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New Alienware PC an Overpriced Underperformer 272

Steve Kerrison writes "Alienware has jumped on board the Core 2 bandwagon and rightfully so, but their new Area-51 7500 loses out to cheaper and faster solutions from other companies. From's review 'No matter which way we dress up the Alienware's performance and feature-set, it's relatively poor in comparison to SKUs that we've reviewed recently. Value for money may not be the greatest concern in this sector of the pre-built market but when you can get substantially more for less, it becomes impossible to recommend this particular Area-51 7500.' "
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New Alienware PC an Overpriced Underperformer

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  • by fotbr ( 855184 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @10:57AM (#15993837) Journal
    Its a Dell.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      perhaps they forgot to check all the free upgrade boxes when checking out.....
    • by DaveWick79 ( 939388 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:03AM (#15993880)
      Unfortunately, while somewhat sarcastic, this is probably true. Being under Dell's wing probably profits Alienware financially but lowers the quality standard. The focus used to be not just to make a pretty machine, but one that spanks the competition and was backed up by some of the best service in the business. If I'm going to pay Alienware type money, I expect to get the fastest machine money can buy.
      • Nah (Score:5, Insightful)

        by emarkp ( 67813 ) <slashdot&roadq,com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:31AM (#15994035) Journal
        They were overpriced before Dell acquired them. Their customer service is probably better now (since it hardly could have been worse).
      • by qortra ( 591818 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:40AM (#15994089)
        While I understand that Dell sucks (I hate them too), I don't really think that I understand your comment. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me that Dell could have a sub-brand that did focus on performance, and while they might be overpriced, could probably put together something at the very pinnacle of performance available from consumer parts. I don't think that somehow the "innate Dellness" slipped through the vents in the case and made it slow. Perhaps Dell mismanaged it, but it wasn't a forgone that they would do so, and it isn't necessarily true that Dell will continue to mismanage it. Heck, it might not be Dell at all. Maybe Alienware just screwed up; all kinds people do that (Dell employees and even formerly non-Dell employees!).

        Either way, whoever is responsible will probably wake up quickly if they get more reviews like this.
        • I never had a problem with Dell computers...As long as you get a wiping utility to remove all that cruft they install.

          Well that and the laptop battery exploding thing... (But even Apple has that issue so its hardly a dell only prob)
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            My biggest problem with them is the crappy mobo's they install by default. Substandard bios, breaks the standard for power connectors, and lower bus/bridge performance...Run a machine with the same stats and a better motherboard, and the difference is night and day.

            Just not kosher...If I wanted to have to buy an entirely new machine to upgrade every time, or pay dell an obscene amount for any sort of upgrade, I'd just rent the damn things.
        • by Grym ( 725290 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:17PM (#15994379)

          While I understand that Dell sucks (I hate them too)...

          I understand that there are good reasons to dislike Dell. It's very difficult to get a good computer at a reasonable price from them lately. However, I have had a very good experience with Dell.

          In 2002, I got a Dell Dimension 8200 with a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512 MB RDRAM, an Nvidia 4200ti graphics card, a Soundblaster Live soundcard, an 80 Gb harddrive, CD-RW, and a DVD drive for $2200. At the time, that was an incredible deal. I couldn't have built the same computer on my own without paying hundreds more.

          Two years later, I was upgrading the graphics card when I accidently mangaged to fry the motherboard. (I'm still not sure how that one happened--I was grounded the entire time.) After a 30 minute phonecall (lol yes with technician from India) where I did a number of tests to verify that it was, in fact, dead, the warrenty kicked in and only three days later, a computer repair guy was in my house (at no cost) and replaced not only the motherboard but the two drives, the processor, the RAM, the powersupply, and the soundcard. For all intents and purposes, I got a new computer because of my own negligence. Now how's that for customer service?

          With only two upgrades of a Geforce 6800 (unlocked pipelines, slightly overclocked) and an extra 512 MB of RD RAM, that computer is what I still use today to play even new videogames.

          Granted, I'm probably the exception rather than the rule, but I think it's unfair to say that Dell is always a bad deal or that Dell's customer service universally sucks.


        • I've had four 1.8Ghz dell boxen running as an OpenMosix cluster (debian) for over a year now, with no problems whatsoever. Before that they had been windows workstations for two years, and hadn't broken down.
          I also have a Dell laptop, six years old and still going strong.

          Most of the time I build my own machines, but I have never had problems with Dell hardware when I've used it.

          Personally I think most people who dislike Dell are just Mooing with the rest of the herd, unwilling to find out what the real situ
          • by fotbr ( 855184 )
            1) I've had issues with Dell's customer support being rather crappy.

            2) I think most of their cheap stuff (the $300 complete computer deals, etc) is junk and their good stuff is somewhat overpriced because of the Dell name. Based on experiences with various relatives' machines.

            3) Alienware always seemed like a joke to me. Overpriced for the hardware. Ugly cases*

            4) Dell bought Alienware.

            Combine Dell's slightly overpricing with Alienware's ugly-cases and even worse overpricing, and you have the reasoning fo
      • When I bought an Alienware 4 years ago, I thought the hardware was top notch, but the service was beyond crappy. I was pretty convinced that there shipping department was being run by somebodies nephew.
    • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:29AM (#15994029)
      company that has Power Cables for $48
      It use to be out in the open but now they hide it under the Power Supply Selections.

      To go from one 1gig to 2gigs is $250 that is just as bad as the mac pro ram price

      Video Performance Optimizer $18 seems like stuff that you can set your self in the video drivers control panel.

      $29 for the restore disks that should be free or at the cost of the disks.

      $49 Automated Technical Support Request System there is a new dell ad showing off someing like that and they say it comes free with all new dell systems.
      • To go from one 1gig to 2gigs is $250 that is just as bad as the mac pro ram price

        The Mac Pro costs $300 to go from 1GB to 2GB. From Crucial, equivalent RAM is $200 (don't forget, these are FB-DIMMs which are very expensive at the moment), so Apple is 'only' adding on 50%, which is far less than they usually overcharge on RAM. I am planning on getting a MBP when they finally release the Core 2 versions and it is currently cheaper to buy it with the stock RAM config and buy 2GB of RAM from Crucial for it

        • Apple's RAM pricing has always been downright robbery, but yes, in the case of the Mac Pro it's not nearly as bad as it usually is considering that they use FB-DIMMs which still command a pretty hefty premium in general. I recently got one at my workplace, and my boss decided that one gig of RAM wouldnt' be enough, and since Apple claimed to only have the two-gig package in store (in Reno), we wound up getting it with three gigs total for another $700. Far more than I would have wanted to pay, let me tell y
  • This isn't news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpn o - c o .org> on Monday August 28, 2006 @10:59AM (#15993849) Homepage
    Alienware isn't about the "fastest". True, they have fast systems, but it's more about the 'bling' factor.

    They're target market is upper middle class, specifically the middle age men who like to game and have disposable income and the kids with rich parents.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by grasshoppa ( 657393 )

    • On that matter, I am suprised I have never seen Alienware machines bundled with other over-the-top purchases like sports cars, etc. I would have thought that the play-in-sports-cars types had a large crossover with the play-video-games types, but now that I think about it, I assume they are more into playing console games on a massive LCD/plasma TV than a PC. I guess the PC just doesnt have the glorifyied image that has started to build up around games consoles which is why there is only one company widely
    • I haven't seen any of rich people I met with this Alienware brand. Not even notebooks/laptops. I have seen a lot of Dell and Apple including high end models. How about the rest of you?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Don853 ( 978535 )
        A former roommate of mine (from a pretty well off family) bought a Alienware computer - but after two DOA motherboards and a few dozen angry calls to tech support, he gave up and got a Dell. This was 5 or 6 years ago - I don't know if they've improved much since then.

        I also had a CS professor who had an Alienware laptop - his specialty was AI in games, so it was a pretty high end model and seemed to suit him well.

        Neither of these were people you'd really call "rich", but they were upper-middle class an
    • I Was So Shocked... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *

      Alienware isn't about the "fastest". True, they have fast systems, but it's more about the 'bling' factor.
      They're target market is upper middle class, specifically the middle age men who like to game and have disposable income and the kids with rich parents.

      I'm building a PC for a friend and we went to pick out a cabinet. For my money I picked out a Lian Li cabinet years ago, black anodised aluminium, modular with a window in the side (which I could take or leave) It's a peach for setting up, getting

      • which would fit right in with My Little Pony figures all around it.

        OMG PONIEZ!!!!!!1!!1

      • I have no idea who it is that buys some of those horribly tacky cases you see at Fry's, CompUSA, Newegg, you-name-it. Cases with lots of glowy bits, and lots of windows? Sure, I'll admit I've had a couple of those "bling" cases. But the ones that look like transformers/dragons/aliens/gobots/demons just plain look horrible and usually have a build quality to match.

        My last case was a plastic-and-tin knockoff of the Powermac G5 case, which I liked because it had a subtle appearance and had tons of venting. W
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
        I guess Bling==tacky.
        I admit that when I saw the first casemods that had a window in them I thought they where interesting. The problem is the thing that made them interesting was the work that someone did to create a custom case. Now that you can buy them off the shelf they are tacky.
        To me the ideal case would be.
        Small, almost silent, well made, with enough room for two optical drives and easy access to the USB ports on the front of the case.
        Now the people that actually create their own custom cases get po
    • And here's the most important thing from the article -- what it looks like: FrontB.jpg []
    • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:14PM (#15994820) Journal
      Speaking as an upper-middle-class middle-age man with disposable income... oh, gawd, these bling cases make me want to puke. So I'm not even convinced that they're targetting people like me.

      I mean, seriously, if I want to willy-wave, I might go buy something expensive and over-performing. Like, I don't know, I might get a second X1900 XTX and run them in SLI... err... CrossFire (TM) for benchmark sake. But it seems utterly stupid to buy a case which just _looks_ high-tech and funky, but doesn't actually _do_ anything for the performance.

      It's, if you will, the computer-equivalent of Rice Boys [] and their sheet iron wings and fake disk brakes. Something that's just a sad attempt at _looking_ fast, without actually being so.

      And just like those, I'm drawing blanks as to who their target market actually is. _Maybe_ kids, ok. But middle-aged men? I can't imagine many upper-middle-class middle-aged men actually wanting such a monstrosity in their room. We're talking people who, precisely because they have the disposable income, can have a nicely decorated home. Would anyone actually want a case looking like a cross between a funky toy and a bad acid trip next to their expensive furniture? Why?

      Plus, as with those cars, if you actually _are_ rich, you can just buy the real thing. People with lots of disposable income just buy an expensive car. They don't just take the cheapest Honda and tack a wing and fake disk brakes on it. When you can actually afford a fast car, you don't go and try to make an el-cheapo one just _look_ fast. And in this case, if I can just build a computer that actually _is_ fast and high-tech, I don't need a sad clown case that only _looks_ "high-tech".

      So who is the real target for these cases? People with a really bad case of mid-life crisis, maybe? Or what?
      • The mid to upper-middle class guys I know who would know enough about computers to care about what was in an Alienware PC in the first place usually are techie enough to want to build thier own systems. I spent a good chunk of change researching and buying just behind the bleeding edge components to make a machine that should be my pride and joy for a good number of years. I even made sure it looked good (classic black and simple). To use your car analogy I'd be a car enthousiast who make his own custom
      • I do know what you're getting at but I do want to defend the "mod scene." There are some who will buy those tacky super bling cases, and there are some who will buy your standard beige tower, and ofcourse there are some who take a middle road. I can't speak for everyone in the "mod scene" but I personally enjoy building something that is unique, I would never buy a generic Dell. I like to bring my case to a LAN tourney and have people remember me because I'm "that guy with the yellow case," or have people b

  • by SSGamer ( 984809 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:00AM (#15993854) Homepage
    If you want value and performance custom built is the way to go, not prebuilt crap.
    • And while most of the /. crowd is perfectly comfortable with that, what percentage of the general population do you think is capable of changing a power supply, for example?
      • by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:18AM (#15993970) Homepage
        The car analogy comes into play:
        A lot of people can build you a car that is by far faster than a lamborghini, for about a quarter of the cost. Just pick up an issue of Car Craft for evidence. The thing is, many people want something fast and stylish right from the manufacturer that they can just put the key in and go. The guy who builds a car from junk yard and aftermarket parts that runs sub 10 seconds in the quarter mile for under 15K is not the same guy who drops 200K on a lamborghini, due to finances, interests, or both....
        • The guy who builds his own car has spent years learning his skills. He most likely makes a living doing something close to their hobby. If I wanted a hot-rod I'd either be looking at waiting 10+ years while I learned how and spent lots of $ on trial-and-error work or I could save up for a few years (assuming I'm rich) and just buy it from someone else who knows how to do it. Unless you are building a kit car, doing custom work isn't something you can jump into and even kits require a very good understand
      • Probably a similar, although non-identical, population to those who would benefit from a top-performance PC. That means gamers and techies. The two often go together, and where they do not, a gamer often has enough knowledge due to his enthusiasm, peers and so on, that it's not too much of a problem.
    • by sqlrob ( 173498 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:24AM (#15993993)
      If you want value, that is not necessarily true. Time is not free and needs to be factored in.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Skrynesaver ( 994435 )
        Perhaps this is true if you're buying an appliance, which is the case for many but I would imagine that many on this board would concur with Tom Christiansen's view below. If you find the machine intrinsically interesting and want to be able to configure it to run your prefered OS/Desktop/Applications then...
        "The computer is the game." ~ Tom Christiansen
        PS. The time spent building a machine at home is time not spent on tedious chores ;)
      • And even ignoring the time factor, most of us can't get components at the same bulk prices as big name vendors. That can be significant even after the integrator adds their mark-up.

      • by Alioth ( 221270 )
        Time needs to be factored in...but how much monetary value? Building a PC, for me, is something I find that's fun to do - it's a hobby. I don't price the time of any other of my hobbies, and I'm not going to when I build a PC because it's just part of the enjoyment of the project.

        Sure, if you're getting a PC because you just want a machine, build time may be a consideration. However, if you're building your own to save money you're more than likely cash poor but time rich anyway...and with most professional
      • I can assemble a new computer in under an hour. My salary would have to be pretty damn high.
        • by sqlrob ( 173498 )
          And install the OS
          And install the apps

          My free time is more valuable to me than my salary would indicate. I want to plug the computer in and go, especially if the primary purpose is for gaming.

          I deal enough with security issues and such at work, I don't want to bother with it at home. Hence, for my gaming I went with consoles after getting fed up with the computer for gaming.
      • 99% of the people who build their own systems do it primarily because they enjoy it. The time spent on hobbies can't be assigned a value because profit isn't the point. The time I spent building my system was time I didn't spend watching TV or working on my old dog of a PC.

        Now if you want to talk about whether I saved any money based on the cost of buying parts vs a premade system then that is a different matter. I don't think I saved much but I was able to buy exactly the parts I wanted. My price to pe
    • The point is that you can get far better value and performance even in the world of prebuilt than the nonsensical Alienware offerings.

      Personally, I'm happy with my *year and a half old* Dell system that I got for €1450, including four-input 20" ultrascan flat panel (1600x1200 native), Geforce 6800, P4 3GHz, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, in a stylish, well-cooled and compact midi-tower (with spare slots for expansion). I recently availed of 3 years more warranty for €94 including *replacement* of the flat pa
    • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:40AM (#15994088) Homepage
      custom built is the way to go, not prebuilt crap
      ...and then custom synthetized aspirin pillz to cure the headache of trying to install a Microsoft-branded (Usually a "Ultimate pirated edition") OS on a "motherboard+BIOS+Fast DDR chip" hardware that's too much new for Windows XP to be compatible with ?

      There is 1 single advantage that I found in buying pre-made crap :
      Yes, even the "High-end special first introduction rebate !! $$$ !!" may contain outdated hardware, or cheap and limited hardware (hardware sensors lack near most of the popular pre-built brands).
      But this old hardware is here, because the company took time to test it, is sure that there are no incompatibility and they could throw on it any installation (OS, bundeled-in softs, etc...)

      Installing Windows XP on brand new 64bits Athlons used to be a real PITA back when those babies were new and friends and I started building systems around them. (By luck most of us friends happened to be both patient and able to do our work using linux distros in the meanwhile). I'm not sure, once the new "Next generation" of hardware arises, that we won't see similar difficulties.

      So even if mounting a new system is getting very easy those days (Plug'n'Play got rid of arcane jumper settings, SATA removed the necessity to perform voodoo magic to get all SCSI devices to work together, and RAM is now sold pre-matched and pre-overclocked so it's possible to buy with less prior readings, noisy but sufficent cooling is bundled with most hardware) and could almost be done by a (motivated) Joe-Sixpack, mounting your system your-self is still ridden with the complexity of geting the software play nice with the hardware, chasing BIOS and Driver update, trying to get the installation work in the first place, BEFORE those drivers could be injected into the system, and/or using in the meanwhile an OS that installs more resiliently but that isn't the one preferred by the average Joe 6-pack.

      In the meanwhile, most /.ers are happy running cluster-compiled versions of their own-made "MyBSD" operating system on their custom built systems (using a lot of blue leds, some duct tape, and optionnally legos and meccanos and the mandatory fish tank to cool it down. It's not real hardware without those, only expensive toys) ...
    • If you want flexibility then custom-built is hard to beat, I'll give you that, and if you can choose compatible components with good drivers at will then of course you can control performance as well as anyone.

      The thing is, I've built my own PC roughly every 3-4 years since forever. I'm getting too old (or at least too impatient) to mess around with heatsink glue, dealing with a mobo component vendor who insists it must be the other vendor's fault for supplying a dodgy processor, and all that jazz.

      On th

      • There are so many review sites, test sites, and forums where people try different hardware configs and post their experiences that unless you are interested in some truly obscure hardware you can usually find out if someone has had compatability problems. I researched my parts that way before buying. I also avoided the usual first generation hardware issues (and prices) by staying away from the bleeding edge. Thank god for Google!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
      If you want value and performance custom built is the way to go, not prebuilt crap.

      If you want a car considering value and performance custom built is the way to go, not prebuilt crap. False

      If you want a home considering value and performance custom built is the way to go, not prebuilt crap. False

      If you want a piece of furniture considering value and performance custom built is the way to go, not prebuilt crap. False

      If you want a piece of clothing considering value and performance custom built is the way t
  • Overpriced? (Score:2, Informative)

    by BigDork1001 ( 683341 )
    It's overpriced you say, I never would have expected that from Alienware.

    I've always found them to be overpriced compared to other, lesser known vendors or even just making it yourself. I guess if you want to brag to your friends "I have an Alienware!" and they all gasp in awe then it's worth the extra money but I think most people could care less.

    • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:26AM (#15994003)
      Could not care less. i.e. you care so little that it's impossible to care less.

      Think about it for a second, it doesn't make any sense to say "could care less". By doing so you are saying you care enough that it is possible to care less.

      The irony of this saying is that it must have come from the UK because we all get it right, it must have been picked up by someone who didn't understand the meaning and now the senseless version spreads across the US.

      • Fat chance that people start using that phrase correctly. Or is that "slim chance"? Funny how phrases get turned around.. Like "bloody" for example. It supposedly arose from "By Our Lady" but somehow it's now about blood, the red kind. Speaking of blood, there's a Jamaican exclamation that sounds like "bloodclot". The suburban kids in my high school (USA born and raised) would go around saying when Jamaican music (dancehall reggae) was popular. At least until a real Jamaican AP put one in detention. "Bloo
      • by rk ( 6314 ) *

        "I could care less" is sarcasm... like after reading your post I thought to myself "Another /. language lawyer. Great." :-P

        • It doesn't make sense as sarcasm either, as a statement it has no direction. Sarcasm is used on statements with a emphasis of direction, like "Another /. language lawyer. Great.". The "Great" has a definite positive emphasis which can be interpreted sarcastically, "I could care less" has no emphasis, it has nothing. A sarcastic version of "I couldn't care less" would be "I couldn't care more". "I could care less" is just bleh.

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        I first heard "could care less" from Brits, probably 20 years ago. So don't blame US :)

        Since then, "could care less" has become more common (at least among younger folk) than the more meaningful "couldn't care less".

        Might have started as a mishearing by the younger generation (who often drop half-heard words from such phrases), or maybe as misinterpreted sarcasm ("I *could* care less" meaning "but in fact I don't care at all.")

        To my ear, "could care less" implies that the speaker doesn't really think about
      • by jcr ( 53032 )
        I don't think that error is a US/UK thing. I remember hearing the phrase used correctly for my whole life. I didn't start hearing people getting it wrong until the late '70s.

    • I would have to agree. The only time Alienware really trumps anything in value is when it comes to their laptops. You just can't get very many gaming laptops that perform like theirs do. Then again, nobody likes spending 5k+ for a laptop that weighs 17lbs.
  • by Crasoum ( 618885 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:02AM (#15993866) Journal
    When you buy Alienware you buy the name, and the spiffy injection molded case.

    The rest is a good solid markup of 30% or more.

    • You could probably get the same hardware for much cheaper, and get a local artist to custom paint it to make it look nice. I'd much rather have a custom painted case than something I bought off the shelf. It's kind of like all those "modded" cases you can buy that are pre-modded. It's not a mod unless you actually "modify" it yourself.
  • Well Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:06AM (#15993895)
    a) Alienware was never about price/performance
    b) It doesnt use the fastest GPU solution, but the second fastest. So it obviously sucks and all (not that it would have any better price/performance if it used the more expensive sli version)
    c) They account the difference in the kribibench score as "the Geforce makes the difference". Sorry, mr not-the-brightest-bulb. Kribibench is a CPU only benchmark. Next try.
    d) Any site that comes with those nice "submit this article to slashdot/digg/assfaggot" bottoms should be banned per default. Its just arcticle spamming taken to the next level.
    • Re:Well Well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:09PM (#15994317)
      I disagree. A little less than 20 years ago, I sold PCs, and was intimately familiar with the exact specs to get the ultimate in performance. (This was in th days of 30 pin SIMMs mind you.) This new company named Alienware appeared on the scene, and I figured they'd be like everybody else: Nope. Every single solitary thing I'd have chosen, their machines had. They had the fastest RAM, in a decent amount (2x what most PCs come with in other words.) fastest and best of everything.

      I'm sad that they're not like that anymore. Their service sucks too apparently: Recently a coworker of mine ordered an Alienware, one of their mid-range models. There was a recall of this motherboard used, so they set his system to 'back order'. Over a month went by, they got the motherboards in stock, but - oops - they were now out of the video card! ('JIT manufacturing' for the loss, I guess.) At this point, it seems to me that to keep your disappointed customer happy you either refund a few hundred dollars of their money or bump them up to the next better machine for the same price. Alienware did nothing. My coworker held out another 2-3 weeks at least, and finally cancelled his order.

  • What you pay for. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZachPruckowski ( 918562 ) <> on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:06AM (#15993901)
    You pay extra (over the XPS or the custom-built machine) in exchange for extra service/support and the style factor. That's all it is. Quality parts assembled by a quality manufacturer in a sleek case. For a lot of people who want to game, and have more money than computing knowledge or assembly and maintenance time, Alienware or XPS is worth paying more for. They get something that "just works" (as well as any Windows PC does) with a warranty, and insure themselves from making stupid component decisions (stuff that is non-compatible, or stupid bottlenecks)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      You pay extra (over the XPS or the custom-built machine) in exchange for extra service/support and the style factor. That's all it is. Quality parts assembled by a quality manufacturer in a sleek case.

      Sounds suspiciously like Apple.
      • Sounds suspiciously like Apple.

        I almost mentioned that in the post. But Apple differs in that you get a complete software ecosystem that does a lot of things better than Windows (but some things not as well). You can't BYO OS X on Intel machine (at least not legally, in the US, right now). Apple attempts to distingush itself from Dell/HP/Gateway with the OS and the ease of use. Dell/HP/Gateway try to distingush themselves from a BYO solution with service/support and ease of set-up. It's similar, but
    • Stupid Bottlenecks?! Kind of reminds me of my dad who calls me every time he wants to upgrade something on his computer. Generally on Sunday or Monday after he's read the ads in the paper. Or perhaps he's been tooling around on his interweb connection and thought he spotted a deal.

      A typical voice mail...
      "Son? It's me. I just saw a deal on RAM. It sounds like a good idea, but I wanted to run it by you. I've been wanting to speed up my computer for a while and you said RAM can help. I just saw on (som

      • I meant more like having 800mhz DIMMs in a board that only supports 667MHz DDR2, or X6800 with a PATA harddrive, mis-matched DIMMS in a dual-channel motherboard, or a 250W powersupply with a dual-core + SLI system. Stuff like that that a novice computer builder might not realize immediately.
  • Are they finally admitting what many other people knew all along?
  • Out of interest... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fred Or Alive ( 738779 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:08AM (#15993910)
    When did everything start becomming SKUs? Recently it seems everything is an SKU now. I knwo what it means, I just don't know why it seems to be thrown around so much, like in this quote. Why not say "... it's relatively poor in comparison to other systems that we've reviewed recently." or something.
    • by unts ( 754160 )
      BWALA (Because We All Love Acronyms)! []
    • Oh, but surely you don't suggest they use regular street language! Everyone prefers the following:

      "it's relatively poor in comparison to stock keeping units that we've reviewed recently"

      Doesn't that sound way better? The only thing the article lacked was more information on the universal product code and serial number.
    • Yeah, that's wierd. Especially since "SKU" implies that all products with the same SKU are identical; the blue ones and the purple ones will have a different SKU. The reviewers usually don't review one of each color. That's the whole point of Stock Keeping Units; they're used for inventory management. For a semicustom product like the Alienware machines, or for a review, it's not really the right term.

      In manufacturing, the terms "part" and "part number" are used. A "part" is an instance of a "part nu

  • by ronkronk ( 992828 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:08AM (#15993913) Journal
    In regards to Alienware's horrible customer service, I've got to weigh in. Last year I bought a laptop from them expecting a 15" 4:3 screen as pictured on their website when I ordered it. It took over a month to arrive, and what I got was a 15" widescreen with a 1680x1050 resolution -- I'm a young guy with decent vision (with corrective lenses) but this was too damn small for me and not what I ordered.

    Add to that my X, C, and V keys were DOA, and when I powered up the computer it informed me the CMOS battery was dead. Alienware advertises extensive power-on load testing -- if any of that were true, they would have found and corrected this problem as soon as they tried to power it up! Additionally the video card and wifi drivers were not installed, so their marketing B.S. about fine-tuning drivers for you is just that.

    To top this all off, I had to pay a 15% restocking fee to return my laptop for a refund. That was a $4k machine. Even after their false advertising as to the laptop design and absolutely no in-house testing -- despite the falsified testing sheet that came with it -- I lost $600 to them and it was two full months until I got the 17" Gateway laptop I now have. And it runs great.
    • by jackbird ( 721605 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:25AM (#15993995)
      And you didn't do a chargeback with your credit card company?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fm6 ( 162816 )

        Yeah, really. People get away with chargebacks that are outright fraud, never mind a customer with a long laundry list of legitimate complaints.

        Restocking fees are for "I decided I didn't want it" situations, not defective merchandise that wasn't what you ordered. Of course, the customer service drone may try to tell you otherwise...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 )
      Give me your lunch money.
    • The screen thing could be chalked up to your fault for not looking at the specs. What I'm trying to figure out is why you paid a restocking fee in light of all the other issues that were going on with the computer.

      My first call would've been to Alienware to let them attempt to rectify the situation, and my next call would've been to my CC company stopping any charges.
    • by 955301 ( 209856 )
      You should have bought a sager. [] That's all alienware notebooks are, with a paint job. And their customer support is nice and responsive. 1 year warranty, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nanoakron ( 234907 )
      And you didn't threaten to take them through small claims courts for (what you say are) obviously falsifiable claims?
    • Did you really have to pay that restocking fee? I don't know what the law is where you are, but here in the UK selling kit that wasn't fit for purpose would make the seller liable for pretty much everything automatically, and the authorities would be able to chase them pretty straightforwardly if they didn't refund everything in full. IIRC, they may even be liable for things like the return shipping. What jurisdiction are you in, and does it really not have consumer protection laws along similar lines?

  • Why the hell does the blurb refer to the computer as a 'Stock Keeping Unit' [1]?

    1: at least, that's what Google tells me 'SKU' means...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hansamurai ( 907719 )
      Because each product is assigned a "SKU" at the store level. I worked at Staples for a few years and each product had a six digit number associated with it, including computers. That number was Staple's SKU.
    • Because saying "system" or "model" or even "computer" doesn't sound business-y enough. "Computer" = Old and busted. "SKU" = Teh new hawtness.
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      The regular reviewer was out for the day and the review was actually done by the kid who works in the mailing room. SKU is all you ever hear about in the mailing room.
  • by kclittle ( 625128 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:13AM (#15993939)
    [In some glass-walled corner office in Round Rock, TX...] "Oh, come on, just paint the box some bright color, put the 'Core 2 Duo' badge on it, then slap on an 'Alienware' label and no one will be the wiser."
    Oh, well...
  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:15AM (#15993946)
    The old Alienware PC was an overpriced underperformer. The only difference is that they are owned by Dell now so you can get worse customer service from them if such a thing is possible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ZaMoose ( 24734 )
      No, see, it's not truly Dell support - all of their support ops sound as if they are Russian/Ukrainian/former Soviet Bloc instead of Indian, which means I spend my numerous support calls thinking "Mahst get Mooce and Sqvirrel!" instead of "Welcome to Kwik-E Mart.

      It's an entertaining diversion, to be sure. The support still sucks, though.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:36AM (#15994059)
    It seems fair game now to compare the very highest end PC with a Mac Pro also running Windows Games, it would have been nice to see that as a comparison point.
    • It seems fair game now to compare the very highest end PC with a Mac Pro also running Windows Games, it would have been nice to see that as a comparison point.

      I suppose, but I doubt it is useful. Mac Pro's are designed as pro workstations, not gaming machines. This is mostly reflected in the graphics cards, which I suppose you can normalize if you're so inclined.

      • by laffer1 ( 701823 )
        You can compare Mac Pros to dell precision workstations without a problem. High end PC != gamer rig in some circles. Its possible to use a workstation as a gamer rig with a few modifications but its the best gamer rig.

        I wouldn't mind seeing more comparisons to Macs though. I want to replace my pcs with Macs provided I can dual boot them. (and no i don't mean windows)
  • Rehashed Sager? (Score:4, Informative)

    by 955301 ( 209856 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:05PM (#15994281) Journal
    But I thought Alienware has always been repackaged overpriced Sager notebooks []? The just slap a coat of paint on, then charge another $400 for their "value added" service.

    For example: l []
    This system is $3,229.00 before customization

    The equivalent Alienware notebook w/ a different paint scheme []:

    Sweet Jesus! I'm in the wrong business if I can repaint a notebook and sell it for an additional $1270 bucks!

    Okay, lemme hold my excitement and see the specs for the difference:
    Windows Home edition vs media edition
    Whoa! The video actually has *less* memory than the Sager!
    80G vs 120G hard disk
    And you're missing a bluetooth adapter that the sager has too!

    So you actually get LESS machine for $1270 more! Balancing out the hard disk only makes the Sager $3304, or $75 more expensive.

    Okay, I'm in! Anyone interested in buying this notebook, send me your money and I'll sell you a custom airbushed *cough* notebook. Free shipping!

    • I'd assume that Alienware also provides at least some iota of customer support.

      With Sager you're pretty much on your own, getting tech support from community message boards and such.

      So it's probably not worth $400-1250, but it's more than just a spiffy coat of paint.
      • by 955301 ( 209856 )

        That message board and a Sager rep in Florida got linux running on my system and pinned down a video driver for the embedded video camera. I've replaced a hard disk w/ no hassles and a quick turn around. After seeing the complaints about the Alienware support, my experience is that Sager's support more than breaks even.
  • Yeah those gold tipped cables that cost $60 gonna make the neon tubes in the cabinet 1.04% faster than anything you or yo momma can build.
  • Same thing for less (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cope57 ( 752357 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:07PM (#15994757) Homepage Journal
    A few years ago, I went to the Alienware website and customized my own PC for their price of $2,300.
    I did not go to the checkout though.
    Instead, I went to TigerDirect and purchased the same components that I previously configured at Alienware.
    I received the components, and built my PC.
    So what if the case does not have a Alienware logo on it.
    I saved $1,400 for basicaly the same machine.
    Hard to believe, but a $2,300 Alienware PC only cost me $900 for me to build it myself.
    No logo, great performance, I am happy.
    More individuals should build their own.
    It is not that hard. It comes with instructions.
    If you can build anything with step by step instructions, you can build a PC.
    I have bulit about 7 PC's for friends, and I rarely look at instructions now. It is that simple.
    So if you realy want the Alienware case, and have it all put together for you.
    If you are out for the *bling* as mentioned earlier, go ahead, enjoy your Alienware PC.
  • love my area-51 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hohlraum ( 135212 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:59PM (#15995153) Homepage
    I bought an area-51 a few years ago and its hands down the best computer I've ever owned. I've probably built around 2 dozen computers in my lifetime (handful for myself and the rest for friends and family) and this machine's stability is just completely amazing. I've never had a single problem with it or had to use the warranty while it still had one.

    The problem with modern hardware is that everyone is trying to make the highest performing components for a computer. What they aren't doing is making sure there components play nice with other components. With the alienware stuff you are paying for testing, styling and insurance that the system is made with the newest/best quality parts and that they all play nicely.

    Will I buy another one? Probably not cuz their prices are just insane now days. Back when I bought mine I priced the same components and I was only paying a few hundred dollars as a premium. It was totally worth the money after the fiasco I had on the home system I built a year earlier. So don't jump to bash Alienware so quickly unless you know what you are talking about.
  • You honestly can't even tell what parts you're getting these days. Your videocard could be using crappy RAM, you don't know the CAS timings on your memory, your motherboard probably isn't all that solid.

    In the end, you're buying a dell nowadays.

    Just buy your parts separately and assemble yourself. Much more satisfying that way, anyhow.

Forty two.