Alienware, the premium gaming brand Dell bought six years back, is taking a different path with its latest gaming PC offering. It’s gone smaller, but unlike Razer we’re not talking about a laptop or tablet here -- we’re talking a small form factor (SFF) PC with the goods to best its gargantuan rivals packed into something barely bigger than an Xbox 360.
The X51 is, unsurprisingly, the smallest desktop Alienware’s ever created and measures just 9.5cm wide by 34.3cm tall. It’ll stand up or lie horizontally without issue too, so if you’ve got room under your TV it’ll slot in there nicely.
Just because it’s small doesn’t mean it packs any less of a punch than its bigger, monstrous brother the Aurora. OK, there had to be a few compromises here, but for £949 it’ll still pack up to a Core i7 clocked at 3.4GHz; a 1GB Nvidia GTX 555, and 8GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM. Even the base model with a Core i3, which will set you back £700, will push 27 frames per second at 1080p in Battlefield 3 with everything turned on.
According to Alienware, the thing will be almost silent for general usage, and won’t reach original Xbox 360 hairdryer-levels of fan noise when blasting through games. You can even tweak performance and fan speed to simmer things down a bit if you’re worried about noise, while the components are all standard desktop parts except from a notebook DVD burner drive.
A SFF PC isn’t really what you would expect from the loud and garish Alienware. But if you’re short of space, have the best part of a grand burning a hole in your pocket, and still want that premium PC gaming experience -- it might be worth a punt. It’s certainly a lot more attractive than some of its other models, and might even pass the “girlfriend” test to be allowed to encroach on the living room. Maybe.