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MyCustomBuild vs High(er) End Alienware X51

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February 10, 2012 1:29:55 PM

Hi All,

I've been agonising over whether to get one of the new X51's from Alienware (i know i know, but they are just so pretty!! lol).

Following a conversation with a techie friend of mine, he has told me that with half a brain, and half an hour i should be able to put together a decent home built system that would beat the crap out of the Alienware one, whilst futureproofing myself and even saving money!

Alienware Stats:

CHASSIS COLOUR Alienware X51 Matte Stealth Black Chassis
PROCESSOR Intel® Core™ i7-2600 (3.40GHz, 8MB L3 Cache, 4C)
OPERATING SYSTEM English Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium (64 BIT)
GRAPHICS CARD 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 555
MEMORY 8GB 1333MHz (2x4GB) Dual Channel Memory
HARD DRIVE 1TB Serial ATA (7,200 rpm)
OPTICAL DRIVE DVD+/-RW (Read/Write)
SOUND CARD Internal High-Definition 7.1 Performance Audio
WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY Integrated 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Wireless LAN
SECURITY SOFTWARE No Security/Anti-Virus Protection
SERVICES AND SUPPORT 1 year Next Business Day hardware Support included with your PC

Total: c.£950.00

Now... With my hugely amateurish knowledge of building this kind of system (having only built low/med range before) i thought i would give it a go to beat this.

I came up with this lot:

CPU: i7 2600 (3.4Ghz) 229.4
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/intel-core-i7-2600-s1155-sandy-bridge-quad-34ghz-hd2000-igp-850mhz-8mb-cache-95w-retail

RAM: 16GB (Quad Channel) 78.19
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/16gb-(4x4gb)-corsair-ddr3-vengeance-lp-jet-black-pc3-12800-(1600)-non-ecc-cas-9-9-9-24-xmp-15v

CASE: Shiny Blue case (inc fans) 37.42
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/xclio-nighthawk-mid-tower-case-full-black-with-side-window-and-3-x-120mm-silent-blase-fans-and-fan-c

HDD: Seagate ST1000DL002 1TB 82.92
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/1tb-seagate-st1000dl002-barracuda-lp-green-sata-3gb-s-5900rpm-32mb-cache-12ms-ncq

SSD: 64GB SSD 60.77
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/64gb-ocz-technology-octane-25-ssd-sata-ii-3gb-s-indilinx-everest-mlc-flash-read-275mb-s-write-75mb-s

MB: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 82.42
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/gigabyte-ga-z68ap-d3-intel-z68-s-1155-ddr3-sata-iii-6gb-s-raid-sata-pcie-20-(x16)-vga-on-board-atx

PSU: Corsair AX 850W 149.82
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/850w-psu-corsair-professional-series-gold-850ax-modular-90eff-80-plus-gold-sli-crossfire-eps-12v-qui

GPU: 1GB MSI HD 6850 117.85
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/1gb-msi-hd-6850-cyclone-oc-4400mhz-gddr5-gpu-860mhz-960-stream-processors-2x-dvi-hdmi-displayport

OS: Windows 64 72.08
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/microsoft-windows-7-home-premium-64-bit-sp1-operating-system-single-oem

Total = c.£910.00

Now, this is about £40 cheaper (which will probably be lost in the shipping/handling/DVD drive etc. etc.) and doesn't come with a warranty for me screwing up putting it together...

From looking at it, i *think* it's better, more powerful and generally more futureproof... But is this worth the hassle in getting it all put together (and the associated chance of me setting fire to myself lol)?

Am i far off? Are there better ways to put something like this together? Everywhere i look on these forums people are saying that Alienwares aren't worth the money, but i could get a 10% discount on the system (so it would be closer to £850 all in) and i'm tempted to just go for the easy option and order one (and did i mention how pretty they are?) But there is this big part of me that knows the custom option gives me *every* thing i want (including the SSD for faster booting and the option to add another 6850 GPU for extra graphics goodness... Unless i've horribly misunderstood Crossfire potential...)

So... Any suggestions?

(And just to clarify - i will be using this for gaming - i would love High graphics, but not too worried about Ultrahax graphics etc.)

So... What do you think? :) 

Thanks all
a b B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2012 1:44:11 PM

If you fill this out first then we will be in a better position to help you

Approximate Purchase Date: (e.g.: this week (the closer the better))

Budget Range: (e.g.: 600-800) Before / After Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: (e.g.: Folding@Home, gaming, surfing the internet, watching movies)

Parts Not Required: (e.g.: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS) **Include Power Supply Make & Model If Re-using**

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: (e.g.: newegg.com, ncix.com -- to show us selection & pricing)

Country: (e.g.: India) we need to know where these parts are being assembled

Parts Preferences: by brand or type (e.g.: I would like to use an AMD CPU & Biostar mobo with a 24" LCD and full tower case)

Overclocking: Yes / No / Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Yes / No / Maybe

Monitor Resolution: (e.g.: 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1440x900, 1600x1200, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200)

Additional Comments: (e.g.: Need to have a window and lots of bling, I would like a quiet PC)

My initial thoughts would be, if your only using this rig for gaming then you dont need an i7, just stick to an i5 2500k or even 2400.

Also 16gb of ram is pretty much a waste, 8gb will be plenty.

As hard drive prices are rather high at the moment i would get a smaller capacity drive unless you really have need of the 1tb.
a b B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2012 2:06:53 PM

Can't seem to edit my post for some reason :/ 

Anyway:

Additionally try to get a SATA 3 SSD rather than sata 2.

850w is far too much for what you need 600/650 would be enough. Just make sure its a good brand antec, seasonic etc and at least bronze rated.
Related resources
February 10, 2012 2:08:03 PM

Hi Mike, apologies - i had thought a lot of the answers were inherent in what was being said/written... But in the interst of clarity i have completed:

Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP

Budget Range: (e.g.: 600-800) under £1k (UK Pounds)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Office Work, Movies, Internet

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse and monitor

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Don't care

Country: UK

Parts Preferences: Don't care

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Hopefully that clears things up; it was more to get a comparative machine specs and stats wise as the X51 for the price (hence the posting of the specs of both)

Re: 16Mb being overkill... I was under the impression that 4 x RAM slots would allow for better performance? Is this incorrect?

Also, i5 vs i7 - again, this is based on the understanding that the i7 was a lot more powerful and more energy efficient than the i5 - and spending the extra £100 now to save £200/300 later when upgrading would save me time and money in the long run - again, please do correct me if i am wrong.

As for the two GPU's - do i have this right? I thought i had selected a Motherboard and a GPU that was pretty decent on a single GPU basis, but then one could add another card (that is the same...) and significantly improve performance - again, please do correct me if i am wrong - this is a rather large learning curve for me :) 

Thanks!
February 10, 2012 2:10:55 PM

Hmmm... Apparently i'm 'Not allowed to edit' my post either... How od...

Anyway: Re: PSU: Looking at the prices there was only about £10 difference, so i thought i may as well go for the more powerful one (again, for futureproofing and i would rather have too much available rather than not enough, especially when adding a second GPU later etc.)

Thanks
a b B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2012 2:16:18 PM

A lot was covered but it never hurts to have all the info.

Re: Ram - 2 sticks of 1600mhz will be more than enough for gaming, only time you'll need more is for things like advanced video editing.

Re: i5 vs i7 - once again, same principal as the RAM, no games currently on the market will utilise the additional power of an i7 over an i5 as far as i'm aware.

IMHO one single powerful card is better than running two or more in sli/xfire. Saves heat and power. The card you've selected is a good card, however if you could squeeze a little extra cash which you should be able to by dropping the RAM and moving to i5 then get the 6870.

Hope that helps.


a b B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2012 2:25:27 PM

HomeGamer said:

Re: 16Mb being overkill... I was under the impression that 4 x RAM slots would allow for better performance? Is this incorrect?

Also, i5 vs i7 - again, this is based on the understanding that the i7 was a lot more powerful and more energy efficient than the i5 - and spending the extra £100 now to save £200/300 later when upgrading would save me time and money in the long run - again, please do correct me if i am wrong.

In a gaming scenario, anything over 4GB is really overkill, but with RAM being so cheap right now, an 8GB (2x4gb) kit is the sweet spot in a price/performance viewpoint. For some reason, people have a harder time getting 4 RAM modules stable than getting 2. Also, you would only see a performance difference in a benchmark, not day to day usage.

The main difference between the I5-2500 and I7-2600 is the 2600 has Hyperthreading, a feature that games do not take advantage of. so you are spending $100.00 for something you would never use in gaming. By the time you need to upgrade the 2500, EVERYTHING else will have improved to the point that you wouldn't want to upgrade old tech anyway.
!