything is once you rip off the side panel. If you're not experienced upgrading or servicing PC parts, this isn't the best system to learn on, though seasoned vets needn't fear diving into the deep end, so long as you take your time. As you move about, you'll discover that every screw and wire is logically placed.

The downside to this design is that even something as simple as swapping out the RAM becomes a process. In this instance, the X51 R2 is rocking 16GB of DDR3-1600, which is plenty for playing games and even content creation chores. There really shouldn't be a need to upgrade the RAM unless a stock goes bad, or there's a killer sale on a 32GB kit that you simply can't pass up.

With the removal of a screw here and there, it's fairly simple to remove the GeForce GTX 670 graphics card and slot-load Blu-ray drive, both of which obstruct access to the motherboard and all the other internal components. It's not a particularly pretty sight when you're gutting the X51 R2, though as previously mentioned, the wires and components are all positioned right where they need to be for all the parts to fit together.

Like the first generation X51, Dell again for a half-height air cooler keep the Haswell chip humming along. In the area immediately surrounding the CPU you can spy the built-in Wi-Fi card and two naked sticks of RAM. It's a little curious that the memory modules don't have heat spreaders on them, though we'd be more concerned if this was a heavily overclocked system.

Two SATA drives occupy the X51 R2 Dell configured for us, including a Micron RealSSD C400 256GB SSD (SATA 6Gbps) for the OS and games, and a Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB hard drive (SATA 3Gbps, 5400 RPM) for storage duties. It's the best of both worlds, offering speed for your programs and capacity for things like digital pictures, music, videos, work documents, and so forth.

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