Alienware X51 vs. Dell OptiPlex 3040 SFF
Comparison and Differences
Differences between Alienware X51 and Dell OptiPlex 3040 SFF
Both models have the same form factor, meaning reoughtly they have the same phiysical size and form.
Usually the newer the generation of the CPU, the better the performance and efficiency is. If your budget allows it, you should go with the Dell OptiPlex 3040 SFF as it is running a newer generation CPU. This is not to say that Alienware X51 is bad - it can still run some powerful CPUs, albeit being an older generation.
Both models have have equal amount of ram slots (2 RAM). Usually two RAM slots are more than enough for most cases. However, the count should be taken into account when planning how much and what combination of RAM you are going to need for your system.
The Dell OptiPlex 3040 SFF is using the faster 1600 MT/s RAM. The Alienware X51 is slower by supporting RAM speeds of up to 1333 MT/s. Additionally, if you will be needing a lot of RAM, better go for the Dell OptiPlex 3040 SFF as it has the ability to run 16 GB of RAM. The Alienware X51 can do a bit less at max 8 GB. Most of the times, this should be sufficient for the majority of users.
Both models have the same amount of USB ports for total count of 8. If this is not enough, using a USB hub is always a viable option. None of the desktop models has a USB 3.1 port (10Gb/s), so if you need a fast connection to your peripherals, like external Solid State Drive, you will need to look elsewhere.
Unfortunately, only the Dell OptiPlex 3040 SFF has a DisplayPort. The Alienware X51 does not have one? Don't worry though, nowadays video adapters are cheap and you can get almost any combination of conversion types.
In case your monitor supports HDMI only, you will be happy to hear that both models come with an HDMI port.
SATA ports are placed on the system board and it is where you connect your HDD, SSD and Optical Disk Drives. More SATA slots will allow you to have more drives running at the same time. In this regard the Alienware X51 is better equipped as it comes with 4 SATA slot(s), while the Dell OptiPlex 3040 SFF has 2 slot(s).
M.2 SSD interface allows you to transfer data with higher speeds compared to the old SATA interface. Unfortunately, neither the Dell OptiPlex 3040 SFF, nor the Alienware X51 has one. However, you can still use a SATA SSD drive which should give you satisfactory performance.
Make sure that the available M.2 slot supports the PCIe (also called NVMe) interface. This is important as there are M.2 slots which support only the inferior SATA III interface. For comparison, the SATA III interface has max speeds of 6Gb/s, while the PCIe 3.0 x4 will support speeds up to 32Gb/s!
Having a Power Supply Unit with high power rating is important, if you are going to use components which require extra power. The Dell OptiPlex 3040 SFF comes with a decent 180 Watt PSU, but the Alienware X51 has a more powerful one rated at 330 Watts. Choosing either one depends on your specific requirements and use case. Also don't forget that some models might have more than one PSU option - try to always get the most powerful one, especially if you plan to upgrade to a powerful GPU.