Leans heavily on Steam for Linux and isn’t much cheaper than the Windows version.
Dell’s Alienware X51 gaming desktop now comes in a Ubuntu Linux flavor.
Dell is one of the few PC makers that attempts to cater to Linux users with its computers. The company’s “Project Sputnik” laptop, a developer-centric version of its XPS 13 that comes with Ubuntu, is one such effort. PC gamers can also get in on the fun with the Linux version of Dell’s Alienware X51 slimline desktop, which as of today can be purchased running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.
The Ubuntu-powered X51 starts at $599, which will get you a 3.3GHz dual-core Core i3-3220, 6GB of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 645 GPU with 1GB of GDDR5. If those specs don’t do anything for you, you can upgrade to a quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a faster GeForce GTX 660 with 1.5GB of RAM—the highest-end system will run you $1,049. The computer weighs 12.1 pounds and is about 12.5 inches high and 12.5 inches long, but only 3.74 inches wide.
Going with Ubuntu over Windows will save you a little money most of the time: the base model of the X51 is $100 cheaper than the Windows version of the same computer, though as of this writing the $1,249 Windows system is on sale for the same $1,049 as the near-identical Linux version.
What you really give up, obviously, is the full Windows game library. Dell’s product page for the X51 says that the Steam for Linux gives gamers access to “over 25 gaming titles,” which isn’t exactly impressive. A Steam search for Linux titles paints a slightly better picture, turning up 97 games, but that’s still a far cry from the 1,952 you can get for Windows. The Steam Box and its accompanying Linux software may improve the state of gaming on Linux, but at this point that’s still far from guaranteed.