Saturday, March 17, 2007
Buying from Alienware
My last desktop and both notebooks I bought over the last couple of years were from Dell. I had my fair share of troubles with Dell logistics, but the machines itself were solid enough. But apart of having not much "street cred" among gamers, Dell now annoyed me by not offering gaming computers that are 100% Vista compatible. Their gaming models still come with Windows XP installed, and some of the hardware just doesn't work with Vista. But what I want is a computer that runs for the next 4 years, and I assume that in 4 years there will be only DirectX 10 games around. So I need a 100% Vista compatible computer, with Vista already installed and everything.
If I would live in the US, I'd have a much larger choice of suppliers of gaming PCs, for example Falcon Northwest, but these don't deliver to Europe. But one of them, Alienware, opened operations in Europe. So I spent some time building virtual computers in my browser, both at Dell and Alienware, and found the prices to be pretty much identical. Only that Alienware computers look better, have better "street cred", come with Windows Vista Home Premium preinstalled, and are guaranteed 100% Vista compatible (as long as you don't order one with two SLI graphics cards, as the technician explained me on the phone when I verified this). And comparing the websites it seems clear that while Dell is specialized in business PCs, Alienware only builds computers for gamers.
So here is what I just ordered for just under 3,000 Euro:
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4 GHz CPU, the "medium" model of the dual core processors, with the best bang for my buck. As I currently have a single core CPU, just with hyperthreading, the speed increase will be noticeable.
- Nvidia nForce 680i SLI motherboard
- Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS (640 MB), just a bit slower than a GTX, and fully DirectX 10 compatible. Only one of them, I really don't need SLI. According to different benchmark sites this card will already be twice as fast as my current Geforce 7800 GTX, and that is without accounting for the much faster CPU.
- 4 GB DDR2 PC-6400 SDRAM. If there is one thing I learned from years of buying computers is that you can't have enough memory. And Vista is a memory hog. I wouldn't dream of buying a Vista gaming PC with less than 2 GB, but I went for the future proof 4 GB.
- 700 W power supply, computers nowadays eat a lot more power. I could have taken a 1000 W power supply, but I don't plan to install a second video card.
- 2 optical drives. I took a second drive, because I figured that among two different drives I have a better chance of finding one that runs silently enough. On my current computer one of the drives makes far too much noise.
- 1 floppy drive, which I don't need, but couldn't unselect. Come on, floppy drive is so much last century.
- 250 GB hard drive. I have another 250 GB on an external hard drive nowadays, which makes switching computers a lot easier, so I don't need a bigger internal drive.
- Razor Diamondback Mouse, a gaming mouse, shiny
- a keyboard I won't use, I still have this wonderfull Logitech G15 keyboard
- funky case, network card, standard sound card (Vista doesn't do surround sound anyway), preinstalled Kapersky Anti-Virus (most XP Anti-Virus software doesn't run under Vista), and some useless free stuff like an Alienware T-shirt and mousepad.
So now I'll have to wait until the machine is built and shipped, two to three weeks, and then I'll see if the Alienware logistics is as bad as the Dell one. :)