I recently decided to go for a new PC, as my old one was, well, not exactly lagging behind, but I wanted to be able to play on 2560x1600 with higher details even on new games, which I wasn’t too sure I’d be able to achieve simply by swapping some parts, so a new PC it was!
Now, I’ve been building both my own and other peoples PCs for the last decade, and vowed many a time to completely avoid all the pre-built systems out there, but then I started doing some minor price comparisons and wanted to see what the hype was all about regarding Alienware.
With a reputation of being extremely overpriced, I configured the top model and saw it was definitely true there, and went on to check out what parts I’d need for my new PC, but stopped at the point where watercooling for the CPU became a priority. Not feeling too brave in that department, I decided once again to look up the pre-built options.
I decided to start with the smallest model from Alienware instead, as it hit me that the initial option really wasn’t too expensive given its features and components – and a price comparison showed that it was roughly the same as buying the same components!
At that point I was fairly sold on the idea, and decided to add custom upgrades to the system for the part which I couldn’t easily replace myself – namely the CPU and its watercooling system – and the price was so close to the component price that it was well worth it to actually put in an order.
I did however want this PC to be fairly decent, and after doing a quick check with customer service to ensure that the warranty wouldn’t be broken by me messing around in the case I placed the order, and did a side-order of RAM, an Intel SSD and the new ATI 5970 graphics card. The interesting part here is that actually upgrading these parts in the configuration of the PC put almost 50% more on the price than it should have if you were thinking component cost, and I’m fairly sure this is where the overpriced and profit margins from Alienware kicks in – as people who usually want to buy a “top of the line” PC tends to just go and max out everything, then complain as it’s horribly overpriced.
When the PC arrived, I have to admit it was quite beautiful! Not really thinking so much of the appearance on the outside, but the careful thought and deliberation that had gone on in creating the inside of the case, everything was so easily accessible and doing the upgrades was so simple I’m quite convinced I’m never going to go back to custom building unless I actually have the exact same flexibility this case offers! On a side note here, the size of the 5970 is massive, and you really need some added space next to the motherboard inside the case to actually fit it at all.
All in all, I’m pleasantly surprised with my experience, I feel that I’ve gotten great value, and the only negative I can think of is the time it took to actually assemble and ship the system, I’m giving them the benefit of “We had a christmas backlog”-doubt though, and figure it was just a timing issue.
If you’re borderline when it comes to the custom vs pre-built and don’t have a local retailer, I would recommend just trying to check the basic specs for the smallest Alienware setup available, and then do a nice price comparison there, then add on what you really want.
Current PC Specs: i7 960 3.2ghz, 12gb RAM, ATI 5970, Intel X-25 Gen2 SSD
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