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Old 03-30-2005, 11:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Alienware--Yes or No?

Okay Guys,

I'm in dire need for a new powerhouse PC, specifically for gaming and graphic intensive work (3DSmax, Maya, Shake, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Flash, Etc). I've been researching for the past several days and am leaning towards Alienware for the simple fact that their machines seem to be top of the line for what I'm looking for and I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews for the most part. I’ve also checked out Falcon NW and VooDoo, but they were more expensive and less powerful…and they didn’t receive as many positive reviews as Alienware.

I'm aware they are extremely expensive and I could build my own for 25% less, but I'm not concerned about that, so avoid explaining it. I don't want to spend anymore than $3000, preferably $2500, and the system I'm leaning towards comes in at $2600 after a $600 rebate.

In sum, I am posting this is to get opinions on Alienware system pros and cons from those who have experience from owning one or working with one. Have you had good experiences or bad experiences? Please explain because I am completely at a loss right now thinking which route I should go.

If you have better suggestions for the price, explain. If you think Alienware is the way to go, explain. If you think it is utter trash, explain. Basically, is purchasing an Alienware going to give me problems and make me regret ever investing in one, or is it going to go smoothly (performance, ordering, shipping, customer service, tech support, etc)? Help would be much appreciated. Specs for the system I’m looking at are listed below.

Thanks!

Alienware PCI Express Motherboard with Intel® 925XE Chipset 1066/800MHz FSB
P4 - 3.4 GHz - 2MB cache
2GB Dual Channel DDR 2 SDRAM at 533 MHz
ATI Radeon X850 XT Platinum PCI Express 256 MB DDR3
160 GB SerialATA 7,200 RPM w/8MB cache
SoundBlaster Audigy 2ZS high def 7.1 surround
Logitech Z-5300 E 5.1 280 watt speakers
DVD RW
CD RW
20 Inch LCD
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Old 03-31-2005, 01:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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One of my friends picked up an Alienware a while back and they really seemed to have their act together. They kept him updated on the status of his order, and gave it to him in more or less a timely fashion. When he got the machine, it worked great and they gave him a binder that listed all the information that was pertinent to the machine, like, identifying everything slot on the back of the computer.

As far as I know, he was pretty pleased with the purchase. I'll ask him to post his experiences on here.
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Old 03-31-2005, 04:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Alienware makes a great computer, but they're overpriced. I'd just build my own personally. I could get the same stuff in there for cheaper - only thing I'd be missing is the funky green case.
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Old 03-31-2005, 04:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Like shakran said, there is nothing wrong with the quality of Alienware, but they are way overpriced. Buy all the components separately and throw the whole thing together yourself, will most likely save you a bundle.
Of course it's not as convenient, and sometimes it's just nicer to get it done for you instead.
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Last edited by connyosis; 03-31-2005 at 05:01 AM..
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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With Alienware and VooDoo PC, you pay for the name, thats it. Get the parts yourself and build your own.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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If you are computer building challenge (skill or time-wise), why not find a local computer builder and give them a chance to at least bid on the specs you are looking at. They may come in cheaper, they may not. Unless you are planning to move in the next year, you are not likely to get better service than that provided by a local computer store. Anytime you have a problem, you can call a local number and get help. If a repair is needed, the store is minutes from your house.

That is what I did for my last PC, and I have been very pleased with the results.
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Old 03-31-2005, 09:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I think braisler's idea is best if you don't want to build it yourself. Get a printout of the specs you want on the alienware PC and take them to a system builder to see how much cheaper he can build the same (or comprable) computer.
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Old 03-31-2005, 10:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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braisler's idea is a great one -- though beware that local computer shops will often cut corners to come in with a good bid. Make sure that you specify *all* of the hardware, including the power supply. $2500 of computer hardware can be quickly made completely worthless if connected to a $25 power supply.
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Old 03-31-2005, 12:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for the advice thus far.

I'm not building my own for several reasons. Most importantly, I haven't a clue how to build a PC as I've never done it before; I'm sure it's simple enough, but I'd rather not risk getting some incompatible parts, or simply screwing up one minor issue, like skaven stated, and having the entire thing go down the drain...right along with the money spent on it. I'd rather have reputable professionals handle it because not only will they do it right the first time (hopefully), but I will get tech support and customer service for future issues, and excellent service from what I've heard.

That said, I like braislers idea as well, and I will do as he recommends just to see price difference, but incase I decide not to go through that hassle and end up with some independent company that goes out of business a couple months after I have them build me a system...I still want some more opinions on Alienware systems from people with experience.

Once again...thanks for the help.
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Old 03-31-2005, 02:01 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If you have a good monitor and speakers, plus any "salvage" parts to use, then I would say build. But they would be able to get a nice 20" LCD monitor for cheaper than you anyday.And this is just my opinion, but don't get one of the new ATI cards. I'm just not a big fan of them for several reasons.
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:00 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I find it amusing the number of people who've said "build your own," when Rdr4evr specifically said

Quote:
I'm aware they are extremely expensive and I could build my own for 25% less, but I'm not concerned about that, so avoid explaining it.
I agree with them all, of course, but that's not the point.


I have two friends with Alienware laptops, and from what I've seen and heard they are excellent machines. They both got them quickly and have had no problems since, despite fairly heavy use for nearly two years now - pretty impressive for a laptop. While I, personally, wouldn't think of buying one (simply because of the price), there is no doubt in my mind that they're very good machines, and you'll have good support, to boot. Good choice if you're willing to shell out the dough.



Oh, and...

Build your own. It's easy.
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Haha. Chalk me up to the BYO group too, I guess.

Word has it that Alienware has excellent customer service and uses top notch parts. Nothing to fear in those areas. If you can afford it and it is easier for you to purchase an Alienware, then do so.

Me? I build my own, for less money. But then you already knew that.
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:29 PM   #13 (permalink)
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If saving isn't important, perhaps think of how much better you can build or have built for the same money. If you can buy 25% fa$ter parts, how much more quickly will your animation or rendering come together?

Quote:
but I'd rather not risk getting some incompatible parts, or simply screwing up one minor issue, like skaven stated, and having the entire thing go down the drain...right along with the money spent on it.
It takes a very large screwup to take out the entire collection of parts. That said I understand the anxiety of building your first box. Know anyone who could help? Otherwise Braisler's suggestion holds. Even if the shop does vanish in 6mo the parts will have mfg warranties.

At $2.5-3K I would add at least one more drive for redundancy and performance. Making one spindle handle everything is an unnecessary bottleneck. The proper arrangement and utilization of volumes can make a significant difference in net performance.

As for the screen, if you don't need portability or light weight then a pro 21" CRT will look better, have higher (and flexible) resolution, and cost considerably less. Be kind to your eyes. It also moves more money to your performance and quality requirements.
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:30 PM   #14 (permalink)
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A bit too overpriced. I hear CyperPowerInc and IBuyPower are great if you don't want to just build it yourself.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:13 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Alienware is always reviewed as the best. Try the new Dell XPS Gen 2 notebook, it review as favorable and much cheaper.
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Old 04-01-2005, 05:53 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Not knowing Alienware but if you want a PC that's a powerhouse for gaming and graphics, why not get a AMD 64 or FX instead of Intel.

From what I was told Intel is pretty good when it comes to multimedia but when it comes to gaming and heavy graphics, AMD is the way to go.
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Old 04-01-2005, 11:13 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Well, from those who responded about Alienware performance (Coppertop, shakran, FngKestrel, MooseMan, connyosis), it has been all positive aside from price...which is good because that is what I was looking for.

cyrnel: I do know several people who can build one for me, but from past experiences (generally), I get nervous trusting independent shops or people, especially in a large investment. I may have came off as if I don't care how much money I spend, but in reality, I'm a college student, and every last dime is important to me, but when it comes to a computer, which is a huge necessity in my life right now, I figure it is important to acquire one from reputable professionals who only dish out the best...and I'm here to see if this reputation is well earned and indeed honest if and when I decide to purchase from them. Also, CRT is out of the question, I've worked with both and found the LCD to be extremely more pleasing aesthetically, spatially and graphically. The brand really determines the quality it seems...I have found a really nice 21 inch Samsung with superb quality for $800. I see where you're coming from though, and it's possibly the better option for the price, but I just don't know man...I'm being stubborn about it.

jhkayakr: I've checked out the Dell, and when configuring it to the same specs as the alienware, it was no cheaper.

mattzweb: Thanks for the sites, I'm in the process of checking them out now...CyberPower has some badass case designs, I've yet to check under the hood.

feelgood: I've always had AMD and have heard it is the way to go for graphical needs as well, but the alienware AMD systems are ridiculously pricey, and not only that, but from what I hear, AMD has a shit load of compatibility issues, and will cause problems for future upgrades. I don't know if this is necessarily the case, but either way if I decide to go with alienware, their AMD systems are a few K more, and would cost 5k after configurations, that I definitely can't afford. If the price was equatable to the Intel systems, I probably would go with AMD.

As a side note, what do you guys do with old systems once you purchase new ones? It would be a shame to trash this system or just get several bucks for it (which is all it's really worth), but do you guys have any suggestions that wouldn't require me keeping it or atleast getting a decent amount for it? It's fairly old...AMD XP 1800+, 256 RAM, GeForce 3, 30 gig HD, 19 inch monitor...pretty crappy, but decent for basic use.
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Old 04-01-2005, 11:21 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Old systems become file servers, get handed down to the girlfriend or become cannibalized for parts.
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Old 04-01-2005, 11:38 AM   #19 (permalink)
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heh, that's what I figured.
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Old 04-01-2005, 01:44 PM   #20 (permalink)
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So I configured several of the systems from the sites that mattzweb provided, and I must say they are technically and aesthetically on par or above the alienware systems. The price for the most part is equal, but I'm really loving their systems...even moreso than alienware. Have any of you guys heard of Cyberpowerinc or Ibuypower? If so, are they reputable...because I've never heard of them, but if they are good, I just may have them build me a system.
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Old 04-01-2005, 02:40 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rdr4evr
So I configured several of the systems from the sites that mattzweb provided, and I must say they are technically and aesthetically on par or above the alienware systems. The price for the most part is equal, but I'm really loving their systems...even moreso than alienware. Have any of you guys heard of Cyberpowerinc or Ibuypower? If so, are they reputable...because I've never heard of them, but if they are good, I just may have them build me a system.
The quality of Cyberpowerinc has always been decent in the reviews I've read. They aren't gonna build you a better quality system than Alienware, and will throw in those dorky, weakass speakers with the LEDs on them. MaximumPC hasn't been to kind to them, either. Never gotten a "Kick Ass" award and the speakers they throw in got a rating of 2 or 3... out of 10. I've also heard about problems with shipped monitors, but have no experience dealing with the company myself.

Ibuypower is basically the same place, different website and cases. They have however been a respected a wee bit more than CPI, but not by much. I recommend you look around. Get you a quality PC with a quality case, quality wiring, a quality power supply, and an unbeatable reputation. I'd recommend looking into Vodoo PCs or Falcon Northwest.
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Old 04-01-2005, 02:46 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply P-Naughty...I was just reading the reviews for Ibuypower and Cyberpowerinc since my last post...and you’re correct, they infact got god awful reviews and testimonials...so that's out of the question (got my hopes up too soon, lol). I seem to keep going back to alienware...Voodoo I didn't like in the least bit...and their reviews weren't too great...FNW had some quality machines, good reviews, but severely expensive, even moreso than alienware. Hell man, I don't know, I can't make up my mind.

EDIT: I just checked out voodoo again, and their systems are extremely expensive as well...both them and FNW are more expensive than alienware (for the specs I'm looking for).

Last edited by Rdr4evr; 04-01-2005 at 02:49 PM..
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Old 04-01-2005, 02:51 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Can't guide you on specifics of those companies. If you go with an LCD be sure to understand the seller's dead pixel guarantee. Industry standard is to allow 5+ before calling the display defective. That may or may not be acceptable to you depending on the failure types and locations. Egghead requires 8 or more before they'll call it dead. It varies. Some companies let you pay more to guarantee zero defects. Something to know ahead of the purchase.

I know, CRT's are big, ugly, old-school. My prodding about them is because the good ones are still much more viewable than LCD's. A pro-level NEC or Viewsonic is gorgeous even compared to the best 8ms LCD's. They won't look great in stores because the input is invariably messed with or split among multitudes of monitors - hey, they don't make nearly the profit/sq ft as with LCD's so it isn't in their interest. The downside is CRTs can be headaches to buy mail-order. If you get a bad one the shipping back & forth is a very bad thing.

Definitely consider adding a second drive before installing all your software. Even if it's just to mirror important stuff and separate application paging, this level of system deserves better than a single spindle.

Good luck. Sounds like you're getting close to something. I'd be a cheap bastard & buy parts to upgrade your old case, but it is nice to see a brand new system unpacked and booting for the first time.
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Old 04-01-2005, 02:59 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Your welcome. I would almost recommend you looking at a site or two and building one yourself. It really isn't all the technical or difficult, especially if you aren't setting up any RAID hard drives (WD Raptor, etc.). The main thing that's really time consuming, atleast for me, is wiring. Then again, I am a perfectionist and go through about 50 plus cable ties when wiring, and that's if I don't have to sleeve the power supply cables.
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Old 04-01-2005, 03:16 PM   #25 (permalink)
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cyrnel: I'm not familiar with dead pixel warranties and such as I haven't really thought about it, but I will definitely make sure to understand the guarantee before purchase. Do LCD's tend to have a lot of dead pixel issues? I'm assuming shipping can constitute in this problem.

If I go with alienware, the cost may exceed my budget and I may be forced to purchase a CRT to stay within my limit...they can easily save me $400-500...I'd still rather avoid them, but I may have no choice if the PC is going to be in the $2700-3000 range minus the monitor.

About a second drive, you're correct on that as well, I've been researching and it seems it's a must on a machine of that level, and it's no more than $80-100, so cost shouldn't be an issue...I will add a second drive.

I keep thinking I'm getting close to something...then I read reviews and it all goes back to alienware...lol. More than likely I will purchase what I originally posted about...the area-51 5500, but rather just get the PC from them, and all the extras such as monitor and speakers elsewhere.

P-Naughty: More than likely I won't build my own...even if I can save a fair amount of money for reasons stated above...I'm impatient and don't trust myself ;p
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Old 04-01-2005, 03:34 PM   #26 (permalink)
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About the dead pixel policy, just ask. They'll know it well.

Versus a CRT that's basically a rear-projection screen, an LCD is a fixed grid of pixels. Each pixel requires three functional transistors to control the colors. A 1200x1024 element has nearly 4million of the buggers and it's more common than not to have a few bad. Sometimes you won't even notice, especially if it's a bad "red" near an edge. If it's a permanent white, or a couple near each other, you might hate it. As you can imagine, they aren't hand-placed or repairable. It's a manufacturing process yield issue. It varies by phase of the moon and supply. If supplies are good then there are usually more good screens in the chain. If supplies are bad, manufacturers tend to drop their standards a bit to fill orders. 9mo ago was worse than now but each supplier presents a unique situation.
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Old 04-01-2005, 07:16 PM   #27 (permalink)
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I see...thanks for the info. I will definitely make sure to research the warranties and guarantees carefully, because up until you mentioned it...I hadn’t a clue.
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Old 04-01-2005, 10:57 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Well, I checked into the dead pixel warranties, and all of them covered for 3 years and up to 8 dead pixels for it to be considered damaged (seems a bit steep to me). Anyways, I've made my final decision and am ordering the system I originally intended, which exceeded what I wanted to spend ($3100), but it will hopefully be worth it and last a decent amount of time, until I pay it off atleast. Now the only thing is trying to decide what color to go with...heh...I'm thinking black with red lights, or silver with blue or green lights...most likely will go with the black. Anyways, thanks to all for the help, I'm glad all of you think Alienware makes great systems (even if not so great prices).
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Old 04-04-2005, 11:41 AM   #29 (permalink)
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DO NOT BUY AN ALIENWARE!
I have an Alienware (before the new case), and their service suxors!!11!!

Just try to call their service department and see how long you're on hold. For a company that makes such great computers you'd think they wouldn't get so many calls into the service dept. Their reps are mostly hispanic (hardworkers, cheap labor) (I'm hispanic so no flaming) but they can't speak a lick of english. Pretty annoying when you're trying to talk tech.

This is what I bought::
Code:
Your Order Number is: 36044
Total Price: $2194.05

Again, we thank you for your business.

Here are the items in your cart:

Qty: 1   Aurora DDR
       ~ Case: Dragon Full-Tower Case (340-Watt PS) (Cyborg Green)
       ~ Processor: AMD Athlon XP 2100+ Processor 266Mhz FSB
       ~ Cooling Fan/Heatsink: Cooler Master DP5-7H53F High-Performance
HSF
       ~ Memory: 512MB DDR SDRAM PC-2100
       ~ Hard Drive One: 80GB Seagate Barracuda ATA IV 7200RPM 2MB Cache
       ~ Optical Drive One: 16/48x IDE DVD-ROM Drive w/Software MPEG-2
Decoder
       ~ Optical Drive Two: PlexWriter 40/12/40A CD-RW - IDE - White
       ~ Video Card: FREE UPGRADE - NVIDIA® GeForce4 Ti 4600 w/128MB Dual
Monitor
       ~ Video Cooling: KoolMaxx Video Cooling System (Conspiracy Blue)
       ~ Sound Card: SoundBlaster Audigy 5.1 w/1394
       ~ Modem: US Robotics V.90 56K Internal Voice/Fax/Data
       ~ Speakers: Creative Inspire™ 5.1 5300 Speakers - Black
       ~ Keyboard: 107-Enhanced Windows Keyboard (Space Black)
       ~ Mouse: Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer USB (Cyborg Green)
       ~ Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional
       ~ Free T-Shirt: Free Alienware® T-Shirt - White
       ~ Automated Support: AlienAutopsy: Automated Technical Support
Request System
       ~ Warranty: Aliencare Toll-Free 1-Year 24/7 ONSITE Warranty
A week after the warranty expired my hard drive, video card, sound card, and power supply all failed. Not at one time by some power surge either. I've had problems with it ever since with. I suggest NOT buying an Alienware...EVER. Good luck

/didn't spell check
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Old 04-05-2005, 02:10 PM   #30 (permalink)
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My only objection to Alienware is the aesthetic of their cases--DORKY-- are you sure you'll want a computer that looks like that once you finish college? ...
Okay I checked out their site and they have improved markedly, they seem to be trying for the imac look, but still. I could really only see myself owning the small-form system.
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Old 04-05-2005, 05:12 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Thanks Varsity Drinking, but by the time I read your post I had already ordered it...and I don't think I'm going to cancel. As far as the cases, I think they are simply badass...not dorky in the least.

Warranty: 1-Year AlienCare Toll-Free 24/7 Phone Support with Onsite Service
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition with Service Pack 2
AlienRespawn: Alienware® Respawn Recovery Kit
Chassis: Alienware® Full-Tower Case (480-Watt PS) - Space Black
Cable Management: Alienware® Cable Management System
Power Supply: Alienware® 480 Watt Power Supply
Processor: Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 650 w/ HT Technology 3.4GHz 2MB Cache
Motherboard: Alienware® PCI Express Motherboard with Intel® 925XE Chipset 1066/800MHz FSB
Memory: 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz - 2 x 1024MB
Graphics Processor: ATI RADEON™ X850 XT PCI Express 256MB DDR3 w/ Dual Digital and TV Out
Video Optimizer: AlienAdrenaline: Video Performance Optimizer
Chassis Upgrades: AlienIce™ 2.0 Video Cooling System - Fusion Red
System Drive: Extreme Performance - Serial ATA RAID 0 - 240GB (120GB x 2) Serial ATA 7,200 RPM w/16MB Cache
Optical Drive One: NEC® ND-3520 16x Dual Layer DVD±R/W Drive
Optical Drive Two: Lite-On 52x32x52x CD-RW Drive
Floppy Drive: 3.5" 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive - Black
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster® Audigy® 2 ZS High Definition 7.1 Surround Firewire (IEEE® 1394)
Network Connection: Integrated High Performance Gigabit Ethernet
Display One: No Monitor
Display Two: No Monitor
Speakers: Logitech® Z-5300e 5.1 280-Watt Speakers
Keyboard: Microsoft® Multimedia Keyboard - Martian Red
Mouse: Microsoft® IntelliMouse Explorer 4.0 - USB - Martian Red
Alienware Exclusive Offers: Gamespot Complete - Free 90-day Trial (a $20.85 value)
Alienware Exclusive Offers: 10% off your next EB Games online purchase
Free Alienware T-Shirt: Free Alienware® T-Shirt - Black
Free Alienware Mousepad: Free Alienware® Mousepad
Desktop Enhancements: Exclusive AlienGUIse Theme Manager
AlienInspection: AlienInspection - Exclusive Integration and Inspection - $99.99 Value - FREE!
AlienWiring: AlienWiring - Exclusive Internal Wire Management - $99.99 Value - FREE!
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Old 04-06-2005, 05:26 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Good Luck. Take total advantage of their customer service line. It'll probably take you a good 20-30 minutes of being on hold before getting a human to actually help if you ever have a problem. But I HIGHLY RECOMMEND marking the expiration date of your warranty and calling about any small problem you may have before the warranty lapses so they have a record of the problem and you can get it resolved AFTER the expiration date.

—Cheers
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Old 04-06-2005, 09:42 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Indeed I will do that. The warranty is so God damned ridiculously expensive that I just got one year, but they told me I could extend that after it expires if I want. Hell, I would love to get a four year warranty, but it's over $400. It's funny too, this is the email they send me today.

Quote:
Did you know that approximately 50% of system issues occur after the
first year? Once you consider the average cost of system repairs not
under warranty, the situation looks even bleaker. Replacing a video card
can cost up to $600, while replacing your processor could set you back up
to $1,000.

Alienware saves you from these future headaches by providing you with
the exclusive opportunity to upgrade to an extended warranty available
for a limited time. To upgrade your system's warranty, simply visit


or call 1-800-ALIENWARE (254-3692).

Thank you for choosing Alienware.

Last edited by Rdr4evr; 04-06-2005 at 10:40 PM..
Rdr4evr is offline  
Old 04-08-2005, 05:30 PM   #34 (permalink)
Crazy
 
Yeah, I think that Alienware does jack up their prices a good bit. But they do use solid components and such, so it's worth the money. Personally, I would build a custom machine myself.
d3cemberist is offline  
 

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