Why going AlienWare is a stupid idea

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, I’m not going to blindly state in my first post that Dell owned AlienWare is overpriced without some substantial evidence. So I’m going to give you proof. I’ve configured a top end AlienWare system for, get ready for it, £3,688.99 (don’t you just love the 1p you get less than £3,689 ?). Then I’ve sourced almost EXACTLY the same components…and lets see which one works out cheaper. And then, we can see how better we can make it whilst still keeping it cheaper than the thieving geeks at AlienWare.

Alienware Area 51ALX

A nice chassis, admittedly

The AlienWare (Price: £3,688.99 inc. VAT)

The specifications I’ve chosen are actually some of the best AlienWare has to offer (but not the 5970 CrossFire X they are willing to sell for an extra £530 on top of the £3,688 price tag).

CPU:
Intel Core i7 980X (Extreme Edition @ 3.33GHz)
Hard Drive: 1TB @ 7200rpm x2 – RAID 0 (if you’re looking for redundancy, look elsewhere)
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon HD 5870 Dual CrossFire (2x1GB)
RAM: 6GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM (3x2GB DIMMs – Triple Channel)
Optical Drive: 16x DVD+/- RW Optical Drive (They also offer a variety of BluRay combo drives; BluRay writers and a faster, 24x DVD+/- RW drive)

This price is not inclusive of a monitor but is inclusive of shipping and obviously VAT (now isn’t that generous?). I think it’s also worth mentioning that this system does come with Windows 7 x64 factory installed; unbranded RAM; a powerful PSU and a Dell motherboard. Dell do not provide the memory timings (and may have good reason not to)…though I’m sure if you scour Google thoroughly enough you’ll be able to find some information from a (most probably) disgruntled customer.

The Correct Choice (Price: £2,313.58 inc. VAT)

I can’t say I’m surprised at the price difference. The configuration I chose has the same processor and graphics cards, with a similar watercooler and 6GB 1600MHz Corsair RAM with nice timings. Taking into consideration the cost of cables for the OEM hard drives and little extras like a couple of blue cathodes…the custom built PC is more than £1,000 cheaper.

CPU: Intel Core i7 980X – £784.99
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB (7200rpm) x2 SATA III – £72.98 each
Graphics Card: XFX (ATI) Radeon HD 5870 Dual CrossFire (2x1GB) – £189.98 each
RAM: Corsair Dominator 6GB DDR3 1600MHz (3x2GB DIMMs – Triple Channel) 7-8-7-20 – £129.98
Optical Drive: LG 24x DVD+/- RW
£19.99
PSU: Corsair Professional 1200W (overkill…but it’s my way of cheekily showing the huge price difference) – £222.98

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, the rest of components aren’t 100% relevant to the evidence. However…included in the overall price is an Asus motherboard; a Corsair H70 CPU watercooler; thermal compound and Windows 7 operating system.

An argument that die hard Dell & AlienWare fans alike try to stick by is that AlienWare offer unbeatable chassis design. Well, a simple google search can locate empty AlienWare cases from around £40-£50. I also like to wave the NXZT Phantom in their face: the case, in fact, that I chose for the system above.

I’ll admit it here and now – AlienWare do have some good advantages with their lighting fx and case designs, but that’s nothing a few cathodes and LEDs can’t match. One positive to end on: At least AlienWare stops gulliable people being conn-…oh wait.