Buying a PC, cant build, want Alienware or similar I think

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael Boyd, Dec 9, 2001.

  1. Michael Boyd

    Michael Boyd Second Unit

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    Okay, I posted a couple of weeks ago about the SONY VAIO. I like many things about their top of the line like the DVD-R/RW, as well as TON of software included, video ins and outs etc. You can even get a 200 GB config ordered on their site (which I dont even know if its worth having without RAID, Im still reseaching this). Now its not like I currently am doing DV editing now, but the prospect interests me. However the proprietary and upgradability issues are sort of making me have second thoughts on this buy. Also the vid card is 32mb, everywhere else I see 64mb. I want something that will be playing games still next year.
    Now, from reading posts here I have come to hear of Alienware . . .
    These boxes are COOL looking, but are they worth the money? Just looking through the website, no hands on mind you, they seem to put a lot of time and quality into their machines. I can appreciate that, if it is indeed the case, and dont mind paying the extra.
    I don't believe I could afford their DV2001 line, so I was just thinking of getting a custom game config with plenty of HD space and upgrade to something later on. Probably not with them, but who knows. I just like the idea of greater expandability than with the SONY. Of course the software you get is only Win XP, OFFICE XP if you want it and whatever comes with Soundblaster Audigy I guess.
    So I guess what Im wondering are there some other sites out there with similar machines to Alienware? Maybe someone smaller, less well-known, but still just as good? Here are some I've already come across.
    I've already looked at all the guys in Computer Gaming Worlds Jan issue. Voodoopc has some awesome looking beasties, but way out of my price range. All the see-thru stuff is cool, but I'm trying to stay SEMI-practical! These guys are the only ones who sell a set-up with HTF's favorite slot loader DVD Rom from Pioneer that I've come across.
    Hypersonic-pc.com is another option. They seem a bit cheaper than Alienware, as I could get a basic Pinnacle DV card included.
    I know many of you will probably say just build something, but it's not really an option I can explore. I want something that is powerful, will stay reasonably current for the next 3 months (right!) and have room to expand (maybe second-g DVD-RW). I will be playing games on it (Star Wars Galaxies next year!), surfing (being able to get DSL finally!), writing (I know, I could do this back on my old 486), Photoshop and probably exploring DV. And I want something that looks killer and has that WOW factor. That black slot loader DVD that has gotten such high accolades here would clinch it. Is this too much to ask for?
    So to sum up:
    [​IMG] RAID - Do I want this for non-linear editing with two HDs? Is it the next best thing to SCSI?
    [​IMG] Does Alienware paint the CD/DVD drives to match the boxes?
    [​IMG] Anything else out there similar to Alienware in the quality I perceive, but a little more resonable?
    [​IMG] Do I want to much from one system?
    [​IMG] Am I crazy to spend around $4000 on a computer (includes monitor)?
    Sorry this is so long. I'm just looking for opinions and ideas. Throw them out please. I will appreciate them gladly. This is the most I've ever spent on a computer, but I want to finally get exactly what I want after having 2 desktops and currently a laptop (this poor guy is on his last legs) end up being disapointments for reasons I wont go into. [​IMG]
     
  2. Dan Hine

    Dan Hine Screenwriter

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    Michael,
    I would look at Tech 5. They are a relatively new company outside of Charlotte, NC. They make computers as good as or better than Alienware (spec wise) at the same price or less. I believe they can offer units with different specs than what are online but am not for certain. They also have cool looking cases as well! [​IMG]
    I would give them a call and see what you think. I have limited experience with them myself but have been told by people I DO know that they use top quality parts and make top quality computers. Worth a look I think.
    Also I must say that now that BestBuy sells Alienware computers on their website I have started wondering about their quality. But that may be just me. Best of luck!
    Dan Hine
     
  3. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    I'd stay away from Alienware, seems they've gone downhill
     
  4. Rob Varto

    Rob Varto Supporting Actor

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  5. Michael Boyd

    Michael Boyd Second Unit

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    Rob, I have to say I've done a google groups search and read up on alienware. They dont have anymore complaints than any other manufacturer. Its the bad stuff that always gets posted.
    I found a company called mwave.com. They will put together a system after you choose the parts on their site for $79. Dont really know much about them yet, but I could get just about everything I want within my budget including DVD RW, Adobe 6.0 and pinnacle card, Office XP, Slot loader DVD, black NEC 22inch monitor, 120 gig HD. Anyone know anything about them? Their website is a bitch and a half to navigate when you begin adding your goodies to the shopping cart. My list is gone from the cart this morning so I cant post it.
     
  6. DonRoeber

    DonRoeber Screenwriter

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    Just wanted to take a minute and post my observations on Alienware systems. A friend of mine runs an internet gaming center in a town nearby. Because we had heard of Alienware's great systems, he bought 25 of them when he opened the store. Nearly all Pentium III 1ghz systems with 256mb of ram, 19" monitors, GeForce3 graphics cards. Five of the systems he went with Athlons on, because they were a little cheaper, and we didn't expect those systems to be played on as much as the others. This was back in february that the systems were purchased. About 75k woth of equipment.

    All of these machines get used quite heavily throughout the day, playing CounterStrike, Diablo II and Everquest/Dark Age of Camelot mostly. The athlons were the first to go... they kept locking up constantly, even after reformatting them, etc... After much arguing, Alienware is replacing them with Pentium III systems. Mice have also died frequently, and Alienware still hasn't shipped the replacement mice (we shipped the broken ones back about two months ago). Their support is absolutely horrible, often telling us that they won't work with us to resolve problems with their hardware.

    At the time we bought the Alienware gaming systems, we also bought four Dell Poweredge servers to run everything. The hardware has been impeccable, and any sort of service that we've needed has been amazing. Dell will even ship replacement parts before the origional is returned, which is something any vendor serious about support will do (I work with Sun and Compaq servers all day, this is common practice). We only spent 10k on Dell equipment, and are MUCH happier.

    Needless to say, discussions are beginning with Dell to replace all Alienware equipment in the store.
     
  7. Rob Speicher

    Rob Speicher Supporting Actor

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    Coincidentally, yesterday I ordered a motherboard and processor from mwave.com and they said it shipped today, so I'll let you know how it goes. This is my first time buying from them.
     
  8. Samuel Des

    Samuel Des Supporting Actor

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    I purchased a modem and Leadtek card from mwave and had no problems. Actually, the fan died on the card. I sent an email asking for help, and they responded within a day with the CS number. Leadtek was very good about support. They repaired it. But it took ~2 weeks.
     
  9. Ken Woodrow

    Ken Woodrow Stunt Coordinator

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    If you're building a dedicated Home Theater PC, you might consider a builder that specializes in such systems. A specialist builder will have eliminated most of the compatibility issues that plague certain sound card, video card, and motherboard combinations. One's I've heard of include:
    Cellar Cinemas
    AV Science
    and
    Digital Connection.
    For regular on-line stores, I've had good luck with Newegg.com, Mwave.com, and J&N Computers.
    - Ken
     
  10. Jim J

    Jim J Second Unit

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    I just ordered a custom configured system at cyberpowerinc.com. They seem to have been around a while, no restocking fee. All their systems are hand built.
    I started with their Titanium gamer force pro. This is an athlon based system. I killed the monitor, cr-rw, changed the video card, etc.
    They have the same case available as Alienware, but not all those colors. (I couldn't use it as it wouldn't fit in my desk!)
    I believe the case is the antec SX1030, also enermax is the same. most places have them http://www.antec-inc.com/product/cases/perfhome.html
    Good Luck
     
  11. Rob Varto

    Rob Varto Supporting Actor

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  12. Ruben Zamora

    Ruben Zamora Stunt Coordinator

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    I too would STAY WAY AWAY from Alienware. WAY OVERPRICED!!!!

    That case theyre known for is nothing but a Antec Case you can buy anywher for 70$ I'm not joking either. IT IS!! an Antec case.

    You pay 2K plus for somthing you can get built elsewhere for 1200 at most!!!

    To go with what DON said. Athlons are actually a lot better than Intel chips. Especially for the money. The only reason thye lock up is cuz of cooling problems.

    Athlons run at full poer till the day they melt!!!

    Intels chips run according to HEAT. WHICH SUCKS balls if your a gamer.

    I'll stick with ATHLONS forever!!!

    Alienware just doesnt know how to build a proper Athlon based PC.
     
  13. Jim J

    Jim J Second Unit

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    I will let you guys know how it goes. I should get it before the first of the year.

    Bear in mind, I did not buy this as an HTPC. At least not right now. It probably has the goods for the future. Besides, I don't have an appropriate display right now.

    I'm buying this because I'm tired of waiting for my 4year old PII 233! Digital Photography, Video, VCD burning etc. I got good use out of that Micron (with upgrades)

    if anybody is interested:

    Althon XP 1600+ on the Shuttle AK31 mb

    512mb DDR PC2100 DRAM

    60gb 7200rpm HD (maxtor i think)

    Radeon 8500 (video card)

    Creative Labs Audigy 5.1 w/IEEE (audio card)

    CL Inspire 5300 5.1 speaker set

    16x DVD-ROM

    Win Xp Home

    PCI Modem, PCI NIC

    Black keyboard + mouse

    'two-tone' mid-tower case w/ 300W ps

    (no monitor)

    $1008+ del

    similiar config at Alienware is 1800. I spec'ed out this or extremely similiar at every on-line retailer I could find (abs, unitedmicro, alvio, boldata, Micron, atlas, compaq, pc-beyond, etc, etc). I found best price/config here.

    As I said above, I started from one of their existing configurations. If I use the from scratch 'configurator', the price is 150 higher. And I'm talking exact same components.

    I'll keep you posted.

    Jim J
     
  14. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    If you want a general purpose computer, for interet, games, manage your finances, etc., I recommend DELL. They sell solid machines at good prices. They are largely considered to have the best tech-support in the business. Their machines are pretty easy to upgrade.

    I've ordered and set up about 10 DELL computers over the past several years (for work and personal). Enough to feel comfortable recommending them. Every companies has its horror stories, but I've personally had zero (0!) problems with the DELLs.

    Also, I've got a friend, who's a long-time, hardcore gamer. He swore by Falcon NW computers for at least five years. I assume he still uses them.

    As for digital video -- My buying philosophy is to buy what I need and will use now, and not what I might use in the future. I'll also spend a bit extra so I can try out something, to see if I want to stick with it.

    So I recommend against getting 200GB hard-drive space for video editing, that you may never do. Get whatever the normal drive is. They're cheap and easy to install. Later, if you want to do DV editing, then buy a harddrive.

    No point spending money now on stuff you won't use until the future (if you use it at all).
     
  15. Jim J

    Jim J Second Unit

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    I have to agree with DaveF.

    Get what you need. I know I want to do DV editing. I have been fustrated trying to accomplish anything on my current machine. My Sony D8 camera is going to waste, and my son is growing fast (20 months now)

    Also, going with someone like dell is also a good idea if you want to avoid hastle as much as possible. For me, it is worth it to try a lesser known retailer to save money. I like to fiddle anyway.

    Say Dave, how's Rochester these days? I haven't been up there since I graduated UofR in '90...

    Jim J
     
  16. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Jim - Rochester's good. I'm at The Institute of Optics (at UR) for graduate work. Unseasonably warm, until last week. Admit though, you miss the blizzards that dump 48" of snow over two days [​IMG]
    Oh, yeah, computers... For a random suggestion, especially if you do try video editing, consider a dual monitor setup. There are several good video cards that support this now:
    - Radeon VE
    - Radeon 7500 DualHead (I think that's the number)
    - GeForce 3 Ti 200 & 500 models
    - GeForce 2 MX TwinView
    All but the GeForce 2 MX are at CompUSA.
    And decent 17" & 19" monitors are < $400. The biggest problem, really, is desk space, as I've discovered.
     
  17. Samuel Des

    Samuel Des Supporting Actor

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    On a related topic, I'm about to buy a barebones system: just the case, RAM, mobo, and CPU
     
  18. Jim J

    Jim J Second Unit

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    Hi Samuel
    First, have a look at www.pricewatch.com
    You are looking for 'PC-Kits'
    I spent a lot of time at www.anandtech.com for research (and other sites, many links from there). They have a bit of bias toward AMD, but then, AMD really has better price/performance ratio.
    Some quick items:
    Don't get a celeron
    Don't get a P4 with SDRAM, not a good combo. Should be RDRAM, but DDR is not bad. But, I don't think a P4 fits into your budget anyway.
    Even with an AMD chip try to get DDR (this is fast RAM 'D'ouble 'D'ata 'R'ate)
    At least 300W power supply should do you fine.
    for example I quickly went to Micro-Pro (no particular reason, just the first name I recognized in the pricewatch list):
    In-Win case w/300W, Case cooling fan, DDR mobo, P3 1GHz, 256mb DDR = $380
    Same case, fan, mem, but AMD compatible mobo (ECS K75SA, w/basic audio, lan built in!), Althon XP 1600+ = $339 (this will blow the above combo out of the water)
    drop to an Athlon 1GHz and you're at $284
    Hmm. now that I re-read your post, I see 'Quiet operation.' If that is truly a major concern, then stay away from the newer cpus especially AMDs and P4. These babies need much more cooling (read: fans) than older, slower processors.
    Good Luck
    Jim J
     
  19. Michael Boyd

    Michael Boyd Second Unit

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    Jim, everything I've read (inluding your latest post) seems to suggest one needs at least a 300w power supply for the P4s. I looked at Dell's site last week and in the specs for the 8200s they listed a 250w power supply!
    I have a Dell laptop currently that is going on 4 years old. I really don't think I'll be going with Dell again. And after reading some reviews on Toms Hardware, Alienware is definitely out too, even though I found a config within my budget for DV there.
     
  20. Samuel Des

    Samuel Des Supporting Actor

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    I've read that Dell power supplies for the XPS-R Dimension are under rated! I haven't the article with me, but I've read that those 250 Watt cases (propietary of course) provide more than adequate power for those seeking a CPU upgrade. I run a P3-1GHz (100MHz FSB) with no problems. The CPU is securely seated, too. As far as I can tell, my problems tend to be OS-related. (WIN-ME)
     

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