So... after having used this current laptop for about a year, I find myself fed up. It has trouble even playing YouTube videos these days, so I'm thinking I've just about ran it into the ground. That got me onto the kick of wanting a new computer. I've got some money saved up, so... I'm feelign like splurging a little. That altered my mindset from just "I want a new computer," to "I want a new, big and bad, computer!" Ha. It seems like "Alienware" might be the iPhone of computers, in that it's the "cool" thing to have for "gamers" or whatever. That, or maybe those fancy lights they have just have a "moth to the bug zapper" affect on people?
So... I looked into their products. "Ooh, shiny" I thought. I found myself looking more-so at their Laptops, since I love the mobility given with them. Going out of town for the weekend? Take your "life" with you, if you will, you know? Plus, if the power goes out... at least you can still play solitaire for a while, you know? Lol.
I came sooooo close to hitting the "Checkout" button on one of their big M18x laptops. However, I got to thinking... how much of that $5,000 price tag is for the name, fancy logo and the pretty lights, you know? That... and I've always heard bad things about Dell. So... I backed out. Especially when asking people if they're worth it, and kept getting suggested to "build your own." Not too into the idea of doing that though, but going to a PC shop and having them build one seems like a reasonable option for me.
So... I went into a local shop and spoke with the owner for quite some time. I went in with the general idea of "I want big, really big" in terms of performance. Desktop by this point, mind you. I kind of want to "future proof" myself a little. I know that all PCs have a lifespan, most starting to hit the retirement home around the 5 year mark. However, I'm wanting something that I won't have to worry too much about for that kind of time period. Tired of buying these budget systems and wanting to throw them out of the window in a years time because I feel they just don't perform well anymore and be capable of handling what I want to throw at it, whatever that may be.
I must say... never really a big gamer, but I think that is in part because I never really had a "gaming PC". I've been interested in some games before, and tried Demos only to have them lag so badly that it wouldn't be feasible to play them on the computer I have at the time, or not even meet the specs enough to want to load. I do a lot of multi-tasking though. I constantly have programs running in the background. I usually have music playing while doing anything and everything from surfing the net to marking up a website (sometimes in Dreamweaver, sometimes in just EditPad or similar).
I'm just looking for something that is going to run smooth and be capable of running a game if I happen to run across some screenshots and think "That looks cool, I'll give it a try." The owner of the shop asked me what my budget was, and without really thinking I threw $2,000-$3,000 out there as a price window. That's something I can afford right now, and it seems like it's enough to put together something to really be proud of. Here's the specs he was throwing around for the PC Package he would do (mind you, I don't have exact details on a lot of it):
8-core AMD CPU @ 3.1ghz (FX8120)
3 TB Hard Drive
Windows 7 Ultimate (not liking what I've seen of 8)
BluRay Burner with Software
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse set
Wireless PCI Network Adapter
2GB video card, GeForce GT 640
21.5" LCD Monitor
52-in-1 card reader
Like I said, pretty generic specs, don't have model numbers for a lot of it. Also don't know what kind of motherboard he would be looking to use, etc. It does come with a 3-year warranty on all the parts and such, and he's said in the 15 years he's been dealing with the supplier he's got, he's only had to make like 3 warranty claims. Could just be a sales pitch, as it seems the odds of warranty claim would be higher than that. The price he quoted me for this build was $2,175 plus tax, take home price of $2,351.18. He ball-parked it in the store that day as being around $2,400, so he actually came in under his estimate.
My biggest reluctance is... AMD vs. Intel. I've always had Intel processors, and don't know much about AMD. Nor the difference between the two. I've heard it said that Intel is better for gaming, while AMD is great for like video editing and such. I keep getting recommended to go with an Intel though, due to the gaming, more "standard" choice, etc. The shop owner said it's more of a personal choice with no real benefit one way or the other. I've since sent him an email asking what a build with Intel may look like in terms of components and price, but still awaiting word on that.
I'm also pretty lost on the video card. I've never messed with 'after market' cards, simply relying on the built in graphic chips (which is probably my biggest problem with my previous PCs not wanting to play nice with games). This has a single 2GB, whereas in other peoples "high end specs", I keep either seeing a single 4GB card or dual 2GB cards. What should I be going for in this department? While I would probably primarily use the monitor, I might at times output to my 32" 1080p 3D TV, either as the primary display or as a second one. Like if I were wanting to watch a movie while writing some Web code, haha.
I was discussing these specs and quoted price with a co-worker the other night who has done a couple high-end builds himself and he said it sounds about spot on for a really high end computer. He expressed his preference for Intel too though, as well as questioned the video card thing. So... I don't know.
I've seen some recommendations to run a SSD, even if just a smaller one to run your OS and a few frequently used programs from since they offer better read/write performance and thus will result in faster and smoother boots and such. The shop owner seemed to shy away from it though, saying you wouldn't see much performance boost there. Maybe a second or two.
I'm just trying to really put some thought into this and collect some opinions. Dropping a lot of money into anything, computer or otherwise, shouldn't be taken lightly. I know the specs we discussed are overkill (in some areas, by a long shot), but like I said. I want something that may not be "high end" in 5 years, but something that might still be a little respectable by then. You know? So... any opinions? Especially on the whole "Intel vs. AMD" thing, the video card dilemma and whether that's a fair ballpark for a good "high end" PC.
PS -- You deserve a cookie if you read all of this. Oops. I have a bad tendency to turn what could even be the shortest of messages into a chapter from a book. A really big book.
Edited by Kain, 29 November 2012 - 03:26 PM.