Alienware: those who can build the X51 for under £700 "aren't the target audience"
Insists its console-size gaming PC offers great value.
Alienware has admitted it is possible to build your own X51 for under the £700 asking price, but declared: if you can do it, you're not the target audience.
The X51, unveiled last week, is slightly bigger than an Xbox 360 and is designed to work upright or laid on its side. The bottom range X51 can power Battlefield 3 in 1080p at an average of 32 frames-per-second, with high resolution textures, 4x aniostropic filtering and medium anti-aliasing turned on. The top-end X51 can power Battlefield 3 running the same settings at an average of 54 frames-per-second.
Inside the X51 can be either an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor. That can be complemented by either an Nvidia GeForce GT 545 or an Nvidia GeForce GTX 555. RAM varies from 4GB, 6GB or 8GB DDR3, and there's plenty of digital storage space thanks to the 1TB 7200 RPM hard-drive.
Some gamers have criticised the £700 price point, saying they would be able to build a more powerful rig for less.
But Alienware senior product manager Eoin Leyden told Eurogamer at the X51 launch party in Waterloo last night that those well-versed in the art of PC building would struggle to cram everything that's in it into such a small chassis while keeping everything cool.
"Ultimately, yes, if you go and source all of the components yourself and have the knowledge required to build a system yourself and understand how to manage the heat inside that system, and understand airflow, and the importance of how you route your cabling so you don't disrupt the airflow - if you know all that stuff then yes, you can do it [build the X51 for less than £700].
"But to be honest with you, if you know all that stuff you're not really the target audience for this product. You're more an Aurora type customer.
"Even though I know how to do it and I know I could do it cheaper, I can't do it because I just don't have the skill to do it. Yeah, if you know what you're doing, if you have the time, if you think it's a good investment of your time to go machining parts to fill the thing instead of paying £100 extra to have somebody else do it for you, then yeah…
"You want the performance but with the performance comes the issue of heat, which is directly related to the size of the chassis."
So, with the X51, the target audience is changed - but to what?
"To anybody that's in the middle of changing their home PC," Leyden explained.
"A lot of home PCs have very limited gaming capability. So, for a small incremental cost, we're delivering a very high-end gaming experience on top of that. The incremental cost is 200 euro over a similar form factor with no gaming capability whatsoever.
"So from that point of view the audience is anybody buying a desktop computer that has even any interest or inclination to play games."
Despite the current focus on the X51, Alienware will not forget its core customer - the gamer after a high-end set-up with cash to burn.
"The real enthusiasts, the guys who want to do SLI (Scalable Link Interface) graphics, the guys who want RAID hard-drive performance or a SSD (solid-state drive) with two terabyte storage, and the guys who want to get in there and muck around, they're still always going to be our high-end customers," Leyden insisted.
"But for everyone else who just wants a great gaming experience out of the box and maybe doesn't want to get into the guts of the machine and start tweaking it, this is giving them that experience.
"It is a performance product. We're not trying to build a cheap small form-factor PC, because there are plenty of them out there, and we're not cheap compared to other small products. But within that form factor, we believe that's the best experience you can get from a gaming perspective."