Never built a system before, looking for some advice from those of you that have. Below is an Alienware system I can buy for $2150.00. What could I build a system like this for or what improvements could be made by building it myself? Thanks for the help!
OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit
CHASSIS COLOR Lunar Shadow, Alienware Aurora Chassis
I can't seem to configure that for less that $2300 on the Alienware site.
The benefits to doing it yourself are that you can assure the specs and quality of the parts you're getting. For example, the RAM could be CAS 9, when the recommendation for gaming is CAS 7. The hard drive could be a Hitachi 5-platter drive, while the best 500 GB drives today are single-platter. That's the case with any pre-built system, it's not specific to Alienware.
I've actually bought more than one Alienware and I've generally been satisfied, but there's no question that you can save money by doing it yourself (above a certain price point, generally around $600-700) and as mentioned, you can guarantee the quality of the parts.
The primary reason to go with a major supplier is so that they take on the risk & support of the system. If you build it yourself, you're on the hook for providing support, but most of the parts you buy will have a good manufacturer's warranty.
I'll try working up a build, but I suspect that someone (MadAdmiral) will beat me to a decent build before I'm done.
The actual price was $2,428.00, but it was $249.00 off b/c of a sell they are having. If I could save money and get the same system or know where I could upgrade using the money saved I am all for it. Thanks in advance.
Total: $2260 (without shipping, including SSD, including a couple of minor MIRs)
Total without SSD: $1885 (without shipping, including a couple of minor MIRs)
Tack on $30 for a Hyper 212+ cooler if you want to overclock, additional for a sound card or gaming network card, though I don't believe they're worth the money. In general, the recommendation here is that onboard sound is really great these days, and most people can't tell the difference. Therefore, go with onboard and if it really bothers you, get a sound card after the fact.
Note that I included and SSD in this build, which the Alienware doesn't have. You could remove that and save $375 right there. However, if you're willing to spend over $2k, I think an SSD is worthwhile, as it will improve the perceived speed of the system. The computer will boot up faster, and any applications you have on the SSD will launch instantly.
Short version: Guaranteed quality parts and exactly the same specs (minus the sound card & gaming network card) for under $2k (without the SSD).
Long version: Someone might suggest a more powerful PSU, which isn't a bad idea, but if you're not planning on CrossFire-ing the 5970, you should be fine at 750W. The quality of the PSU is known (unlike with the Alienware). The quality of the RAM and hard drive are known...that is basically the fastest RAM that you can get for socket 1366, and the hard drive uses 500 GB platters. The quality of the motherboard is known, and it does 2 x16 PCI lanes in case you do decide to CrossFire later (though with the 5970 that's probably unlikely).
One more thing, you will probably need a powered DisplayPort adapter for about $90 to get the 3rd monitor going.
I haven't added wireless to a desktop myself, but I would tend to prefer the cards, since they have more room for larger/multiple antennas. A USB adapter would work if you're just looking at short-range and not through too many walls, though.