Quite honestly, I am in the market for a laptop and I see virtually no difference between the alienware and any other laptop gaming pc. The price might be slightly higher, but you cant get a laptop of that quality from dell or gateway. There quite honestly isnt an "affordable" gaming laptop with the exception of the gateway fx series, so if you want an 8800 gtx then you are gonna shell out the money anyway.
The M17x is overpriced, but if you look at the specs, the M15x is actually quite reasonable for the features. Plus, it's a 15", so it is smaller and lighter than most gaming laptops, but it can still be had with top notch components.
Lemme back the "no Alienware" policy, based on pretty bad customer support (there are many sites devoted to this) and the cases apparently feel flimsy like cheap plastic (for the alien molding). But that's just personal opinion. But in terms of price, yeah, there are companies with better customer support that you can get at that price.
I used to be a big Alienware fan back when they were independent but now that they are owned by Dell it's all just BS. Dell is simply creating false competition with it's own XPS series. for high performance laptops Sager, Killer Notebooks, higher end Dell and if you really want to go nuts companies like Falcon Northwest (my personal favorite) can customize a laptop that will blow away pretty much anything out there.