Alienware Blurs the Line Between Console and PC

The Wooster

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Alienware Blurs the Line Between Console and PC


How would you like a gaming PC that can fit under your TV?

Gaming PCs tend to come in two, not particularly distinct, flavors when it comes to form factor; large and gargantuan. [http://cdn.overclock.net/c/c1/c113121f_vbattach97312.jpeg] It's kind of a tradition. But now it's 2012, and more and more people are moving their PCs from their basements to their living rooms. The classic '2001 Monolith that's been used to surf through an LED factory'-look is becoming less desirable.

Enter the X51; a small and, dare I say it, attractive gaming PC from Alienware. It's only marginally bigger than an Xbox 360 and, apparently, almost silent during general use. The basic model comes with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of 1333MHz ram, a 1GB Nvidia GT 545iii, a 1TB harddrive, a 240 Watt power supply and Windows 7 Home premium. This should, according to Alienware, run Battlefield 3 in 1080p with mostly high settings at around 32 frames-per-second. All for a meagre £699. Hey it's cheap! By Alienware standards.

"You either have a nice-looking small form factor PC, or you get a gaming PC. And you can't have both because it doesn't exist - there is no small form factor PC that offers any sort of good gaming experience," Alienware senior product manager Eoin Leyden told Eurogamer.

Not quite, Falcon Northwest has been offering gaming PCs in small form-factors for a while with their FragBox range [http://www.falcon-nw.com/desktops/fragbox], but they start at about two grand. Oh, and there's also the the Phantom [http://www.freewebs.com/videogamingworld/phantom_console_mock_up.gif], but I don't think that counts because it doesn't actually exist. Alienware might just be on to something here.

At the equivalent of about a thousand dollars, yes, you are paying the 'Alienware shiny-box tax.' No pre-built PC is ever going to compete, in terms of performance-to-price ratio, with a rig built with your own two hands. The X51, however, doesn't seem to be aimed at the traditional enthusiast market. Instead it looks like it's designed to snag some of those notoriously couch-adoring console gamers. For shame.

Source: Eurogamer [http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-01-18-alienware-unveils-its-first-small-and-cheap-gaming-pc-the-x51]

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RaNDM G

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For people who don't want to spend over a grand on a new PC or don't want to mess around with hardware, I suppose this would be a good investment. I'm one of those people who would appreciate playing PC games with a controller on a big screen. But if I wanted to do that, it's not hard for me to hook a tower up to my TV.

With specs like that you're probably better off building a tower or saving up for something higher-end.
 

Akimoto

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Small? Huh, thermal conduction will be fun. And i5? Sorry, I rather custom my own computer. Selling £699 with a i5 and only 4gb RAM is not good enough for me - must be due to the small size.

There is a reason why we have tower casings.
 

s_glasgow99

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Alienware isn't just on to something, they're pushing the inevitable. I believe that within the next 15 years (if we haven't destroyed ourselves by then) the home computer system will be something very similar to this, just a lot more to it. People will have a wireless 'cloud' hub secured in their home broadcasting a secure wireless signal Different parts of the house will have devices (each sold separately :-D) that will interact with the hub in different ways. The television will receive wireless television, all broadcast via a web stream service, people will buy network access instead of channels, giving the studio complete creative control again. Gaming networks like XBLA and PSN will be all that's left of the game market, selling proprietary controllers programed to access each console network specifically. In fact, that is where a lot of this will really shine, all the systems in the house will be accessing the information from the same source, but the GUI and operating system will change depending on the interaction. The multi user processing will make this hot too, allowing someone to game off 16" bedroom display, while another watches a streaming movie from the living room, and someone else is doing homework in the office, all off the same hub. All the data stored on the hub would be accessible from all the terminals, just with different functionality and interface. It may seem futuristic and seem like something you'd see in Sci Fi fantasy. But it's almost here, in fact, we'd be there now if Viacom could get it's hands on Apple.
 

Saulkar

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AHEM!!! A build for less than 800 smackers.

I thouroughly and completely rest my case.
My computer case that is.
 

Treblaine

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I think this niche doesn't exist for a reason.

PC is either portable laptop, or spacious enough that you can easily get to components to upgrade/repair parts.

People who are taking to the approach to gaming where it should just "plug it in and bloody work as however you deem fit" will always lose out to Xbox or Playstation. And the PC trying to compete for slots in the HDTV I think it a bad room. That is spatial competition where it is not strong.

The PC is strong at the table with a computer monitor. Millions of people will flock to their desks to play games as with World of Warcraft, Minecraft and Steam.
 

Scars Unseen

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s_glasgow99 said:
Alienware isn't just on to something, they're pushing the inevitable. I believe that within the next 15 years (if we haven't destroyed ourselves by then) the home computer system will be something very similar to this, just a lot more to it. People will have a wireless 'cloud' hub secured in their home broadcasting a secure wireless signal Different parts of the house will have devices (each sold separately :-D) that will interact with the hub in different ways. The television will receive wireless television, all broadcast via a web stream service, people will buy network access instead of channels, giving the studio complete creative control again. Gaming networks like XBLA and PSN will be all that's left of the game market, selling proprietary controllers programed to access each console network specifically. In fact, that is where a lot of this will really shine, all the systems in the house will be accessing the information from the same source, but the GUI and operating system will change depending on the interaction. The multi user processing will make this hot too, allowing someone to game off 16" bedroom display, while another watches a streaming movie from the living room, and someone else is doing homework in the office, all off the same hub. All the data stored on the hub would be accessible from all the terminals, just with different functionality and interface. It may seem futuristic and seem like something you'd see in Sci Fi fantasy. But it's almost here, in fact, we'd be there now if Viacom could get it's hands on Apple.
That sounds neither like science fiction, not fantasy. It sounds like a mainframe with a more user friendly version of dumb terminals. So the future is retro? My guess is that we will hit the atomic barrier before we get consumer computers that are more powerful than we are capable of using up.

As for this Alienware... faux-geek fashion accessory. Powerful computers are large for a reason. You gotta get rid of heat somehow. Fans need space for airflow. Liquid cooling solutions are bulky. Bong cooling, even more so. Maybe with enough money put into R&D you could come up with a miniaturized vapor phase change solution, but the few of those that do exist today are really expensive. This thing is a tabby, not a lion.
 

endtherapture

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My laptop is cheaper and more powerful than this, and with an HDMI out cable does exactly the same things but probably faster.

So I don't see the point. Typical overpriced Alienware.
 

ResonanceSD

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Yeah I'm not trading my custom built full tower gaming rig in for this. This market segment doesn't exist for a reason.
 

RUINER ACTUAL

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This thing looks sweet. I was wondering what that thing on their website was about. Being the most despised type of gamer by PC-Elitists, I'D BUY ONE!

Whats so shameful about something being made for console people anyway? Honestly, it sounds like your kinda mad about this thing. Some of us like playing games with friends in the room and not a 12-year-old Korean kid no one knows.
 

Gather

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64 bit windows 7 or 32 bit Windows 7?

Because I'll laugh like a mad-man if it's 32 bit.
 

viranimus

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Treblaine said:
I think this niche doesn't exist for a reason.

PC is either portable laptop, or spacious enough that you can easily get to components to upgrade/repair parts.

People who are taking to the approach to gaming where it should just "plug it in and bloody work as however you deem fit" will always lose out to Xbox or Playstation. And the PC trying to compete for slots in the HDTV I think it a bad room. That is spatial competition where it is not strong.
I would be inclined to disagree. I have a relatively small living room, and a obscenely over sized (for the room anyway) 62 inch LED tv and one problem I face is the fact I do not carry television subscription. I am using OTA USB tuner stick, Hulu, and Blockbuster. I extensively rebuilt an old Dell Optiplex 770 for the sole purpose of being the PC for the TV. The TVPC is used more than the 360 & PS3 combined. I can use it to run The Old Republic and it is a truly immerse feel to have that large of a screen, full 7.1 dolby surround sound + the subwoofer is a 200 watt Fender Bass Amp. I had been running my main PC on the tv like this, and I just reformatted and am preparing to move it back to the tri monitor display at the desk, but even with a keyboard and mouse it has been one of the best gaming experiences to play in that environment on the couch.

However, the biggest problem with it is that the Dell Optiplex form factor is friggen huge and there is essentially no where I can put it that it is not very much in the way. So I can say the desire to have something with a smaller form factor for this purpose is very real. Not 700$ real. Just like the rig I mentioned, I have all of 230$ in it, and it has quad core, 4gb of ram, 1gb of video and can run the likes of TOR,Arkham city and others. None of which are maxxed out, but that really isnt the point, its the access to things you cannot otherwise get on a true console (weve been downright abusing "The Binding of Issac"), plus all the other benefits a PC can bring such as the PC being about 70% voice automated.

So I do think people are starting to migrate to having TVs w/ dedicated PC hardware, some of which like myself are taking it a step further and choosing to add in enough hardware to make gaming viable on it. It is a niche market, but it feels like a step in a direction that the industry seemingly is moving towards.
 

RUINER ACTUAL

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Treblaine said:
I think this niche doesn't exist for a reason.

PC is either portable laptop, or spacious enough that you can easily get to components to upgrade/repair parts.

People who are taking to the approach to gaming where it should just "plug it in and bloody work as however you deem fit" will always lose out to Xbox or Playstation. And the PC trying to compete for slots in the HDTV I think it a bad room. That is spatial competition where it is not strong.

The PC is strong at the table with a computer monitor. Millions of people will flock to their desks to play games as with World of Warcraft, Minecraft and Steam.
You sound like you don't want it to exist. What's so wrong about kickin back on your couch for some Minecraft? NO! You must be at your DESK. I'm just saying, be open, ya know? Don't be so defensive about what PC gaming should be. And not even gaming. Eg. Watch Youtube videos on your HDTV with your friends. Skype with your family. Switch inputs and look up gaming tips. Maybe you throw a blu-ray player in it. Plus we don't know what Windows 8 is going to do exactly, but it looks like a lot of home entertainment things. Oh, another one: really loud music on your 5.1 surround. Just because its from Alienware doesn't mean its strictly for gaming. Maybe I'd like to do some 3D animation on my couch, not at my desk. Feel a bit more relaxed.
 

Layz92

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As always you gotta be practical and look at cooling. I am not saying it is impossible but high end and high heat most often go hand in hand. That thing is a compact little box filled with high heat producing equipment. Unless they were rather clever with the design I doubt it will have a proper lifespan.
 

Akimoto

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RUINER ACTUAL said:
This thing looks sweet. I was wondering what that thing on their website was about. Being the most despised type of gamer by PC-Elitists, I'D BUY ONE!

Whats so shameful about something being made for console people anyway? Honestly, it sounds like your kinda mad about this thing. Some of us like playing games with friends in the room and not a 12-year-old Korean kid no one knows.
I think most of us are mad because we know there are cheaper and more powerful alternatives.

The issue, for me at least, lies with Alienware calling it a PC. Consoles are ok, I use a PSP for Monster Hunter and can never think of using a mouse and keyboard for it. But attempting to combine a console and PC together smacks of chocolate-pen-cum-swiss-knife advertising to me. Each has their own quirks and strengths. Trying to breed a hybrid is like trying to please everyone - it hardly works.
 

MercurySteam

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Grey Carter said:
How would you like a gaming PC that can fit under your TV?
Pfft, that's not a PC.



THAT'S a PC.

Blending PCs and consoles could either turn them a decent profit, or go horribly wrong.
 

RhombusHatesYou

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Grey Carter said:
The basic model comes with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of 1333MHz ram, a 1GB Nvidia GT 545iii, a 1TB harddrive, a 240 Watt power supply
Hmmm... Standard low power mITX form-factor HTPC kit, although with what they're charging the tightfisted pricks could have at least gone with blu ray.

I kind of get what Alienware are trying to do (apart from charge people through the arse for their shitty cases) in showing that a small form factor home theatre PC (HTPC) can be used for acceptable gaming performance. I'm not convinced that they're the company to really make this awareness widespread, though... not at the prices they charge. On the other hand when larger system manufacturers start talking gaming most people tune out, either because they're not interested or they're familiar with the usual bullshit.

The real problem HTPCs face is people who look at what they want and what HTPCs offer then look at what current gen consoles offer and ask why they shouldn't just go with, say, the PS3 as an all-in-one home entertainment unit? Unless you feel the need for the flexibility of a PC, exclusively play PC games or are seriously into home theatre, the answer has to be "I dunno".

Also, personally, if I was to have a small HTPC/couch-gaming unit I wouldn't have one with such a shitty looking case. I'd probably go with one of the Silverstone HTPC case range or maybe Lian Li.
 

kouriichi

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You know, i kinda like this.

Its a decent deal for its price. For a lot of people who dont have custom built PC's, this my be a decent alternative. I mean, my PC is pretty decent, but its not up to the standards id like. SO having something like this for just my hardcore gaming, that i can take better care of would be nice.

I could use this one for everything not gaming related, and continue to misuse and abuse it, while i pamper and baby the X51 like the son ive never had. ((And may never have))
 

Scars Unseen

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RUINER ACTUAL said:
Treblaine said:
I think this niche doesn't exist for a reason.

PC is either portable laptop, or spacious enough that you can easily get to components to upgrade/repair parts.

People who are taking to the approach to gaming where it should just "plug it in and bloody work as however you deem fit" will always lose out to Xbox or Playstation. And the PC trying to compete for slots in the HDTV I think it a bad room. That is spatial competition where it is not strong.

The PC is strong at the table with a computer monitor. Millions of people will flock to their desks to play games as with World of Warcraft, Minecraft and Steam.
You sound like you don't want it to exist. What's so wrong about kickin back on your couch for some Minecraft? NO! You must be at your DESK. I'm just saying, be open, ya know? Don't be so defensive about what PC gaming should be. And not even gaming. Eg. Watch Youtube videos on your HDTV with your friends. Skype with your family. Switch inputs and look up gaming tips. Maybe you throw a blu-ray player in it. Plus we don't know what Windows 8 is going to do exactly, but it looks like a lot of home entertainment things. Oh, another one: really loud music on your 5.1 surround. Just because its from Alienware doesn't mean its strictly for gaming. Maybe I'd like to do some 3D animation on my couch, not at my desk. Feel a bit more relaxed.
Nothing wrong with gaming on a HDTV, but for best results when buying a new TV, consult this [http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1131464] thread to find out what TVs to avoid for input lag. That applies to console gamers as well.
 

RUINER ACTUAL

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Akimoto said:
RUINER ACTUAL said:
This thing looks sweet. I was wondering what that thing on their website was about. Being the most despised type of gamer by PC-Elitists, I'D BUY ONE!

Whats so shameful about something being made for console people anyway? Honestly, it sounds like your kinda mad about this thing. Some of us like playing games with friends in the room and not a 12-year-old Korean kid no one knows.
I think most of us are mad because we know there are cheaper and more powerful alternatives.

The issue, for me at least, lies with Alienware calling it a PC. Consoles are ok, I use a PSP for Monster Hunter and can never think of using a mouse and keyboard for it. But attempting to combine a console and PC together smacks of chocolate-pen-cum-swiss-knife advertising to me. Each has their own quirks and strengths. Trying to breed a hybrid is like trying to please everyone - it hardly works.
That's fair. It probably could use a different moniker. I guess we'll see how useful it seems when Windows 8 comes out.