Alien Autopsy: We Look Inside the Alienware X51

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thomasbujang

It will abolish the store warranty.

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KarbonKopy

Does this have a UEFI BIOS? I was curious if you could toss a 3 TB boot drive on this beast for maximum storage....that would be pretty damn spiffy. Look forward to seeing the review Gordon. Any ideas when they might send in a rig for review and benchmarking?

This would be a pretty good HTPC too....

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gordonung

You know, I didn't look at the BIOS but I'm almost certain it's a UEFI. I cannot imagine a modern box shipping without UEFI these days. We'll see when we finally get one. I'm quite interested in seeing how big of a GPU I can put in it.

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KarbonKopy

I would totally agree I couldn't see it not having UEFI either, but figured you weren't able to get in depth with it quite yet. Would love to see it with a 3 TB drive and a monster GPU! Have fun in the lab! :)

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StigtriX

Just wait for the intel Ivy Bridge line to be implemented. The CPUs draw less power, produce less heat and have about 20% better overall performance compared to good ol' Sandy. Put a SSD inside it too, and you have more head space for a GPU upgrade ;)A nVIDIA GTX 570 is not unrealistic and well worth a try, just remember to get a version with better cooling than the original version. The GAINWARD GeForce GTX 570 GLH Edition has very good performance and has quiter fans and stays cooler than the reference card from nVIDIA.

That's what I will do! I'm tired of my big tower. It takes too much space and has the devil himself inside the GPU - I have the notorious nVIDIA GTX 480, and it is really hot and loud(yes, a bad choice - I bought it when it was new). Luckily, I live in Norway, so if I get more problems with my PC, I can send it back and get my money back! *cross fingers for problems*

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imagonex

This thing is going to sell. I think we'll see the move to more compact, practical and powerful systems in the years to come. Pity they didn't slap in a GTX580 in there. That would totally kick some silicon bootay! I assume some of the component choices were due to marketing results and supplier issues. I think if they get more than enough custome feedback they'll crank-up the horsepower on the next generation. Heck, if some case manufacturers out there can come up with something like this with a decent PSU for the top graphics card and CPU out there, I'll buy it. If the board has USB3 or eSATA output, one can just slap an outboard drive box and Bob's you uncle! Hope DELL is reading this. Hope DELL reads Gordon's stuff. Hopefully, Gordon becomes CEO of DELL. MOOOOHAHAHA! Today MAXIMUMPC! Tomorrow the world!! Cue: Gordon petting white chinchilla cat.

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Jogrady96

Sorry this might sound like a nooby question but on their american site it is $1500ish fully upgraded but on the australian it is $2300ish and I am confused at how that conversion of price work if someone could explain it would be much appreciated.Especially since the austalian doller is higher in currency at the moment and has been for quite a bit now.

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mattatooski

I do like the look of that case. It would look very nice sitting next to my tv. I would like to transplant my HTPC into that case.

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koldplay

Hi,

Does anyone know if the external power brick can be replaced with a 220v one to work in europe? Or would that AC/DC conversion board also need to be changed?

Thanks.

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warrblade

I think all PCs should be this small! Why not?

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LatiosXT

"Automagically". Gordon, you are awesome.

Also, has Optimus for desktops probably been the reason why there hasn't been a WHQL driver update from NVIDIA in months?

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gordonung

It's hard to say. I'll ask NV next time we have a briefing with them but WHQL drivers usually move pretty slowly anyway.

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Nyarlathotep

PC's, the console of the future... lol.

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xeones

Gaming on a laptop doesn't work very well. I mean, not the kind of games I like to play. Not talking angry birds here.

For work, sometimes I have to be away overseas for a few weeks at a time. The X51, 22"lcd, keyboard/mouse, and 3d vision kit could all fit in a hard plastic case not much bigger than the backpack I carry around with me now.

I've tried buying "gaming laptops" before. You end up paying thousands of dollars for disappointing performance. Really. This thing might actually be the thing that lets me play TOR on the road.

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Diosjenin

What exactly is a secret about Optimus? I've had it on my laptop for about fourteen months now.

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gordonung

Well, Optimus has been out for quite some time. Most of us refer to it as Optimus on desktops but nVidia was actually supposed to call it Synergy when it came out on Z68. Despite being told by a few board vendors that Synergy was on the way and was indeed real, nVidia denied that it existed for months. The real reason it didn't come out was likely because Nvidia didn't like the results. But on the X51, it works just fine. You run the HDMI to your Z68/SNB graphics core and the Optimus/Synergy routes it from discrete to the onboard HDMI. When Optimus/Synergy is in action on the onboard, the discrete card spools down. Not completely the way the Radeon HD 7970 is supposed with CrossFire X but still a nice way to save some power. 

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Diosjenin

Heh. Component makers and their branding. Lord knows they can't just stick with one name for the same tech in different form factors. That would just be too simple. :P

I'm interested to know why the discrete card doesn't power off completely on desktops, because I know it does on laptops. I specifically remember an early Optimus demo where nVidia let the integrated GPU take over, then physically removed the discrete card and put it back in before triggering it again; system kept chugging along without any problem at all.

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Slurpy

Getting it to work right, that's the secret.

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kevaskous

LOL Too true!

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dgrmouse

If the device can support a 560TI, it should be a factory option. Doh. Alienware, how far you've fallen.

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sandrajustin

I do, but who doesn't have the space for a double full tower? Under the desk? over the desk? beside the desk? in the other room? choices are endless.credit card application

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COMMANDER_COOK

That rotating badge is nothing new. Even the old fatty PS2s had it.

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Psychic51

Stories like his is why I love Maximum PC

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JohnP

Sweet looking box but really? As far as I am concerned, these boxes are for the folks who care more about looks than function. Add another 4 inches in depth and 2 inches in width and you could have a regular midtower case with all of its benefits. As for upgrading, the power supply limits pretty much anything you could do to improve it so it might as well be a proprietary box.
HEEEEYYY! Spell checking has FINALLY been turned on the site! It's about time! Thank you.

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jaymz668

any decent browser already has spell checking...

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Slurpy

I think this is aimed at the people who want a gaming HTPC that will fit in an entertainment center, rather than a desktop replacement.

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dakishimesan

my $760 mac mini:
1. core i5
2. radeon 6630m
3. 4gb
4. 1/4 the size of x51
5. not upgradeable except hdd to ssd which i've done, and thunderbolt gpus, which are going to be real (see MSI box from CES), but expensive as balls.

http://www.amazon.com/Apple-MC816LL-Desktop-NEWEST-VERSION/dp/B004YLCN1U/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1326936230&sr=8-2

x51 $699:
1. i3
2. gtx 545 -- not sure how compares to 6630m, prolly better
3. 4gb
4. 4x the size
5. upgradeable

given choice now, i would prolly choose x51 for upgradeability if i could hackintosh it.

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Danthrax66

But the mac mini uses the mobile cpu and mobile gpu so it is a lot less powerful.

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aferrara50

I'd personally go for the mac just to browse the internet on my tv. The X51 can't play games at all with a 535/555 in it so it's just a glorified web browsing box. Really irrelevant if it's able to be upgraded since a ~300w psu can't even power 1 half decent gpu (1 flagship)

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Slurpy

Only the power hungriest cards use more than 150W. The PCI-E rail delivers 75W, each 6-pin connector delivers 75W, and an 8pin connector delivers 150W. Most cards are powered just fine off the rail and a single six-pin, so they never draw more than 150. Even high-end cards like a 570 usually just use two sixes, and so draw less than 225W.

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aferrara50

It's rated at 219w, so very close, but Nvidia recommends at least a 550w to run it, much more than what comes with the system. Even so with 219w you're leaving that tiny psu to power a 95w cpu plus a harddrive and fans, etc. ~300w psus aren't generally quality enough to keep up such a load for extended periods of time.

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gordonung

There's a 340 watt power brick option as well. I agree that 300 watt PSU's tend to be crap but there's a big difference between what you or and I can get for 300 watts and buying in lots of 1 or 2. Alienware has a bit more leverage and engineering behind it so it can spec a 340 watt brick to hit certain power requiements of a system and not have the PSU's nuke in 18 months. The expansion of the box also keeps the load to a minimum. One of the reason's we've long recommended oversizing your PSU is because it's hard to know what a person is going to run in a box. A box built around a Corsair 800D means the end user could end up running six 15K drives, an overclocked SNB-E and Tri-SLI. On the X51 with its two slots of RAM, single graphics slot and room for one drive, AW can probably predict how hard someone is going to push the box and spec it that way. Since I don't think they want to a class action suit I suspect they did their home work.

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aferrara50

Just curious, but what motherboard would the one in the x51 be most comparable to?

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COMMANDER_COOK

Can't run games with a 555?

My current gaming needs are satisfied with a Core2 Duo @ 2.26Ghz paired with GeForce GT130m (equivalent to a 9500GT desktop card). I can't max anything out and probably can't run any newer high end games like Crysis 2, but it does just fine with Just Cause 2 and the many Source based games I play.

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aferrara50

understandable. I just think it shouldn't be marketed as a gaming computer if it doesn't have the power to back it up. If you can't place every game on the market without lag (over 30fps) at 1080p+ then it's not a gaming computer. Maybe an entertainment computer or something else.

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gordonung

I think people have different expectations of an $700-$900 box that fits under your TV though. And one of the AW designers says he plays BG3 with some image tweaks at 1080P res with the $699 model at 34fps+ just fine. That's low for me, but BF3 is a pretty big high bar and let's remember that console's game at 720P res not really native 1080P resolutions. 

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aferrara50

very true. Most people that will buy this aren't people that would build their own small form factor htpc/ gaming rig. It should be able to game no problem with settings similar to a console. Seems that it's taking alienware an awful long time to recover back to the quality of it's glory days from before dell acquired it. I think alienware should have taken a similar approach to falcon-nw with the fragbox, only style it in its own unique way.

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DasHellMutt

That rotating badge trick is one that Dell (who still owns Alienware if i'm not mistaken) was doing years ago on small form factor optiplexes. It is a nice touch though.

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phoenixjc

Hey now, chocolate and coconut do mix. It's just sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don't.

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SeverianSilk

I, too, would like to raise a complaint about the fact checking on this post. Chocolate and coconut mix to form a wondrous and beautiful miracle that tastebuds dream of. Revise pl0x.

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Biceps

I love Mounds.

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loozer

Who doesn't have the space for a full tower?

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QuadraQ

This is going to be a great product for console conversion. It's basically the perfect box for someone who wants to upgrade from their xbox 360 to a full gaming PC with upgrading potential. Just brilliant!

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Marthian

Wow $700 for this? That's pretty cheap as far as I know, even for Alienware. Specs look reminiscent of the ~$600 budget build featured on this website.

Although I'm still sticking to my 560 Ti and 2500k combo.

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