#1 Posted by kgb0515 (411 posts) -

Hey everyone. I'm not much of a PC gamer, but I was thinking about getting a respectable system to dabble with some of the new games coming out. I have been looking at the Alienware AX51-0066BK Desktop. I know it has a slim case and it offers little in the way of future hardware upgrades, but I'm not all that tech savvy in the first place, so I'm just looking for something that will perform well without having to build it on my own. Any thoughts?

#2 Edited by AhmadMetallic (18955 posts) -
Do not buy from Alienware. That is thee first rule of buying a new gaming PC. Their shit is (from what I understand, since I don't live in the US) INCREDIBLY expensive compared to the prices you can get by picking your own parts and building the PC. 
 
So what you should do to save a whole lot of money and get a little technological adventure is to, like I said, pick the parts and build the PC. If you're not comfortable with building it, like I am, pick the parts and have a shop build it for you for a small fee. I always do that, I do not want to build it and do something wrong. 
Now what parts to buy revolves around your budget. How much are you willing to spend? Is the PC for gaming only?
#3 Posted by EXTomar (4125 posts) -

It is "okay" to buy from a vendor like Alienware if you do not have the skill, know-how, or time to research prices and build a PC on your own. Buying from a vendor will cost more but you get support and useful software where a DIY box will definitely not and a "local shop" will in short supply.

Either way the first rule is: Have a budget

The second rule: Don't break your budget

#4 Posted by kgb0515 (411 posts) -

I would be using it for video editing, photoshop and the like as well. I have a friend that just built a high end PC for around $900, but when I look at specs and processing figures, etc. my head starts to spin. I suppose I could have someone look up all of the parts and everything that I want, but I don't want to spend too much. $900 seems like a lot to me. I know that sounds stupid given the fact that the PC I mentioned retails for around $899, but still. I would want something that runs BF3 at medium to high settings and do all of the other stuff too. What parts bring the price up the fastest? Which components are most expensive?

#5 Posted by Elbon (366 posts) -

Don't

#6 Posted by psylah (2153 posts) -

This article pretty much sums up everything you need to know about Alienware, and by extension, Dell (its parent company).
 
http://consumerist.com/2012/04/dell-tech-support-manager-sell-your-computer-buy-something-not-made-by-dell.html

#7 Posted by Schatzy23 (158 posts) -

I'm about a month or two out from finally buying myself a computer to use for gaming. I do agree that it could probably be cheaper to build my own, but I like the idea of just buying one and if I wanted to, upgrading later on down the line.

budget@EXTomar said:

It is "okay" to buy from a vendor like Alienware if you do not have the skill, know-how, or time to research prices and build a PC on your own. Buying from a vendor will cost more but you get support and useful software where a DIY box will definitely not and a "local shop" will in short supply.

Either way the first rule is: Have a budget

The second rule: Don't break your budget

Third Rule: Do a little research on the components of the PC to figure out what the best use of your money might be, whether it's building yourself or buying a new system.

#8 Edited by mordukai (7092 posts) -

@AhmadMetallic said:

Do not buy from Alienware. That is thee first rule of buying a new gaming PC. Their shit is (from what I understand, since I don't live in the US) INCREDIBLY expensive compared to the prices you can get by picking your own parts and building the PC.

So what you should do to save a whole lot of money and get a little technological adventure is to, like I said, pick the parts and build the PC. If you're not comfortable with building it, like I am, pick the parts and have a shop build it for you for a small fee. I always do that, I do not want to build it and do something wrong. Now what parts to buy revolves around your budget. How much are you willing to spend? Is the PC for gaming only?

EDIT: Well not super expensive but do expect a 20-30% markup.

#9 Edited by UltorOscariot (164 posts) -

Alienware is wildly overpriced. It's little more than Dell's gaming line at this point. Perhaps read a few CNET to see what boutique manufacturers are making solid machines these days. I bought a machine from Maingear a year ago, and it's been solid, aside from a hiccup with a solid state drive. Just stick to your budget. There does come a point of decreasing marginal return in terms of perfomance.

#10 Posted by kgb0515 (411 posts) -

Any thoughts about the iBuyPower or CyberPowerPC units? I am reading reviews of them on Amazon right now, and there has been some negative feedback but has anyone actually used one? I know the popular thread here is that I should build one or have one built, but are there any known units out there that are decent in price and power that are worth my while?

#11 Posted by crusader8463 (14306 posts) -

@kgb0515 said:

I would be using it for video editing, photoshop and the like as well. I have a friend that just built a high end PC for around $900, but when I look at specs and processing figures, etc. my head starts to spin. I suppose I could have someone look up all of the parts and everything that I want, but I don't want to spend too much. $900 seems like a lot to me. I know that sounds stupid given the fact that the PC I mentioned retails for around $899, but still. I would want something that runs BF3 at medium to high settings and do all of the other stuff too. What parts bring the price up the fastest? Which components are most expensive?

Can't speak for Alienware, but I have been using a Dell XPS that I bought about 6 years ago and other than the case being complete shit, it's literally fallen apart, the computer itself has done me good and I can still play all games on the market today perfectly fine. Alienware is owned by Dell, so they are the same company. I only had to upgrade my video card, and that was just because I was an idiot and put off cleaning out my PC for too long and dust build up fried my cards.

Contrary to the popular opinion buying a pre-made computer from these guys is fine, but just know going in that you are going to pay more for less than if you took the time to build one yourself. It's not that the computer is bad, it's just that if you take a day or two and sit down with google and some tech forums you can build an amazing PC for a lot cheaper than what you would get out of a Dell or an Alienware. It's up to you if paying more for less is worth skipping out on the work that you would need to put into learning how to put one together. If this is your first time getting a gaming PC and you don't have access to smart people that know computers to help you when shit goes bad, I honestly can not recommend getting a Dell enough because they have an awesome tech support and part replacement warranty. If anything goes wrong on your computer you just call them up and they will walk you through troubleshooting and if it turns out to be a bad part they will ship you a new one no questions asked within days of the call. That alone is worth the premium in my opinion.

As for your question about what parts jack up the price, it's usually the Processor and/or the Video Card. If you are going top of the line crazy those can cost anywhere from $500-$1500 for each part. Back in reality where you are trying to build a low/mid range PC you should stick with a $200-$300 cap on each one of those components.

I'm not the type to memorize part and model numbers so I can't recommend specific parts or anything like that, but I suggest that you take a look at the Alienware that you want to buy then open up a new tab and go to newegg.ca and search for each of the parts they have listed in that computer and try just building it from the ground up there and you will see how much you will save. Plus newegg is really great for comparing other hardware with one another, so you can find better parts then what's in the Alienware. Just sort by user reviews and pick the top 5 of each component that fits your price range and go from there. Newegg has a ton of info on the site itself that tells you what to look for and what to avoid.

Also, PC gamer does an article every month or so where they build a PC in the price range you are looking for and offer links to where you can buy everything. Worth taking a look at if you want an idea of where to start building your own. The one in my link is around $1200, but that's for everything. Monitor, keyboard, mouse, headset. If you already have that stuff then it's probably right in your $900 price range, if not a tad cheaper since it's about a month old by now.

#12 Posted by NickyDubz (263 posts) -

I have an Alienware laptop and I'm happy with it so far but if u are getting a desktop its best to try and learn to build one yourself. It's not that bad, and the guys at tested.com have a great how to on the subject. Good Luck

#13 Edited by EXTomar (4125 posts) -

Remember buying Allenware you are buying into a brand name too. It is like being shocked that a baseline BMW costs as much more than a baseline Ford. If you don't need the Allienware sticker on the thing, then go with a vanilla Dell instead with matching specs would probably save a ton of money.

Really, you should treat it kind of like you are buying a car. Make a budget, stick to it, and look around as much as you have time allowed too. Don't exclude at least looking Apple or Allienware just because they are pricey.

#14 Edited by believer258 (11039 posts) -

@kgb0515 said:

I would be using it for video editing, photoshop and the like as well. I have a friend that just built a high end PC for around $900, but when I look at specs and processing figures, etc. my head starts to spin. I suppose I could have someone look up all of the parts and everything that I want, but I don't want to spend too much. $900 seems like a lot to me. I know that sounds stupid given the fact that the PC I mentioned retails for around $899, but still. I would want something that runs BF3 at medium to high settings and do all of the other stuff too. What parts bring the price up the fastest? Which components are most expensive?

$900. BF3 Medium settings.

Well, it's possible, but you'll be hard pressed to get that at 60FPS without building it yourself or getting a friend to build it for you. Meanwhile, people often suggest building your own because buying a pre-built gaming PC often gets you computers that are much weaker and cost much more than what you could build yourself. For instance:

NVIDIA GeForce GT 545 graphics processors (with 1.0 GB of DDR5 video memory)

I don't know much about that, but I'd definitely look for something better. Here is a video of it running BF3 - keep in mind that the card in that video has more memory on it, which doesn't mean as much as card makers might have you think but it's still something to keep in mind.

All in all? I definitely think you could do some PC gaming with that computer, but I'll warn you that you won't be doing it at great framerates and at the absolute highest settings on newer, more demanding games. Like I said before, you should also be aware that you could do better if you built it yourself.

EDIT: One last thing: I, personally, find 60 frames per second far more valuable than high graphics settings. Just a bit of advice.

EDIT 2:

@kgb0515 said:

Any thoughts about the iBuyPower or CyberPowerPC units? I am reading reviews of them on Amazon right now, and there has been some negative feedback but has anyone actually used one? I know the popular thread here is that I should build one or have one built, but are there any known units out there that are decent in price and power that are worth my while?

And I'd like to make this one plain: I have never heard one single good thing about either of those brands and just from looking at them they seem like really cheap knockoffs to me. It's just a hunch, but you couldn't get me to split with my money for one of those brands no matter the promise. Just don't buy those brands.

#15 Edited by kgb0515 (411 posts) -

@believer258: Yeah, there doesn't seem to be anyone on the web saying anything good about iBuyPower or CyberPowerPC. I think I may just take everyone's advice and build one. With that said, does anyone really find value in using controllers with most PC games, or does it really hobble the experience that badly? I have a Microsoft adapter that lets me use a wireless Xbox controller with a PC, but from my experience it's more beneficial to use a keyboard to map functions. How many people actually buy a fancy gaming keyboard?

#16 Posted by believer258 (11039 posts) -

@kgb0515 said:

@believer258: Yeah, there doesn't seem to be anyone on the web saying anything good about iBuyPower or CyberPowerPC. I think I may just take everyone's advice and build one. With that said, does anyone really find value in using controllers with most PC games, or does it really hobble the experience that badly? I have a Microsoft adapter that lets me use a wireless Xbox controller with a PC, but from my experience it's more beneficial to use a keyboard to map functions. How many people actually buy a fancy gaming keyboard?

Controllers in most modern games? A-OK. Particularly a 360 controller, those are supported by tons of different games these days. With that said, I would strongly recommend getting a mouse that you are comfortable using for long periods of time when playing FPS games, especially online. Compared to a mouse, analog sticks are far too inaccurate to really get anywhere in multiplayer FPS's. Using a mouse for aiming is quite a learning curve, so don't let that shock you.

Keyboards, though? I wouldn't invest in a gaming keyboard. Any ol' keyboard should do you just fine, provided it's comfortable.

Controllers in older games, though, aren't universally supported and aren't the greatest to use when they are.

#17 Posted by kgb0515 (411 posts) -

Does anybody have suggestions on a decent graphics card? Are the geforce 550 1GB models capable enough to handle most games at good settings?

#18 Posted by AlexW00d (6059 posts) -

@kgb0515 said:

Does anybody have suggestions on a decent graphics card? Are the geforce 550 1GB models capable enough to handle most games at good settings?

They can play games, yes. I would not recommend anyone buys one though, they are barely gaming cards. The 560ti is what people will tell you to buy if you're on a budget; you should listen to them.

#19 Posted by ObiKwiet (111 posts) -

@kgb0515 said:

I would want something that runs BF3 at medium to high settings and do all of the other stuff too.

Since you know exactly what you want out of it, you can review benchmarks run on that specific game. Google "bf3 benchmarks" and you should get a fuckton of benchmarks indicating what settings were used, what configuration was used, and so on. I find benchmarks to be the most useful tool when considering an upgrade (or a new machine). They will pretty much tell you exactly how your new machine will perform (provided the spec is similar of course). Also, keep in mind that BF3 is one of the most system intensive games on the market. If you find a graphics card that will run it well, you should have no problems running most other games.

On the subject of building it yourself, do you have a friend that knows how to build PC's that can help you? Building them is really not that hard. But having someone that can show you how is the best possible scenario.

#20 Posted by Subjugation (4693 posts) -

@kgb0515: The PC I used before my current one was something I ordered from Cyberpower and I honestly never had any problems with them or it. Having said that, I still endorse the idea of buying parts and assembling it yourself or paying a small fee and having someone do it for you. It really isn't that difficult. I built my first without any prior experience. I just read the manuals and looked at the pictures and it all came out just fine.

In terms of graphics card, you won't want to go below _850 for a Radeon based chipset or below _60 for an Nvidia based chipset. So a Radeon 6770 for example wouldn't do you any favors, nor would the Nvidia 550. The performance hit you take for the money you save isn't worth it.

#21 Edited by Jrinswand (1692 posts) -

OP, here's what you need to do:

  1. Go the the Reddit subforum, http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc. Those guys are wizards at getting you the best bang for your buck and the best parts.
  2. Use their suggestions and go to either www.BuyXG.com (I've had two computers built from this site - they do a great job) or http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/. I don't know how those Cyberpower guys do from personal experience, but I've heard good things.
  3. Buy a rig and wait for it to arrive. At BuyXG it has never taken longer than a week or so.

And there you have it. It's super easy and only costs a little bit more than building the PC yourself. It's really the ideal way to buy a computer if you don't want to learn how to build one yourself.

#22 Posted by Fattony12000 (6351 posts) -

@kgb0515: My MSI Twin Frozr GTX 570 runs The Witcher 2 at 1920x1080 on ultra (no ubersampling) at mostly 50-60 fps vsynced, so that seems okay. The fancy new 600 series is out now though ain't it? Of course, the old cards get, the cheaper they'll be, so I imagine a 570 would be a little be cheaper now.

#23 Posted by Azteck (7447 posts) -

Here's the best tip you will ever get.
 
Don't. Buy. Alienware. EVER

#24 Posted by Brendan (7511 posts) -

Isn't there a thread that someone curates with comprehensive lists of PC builds for several different budgets? Some should link the OP that thread, it's fantastic.