In the desktop PCs category that dedicated to games. The computer Alienware X51 R3 2015 is distinguished among other computers. It has recently been released by Dell, and the latest version R3 got many updates.
But those updates are not enough to significantly distinguish the X51 device from the other versions, which makes us ask an important question. Should we, gamers, buy the best available device or that a medium desktop computers such as X51 will be enough?
Well, the answer is summarized in the next lines through a comprehensive review of the device.
- Strong structure and elegant design
- A graphic card that is capable of running most games in the Ultra mode “1080p resolution”
- Water-cooled and low sound
- It is difficult to update the processor and the random memory
- Some games cannot be run in the 1440p resolution.
- Prices start at 699.99 $ and up to 2,050 $
Note: The price varies depending on the specifications of the version. The device, which is reviewed here at a cost of 1,545 $ have a “i5-6600K processor, 16 GB of RAM, GTX 960 graphic card with 2 GB of RAM, 240 GB SSD, 2 TB HDD SATA hard disk”
Alienware X51 R3 2015 Review:
Sleek and slim design
The X51 have a matte black case, and a glossy and strong front panel; which would look slightly strange because it have a traditional look and if not for the alien head logo on the front we would not be able to recognize the brand.
And the sweeping edges that outline the brightly colored lights on the side panel.
By looking at the curvy edges on all sides, we will find that they harmonize well with the side panel containing a customizable multi-color LED indicator that works on lighting the transparent plastic piece on the left side, giving us a touch of aesthetic design.
There are no major panel gaps where they shouldn’t be, and the side panels don’t bend or flex. And to maintain the slim design, the electric supply unit was reduced in size. But in way that is still compatible with the computer’s specifications.
The design allows you to sit the computer upright or on its side. The GPU fan sits at the bottom and weighs down the X51’s case. But the PC could still be knocked if it was hit by something because it doesn’t have a prominent flange at the bottom, or excellent weight distribution, to help keep it stable.
A fair selection of ports
On the front, users will find a pair of USB 3.0 ports, 3.5mm audio in and out ports, and a power button positioned near the top of the case.
In the back side, there are two more USB 3.0 ports, four USB 3.1 ports, an Ethernet port, and three 3.5mm audio ports for the speakers and the microphone, a port for the power supply, and one port for an external graphics card “an external device provided by the company Alienware to amplify the power of the graphics processor”.
It’s hard to imagine what else users would need for wired connections, except maybe optical audio which is not affected by electromagnetic waves from the surrounding devices.
Video outputs depend on the card included in the system. The device in our review has Nvidia GTX 960 with three Display Ports (two HDMI and one DVI)
A mess inside!
Unlike the clean exterior, the internal structure is messy and unorganized at all. When you open the side cover you’ll find that all the hardware glued together and in order to reach one piece you will have to remove some of the other pieces! , and to make matters worse, the side panel is attached to the interior through a small wire, making the process of removing the cover difficult and requires some caution.
The GPU card sits at the bottom of the case and is protected by a plastic box surrounding it. The GPU card and the box pop out together by loosening a couple of screws.
Doing so, will reveal the mechanical drive hiding underneath. You’ll need to remove the liquid cooling radiator to be able to access any additional components. Components hiding under the liquid cooling radiator are the RAM, the processor, and the SSD, all of which are inconveniently located under the cooling solution.
Alienware X51 R3 Processor performance
Alienware X51 R3 is powered by a Core i5-6600K, 6th generation and is the most powerful processor in the Core i5 category, paired up with 16GB of 2,133 MHz DDR4 RAM.
It’s a quad-core chip with a 3.5GHz base clock and 3.9GHz Turbo Boost. Unfortunately, it does not support Hyper-Threading. But it makes up for it with an unlocked multiplier, by clicking one-button the device will be overclocking up to 4.3GHz.
By looking at the previous picture we will find that the performance of the Alienware processor falls just behind the iBuyPower Revolt 2 quad-core i7-6700K processor in single-core performance, but drops further behind in the multi-core tests. That’s likely due to the lack of Hyper-Threading, which restricts the i5 chip to just four threads, compared to the i7’s eight.
Hard disk performance
Alienware X51 R3 is packed with two hard drives for storage. The first is a 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD and the second is a Samsung PM951. And thanks to that combination you will get the excellent performance and amazing speed you desire which will be clearly seen everywhere from load times in games to system boot time.
By looking at the previous picture, we can clearly see that the X51 R3 computer has a relatively average speed in reading and writing data. The tests showed that the PCIe-based SSD storage unit achieved a speed of 134.83 Mb/s which is 3 times the speed of a traditional HDD SATA of 42.21 Mb/s.
But unfortunately, the M.2 PCIe SSD data transfer speeds are slow; slow enough that they fall behind most SSDs we’ve recently tested. But still, the drive’s overall performance is much faster than the traditional HDD SATA hard drive of 7,200 RPM. In short, the performance meets the requirements for all games.
Graphics card performance
Alienware X51 R3 reviewed here includes an Nvidia GTX 960 with 2GB of memory. There is only one way to test the performance of the graphics card which is with 3DMark.
And unfortunately, things are getting worse in the graphic processor performance tests as the results of the tests did not reach the desired level, but maybe that’s only because we have high expectations for it, or maybe because we are not used to review a lot of mid-range systems. When compared to the other office computers used for Gaming such as iBuyPower and AVADirect which have a high-class and strong specifications, the X51 R3 computer falls behind those devices in terms of the performance of the graphics card.
While it loses to those systems, it takes a decent lead over gaming laptops and lower-end systems intended for 1080p gaming.
And the following test targets the efficiency of the graphic processor in running computer games and from this point the situation starts to improve a little.
The test result
The Alienware doesn’t beat out the other gaming systems. But that doesn’t mean it loses, because the system was able to run Fallout 4 with 51 frames per second with the settings at Ultra. But still, the performance of the X51 struggles with Crysis 3 as the system was only able to run the game in medium quality mode.
According to the well-known Steam hardware survey, 35 percent of gamers have a 1080p screens, and only four percent of users are running a higher resolution on a single monitor and the rest of users are using screens with a resolution lower than 1080p, mostly 720p especially in our Arabic region.
In short, the X51 still performs better than current-gen consoles (Xbox One and PS4). But only when you want to run games in 1080p resolution and we will mention the reason next.
When we tried to run Heroes of Storm game in the 1440p resolution, the graphic card performance started to oscillate between excelling and stumbling. When we to tried to run Battlefield 4 in 1440p resolution we did not face any problems but when we tried to run Crysis 3 in 1440p, the GTX 960 card was not able to provide the desired performance as the frame rate was only 15 frame/s and as we all know this is a lot lower than the 30 frames/s limit required to run games smoothly.
Because of the thin structure of Alienware X51 R3, and the consequent lack of available internal ports for the installation of additional Hardware pieces such as installing another graphics card to improve the current performance, as well as the internal structure which does not allow the installation of a large size and powerful performance graphics card, the Alienware company had to offers its Graphics Amplifier as an option with some models of the X51, including ours. By buying Graphics Amplifier you can bring improved performance to systems that don’t have room for larger, more powerful cards.
But in my opinion, you do not need to buy that device since the GTX 960 graphic processor included in the X51 R3 can run most games in 1080p resolution and all the games by using medium quality settings as we did with the Crysis 3 game.
Most of the screens do not exceed the 1080p resolution. So you will not feel any difference if you run games in 1440p resolution on those screens. And another reason to completely ignore the amplifier is the availability of a version of the X51 computer that has a better graphical processor “GTX 970” which is more than enough to run all the games in the 1440p resolution as well as supporting the Virtual reality VR goggles.
And you will not be able to get the 4K resolution through the X51 device. Even if you use the GTX 980 Ti graphics card which is currently the most powerful NVidia card.
Energy and cooling
The Alienware X51 shines when it comes to power draw. At idle it consumes just 44 watts, much lower than most other gaming PCs, thanks to the GTX 960 card and the Core i5 processor. When the CPU kicks in, the wattage rises to 76 watts. Adding the graphics card and the other hardware pieces, and the whole system will only draw 177 watts at full load.
It is well know that smaller gaming machines run the risk of high noise and heat levels more than the larger machines but these issues were avoided through the use of a liquid-cooling solution. The noise is very low and it is mostly from the fans used to cool the GPU.
We can hear the sound of the fan only if the device were put in a quiet room. And even then, it barely breaks 42dBa, a noise level easily covered by chatting with friends or in-game audio.
Unlike some of the cheaper Dell systems; the system here doesn’t stuff Windows 10 with bloatware and trial offers. There’s only one program installed, the Alienware Command Center.
The Command Center is very useful, as it keeps the system from having individual apps for all of the esoteric system settings. That includes lighting controls, overclocking, thermal and power management. As well as profiles and settings for the graphics amplifier and it’s all in one place.
This system is sufficient if you want to run a game at 1080p. And it is without a doubt able to run most of the games. You will also get a small sized and thin device that you can fit anywhere. But my advice to you is spending the same amount of money on a slightly larger rig. And by doing so you can obtain even better performance.
Source of pictures: digitaltrends