My first time posting here, thankful for all the useful information I've been finding on this great site over the years.
Anyway, I have a question where I'd really appreciate your opinions.
I am about to buy a new gaming rig and have selected some components which I was about to order. But since I have very limited time I am a bit reluctant to buy eveything in components since it's been years I put a computer together and configurated everything correctly. One of my friends who happens to work at a big HW company is able to give me a huge discount on an Alienware Area-51 rig with a fairly similar spec, which would save me the pain on putting everything together myself. With the discount it would end up at the same price as the component alternative. However, my knowledge of Alienware computers are a bit hazy nowadays. Also their configuration tool lacks a lot of information motherboard, brand/quality of memory/HD etc. This made me end up being a bit unsure about this second alternative.
My main question is if I making any tradeoffs on performance if I choose the Alienware solution just to avoid the hassle of building the rig myself? Or maybe this is a no-issue with performance being similar since memory, graphics card and processor are almost identical? Which would you think give most bang for the bucks?
Any other comments on the two different cases, cooling, future proof etc would be very appreciated.
Considering that this section is about building it yourself, no one is going to tell you to get the Alienware. You're going to spend extra for lower quality parts, especially the motherboard, RAM, HDD and PSU. The reason you don't get details on them is because they're not good ones. You also don't need the network card or the sound card.
Not only that, but the build you put together is not that great anyway. Check out this one:
EDIT: Forgot to mention this. If you want better advice, follow the guidelines from the link in my signature. If you give us a budget, usage, and other information, we can put together the best answers to your questions.
On the CF 5850s: Yes, that is close at stock. However, the 5970 is acutally two 5870s on one card, with the cores slightly downclocked. You can undo that downclock with three clicks of the mouse, meaning that you can pay $700 for $800+ worth of power. Also, the 5970 only takes one slot so you can either save money by getting a single PCIe 2.0 board (not available for LGA1366 CPUs) or still add a second in Crossfire later. I think that's worth the little extra cash.