Alienware unveils Mini-ITX gaming desktop

You might say we're pretty lukewarm toward pre-built gaming desktops. Why pay for a pre-packaged system when you can have fun building it yourself—and end up with something perfectly tailored? Still, Alienware's new small-form-factor gaming system caught my eye. Check it out:

That's the new Alienware X51, and I think it looks pretty darn sexy, even by home-brewer standards. It's small, too, at just 12.5" x 3.7" x 13.5". Alienware's secret formula involves the use of a Mini-ITX motherboard, which allows it to outfit the diminutive system with a Sandy Bridge CPU (dual- or quad-core options are available), an Intel H61 Express chipset, Nvidia GeForce GT 545 or GTX 555 graphics, and up to eight gigs of DDR3 memory. The system's storage and connectivity are pretty respectable, as well. There's a 1TB 7,200-RPM hard drive, a slot-loading DVD burner (Blu-ray is optional), USB 3.0, and integrated Wi-Fi.

That GeForce GTX 555 looks to have nicer specs overall than the GTX 550 Ti we reviewed last year, so it ought to be a solid performer in the latest games, provided you run 'em at 1680x1050. I'm guessing that squeezing something faster into this small a chassis would have been tricky.

The Alienware X51 isn't terribly cheap, though. Or, at least, it could be cheaper. Prices start at $699 with a dual-core Core i3 CPU and no Blu-ray. I'm also curious to see just how quiet Alienware was able to make this puppy, since there's no mention of noise levels on the announcement blog post.

Still, I like the idea of a retail gaming desktop that's small, sexy, and relatively well-outfitted in hardware terms—something that turns heads and puts PC gaming under the spotlight. The PC offers incredible versatility as a gaming platform, and it's nice to see companies like Alienware take advantage of that.

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