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Unread 06-19-2008, 06:54 PM   #1
bman9089
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Custom PC Build

Anyone in here have a desktop from alienware? My padres are going to buy me the base line Aurora as a graduation present (I'll have to buy the monitor though - going for a Samsung 26" LCD).

I've always thought Alienware was pretty good. I work with another guy who has one of their laptops and he runs some of the most complex CAD programs I've ever seen (he's an electrician that routes wires through buildings or something like that). I couldn't even believe that a laptop could handle the amount of CAD he was running. It didn't even flinch. High resolution, large CAD files, and the laptop seemed like it was idling.

I've already bought a dell laptop that's a couple years old that I'll use if I need something for class, so I'm really just wanting a powerful desktop for gaming (yeah, I'm a nerd ), occasional video editing and a lot of web design/graphic design that I do as a side job. So the desktop will be used for School, work and fun.

Right now, my budget for the computer/mouse/keyboard/speakers is $2000 max. I was able to configure this kind of setup:

Vista 64 bit OS
AMD 2.2 ghz quad-core x 512kb L2 Cache
750 watt power supply
512MB Radeon HD 3850 graphics card - dual cards running in Crossfire mode
4 gig dual channel 800mhz RAM
ASUS AMD 790FX Motherboard
500 gig hard drive 3GBs a second - 7200 rpm
HD 7.1 audio card
Klipsch Speakers and sub

It all sounds good, but so did my other computer purchases from Dell. Dell is out of the question. I can't even count how many parts I've had to replace. The quality is lousy. Their LCDs are the only thing I like about them. From business, to family, every dell computer I've had to work with has had some kind of hardware problem, and I am tired of messing with 'high end' PCs that can't even last a year without issues. A warning to all others: get a damn fine warranty for any laptop you buy, especially dell as I guarantee you will use it at some point.

I considered HP but they don't really have anything higher-end. They have mid-grade and then super high end (blackbird and Voodoo PC).

So, I figure alienware is the best shot.

These are what I want out of the PC:

-ability to upgrade

-quality (I don't want to have to constantly replace hardware like I needed to with Dell) How is their quality?

-performance (is this machine overpriced or will it kick ***?)

I'm here for suggestions and insight. I've never worked with Alienware before but I continue to hear good things about them. It's a huge investment. And if the computer will blow my mind and manage to keep itself working for a couple years without a hitch that would be nice. That's what I'm hoping for.

Here's the PC, by the way. I decided on a black case, but haven't decided on light color yet. Any ideas on what looks best is also appreciated.

Thanks for the help!



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Unread 06-19-2008, 06:58 PM   #2
Me007gold
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for what an alienware costs, you could build a much faster machine. they are nice tho
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Unread 06-19-2008, 07:01 PM   #3
Kyoseki
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You're aware that Alienware is owned by Dell now right?

Personally speaking I would scratch build a machine with high end components, for $2k you could put a pretty serious Intel/NVidia rig together, check with Philip J Fry, he has a pretty nice gaming setup and I think it ran him about that much.
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Unread 06-19-2008, 07:18 PM   #4
bman9089
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyoseki View Post
You're aware that Alienware is owned by Dell now right?

Personally speaking I would scratch build a machine with high end components, for $2k you could put a pretty serious Intel/NVidia rig together, check with Philip J Fry, he has a pretty nice gaming setup and I think it ran him about that much.
Dell freaking owns them now?! Damn you dell! Leave me alone!

Well, I've replaced RAM before and I'm certain I could put a computer together, but I really don't understand the whole front bridge/rear bridge on the motherboards and all the really technical stuff, like matching components so they'll work together. I'm lost with that.

And why would you go with Intel/Nvidia over AMD/ATI?
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Unread 06-19-2008, 07:26 PM   #5
Kyoseki
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Originally Posted by bman9089 View Post
And why would you go with Intel/Nvidia over AMD/ATI?
Intel gives you better bang for the buck than AMD these days and NVidia drivers give you better support for 3d applications than ATI (plus the newer graphics cards will also handle some physics stuff on the GPU as well, which is getting increasingly important in games).

As for building the machine, it's pretty straightforward, the hard part is selecting compatible hardware to start with, but I'm sure someone can help you with that.
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Unread 06-19-2008, 07:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyoseki View Post
You're aware that Alienware is owned by Dell now right?

Personally speaking I would scratch build a machine with high end components, for $2k you could put a pretty serious Intel/NVidia rig together, check with Philip J Fry, he has a pretty nice gaming setup and I think it ran him about that much.
Dell was kind of shooting themselves in the foot for a while because their XPS systems were spec'd out almost the exact same as some of the Alienware systems. They scaled the XPS's down a bit though. While Alienware can spendy, they are very well built and will do just about anything you ask them to. Sure, you can get more bang for your buck by building your own, but researching parts and prices and compatibility can take a lot of time. If you have the money, you're not doing yourself a terrible disservice by getting something quality at least.

In all fairness, I tend to go for overkill just because I can. I'm practically a millionaire now since I don't have a Jeep anymore. All of these prices are probably a bit lower now as I bought everything back in January, but everything here including taxes and shipping came out to around $1700.


Antec P182 case
Corsair HX620 watt PSU
Intel Core 2 Duo Wolfdale 45nm 3.0GHz
Scythe Ninja heatsink w/120mm fan
eVGA 780i SLi motherboard
2x eVGA 8800GTS G92 512MB video cards
8GB OCZ DDR2-800 RAM
Logitech G9 mouse (one of the best "whoa what a difference" upgrades ever)
Logitech wireless keyboard
Lite-On dual-layer LightScribe SATA DVD+/-RW burner
Fatal1ty Champion soundcard w/remote + front panel
2x 7200.11 320GB Seagate SATA II hard drives

(I already had a Dell 24" LCD, Klipsch ProMedia 5.1 Ultras and Seagate 750GB external drive from my old PC)





Oooh... look what showed up today... LCD #2. Sexy time!

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Unread 06-19-2008, 07:37 PM   #7
Me007gold
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The only thing better then Dual screens is quad screens. Thats pure hotness
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Unread 06-19-2008, 07:42 PM   #8
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The only thing better then Dual screens is quad screens. Thats pure hotness
I dunno, any more than 3 is just screaming "I'm compensating for something"
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Unread 06-19-2008, 07:54 PM   #9
PhilipJ
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Intel gives you better bang for the buck than AMD these days and NVidia drivers give you better support for 3d applications than ATI (plus the newer graphics cards will also handle some physics stuff on the GPU as well, which is getting increasingly important in games).
If I recall correctly, the PhysX technology will be soon be embedded in the NVIDIA drivers for GeForce 8 series cards and up. Even though very few games use extended physics right now, I can't wait to see what they do with it. Since it's software-based, maybe a lot more developers will be willing to implement it. Hopefully it's on par with GTA IV's Euphoria.

And yes, I'm compensating -- for not having a Jeep.
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Unread 06-19-2008, 07:58 PM   #10
bman9089
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I'm not against building a machine, but I don't know the first thing about picking out and matching components. I'm still trying to decide between a single large monitor or 2 smaller monitors. I can't decide which would be best.

If you have a crossfire or SLI setup, would running dual monitors lower the performance over running a single monitor?
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Unread 06-19-2008, 08:01 PM   #11
Kyoseki
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Originally Posted by bman9089 View Post
If you have a crossfire or SLI setup, would running dual monitors lower the performance over running a single monitor?
Resolution is the key factor, all else being equal (same models & textures etc..) the number of pixels the cards have to push around is what determines your frame rate.

Two screens aren't ideal for FPS because you have a seam where the cross hairs would be, three screens would be nice though

I personally like to run two screens for work (3D graphics) and a single screen for games, but I'm usually only displaying heavy 3d models on one screen with menus and editors on the second.
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Unread 06-19-2008, 08:05 PM   #12
PhilipJ
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Originally Posted by bman9089 View Post
I'm not against building a machine, but I don't know the first thing about picking out and matching components. I'm still trying to decide between a single large monitor or 2 smaller monitors. I can't decide which would be best.

If you have a crossfire or SLI setup, would running dual monitors lower the performance over running a single monitor?
Getting compatible stuff isn't an exact science as long as you get good brands. System architecture has changed quite a bit in the last couple of years so it's more or less being up to date with current specs. Matching the motherboard socket with the appropriate CPU for example. If you want, find some parts you're intrested in, post them here and we'll tell you what would go good with what.

I don't know how Crossfire works, but you can't run more than 1 monitor with SLi enabled. The only thing you can do with multiple monitors while gaming is stretch the image across them while running off a single GPU (at least as far as I'm aware). All you have to do is go to the control panel to enable/disable SLi, but it's kind of annoying.
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Unread 06-19-2008, 08:16 PM   #13
bman9089
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I wouldn't even know where to start with motherboards. I really dont know where to start or what to post up.

So, for pricing between screens, I could go with:

1 26" wide screen

2 22" wide screens

3 20" wide screens

All of those, from what I've seen would add up to be about the same cost. It sounds like you're saying that I can't run SLI with multiple monitors so that would be a waste. I just don't know what to do. I'd like to get something large, at least 24" but I don't want my games to look fuzzy or horribly disfigured and I don't want to buy an expensive video card only to have that extra expensive performance be cancelled out by multiple monitors. I do a lot of work in Adobe Fireworks and dreamweaver, and always wanted multiple monitors. I could code webpages in one monitor and create graphics in another.

Hey Fry, why did you go with dual screens?
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“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it” -- Mark Twain

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Unread 06-19-2008, 08:30 PM   #14
PhilipJ
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Hey Fry, why did you go with dual screens?
I just finished one of the bedrooms upstairs and I'll be damned if I'm going to haul my 51" projection HDTV up there (I'm in a bedroom downstairs and it sucks). So, the second monitor will double as a TV for cable, XBox and movies until I can afford a 46" LCD. I also do a ton of multi-tasking; having 8GB of RAM allows me to have dozens of apps going so I can leave them open as long as I'd like while still being able to keep an eye on the without having to bring them to the top of the work area. The extra space is great to have for shoving secondary stuff on the other monitor while focusing on documents, browsing or Photoshop on the main.

Definitely factor your screen prices in first and work backwards from there since it sounds like that's a main requirement. It sounds like dual 22's might be your best option (I've used 26's and 30's; they were too gaudy for my tastes), but three 20's will require a secondary video card, so you can end up with SLi ability if you go that route. 8800GT's are great cards and very affordable so picking up two won't break the bank.

Still, if you want to buy an Alienware just make sure you leave enough for dual monitors without selling yourself short on performance from the desktop itself. I should mention the only thing wrong I see with the one in your original post is the AMD processor. Intel's Duo and Quad chips blow them away.

Last edited by PhilipJ; 06-19-2008 at 08:55 PM..
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Unread 06-19-2008, 08:52 PM   #15
03Wrangler
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hell, my friend is running a 36" LCD for his vision impaired brother..

He said "certain" websites are AWESOME with it.
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