Alienware X51 R2 Desktop Gaming System Review

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Alienware X51 R2 Gaming Desktop System

Alienware X51 R2 External Images

Some say desktop computers are fading into a thing of the past, personally I prefer them over a laptop or tablet any day of the week. Laptops and tablets certainly have their place in today’s on-the-go lifestyle we lead. In fact I’m typing this while sitting in a hotel room on a business trip on my laptop. Obviously there are some advantages to them, but desktop systems are my preferred system any day of the week. Dollar for dollar desktop systems offer more bang for the buck than a laptop, but laptops offer portability though you sacrifice performance. If you haven’t guessed already, today we are looking at a full blown desktop system from Alienware, the X51 R2. The Alienware X51 desktop starts at only $699 but the sky is the limit as the X51 is fully customizable. The $699 is powered by an Intel Core i3-4130 while the version we have on-hand today is powered by an Intel Core i5-4430. The Intel i5-4430 Alienware x51 starts out slightly higher at $854, though the processor isn’t the only upgrade with this version. Alienware didn’t stop at an i5 version, there is also an X51 with an Intel Core i7-4770 that starts out at $1079.

The Alienware X51 R2 that we have on hand today is the Intel Core i5-4430 edition mentioned above that starts out at $854. Ours was sent to us with a few minor upgrades, most notably the graphics card. The Alienware X51 R2 that was sent to us came loaded with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670. The drives in our Alienware X51 have also been upgraded. Instead of a DVD writer, we have a slot loading blueray player, our hard drive was also a step up from the standard configuration, we had a two terabyte Seagate Barracuda (P/N ST2000DM001) as opposed to the basic one terabyte drive. It drove the price up by nearly $500 having these improvements, up to $1349.00, but if you’re a gamer they will certainly be worth it.

Alienware X51 R2 Desktop Background

Once the Alienware X51 R2 was fired up, this is the desktop background that is the default. The only items on the desktop are the recycle bin, Alienware Command Center, and the My PC Information icon.

Alienware X51 R2 Command Center App

The Alienware X51 R2 has the ability to change the lighting on the chassis. To do this we simply had to open up the Alienware Command center and make the adjustments that we wanted. All three of the areas, left side, right side and Alien eyes can be adjusted independently, or you can use a predetermined profile.

Alienware X51 R2 Command Center App

We fired up the Alien Blood profile and all of the lighting changed to a neon green. This may be a little cheesy to some, but it can be disabled if you don’t like it. The Alienware Command Center will also give access to the AlienFusion and AlienAdrenaline. AlienFusion let’s us toggle through the various power plans, Balanced, High Performance, as well as creating custom plans. The AlienAdrenaline application will create custom environments within the system, you can set the AlienAdrenaline app to change the graphics properties when you open a game, or open additional programs like a VOIP, or media player.

Alienware X51 R2 i5-4430 CPUz

The Alienware X51 R2 that we received had an Intel Core i5-4430 at its’ heart. The Intel Core i5-4430 is a 4-core/4thread processor and has a standard clock speed of 3.0GHz. Under a lightly threaded load the Intel Core i5-4430 has a maximum turbo speed of 3.2GHz.

Alienware X51 R2 GeForce GTX 670 GPUz

In addition to the Intel Core i5-4430 under the hood, we also have a power house of a graphics card. The Alienware X51 R2 came with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 2GB graphics card.

Alienware X51 R2 Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPUz

The Intel Z87 chipset and Intel Core i5-4430′s Intel HD Graphics 4600 can be utilized in conjunction with the GeForce GTX 670 when using the Lucid Technology. What’s great about using both graphics technologies in the Alienware X51 R2 with Lucid is the ability to use Intel features like Quick Sync that are exclusive to the Intel graphics.

Alienware X51 R2 Start Menu Programs

One thing that has been a concern in the past is the amount of bloatware that has come in prebuilt systems like the Alienware X51 R2. I was happy to see that there wasn’t an excessive amount of software that came pre-installed. Aside from the Alienware utilities like AlienAutopsy and AlienRespawn, we have a trial version of Microsoft Office and CyberLink PowerDVD 9.6.

Alienware X51 R2 Windows Experience Index Score

The Window Experience Index is by no means the end all benchmark. It does give us an insight into what may be the weak link in the chain. In the case of the Alienware X51 R2, everything was pretty solid. The Intel Core i5-4430 scored 7.5, the Samsung 8GB 1600MHz memory kit scored 7.7, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 scored 7.9, all very solid scores. The weak link was the primary hard disk. The Seagate Barracuda 2TB drive is a great drive, but it scored only 5.9 out of a maximum of 7.9, the WEI is only as high as the lowest score which means that the Windows Experience Index for the Alienware X51 R2 is only 5.9.

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  • John

    I’d like to address that the Windows Experience Index score and review on the bottom of the first page can be misleading information. First of all, It’s on a scale of 1.0 – 7.9, so most of them components reach or are close to MAXIMUM score, which is awesome. Also, Windows 7 has a problem, in which Primary Hard Disk ratings are generally 5.9 the highest, even for most of the high-end hard disks, so that part can be ignored. WIth an ACTUAL average base score of 7.75 / 7.9, this is easily one amazing high-end computer.

  • joey

    Does the keyboard on this light up??

    • ihd1234567890

      Judging by the keyboard image I saw on their website, I don’t believe so.

  • Kevin

    I have the AW 14 (2 years old now) and just picked up the basic AW X51 connected to a 24 inch Dell HD display and I’m in heaven. I mainly enjoy shooters but would like to see a Forza racing game for PC someday. Guess that’s why I keep my XBOX :-)

  • Randome Guy

    How do i know if I have R2 or R1? Im not sure what i got…

    • ihd1234567890

      They don’t have R1 model products at their website. The R1 model is mainly noticeable by its graphics card, since that’s the part that gamers want. R1 has GTX 540 and 545. R2 goes up to GTX 740 Ti

  • Jess B. Balatbat

    Was thinking about my purchasing experience with Dell/Alienware. To Dell’s credit, it was very easy to buy. I actually had someone on chat while I was surfing the website (on a Sunday as well). I kinda new that the specs were good from my research, and asked a few technical questions. They also offered a discount. 

    From PC build perspective, I have no complaints. Runs BF4 with max settings with no lag, runs quiet, small footprint and nice case. Would benefit from SSD definitely. If all things being equal in terms of comparing builds between different pc’s, one of the key differences is to be able to get a pc built to these specs and build quality (don’t forget with warranty). It did take 10 days so not exactly off the shelf. 

    Having built my own pc before and things don’t quite go right, it can be hard to troubleshoot. It’s also nice to have dedicated forums as Alienware is quite mainstream (versus trawling hardware sites for issues/questions if you had to build yourself). 

    Ultimately you need to think about usage. For small form factor that will be able to handle latest gen with ‘some’ potential upgradeability then this is pretty good and can be purchased conveniently.

  • Sam

    I’ve been wanting this for awhile now but my boyfriend tells me it’s a bad choice and I’ll be wasting my money. I don’t want to mess anything up by building my own and I don’t want a huge computer taking up space so I thought this was the perfect choice but now I’m not so sure

    • crAB

      Hey, if you’d like some advice regarding building an ITX system, head over to http://hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=102

      Everyone there is pretty knowledgeable and helpful.

    • AgentDeep

      This is quite late reply but you could build ITX system as what crAB is suggesting. A Bitfenix Prodigy case as an example.

    • http://www.youtube.com/PoeTheGamer PoeTheGamer

      Your boyfriends a lair this is the best computer youll ever have in your life.
      Well maybe not the best but a pretty DAMN good one.

    • Jurick Pastechi Genaro

      Your boyfriend is right. You can build your own pc even better than this and still pay less than this build alienware :)

  • fenix144

    Man the inside of that pc is ugly. I know why they don’t put a panel on there.

    • ydnar

      The inside is absolutely amazing. Everything is compact and its really easy to assemble and disassemble. Who cares if its ugly in the inside. The main thing is it serves its purpose, which is putting everything in a compact space while still making it function well and stay cool which is it what it does. I can literally take it apart and put it back together in less than 30 mins. Who cares about what the inside looks like honestly, I think Alienware did a great job on this design

  • Jess B. Balatbat

    Hi Thanks for the review. I’ve had the x51 r2 for about 2 months now and agree about the boot time. Have had an ssd on my old laptop and was wondering if you think there would be space to slot in an ssd as boot up disk with the original as slave. From the photos looks like a snug fit plus not sure if extra cables are available. Was it easy to dissemble?

    Everything else is pretty awesome but just need some spare time so asking the question first.

    • Dan Stoltz

      Sorry about the delay, but there should be room to pop in a SSD inside the chassis. The i7 edition of the X51 has the option for a 256GB SSD as well as a hard drive. It’s only a couple of screws to remove the Graphics card carrier. If memory serves, there are only 2 screws to do that.

      • Jess B. Balatbat

        I know it has been awhile but thanks for responding. Haven’t quite had the time to add an SSD at the moment as machine is running well. Am curious if anyone has added an SSD?

        • Obiwabkenewby

          I have, there are no screw mounts for the ssd. I used some foam tape to mount the ssd over the DVD drive.