Welcome to the Alienware x51 WikiEdit

This wiki is a collection of all the information related to the Alienware x51 Desktop Computer.


Alienware x51 R1 has the following Ivy & Sandy Bridge processors:

  • Intel Core i3-2120 and 3220
  • Intel Core i5-2320 and 3450
  • Intel Core i7-2600 and 3770
  • Note: memory maximums: 16GB (Sandy Bridge Processor) | 16GB (Ivy Bridge Processor)


Alienware X51 R2 Launched in 2013 and offers the following Haswell processors:

  • Intel Core i3-4150
  • Intel Core i5-4430
  • Intel Core i5-4460
  • Intel Core i7-4770
  • Intel Core i7-4790 & 4790K (Q2 2014)


Alienware X51 R3 Launched in 2016 and uses the Skylake processors:

  • Intel Core i5-6400
  • Intel Core i5-6600K
  • Intel Core i7-6700
  • Intel Core i7-6700K

It is recommended to at least go with a core i5 processor. The Intel Core i7 is not necessary unless you really need the CPU performance, it might be if you run many hyper-threading processes.

It is not suggested to overclock the x51 even with a K processor. Due to the case size and the 330 Watt maximum PSU restricting overclocking considerably. (NOTE: If you are using an R3 with water cooling and K processor, it is safe to overclock responsibly.)


Alienware x51 R3 watercooling

Video CardEdit

Dell StandardEdit

The x51 comes with the following options of video cards:


  • NVIDIA GT 545
  • NVIDIA GTX 555
  • NVIDIA GT 640
  • NVIDIA GTX 645
  • NVIDIA GTX 660



  • NVIDIA GTX 670
  • NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti
  • AMD Radeon R9 270(x)
  • NVIDIA GTX 960
  • NVIDIA GTX 970



  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 745 4GB
  • AMD Radeon R9 370 4GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB



Some general information about graphics card upgrades done by users.



Some things to note about upgrading to certain higher-tier gfx cards:

  • Alienware X51 R1 with Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge Processors may need a Power Board Upgrade and replace the OEM R1 VFHMM power board with a DELL D85RT - PWA DTRBD PWR-BRD X51 R2 to avoid power related anomalies that may interfere performance. A few good results with unmodded R1's. Benchmark
  • Some cards are 9½" long and install without modification. 10" requires fan guard removal.
  • Some cards require an adapter to convert the amount of pins connecting the board to the card. Make sure you know how many pins are required.
  • Single fan "blower-style" cards that direct heat out the rear are recommended over dual fans.
  • Reference-style cards are the best to use and even recommended/used by alienware.



  • Sapphire 7850 Non-OC 2GB
  • PowerColor RX 480 Reference - [Requires: 330 Watt PSU]
  • Diamond RX 480 Reference - [Requires: 330 Watt PSU]



  • Nvidia Gigabyte 1050 Ti (Works well with X51 R1) (240W psu) (Bios A14)
  • Zotac/Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 TI (no mods required)
  • [1]EVGA GeForce GTX 970 04G-P4-1970 Reference Clocked 1050MHz
  The EVGA 970 1972 and 1970 BIOS can be flashed one to the other.
  • PNY XLR8 GeForce GTX 970 PNY Install (9¾")
  • PNY GeForce GTX 9 Rev2 works like a charm. Stable.
  • NVIDIA GTX 1060 Founders Edition - [Requires: 330 Watt PSU]
  • MSI GTX 1060 OC Edition- [Requires: 330 Watt PSU]
  • ASUS GTX 1070 8GB Turbo - [Requires: 330 Watt PSU, Front fan must be removed]
  • GALAX GTX 1070 Katana - [Runs well, tested with 330 Watt PSU]
  • NVIDIA GTX 1070 Founder's Edition - [Requires: 330 Watt PSU, Case modification]
  • NVIDIA GTX 1080 Founder's Edition - [Requires: 330 Watt PSU, Case modification]


Alienware Graphics Amplifier Edit

As of the R3, you are able to purchase a graphics amplifier and use full sized graphics cards externally.




The x51 comes with a single 3.5" hard drive bay. This makes it difficult for some configurations, but some users have managed to have the following configurations:

  • SSD and HDD using Molex to SATA splitter and the extra SATA port (R2)
  • SSD and external USB 3.0 drive: This is the easiest option, but some users report there is latency and processor power involved using external USB drives.
  • SSD positioned over the CD drive: This might require the use of some tape to secure it against the drive.
  • SSD and 2.5" HDD in the same bay: If the 3.5" HDD is changed for a 2.5" one then the SSD can be fitted in the original tray (the SATA/power connector will not align so needs to be unscrewed).



Power Source (PSU)Edit

does not use standard internal PSUs because of its small form factor. Instead it uses a power brick similar to the one used by laptops. It is one of the desktops with the best power consumption. However, you will have difficulties upgrading to top components like the GTX 1080 and similar cards.

The power brick options:

  • 240w: Commonly used with the low end cards, like the GT 545.
  • 330w: The highest option from stock, a MUST if you want to upgrade to higher end video cards. This power brick works with all x51 versions, even the R1.


Component Power UsageEdit

240w PSU

Graphics - up to 75w
CPU - up to 65w
Wifi - up to 2.5w
ODD devices - up to 0.2w
Fan x 3 - up to 7w
PCH - up to 4.93w


330w PSU

Graphics - up to 150w
CPU - up to 95w
Hard drive - up to 21w




The x51 comes with DW1502 and DW1506 Wifi cards, which are entry level offerings. Also it only has 2 antennas, still some users have managed to connect an external antenna with excellent results.

The following wifi cards are possible replacements for the stock one:

  • Intel Centrino Advanced N 6230: It will also add bluetooth. Amazon
  • Intel WiFi Link 5300: Dual Band Card 450 Mbps. Amazon
  • AR9462 AR5B22 Combo WiFi 2.4G/5G & Bluetooth 4.0 module Amazon (Windows 10 compatible)

Some users reported issues with the Wifi, but these have since been resolved, at the end the problem was not the Wifi card shipped with the x51 but instead the wiring used. More information can be found here:



  • Need links


It is very important to understand that Bios upgrade/downgrade is a serious matter and should only be attempted if there is a clear need for it ("If nothing is broken, do not fix it") given that there is always a risk to brick (render your motherboard useless) if there is an error during the update.

The last release of the Alienware x51 bios are:

  • R1: A14,Currently it is possible to update also to A02, A03, A06 and A07.
  • R2: A12.
  • R3: 1.2.13

Please note some users state that they were required to update the Bios all the way to the A14 in order to get the newest cards (GTX 900+ series) to work with the system, although other users report A07 was enough.

Upgrading Bios Edit

If you wish to update from a previous bios it is always important to upgrade in order and avoid long jumps, for example:

  • If your system is having A01, then follow the route A01 => A02 => A06 => A07 => A14
  • Avoid A01 => A14

Although sometimes it is possible to downgrade, for example from A07 to A06, Dell sometimes locks downgrading and it is not possible from A06 to A02, for example.

There are 2 ways to upgrade:

  • Via Windows by just executing the file
  • Via USB key, which involves creating a USB bootable file and copying the bios file. Afterwards computer must be restarted and configured for Legacy OPROM in order for the system to recognize the bottable USB.

Troubleshooting Edit

Very important!!!

Users have reported the Bios updates failing in Wìndows 10, executing the file, restarting and keeping the same Bios. Furthermore others have reported the error: "30 - Error: Problem opening file for reading" when updating from Bootable USB.

If your x51 system experiences any of the previous issues, the recommendation is:

  1. To create a full backup of your Windows 10 system
  2. Reinstall Windows 8 (by any means)
  3. Update your bios
  4. Restore your backup.

Resources Edit


Some older x51 units had issues with fan noise; however, these have been resolved as of mid-2012. You can read more information about it in resources.

Fan CoolingEdit

Users have reported good results with the following coolers:

  • Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme: Very high quality and good brand. Amazon
  • Thermalright AXP-100 Muscle: This user reports good results with a custom air shroud. Check it here

Not working coolers:

  • The Noctua NHL12 seems to have some issues, as it does not blow the air out of the tower. Check it here
  • Thermalright AXP-100H Muscle, this "100H" model is higher (at 65mm with fan) than the "100" model (58mm with fan) and does not have enough space for exhaust without cutting a vent in the side panel. Only works with side panel removed.


Water Cooling (Aftermarket)Edit

The R3 is the only x51 to offer water cooling from Dell. However, some users have done their own DIY water cooling and have had success.




Some of the benchmarks applied to the Alienware x51


The small form factor of the X51 lends itself to portability. But many laptop cases and backpacks will not fit the formfactor. The Everki Beacon Gaming Backpack is the best option available right now. The removable gaming console sleeve fits the X51 perfectly, which in turn fits perfectly into the backpack. When the X51 is used in tower mode and left for a number of days or weeks in one location, the console sleeve also serves as a useful dust protector. The X51 is also reported to fit the Alienware Vindicator 18" backpack although the bag stretches slightly to fit the unit. There is no removable protective sleeve offered for the X51 in the Vindicator.

Latest activityEdit

Some photos of the Alienware x51. People usually like it because of its small form factor and nice looks

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