Alienware thinks small with new $699 X51 gaming PC

Alienware has been teasing a new system on its website, with a majestic and mysterious monolithic tower as the primary image. So it may come as a surprise that the gaming PC giant has revealed that its new model is a humble small-form-factor desktop.

Alienware has been teasing a new system on its website, with a majestic and mysterious monolithic tower as the primary image. So it may come as a surprise that the gaming PC giant has revealed that its new model is a humble small-form-factor desktop.

OK, so Alienware would never call it humble, but the X51 looks more like an Xbox 360 than it does a traditional gaming PC. Compared to its recently revamped Aurora desktop, the X51 looks to be about a third of the size, with a width of just 3.74 inches and weighing a mere 12 pounds. It does include Alienware's trademark customizable lighting zones to give it a bit more flair than a typical SFF desktop.

In terms of specs, the X51 will uses a mini-ITX motherboard, with support for an Intel Core i3-2120 dual-core CPU (standard) or Core i5-2320 or Core i7-2600 processors. It will also take up to 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and either an Nvidia GeForce GT 545 or GT 555 graphics card. It also includes built-in Wi-Fi and a DVD burner.

If the X51 doesn't have the usual Alienware bells and whistles -- no liquid cooling options, no support for multiple video cards -- it does continue the company's move toward lower price points. The new desktop will start at just $699, with $899, $949, and $1,149 configurations also available.

Is going downmarket with the diminutive X51 the right approach for Alienware? Would you want your next gaming PC to be a slim small-form-factor rig? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section.