System Performance

One thing I'd like the readership to keep in mind when looking at these charts is that the Alienware X51 review unit we have on hand is just $999, and the $949 version with only 6GB of RAM will probably perform comparably. That means the desktops it's competing with here are almost all between two to three times more expensive; the only one in the same price bracket is the WarFactory Sentinel, but that system was reviewed nearly a year ago.

Futuremark PCMark 7

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

PCMark certainly takes the X51 to task, but keep in mind that every other system tested here is sporting an SSD while the X51 is making do with a mechanical hard disk. PCMark skews very heavily towards SSD-enabled systems; that's why the AMD Phenom II X4 955 in WarFactory's tower is able to post a lead on the Alienware's substantially faster i5-2320. Nnot that we're disputing how big of an impact that can have in the real world--in many use cases, a moderate Phenom II system with an SSD will feel snappier than a faster Core i5/i7 with a hard drive.

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R11.5

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

Once we get to the more CPU-centric application tests the X51 fares a bit better, and again here it's competing with desktops that are almost all running 4GHz or better overclocked processors. CPU performance is still actually quite good, and the i5 definitely offers a better value now than the Phenom II in WarFactory's machine did.

Futuremark 3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

On the other hand, the GeForce GTX 460 in the WarFactory machine is definitely a faster video card than the X51's GTX 555, but it's not the most massive lead in the world, and in 3DMark06 the Sentinel winds up being CPU limited. The GTX 555 may very well have its work cut out for it, though; Alienware promises the X51 is able to deliver a compelling gaming experience, but is it going to be able to hack 1080p gaming?

Introducing the Alienware X51 Gaming Performance
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  • Death666Angel - Saturday, February 18, 2012 - link

    Cool story, bro.
  • frozentundra123456 - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Kind of a nice system, but I am not sure I really see the point of cramming all this into a small formfactor on the desktop. Personally, I would prefer a larger system that could be more easily upgraded. And for HPTC use, it seems overkill.

    Still have to admire the system and the price it is selling at, but I would ether go for a larger desktop gaming PC or a gaming laptop for portability.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Woah woah woah, wait a minute. Are you saying you plug your monitor into the hdmi port on the motherboard, and it can route both gpu outputs to that hdmi port?
  • Phynaz - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Yes, that's how it works.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    How does the nvidia pci express gpu card route its video signal back to the motherboard and through the cpu and out to the hdmi port on the motherboard?
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    It's called Optimus Technology, and it's been around for a few years now. The NVIDIA drivers detect supported applications (you can add your own), and the dGPU does the work and then copies the resulting frame directly into the IGP's frame buffer.
  • tipoo - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    I think what he's asking is that the reason Nvidia gave for it not working on desktops is that the card had different physical links than the onboard graphics, unlike laptops, so switching using just one port was impossible. How did they do it here then?
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, February 18, 2012 - link

    Optimus has always been possible on the desktop; NVIDIA (no matter what they might suggest) just hasn't allowed for it. Alienware/Dell apparently wanted it enough that NVIDIA allowed it on the X51. I wouldn't be surprised if we see more desktops with Optimus going forward, so maybe the X51 is more of a forerunner than an exclusive thing. Since the dGPU just copies the content into the IGP frame buffer, any ports supported by the IGP are supported by the dGPU. I believe there may be some limitations on what is supported (e.g. HDMI 1.4a and 3D Vision may not be available via this sort of configuration).
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, February 18, 2012 - link

    3D Vision isn't available on the X51 unless you connect directly to the GeForce.
  • Cali3350 - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Could you tell me if the internal sound includes Dolby Digital Live! encoding?

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