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

Software, First Boot, Steam Big Picture Mode

One of the benefits of using a fast SSD as your primary drive is you can enjoy fast boots. It's not a major deal if you keep your system running all the time, but even then, it's nice to have for those Patch Tuesday updates that often require a reboot. The X51 R2 didn't disappoint. After we applying a few Windows updates and installing our gamut of benchmarks, we recorded 32 seconds to perform a cold boot into Windows. Powering down the system took just 6.7 seconds.

Here's what we like to see when first booting up a system. Since it's assumed you're already paying some sort of premium for a boutique brand experience, the last thing you want to encounter is a bunch of bloatware. We didn't find any on our test system, and instead were treated to a clean desktop with custom Alienware wallpaper. Steam and Alienware Command Center were the only bits of extra software we found on the X51 R2.

The Alienware Command Center is your portal to the custom software and settings included on the X51 R2. It's there that you'll find options to change the system lighting and transition effects, program macros for the keyboard, adjust system settings, and more.

Steam:  Big Picture Mode Pre-Installed

The beauty of the X51 R2 is that it's sized to take resident in your living room, and if that's where you plan to use it, you'll be best served by firing up Steam's Big Picture mode, a 10-foot user interface designed for HDTVs. While Dell and Alienware took care of the hardware, Valve handled the software to make the transition into the living room a smooth one. We didn't experience any navigation hiccups with our setup, and if you have a wireless Xbox 360 controller, the experience is even better for titles like Assassin's Creed where a keyboard and mouse might not be the best combination.

Steam Big Picture Mode

One of the neat thing about Steam's Big Picture mode is that you're aren't limited to just gaming. There's a social experience baked, allowing you to access Facebook, Twitter, and other parts of the web. The X51 R2 handles all of this like a champ.

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