Conclusion: The Phoenix has good bones. The enclosure is hard to work with and the layout is strange, but we have a hard time arguing with the apparent cooling benefits or the system’s inverted motherboard. This desktop is a compromise, but the sacrifices made are outweighed by the benefits gained.
Pros: Small enclosure, Affordable price of entry, Agreeable aesthetics, Quiet operation even when gaming
Cons: Video card options are limited, Processor is over-kill for gaming, Replacing components is difficult, Limited space for expansion
Conclusion: On the other hand, if future upgradability isn’t quite as important to you as gamer-centric good looks and customizable lighting, Alienware’s X51 is a better option at this price. Alienware’s slightly higher-end graphics card and Intel CPU simply add up to better performance overall. And the Alienware, while it sacrifices future internal expansion, comes in a more conveniently compact chassis.
Pros: Solid productivity, gaming performance, Substantive upgrade options, considering its compact size, USB 3.0 ports and Blu-ray drive included
Cons: Lags behind similarly priced Alienware X51 in both performance and visual flair, Too much pre-installed software, No switch to turn off red chassis lighting