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New Alienware PC an Overpriced Underperformer

CmdrTaco posted about 8 years ago | from the woomp-there-it-was dept.

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 HEXUS.net'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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What did you expect? (5, Funny)

fotbr (855184) | about 8 years ago | (#15993837)

Its a Dell.

Re:What did you expect? (2, Funny)

ConsumerOfMany (942944) | about 8 years ago | (#15993841)

perhaps they forgot to check all the free upgrade boxes when checking out.....

Re:What did you expect? (5, Interesting)

DaveWick79 (939388) | about 8 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

emarkp (67813) | about 8 years ago | (#15994035)

They were overpriced before Dell acquired them. Their customer service is probably better now (since it hardly could have been worse).

Re:What did you expect? (4, Interesting)

qortra (591818) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

Tweekster (949766) | about 8 years ago | (#15994156)

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:What did you expect? (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 8 years ago | (#15994322)

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.

Re:What did you expect? (4, Informative)

Grym (725290) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

-Grym

Re:What did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994426)

Alienware computers look hideous. Something a child would covet.

Big ripoff Power Cable for $48 (5, Informative)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Inspiron 600m & Bluetooth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994170)

Have a 600m which developed the Bluetooth connectivity issue (pins loosing touch with the connector).
Was out of warranty, and I asked online text-support whether Dell has a solution for it, and the answer was that I need to call for support to "anazlyze" the situation, only that would cost me $200 to figure out if I have a problem.

Yeah, like I'm gonna blow $200 for them to figure out whether there is a problem. All I asked was whether they can take care of the problem, and I got that BS.

BTW, I know I can use an external Bluetooth, but that is not as convenient as an internal one.

Re:Big ripoff Power Cable for $48 (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#15994188)

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 (and just throw the Apple RAM in the bin or keep it as spare) than it is to buy the machine with 2GB. Apple want to charge $500 just for going from 512MB to 2GB, while Crucial only charge $250 for a pair of 1GB modules.

Re:Big ripoff Power Cable for $48 (1)

Korin43 (881732) | about 8 years ago | (#15994221)

The memory could be more expensive than you're used to because it's faster/higher quality memory. Good memory can cost a lot more than cheap memory.

This isn't news (4, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 8 years ago | (#15993849)

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:This isn't news (2, Informative)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 8 years ago | (#15993874)

*their

NEED MOAR COFFEE!

Re:This isn't news (1)

legoburner (702695) | about 8 years ago | (#15994001)

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 known for making these excessively priced gaming PCs.

Re:This isn't news (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | about 8 years ago | (#15994087)

I once saw a condominium that was offering "Free Alienware computer" with the purchase of one of their condos. I though to myself, "Perfect! An overpriced computer comes with their overpriced condo!"

Do a lot of rich people do this? (2, Insightful)

antdude (79039) | about 8 years ago | (#15994116)

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:Do a lot of rich people do this? (2, Interesting)

Don853 (978535) | about 8 years ago | (#15994216)

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 anyway, and those are the only two Alienwares I've every actually seen people buy.

Re:Do a lot of rich people do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994466)

Some idiots at my work got a few of them on the corporate budget. They are absolute pieces of junk.

I Was So Shocked... (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 years ago | (#15994118)

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 into quickly, etc. I was practical with my choice and so is my friend. Something which does the job and isn't ostentatious.

Gawd...

The cabinets you can get at the stores these days are BLING! The Dragon was laughable, there were a few others which looked like some Transformers theme and of course some pink outfit which would fit right in with My Little Pony figures all around it.

We managed to find a fairly decent modular aluminium cabinet, but we both left laughing at the stuff people were getting. One was buying a Dragon cabinet at Fry's when we left. I guess the people who make those things are laughing all the way to the bank. Funny stuff.

Custom Built way to go (4, Informative)

SSGamer (984809) | about 8 years ago | (#15993854)

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

Re:Custom Built way to go (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 8 years ago | (#15993912)

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?

Re:Custom Built way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15993968)

None I guess unless they can use a screwdriver.

Re:Custom Built way to go (4, Interesting)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | about 8 years ago | (#15993970)

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....

Re:Custom Built way to go (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | about 8 years ago | (#15993989)

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.

Re:Custom Built way to go (4, Insightful)

sqlrob (173498) | about 8 years ago | (#15993993)

If you want value, that is not necessarily true. Time is not free and needs to be factored in.

Re:Custom Built way to go (1)

psymastr (684406) | about 8 years ago | (#15994372)

Insightful my ass. Where I live (Greece) 90% of people who aren't buying their first computer pick the components and order them. You can have them delivered to you and ready to assemble or you can have it delivered assembled with the parts you picked (for a fee of about 5 euros or about 7$.)

OS is optional, you can install whatever you want.

Every time a discussion about Dell or Alienware or whatever comes up in /. I'm amazed how people with great knowledge on IT (/. regulars) can discuss how good or bad Alienware PC's are. It's just a brand name people, the components inside are that matter. Dell etc. just do the assembly.

Re:Custom Built way to go (1)

c_forq (924234) | about 8 years ago | (#15994555)

There are many times a year that the deals Dell has come out to be FAR cheaper then buying the parts alone, let alone the assembly time. And the brand matters because you know parts are going to be the same throughout the entire brand (for example ALL Dell desktops use non-standard motherboards and power supplies, and their power supplies are rated different). Yes it is what is inside that matters, but it is a lot easier to find out what is inside a Dell then what is inside many other brands.

Re:Custom Built way to go (2, Interesting)

Skrynesaver (994435) | about 8 years ago | (#15994394)

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 ;)

Re:Custom Built way to go (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 8 years ago | (#15994512)

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.

Re:Custom Built way to go (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 8 years ago | (#15994642)

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 professionals in the IT world, it's unlikely they could get paid for that time anyway having no paid overtime to do at work.

Re:Custom Built way to go (1)

zoney_ie (740061) | about 8 years ago | (#15994058)

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 panel if it acts up (admittedly unlikely). Incidentally, the derided Dell allow in their warranty (at least the one I got) the modification of my system (obviously only their components remain covered).

Not bad for prebuilt.

My current intention is to buy a 512MB graphics card for €300; the x1900xt is now (finally) at that price in Europe. But actually, I'm content enough to wait longer and see how things evolve with the release of the x1950xtx.

I'm shopping for a laptop though - and for that I haven't seen a good Dell offer yet (have been shopping for maybe 8 months). But many of the alternatives, while cheaper, are less flexible and not what I want. Actually, I did recently get a cheaper Dell system specced that matches what I can get with say, Acer, but really I want upgraded resolution (not just WXGA) at the same price (€1200-€1400). I'll keep shopping, checking and waiting, which is really what is most needed in getting good value.

Custom aspirin pillz ? (3, Funny)

DrYak (748999) | about 8 years ago | (#15994088)

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) ...

Re:Custom Built way to go (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 8 years ago | (#15994607)

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 the other hand, I'm also unwilling to buy an off-the-shelf box made up of mediocre components, with loads of software preinstalled (most of which I won't want, because the drivers will be out of date, I'd rather set up my own security software, etc.).

What I want, as a "power user" with some knowledge of the hardware but little time, is the ability to spec which major components I want, and have a system builder send me a box that's been tested before shipping and then wiped. I'm quite capable of installing my own multi-boot WinXP/Linux stuff, with my own hard drive partitioning scheme to share data, and so on. Just give me legit, standard-issue, unmodified copies of any software I want to install, and somewhere to download the latest Windows and Linux drivers for any hardware that isn't supported out of the box.

I was under the impression that Alienware used to supply that sort of kit, and coincidentally I've recently been thinking about buying my next PC and they were on the shortlist of possible suppliers, though I was somewhat concerned about whether the Dell buy-out would affect their business. I guess bad PR really does hurt, because the fact that I've seen this review now makes it much less likely that I'll buy from them.

Overpriced? (2, Informative)

BigDork1001 (683341) | about 8 years ago | (#15993857)

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.

the correct saying is "*couldn't* care less" (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

 

Re:the correct saying is "*couldn't* care less" (1)

Ansonmont (170786) | about 8 years ago | (#15994095)

I think the expression has evolved to encompass the meaning that, while technically, one could "care less," it is such a small difference that it isn't even worth the effort to imagine such a state. Just a thought.

On another off-topic, why do disgruntled and gruntled mean the same thing?
-A

Re:the correct saying is "*couldn't* care less" (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 8 years ago | (#15994367)

I think the expression has evolved to encompass the meaning that, while technically, one could "care less," it is such a small difference that it isn't even worth the effort to imagine such a state. Just a thought.


Or, it's being repeated parrot fashion without thought to the real meaning of the words and was misheard by the person who initially began spreading the corrupted version across the US.

 

Re:the correct saying is "*couldn't* care less" (1)

johntash (943003) | about 8 years ago | (#15994166)

Aha! Yes. It bugs me when I hear people say that too. You aren't alone.

Re:the correct saying is "*couldn't* care less" (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | about 8 years ago | (#15994291)

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. "Bloodclot" is actually from "blood cloth" and a word for a used tampon. Not exactly the sort of thing to say in polite company.

Re:the correct saying is "*couldn't* care less" (1)

rk (6314) | about 8 years ago | (#15994312)

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

It doesn't work as sarcasm either. (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 8 years ago | (#15994522)

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.

 

Re:the correct saying is "*couldn't* care less" (1)

matt328 (916281) | about 8 years ago | (#15994486)

That's how you're opposed to say it, I could of told you that.

Re:the correct saying is "*couldn't* care less" (1)

Reziac (43301) | about 8 years ago | (#15994549)

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 what they're saying.

As to the nominal topic, I suspect Dell "couldn't care less" so long as they can sell overpriced Alienware products to rich kids who think owning one turns them into a 1337 g@/\/\3r.

Re:the correct saying is "*couldn't* care less" (1)

jcr (53032) | about 8 years ago | (#15994552)

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.

-jcr

Re:Overpriced? (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | about 8 years ago | (#15994033)

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.

Not really a big suprise. (3, Funny)

Crasoum (618885) | about 8 years ago | (#15993866)

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.

Re:Not really a big suprise. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 years ago | (#15993905)

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 (4, Interesting)

imsabbel (611519) | about 8 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#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. (4, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 8 years ago | (#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:What you pay for. (1, Funny)

LaughingCoder (914424) | about 8 years ago | (#15994090)

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.

Re:What you pay for. (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 8 years ago | (#15994184)

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 not at all identical.

Re:What you pay for. (1)

steveo777 (183629) | about 8 years ago | (#15994296)

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 (some website) you could get 512MB of RAM for 20 dollars. It's PC133. What do you think?" My dad has a G5...

Re:What you pay for. (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 8 years ago | (#15994349)

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.

boost their sales-- start bundling (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | about 8 years ago | (#15993902)

They need to have a bundle with cpu and a set of spinners for your car.

Duh? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 8 years ago | (#15993904)

Are they finally admitting what many other people knew all along?

Out of interest... (3, Insightful)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Out of interest... (1)

nacturation (646836) | about 8 years ago | (#15993972)

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.
 

Misuse of SKU term (1)

Animats (122034) | about 8 years ago | (#15994368)

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 number". All parts with the same part number must be effectively identical. Manufacturing people say things like "That product has 154 parts but only 24 part numbers", meaning that only 24 different kinds of part are needed to make it.

Re:Out of interest... (1)

gatesvp (957062) | about 8 years ago | (#15994502)

The concept of SKU is to differentiate system from complete, shipping systems that you can purchase as a single unit. When the reviewer receives an "SKU" they're receiving an actual shipping unit rather than a custom-built and specified system.

Not that I really like the concept myself, but it may have arisen from previous complaints about "system" being too nebulous or being different from items that could be purchased (anything with an SKU can be purchased).

Alienware customer service (5, Informative)

ronkronk (992828) | about 8 years ago | (#15993913)

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.

Re:Alienware customer service (4, Insightful)

jackbird (721605) | about 8 years ago | (#15993995)

And you didn't do a chargeback with your credit card company?

Re:Alienware customer service (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | about 8 years ago | (#15993997)

Maybe by "fine-tuned" drivers, they meant the default windows drivers. Ha, so they're not lying.

Re:Alienware customer service (3, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 8 years ago | (#15994017)

Give me your lunch money.

Re:Alienware customer service (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994044)

That made me laugh out loud. OP is an idiot.

Re:Alienware customer service (1, Troll)

Kagura (843695) | about 8 years ago | (#15994091)

Woah, somebody correct me if I'm wrong but that's the most blatant corporate advertisement I've seen yet on Slashdot. And it wasn't even the brand new user number that gave it away.

Re:Alienware customer service (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | about 8 years ago | (#15994122)

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.

Re:Alienware customer service (1)

955301 (209856) | about 8 years ago | (#15994323)

You should have bought a sager. http://sagernotebook.com./ [sagernotebook.com.] That's all alienware notebooks are, with a paint job. And their customer support is nice and responsive. 1 year warranty, etc.

Re:Alienware customer service (2, Insightful)

nanoakron (234907) | about 8 years ago | (#15994378)

And you didn't threaten to take them through small claims courts for (what you say are) obviously falsifiable claims?

Bullshit bingo (1)

hcdejong (561314) | about 8 years ago | (#15993932)

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:Bullshit bingo (2, Informative)

hansamurai (907719) | about 8 years ago | (#15993954)

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.

The Dell Death Knell for Alienware? (2, Funny)

kclittle (625128) | about 8 years ago | (#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...

Should I tell him? (1)

hansamurai (907719) | about 8 years ago | (#15993942)

Wow, my friend just ordered one of these a few weeks ago, spent over $3,000 on it, Core 2 Duo and all. Ouch.

So was the old one. (3, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | about 8 years ago | (#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:So was the old one. (2, Funny)

ZaMoose (24734) | about 8 years ago | (#15994138)

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.

12 hours without failure? (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | about 8 years ago | (#15993967)

Why does Hexus give an award for not crashing after 12 hours? Shouldn't that be expected? I would expect that this would go at least a week without crashing. It's like giving a car a special award for not breaking down after a month.

Re:12 hours without failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994064)

maybe it's a 'special' award for those with 'special' abilities.

/vertisement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15993991)

urgh too many ads - my browser had a seizure :-(

Hey, you all ride Harleys, drive SUVs (1, Flamebait)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 8 years ago | (#15994024)

Overpriced underperformance is the American way. What are you complaining about?

 

Re:Hey, you all ride Harleys, drive SUVs (0, Flamebait)

955301 (209856) | about 8 years ago | (#15994376)


No I don't. I drive a toyota corolla and ride a mountain bike. Stop listening to stereotypes. I don't suppose you have a subset of your country's population taking advantage of it and being wasteful do you? Squatters on a socialized healthcare system? Excessive and ridiculous taxing? train bombings?

I'll take getting stuck behind an SUV any day.

Re:Hey, you all ride Harleys, drive SUVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994508)

This is one of those posts which needs a +1, bitchslap rating! :)

Cheaper. (1, Offtopic)

Damastus the WizLiz (935648) | about 8 years ago | (#15994056)

I recently purchased a pc from http://www.ibuypower.com/ [ibuypower.com] for less money then I would have payed building it myself and far cheaper then anything from Alienware. I dont think anyone needs to pay that much for a fancy case. anyone who wants a fancy case that bad should be able to make one.

No Mac Pro comparison? (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:No Mac Pro comparison? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 8 years ago | (#15994505)

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.

Price/performance ratios (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994072)

Ok so Alienware is overpriced and you pay a lot for a fancy looking plastic case.

This is news why exactly - it has been that way since they first started basically? Heck I wouldn't be caught dead with one of their machines, as people around me would be able to tell I dont have an ounce of sense and I'm not economically sane.

Re:Price/performance ratios (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994181)

And yet people wear Prada. Different worlds, my friend.

AMD is total shit now (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994115)

anyone who buys an AMD processor now is a fucking moron.

i am looking directly at you faggot amd fanboys now.

your beloved underdog company makes an inferior product. how does that make you feel?

LIKE A BITCH? I THOUGHT SO.

FUCK AMD.

Re:AMD is total shit now (0, Offtopic)

Comatosis (798554) | about 8 years ago | (#15994274)

Just grow up, will ya? Guess not.

Not that overpriced (1)

denoir (960304) | about 8 years ago | (#15994119)

I more or less just finished building my new PC and it is fairly similar to the Alienware as components go:

X6800 CPU

4 GB 800 MHz Corsair Memory

Asus P5b Deluxe Mobo

Asus Nvidia 7900GTX

1x150 GB WD Raptor

4x320 GB Seagate 7200.10 (RAID-0)

SB XFi E.Pro

It is stronger on some points (memory and disk) and weaker on some other mobo, gfx, but overall of comparable performance.

The Alienware costs according to the article £3000 = 4400 EUR . My home-built rig set me back roughly 3800 EUR = £2600. So they are a bit more expensive, but not much - and it's supposed to be a luxury computer - an indulgence for the rich and the delinquent ;)

And no, before you ask me, the rig is not intended for gaming, but is a heavy duty computation workstation whose work will to 90% consist of mulitplying very large matrices (while training neural networks). And most importantly, no I didn't pay for it, my company did ;)

Re:Not that overpriced (1)

tommasz (36259) | about 8 years ago | (#15994196)

In other words, Alienware charges £400 for a fancy case and craptastic support. My idea of "luxury" also includes value for money, and since I also consider that performance is a major element of value for any computer, Alienware fails on both counts.

Re:Not that overpriced (1)

denoir (960304) | about 8 years ago | (#15994414)

Well, you get a working computer out of the box and you get a warranty on the thing. When you build one yourself, you are completely on your own - there's no guarantee that the hardware you choose will work well together etc.

As for luxury, I would say that per definition it is something that doesn't give you value for money. That's what makes it luxury. You can look at luxury cars as an example of terrible value for money. Buy a Ferrari and it will most likely break down twice a week. Cost efficiency and even practicality go very much against the idea of luxury which is one of an unnecessary indulgence.

Dude... (1)

Omeger (939765) | about 8 years ago | (#15994173)

Just get a Dell. No wait- *KABOOM!!!!*

Re:Dude... (1)

onedobb (868860) | about 8 years ago | (#15994482)

Ohhh, wait it actually is.

Rehashed Sager? (3, Informative)

955301 (209856) | about 8 years ago | (#15994281)

But I thought Alienware has always been repackaged overpriced Sager notebooks [sagernotebook.com] ? The just slap a coat of paint on, then charge another $400 for their "value added" service.

For example: http://www.sagernotebook.com/pages/AMD_systems.htm l [sagernotebook.com]
This system is $3,229.00 before customization

The equivalent Alienware notebook w/ a different paint scheme [alienware.com] :
$4,499.00

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!

Don't set the bar so high (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15994346)

Not that I disagree with the outcome, but does Hexus even have a credible reputation for such reviews? I mean who are they from Joe with an opinion anyways?

I think it is, or should be common knowledge that Alienware is just what someone else said, PCs for those with disposable income that want a "bling" pc. With a little bit of research you can build a better performing PC for cheaper.

Bling Bling Nerd Spinners (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 8 years ago | (#15994419)

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.

New Alienware PC an Overpriced Underperformer (1)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | about 8 years ago | (#15994536)

Wait, this is considered news now?
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