Check out our review of the Dell Alienware X51 gaming PC.
Not everyone is a fan of using Windows on their devices, so it’s no wonder the console-like Alienware X51 is now giving U.S. consumers the option of using Ubuntu or Windows 7 as the operating system on their gaming PC for the living room. The extra savings you can get for choosing an open source OS doesn’t hurt, either.
According to a blog post announcing this news, Dell actually got the idea to use Ubuntu as an operating system on its Alienware gaming machines from a participant on its Idea Storm forum back in 2008.
The device itself is still largely the same as last year’s X51 (see our review here), but you can now choose which OS the gaming PC runs.
You still get to customize every aspect of this machine with familiar PC parts like its third-generation Intel processor and discrete graphics. The base configuration starts at $600 and comes with a dual-core 3.3GHz Core i3 chip, 6GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 645 graphics as well as 1GB of GDDR5 video RAM, and 1TB hard drive. It would cost you $100 more to have the exact same parts as this base model, if you choose Windows 7 instead of Ubuntu.
At the top end, you can opt for the quad-core 3.4GHz Core i7 processor, 8GB of dual-channel RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 graphics with 1.5GB of video RAM, and 1TB of storage. Of course, such a powerful gaming PC that fits into a box the size of an Xbox will cost you: expect to drop $1,050 for this configuration.
Ubuntu can be a bit alienating for those who are not used to tweaking their operating system, but it is easy to pick up for newbies and it can be argued that it has a better app storefront than what Windows 8 offers, as our own Matt Smith discovered. While gaming with Ubuntu is not as robust as on a Windows machine, the experience is improving if you install Steam for Linux onto the X51 (see ZDNet‘s guide for help). You can already play some AAA titles like Team Fortress 2 through Steam on the Ubuntu-based X51, and you can see all the compatible titles here. One big advantage of using Steam on your X51 is that you’ll be able to enjoy your games on your HDTV, thanks to the online platform’s “Big Picture” mode.
Dell has yet to announce availability for its Ubuntu-running X51 but you can start configuring your dream gaming PC-console hybrid on its website.
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