The Alienware X51 has arrived. Designed to be a small form factor PC that can actually handle a decent bit of gaming, it is Alienware's first attempt at a cheap(ish) desktop.
Aimed squarely at the casual PC gaming market, the X51 is a halfway house between a home console and a top-end PC. Around the same size as a normal games console, it is intended to be inconspicuous enough to sit in your living room but still run triple-A titles such as Battlefield 3 at high settings.
Close up the Alienware looks damn nice. Keeping all the internal goodies wrapped up warm is a matte plastic body, with a glossy black wraparound at the front. There is also a set of USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks and a rather nifty power button on the top of the front of the rig.
Sat at the back is plenty more connectivity as well as a beefy grille to aid ventilation of the computer. On the side is the usual club tropicana style lighting you find on all Alienware hardware. It is much more understated here than say the laptop keyboards. We imagine this is to do with the fact many will be using this as a media centre PC in their living rooms.
Alienware has done a masterful job cramming so much power into such a small rig. Inside is your choice of Sandy Bridge processors and either an Nvidia GT 545 or GTX 555, both with 1GB of video memory. There is also the option of a DVD or Blu-ray player and, of course, upgradeable RAM.
The real trick however is how easy it is to upgrade the internals. Unlike a normal game console, you can easily yank the graphics card out and stick a more powerful one inside, once an update is due. Things are definitely packed in tight in the X51, so don't expect to manage to fit a huge GTX 590 or any other top end card, but for now, a GTX 555 is going to do a good job with high-end DX 11 gaming.
We have no idea how Alienware has managed to keep the inside of the X51 properly ventilated. Take a peek at the internals and it is slotted together perfectly like a piece of Lego. Think Mac Pro but packed in tighter.
The X51 is going to start at around £699 for the entry level model. It might be a fair hop up from a normal games console, but don't forget you are getting a small form factor rig that will likely run Windows at lightning speed.
What do you think to the Alienware? Let us know in the comments below ...