While a bunch of people will probably see the word, “Alienware,” and get all excited, I’m NOT one of those people. I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you need a good GAMING computer, it is best to build it yourself. Companies that ship out pre-built gaming computers can jack up the prices because they know that gamers who don’t know how to build machines are more than willing to throw their money away on the best and fastest machines. And call me an elitist asshole if you want (it’s true), but if you’re really into PC gaming and you don’t know how to build a computer, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? I know, I’m terrible… LOL. Premium parts for a kick ass gaming PC are already expensive without markups by companies that ship out pre-built machines, so building your own gaming PC is always going to be cheaper.
I grew up as a Mac user and didn’t discover PC gaming until after I met my husband. One of our regular “dates” during our early relationship involved playing Diablo II together over the internet. Blizzard has always been awesome in that their games are both PC and Mac compatible, so the fact that I had a Mac was not an issue. When we started living together in 2001, I couldn’t take the family computer with me, so I needed a new computer. My husband and my coworkers had recently introduced me to EverQuest, which at the time was unavailable on Mac, so we decided to build me a PC. He bought all the parts and then we took an afternoon where he taught me how to build a computer. It was probably one of the most awesome and amazing days of my life. After that, I had a student job for awhile building and fixing computers for professors in the engineering department of University of Hawaii, so I got lots of practice putting the parts together.
When I turned 33, I bought parts for a new computer for myself and used the opportunity to teach my son how to build a machine. (Man, the background I used for my old blog makes me want to find that photo and use it here…) He was 13 at the time. Since he built this machine, I’ve replaced and added RAM, upgraded the video card twice, replaced the power supply, and replaced numerous hard drives. (I had REALLY BAD LUCK with hard drives. Little did I know that it was a drive controller issue on the motherboard. Oh well, now I’ve got more experience with troubleshooting.)
Since my husband and I are planning to move to the mainland, the idea was that we would take any data hard drives out of our current machines and build new ones once we reached our new destination. The idea of shipping two full size tower PC’s to the mainland just seemed stupid. The computers were getting older, anyway, so moving would have been the perfect time to build new machines. I had this factored in to the cost of moving. What I didn’t factor into the equation was the fact that my motherboard finally decided to just crap out on me. I could have just replaced the motherboard for about $100, but the rest of the parts were getting outdated. The processor, in particular, was starting to become the “minimum requirement” for most PC games. Thankfully, I don’t play first person shooter games, so it wasn’t THAT crucial, but even MMORPG’s were starting to tax my machine. Upgrading the video card helped, but I started getting to the point where I was running all my games on a pretty low setting. I’m not a crazy graphics snob, but I do like shadows and shimmering water. I’ve had to keep those kinds of things turned off lately.
So I started thinking about building a new machine, but I didn’t have the cash for that. I could put the parts on a credit card, but since I couldn’t pay down the balances immediately, I’d have to pay interest. I have a credit account with Dell and they were having a special that if you buy any Alienware on account, you would pay 0% interest if you pay it off in one year. THAT I could do. But then there is what I call the “penis envy problem” that my husband and I ALWAYS have when one of us gets new tech. It boils down to the fact that when one of us gets a new, shiny toy, the other gets sulky and grumpy. Seriously, it happens EVERY TIME. This is probably one of the ONLY things we ever get into fights about. We don’t fight about money. We don’t fight about trust. We don’t fight about chores. We don’t fight about not spending enough time with each other. We don’t fight about our son. We fight about playing video games together and new tech. LOL (On a side note, these fights usually only last for about 5 minutes. 15 minutes tops.) That was the other reason why I wanted to build new machines when we move. We’d build IDENTICAL machines, so no envy problem.
So I had to come up with a solution. My solution is in three parts. First, I bought him a Walking Dead PlayStation Vita bundle because it was something he wanted right now and we could afford that. (I already have a Vita and hate the Walking Dead, so there would be no tech envy here.) Second, I took the video card out of my dead computer and gave it to him to put in his machine since my card was faster than his. Third, I promised him an identical Alienware when we could afford it, so it’s in my best interests to pay off this machine ASAP! 😉
The next issue was to figure out which computer. I hate using laptops, so forget that. Then I had a choice between a full sized Aurora or a mini X51. I was really intrigued by the mini because I was now going to probably have to ship my new computer to the mainland when we move. The pros were that it’s small in size, but still has the parts to pack a serious punch. The major con was that although you CAN open it up and change things if you want, there is no room for expansion and the chassis is only large enough for a small to medium sized video card, so you can’t fit a full size monster card in there.
When I took ALL this into account, I decided to go for it. I ordered the machine and now it’s sitting unopened in a box on my second desk at work, while I type out this post on my lunch break. When I get home later, I will open it up, take photos, and write a post about the specs of the computer. お楽しみに！(Otanoshimini! Look forward to it!)