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Hardware Games

Dell's Haswell-Powered Alienware X51 R2 SFF, a PC Gamer's Console Alternative 154

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-play dept.
MojoKid writes "Dell recently introduced their Alienware X51 series of small form factor gaming PCs but until now, squeezing in components that were powerful enough for the enthusiast gamer was a significant thermal challenge. Intel's recent Haswell Core processor release, as well as NVIDIA's GeForce 670 series graphics cards have changed the game considerably though. The X51 R2 is shaped similar to to an Xbox 360 Slim, and though it's slightly larger, it would be right at home in a living room setting. Alienware is also bundling Steam Big Picture mode installations with systems as well. Performance-wise, with its latest CPU and GPU upgrades, the system is over twice as fast as the first generation X51, again thanks to Haswell and upgraded NVIDIA GeForce graphics. The console-sized PC is capable of running virtually any current gen DX11 title at full 1920X1080 HD resolution and high image quality settings."
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Dell's Haswell-Powered Alienware X51 R2 SFF, a PC Gamer's Console Alternative

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  • that at $700 (starting) it's not really a viable alternative to a $400 PS4. Yeah, yeah. I'm sure it'll be more powerful. But that didn't work out well this generation. Everything had to be toned down graphics wise so you could port it to the consoles. Even Crysis.
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Looking at the price it makes me wonder if they're selling it at a loss or managed to get one hell of a deal on various components. Doing a rough price out via what I can get from Ingram Micro the component cost is still 30-35% even in batches of 1k+

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @06:45PM (#44002309) Homepage Journal

      that at $700 (starting) it's not really a viable alternative to a $400 PS4.

      It is if you consider that besides playing games, you could also use the Alienware machine to develop your own games as well as do music production, video editing, web development, word processing, spreadsheets, run fluid dynamics numerical simulations as well as play all of the indie, F2P and other games that are PC-only. And you have a choice of keyboard or controller.

      And, as you say, the Alienware system is considerably more powerful than the "$400 PS4". Plus, you're not giving any money to Sony, which is probably more important to me than all the other points combined.

      • by click2005 (921437) *

        Dont forget that console games are usually more expensive (and theres the MS/Sony rent you pay on a console).. you'll soon save money with a PC.

        • They are? I pay 15-20 bucks at Gamestop for all my games which is about what the same game usually goes for on Steam. Oh right, you're probably comparing full retail cost of a console game vs a discounted PC version's price.

          • by click2005 (921437) *

            no, even discounted PC games are almost always cheaper. They dont have the MS/Sony rent included.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            They are? I pay 15-20 bucks at Gamestop for all my games which is about what the same game usually goes for on Steam.

            I bought Borderlands 2 for $8 on a Steam sale less than a year after release.

            You find many AAA console games at Gamestop for $8?

            • You find many AAA console games at Gamestop for $8?

              For $8 per player, yes. Console games are far more likely to support same-screen multiplayer, which means one could buy four copies of a PC game for $32 total or one copy of a console game for $32.

        • Dont forget that console games are usually more expensive

          Is LAN gaming with PCs really cheaper than same-screen gaming with a console? Compare one copy of a $60 console game that supports one to four controllers per machine to four copies of a $40 PC game. As far as I can tell, only the deep discount of a Steam sale (or possibly support for multiple USB game controllers when playing on a big screen) would possibly bring the price of PC gaming anywhere near that of same-screen console multiplayer.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Dont forget that console games are usually more expensive (and theres the MS/Sony rent you pay on a console).. you'll soon save money with a PC.

          Less so these days - most PC games I see are the same price now - $60. Once in a while you'll find a game that's $10 cheaper (Metro Last Light was the only one that I've seen that did that), everything else was the same price. Maybe back when the Xbox360 and PS3 were new this was expected behavior, but the gap has narrowed to practically nil.

          And it makes sense - the

      • Except these advantages aren't things that most people want. And what most people want is important because economies of scale determine what continues to be produced at an affordable price. A few thousand hardcore geeks do not a market make.

        It is if you consider that besides playing games, you could also use the Alienware machine to develop your own games

        I want to develop my own games, but since when are most people like me? The market is crowded enough, and the majority appear to prefer the output of well-known game studios. Besides, as CronoCloud has explained to me several times, the days when a one-man project could

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Except these advantages aren't things that most people want.

          So what? Is the marketplace only big enough for one system? All those people who use Steam and own hundreds of games and actually prefer the PC platform should just disappear because "most" people want something else?

          "Most" people use Android phones. Are you calling for Apple to get out of the handheld market? Do you believe that the iPhone is "not a viable option" because "most" people want something else?

          I'm pretty sure there are enough diff

          • I'm pretty sure there are enough different companies who are looking to make money that there can be more than just two platforms for games.

            Two, yes. Six, not so much. Wii U, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Ouya, Steam boxes that ship with Windows, and Steam boxes that ship with Linux make six.

            And by the way, how do you know what "most people want"?

            Mostly comments on Slashdot and elsewhere to the effect "You are a geek stuck in the Slashdot echo chamber, and the preferences of Slashdot users are by no means representative of those of the public." See, for example, the posts linked from this collection of "nobody wants a PC in the living room" posts [slashdot.org]. I've been collecting arguments for and against living-roo

            • Ouya doesn't quite count as a "console platform", because the amount of work a developer has to do to publish a game that already exists anyway for Android to Ouya is borderline-trivial compared to the amount of work a developer has to do to publish a game for, say, Wii.*|Xbox.*|PlayStation.*|PS.*

              That's part of the reason why in the long run, Android is likely to be a more lethal threat to the console ecosystem than ANYTHING Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, or anyone else can come up with. Android games will exis

          • You would be surprised how many people would rather spend $15 on The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing instead of $60 on Halo.

            On the console side, You would be surprised how many people would rather spend $15 on Journey or The Cave instead of $50 on the "Manly Brown Multiplayer shooter of the week"

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        that at $700 (starting) it's not really a viable alternative to a $400 PS4.

        It is if you consider that besides playing games, you could also use the Alienware machine to develop your own games as well as do music production, video editing, web development, word processing, spreadsheets, run fluid dynamics numerical simulations as well as play all of the indie, F2P and other games that are PC-only. And you have a choice of keyboard or controller.

        And, as you say, the Alienware system is considerably more powerful than the "$400 PS4". Plus, you're not giving any money to Sony, which is probably more important to me than all the other points combined.

        You and I may disagree vehemently on other topics (like politics :P ) but here we can agree.

        Without going on at length, I do things with my computer that the added power would help with. I also like to play games. The convenience of doing both well adds value from my perspective. As well as, as you say, avoiding giving more money to either Sony or MS.

        Strat

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          I do things with my computer that the added power would help with. I also like to play games. The convenience of doing both well adds value from my perspective.

          Sure, and you've already got a decent investment in the hardware, the space, a nice comfy chair, etc. If you only want to play games and have no interest in what a computer can do for you, then I can understand buying a console. But if you're an adult who actually does things, there's no way to say it's economical to have a console and a computer,

          • But if you're an adult who actually does things, there's no way to say it's economical to have a console and a computer, when the computer can play the dual role.

            If you live alone, I agree. But a couple with two children might find it cheaper to buy one shared computer, one console, and extra controllers than to buy a separate computer for each member of the household.

      • you could also use the Alienware machine to develop your own games as well as do music production, video editing, web development, word processing, spreadsheets, run fluid dynamics numerical simulations

        The number of people who would buy that machine to do this is miniscule. In fact the number of people that do those on their home desktops is small.

        as well as play all of the indie, F2P and other games that are PC-only.

        Considering that some indies already are on consoles and that the consoles do have F2P games, I wouldn't exactly be trotting out that old "consoles don't have indie or f2p games" argument anymore.

        And you have a choice of keyboard or controller.

        You do on the PS3 (and PS2) too, it just depends on the game. Even in games where you can't control the game with the keyboard it often still works for any text input

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      But a PS4 isn't a PC. So you'd need a PC and a PS4. And on the PS4 you'd be stuck playing console games which is a major drawback.

      • So you'd need a PC and a PS4.

        If you're referring to the fact that a console gamer is still likely to need a PC for homework and Facebook and YouTube and the like, not everyone who needs a PC needs a new PC. Since the GHz wars have ended, it's become more and more viable to keep using an existing five-year-old PC or get a Craigslist special.

        And on the PS4 you'd be stuck playing console games which is a major drawback.

        If the PS4 ends up with excellent titles in every genre save RTS, then please explain how being stuck with PS4 games "is a major drawback".

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        But a PS4 isn't a PC. So you'd need a PC and a PS4.

        Are you suggesting most people that have a console don't have a PC already anyway? I have a PC (and consoles) in the living room - which seems to be the point of this alienware system - and i'm sure as hell not using that TV-connected PC for anything like video editing or spreadsheets or word documents or anything like that.

      • So you'd need a PC and a PS4.

        You do? Why? Haven't you recognized that the huge popularity of tablets is that many people didn't really "need" a PC for what they did on them? But since having one was the only really good way to access web content for a while... people had to have one even if they didn't create their own documents or edit videos.

        Now they don't. They can upload video directly from their phone, they can all the cat videos they want on a tablet, and they can even play facebook/flash style games.

        And on the PS4 you'd be stuck playing console games which is a major drawback.
        Reply to This Share

        Yes, Console games like

    • You will NEVER get a deal on alien ware or DELL. Their markup prices have always be nutz, and on top of that they slap so much bloated crap onto the PC your windows instillation is virtually worthless and you end up having to pirate a plain copy wipe the drive and start over anyway. You're better off going to newegg and getting some randomly slapped together PC they have... you're just as likely to have compatibility issues either way and at least newegg will literally let you return anything within 30 days

      • by Pubstar (2525396)
        The Alienware line from Dell comes with no bloatware. Hell, it even says that in TFA.
      • You're better off going to newegg and getting some randomly slapped together PC they have [than a Dell brand PC]

        Among popular Newegg/TigerDirect DIY PC kits, how many are both 1. small form factor (that is, not a full-size tower that won't fit in well next to a living room TV because it's more XBOX HUEG than the original Xbox) and 2. suitable for playing PC games with graphical complexity comparable to that of forthcoming PS4 games? Intel integrated graphics, for example, didn't catch up with even PS3 graphics until Ivy Bridge.

    • that at $700 (starting) it's not really a viable alternative to a $400 PS4. Yeah, yeah. I'm sure it'll be more powerful. But that didn't work out well this generation. Everything had to be toned down graphics wise so you could port it to the consoles. Even Crysis.

      Good point, though even the $700 model looks to be a half generation ahead of the PS4.

    • that config as $700 would be a steal and many would buy it. Unfortunately, its quite a bit more.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      that at $700 (starting) it's not really a viable alternative to a $400 PS4. Yeah, yeah. I'm sure it'll be more powerful. But that didn't work out well this generation. Everything had to be toned down graphics wise so you could port it to the consoles. Even Crysis.

      Actually, compared to the PS4 PC's are pretty good value. Not only will a PC run current generation games but you have a huge back catalogue, large indie scene and you can even emulate older consoles. The PS4 in Australia will cost a minimum of A$600, closer to A$800 with the Trans-Pacific Price Dilation effect. Now this is a PC with custom built components so it's going to be more expensive but you can get a high end gaming rig for A$1200 easy. This is with a GF670, high end i5 and and SSD. Considering t

      • The PS4 in Australia will cost a minimum of A$600, closer to A$800 with the Trans-Pacific Price Dilation effect.

        Yes yes, we know. Australians on slashdot tend to be PC gamer partisans because the games cost more whoop de do.

        Perhaps if Australia had gone 120v for electricity and NTSC for TV and had a nratings system that make fucking sense, in the ancient past, you'd have been lumped in with the US-Canada in a region and paid less. Now it's too late and you'll always be considered a separate tiny English speaking market in the middle of nowhere.

        But Australia is an outlier. There is no huge price differential in t

  • Says a lot! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @06:16PM (#44002115)
    I think the fact that Dell is essentially creating a "Console PC" says a lot about how bad the PS4 and XBone consoles offerings are for this generation. Bad enough that other PC companies are going to try and mussel in on the action.
    • by Ambvai (1106941) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @06:21PM (#44002169)

      I can't help but wonder if Microsoft's just going to clam up since it seems like their ship has already sailed.

      • by AdamThor (995520)

        The Alien hardware seems pretty swell, but with Steam requiring internet I'm not sure it gets my seal of approval. The other day I went to play L4D2 for the first time in years, and upon startup it informed me that it would take an hour and a half to update, I was like "Abalone!" and killed it. But I'm hooked on indy games. I don't think an expensive unit like this would reel me in, but I've kept a cheaper computer in my living room for years now.

        • by Pubstar (2525396)
          Why don't you just boot into offline mode and not patch then?
          • Why don't you just boot into offline mode

            I'm not sure what you mean by "boot into offline mode". I was under the impression that Steam needed to go online every few weeks to renew the games' cached receipts for offline mode. I was also under the impression that Steam would default to online mode if the computer has a network connection at the time Steam starts. Or have things changed since I last tried a Steam game?

            • by Pubstar (2525396)
              On the main screen window, click the drop down menu on far left (I forgot what it's called). Second option is 'go offline'. You can play games without updates that way. Steam requires you to sign in somewhere between 30-90 days, so you could just go online for a second. stop the update, go offline, then play unpatched.
      • I saw what you did there. Spelling's a beach sometimes.
    • Uhhh.. Actually Dell's purpose in promoting this as a console alternative is because they're having a real hard time selling desktop computers as just computers.
      • Because no one wants to buy a computer with Windows 8 on it.

        So Microsoft is losing the console wars and has nothing left to fall back to any more.

    • And how exactly are they going to muscle in when the configuration mentioned in the summary and article is nearly $1900? You realize you could buy either a PS4, the motion-tracking bullshit, additional controllers or an Xbox One and extra controllers plus dozens of full-priced games for less than the Alienware, right? Yeah, I can totally see it stealing sales away. Oh wait....

    • by click2005 (921437) *

      Its a SteamBox

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      It's just a newer alienware, it's not a new marketing strategy.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      I think the fact that Dell is essentially creating a "Console PC" says a lot about how bad the PS4 and XBone consoles offerings are for this generation. Bad enough that other PC companies are going to try and mussel in on the action.

      Really, with the poor offerings of the XBone and PS4, PC gaming is going to benefit a lot.

      With Steam leading the charge with their SteamBox concept and Big Picture the "PC Wannabe" consoles are going to be in dire straits as more powerful, customisable and extensible machines extend into the lounge room.

      The Wii U, which isn't trying to be a PC has already won this generation by default. The next big thing in the console world wont be another Xbox/PS3, it will be a tablet console (picture a tablet with

      • Really, with the poor offerings of the XBone and PS4, PC gaming is going to benefit a lot.

        What poor offerings considering that some of those games are multiplatform and on the PC as well. Perhaps you don't realize that it's not 1993 anymore. PC and console players are playing the SAME games.

        The Wii U, which isn't trying to be a PC has already won this generation by default.

        What reality do you live in? The Wii U or it's games, hasn't sold well at all

    • by Narishma (822073)

      Dell (and other companies) have been creating these "console PCs" for years now, it has nothing to do with this upcoming console generation.

    • by clickety6 (141178) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:53AM (#44005075)
      Are you suggesting that Sony and Microsoft have cockled things up out and laid out a whelk-ome mat for other companies to winkle their way into the game and crab some of the console action? They probably won't need much urchin on from us to join in. And sure, the threat might just conch out, but there's always a chance that one of the PC manufacturers might scallop past the winning post in first plaice. But that's enough oystering the shit by me. I'm feeling hungry... for a stake!
  • .. right up until I read "Dell"
  • I don't really understand the appeal of pre-built "high end" Alienware machines besides the case (if you're into that sort of thing). Building a machine can be a lot of fun, and it's not exactly hard. I realize not everyone has the time/ability for these things, hence these offerings. I view it as (highly) over paying for something which can be done better. Also, why the bragging about including steam "big picture mode"? It's not unique to Alienware... is Steam still obscure after being around for 9+ years?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      For most people a computer is a tool and/or appliance not a penis extension.

      • So that's why you're proud to pay more? Because yours is bigger?
        • So that's why you're proud to pay more?

          Who says I'm proud to pay more? Or that I'd ever buy this system? Do you routinely pull shit from your ass as arguments?

          • by stdarg (456557)

            Your main argument has been that only people whose time is worthless don't pay more. That means you're proud to pay more because you link it with your time being more valuable than other people's. If it weren't a matter of pride you wouldn't use judgmental words like worthless.

            (I'm ignoring the fact that you're wrong, but that's your argument.)

      • Last year when I bought this MacBook Pro the situation went like this:

        Me: I want the 15" with anti-glare/matte screen.
        Clerk walks to the back, comes out, I add Apple Care, swipe my card, and leave.

        For the first time I didn't care about processor type or speed, anything in that model MBP was going to be enough to run xcode, BBedit, MS Office, Eclipse and Windows 7 Pro + Parallels. I just wanted the base ram as I was going to max it out after market from crucial anyway. What I really cared about was not hav

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          That's the nice thing about Apple. They don't really give you any real choice. There's nothing to worry your pretty little head over because the men at Apple have already done your thinking for you.

      • You realize what you're arguing about is the equivalent of a sports car? What is the most common burn for people driving flashy cars? And here you are making a penis reference about a computer.
        • Do I need to call you the waaahmulance since I've apparently damaged your ego so much? If you don't want to be called out for epeen wagging, then don't pull out your dick and wave it around like one of the many arrogant "rig" builders.

          • I'm not even sure what to say to that. Look, this has nothing to do with ego this is all about equipment and if you want to pay top dollar for Nike's when some decent shoes will do the same job, good for you.
  • Windows 7?

  • Is anybody else struck by how ghastly the internal wiring is?

    SFFs tend to be a little on the cluttered side; but that this is just grotesque, random cable bundles(not even clipped in place, as Dell's boring business models tend to be), teeny little fans that will inevitably make a high whining noise within six months, it's just dreadful.

  • but until now, squeezing in components that were powerful enough for the enthusiast gamer was a significant thermal challenge. Intel's recent Haswell Core processor release, as well as NVIDIA's GeForce 670 series graphics cards have changed the game considerably though

    Uh... Haswell doesn't change anything in this regard. Haswell doesn't change the thermal envelope under load, which is what it's doing when gaming. It only reduces power consumption under idle conditions.

    • Say your old machine can do 60 fps at a given heat rate, but the new one can do 240 fps. If you set a game's frame limiter to 60 fps to match your monitor's refresh rate, then the CPU and GPU will be under load 25% of the time and idling 75% of the time, therefore emitting fewer watts of heat.
      • Say your old machine can do 60 fps at a given heat rate, but the new one can do 240 fps.

        Haswell is not 4 times faster than Ivy Bridge. Also, most modern games struggle to get over 60fps - even on an older game like Crysis: Warhead, the Titan behemoth card can't break 60fps at 1080p max settings. If you're running a low end game at 240fps, then you're better off with an AMD Fusion chip to save on power consumption over an NVIDIA 670.

        And that's ignoring that modern multithreaded game engines tend to decouple the render loop and gameplay loop so vsync doesn't necessarily cause the CPU to idle.

        • by tepples (727027)

          If you're running a low end game at 240fps, then you're better off with an AMD Fusion chip

          Thanks. I'll consider it.

          Haswell is not 4 times faster than Ivy Bridge.

          But it might be 4 times as fast as what you're running now, especially if you skipped a generation of Intel CPU. Is it four times as fast as Sandy Bridge? Nehalem?

          And that's ignoring that modern multithreaded game engines tend to decouple the render loop and gameplay loop so vsync doesn't necessarily cause the CPU to idle.

          Nor does turning off vsync necessarily cause the CPU to stop idling. If a game is CPU-bound on the old hardware but not CPU-bound on the new hardware, then it'll idle on the new hardware.

          • Haswell is not 4 times faster than Ivy Bridge.

            But it might be 4 times as fast as what you're running now, especially if you skipped a generation of Intel CPU. Is it four times as fast as Sandy Bridge? Nehalem?

            You seem to have completely missed my point. I said Haswell doesn't change anything with regards to thermal challenges in building such SFF systems, the point of comparison is to Ivy Bridge. And it's certainly not even remotely close to being 4 times faster than Nehalem.

  • How is this a equivalent alternative? Consoles and PC largely have different games between them. For the "serious gamers", consoles and PCs dont replace, but supplement each other.
    • Consoles and PC largely have different games between them.

      Apart from first-party stuff like Halo and Mario, what notable games are on more than one console but not on PC? If so, the publishers are missing out because PC games can use the same HDTV monitors and the same Xbox 360 controllers as Xbox 360 games.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @09:44PM (#44003565)
    Your paying double the price for a PC that you could build yourself that is less cost than a console. Add in Steam Sales and PC Gaming is the cheapest option right now and is not a walled garden.
  • And that flaw is the standard motherboard and by extension the heavily dependency on standard components. Standard components are awesome, in particular if you want to build your own machine.
    This is something to be more like a game console with PC concept of upgradability. So, in my opinion, they should have kept only the gaming related components standard(CPU, GPU and memory). Everything else should be integrated in a custom and clean motherboard just like the old school Mac Pros were(RIP).
    If I have to d
  • A budget AMD APU with a decent motherboard seems like a more viable alternative to me. Probably get under that PS4 $400 price. Budget gaming PC, not bad.

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