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Alienware, Sager, Others?

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November 17, 2009 2:27:44 PM

Before I lay down my reqs and budget, let me give you some background: I purchase roughly one laptop a year. About a year ago I decided to purchase an Alienware m9750. I have had nothing but problems with their support staff on 3 occasions. I have a failed Power Jack that I have to constantly "jiggle" it make it work, support woudln't RMA it as defective and so I refused to have it shipped for repair, this resulted in:

1) Failed HDD 7 months in, due to heat.
2) Failed Battery 12 months in.
3) "Glitching" video 13 months in.

All of these happen immediately after a "super-heating" scenario.

Aside from this, the m9750 has the WORST heat dissipation I've ever experienced on a PERFORMANCE laptop.

This year, I want quality, and I want service I can trust. Nobody wants to spend between 2 and 6 THOUSAND on a laptop to feel like they've been sold a defective product with defunct support services and a virtual non-existent warranty. We want our manufacturers to stand behind their product, without question, for the life of a warranty AT LEAST. After my most recent experience with Alienware I will never purchase from them again. I feel that, as a business, Alienware has taken a huge departure from what they used to be not even 5 years ago.

So, a friend online turned me toward Sager as an alternative to Alienware, a company I had never heard of before. Some of their laptop configurations look stellar (by configuration I mean location of HDD bays, Gfx cards, CPUs, cooling vents and fans, etc), my question to you guys is this: Aside from Sager, what other manufacturers are producing laptops on par or beyond what Alienware is providing, and what is their warranty, support services and customer service like?

Now for the good stuff, my reqs and budget for this year:


1_What is your budget?

6,000 USD or less


2_What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

No less than 17" with addt'l DVI and HDMI ports.


3_What screen resolution do you want?

1900x1200 minimum, higher preferred but unlikely.


4_Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

Desktop Replacement, I am looking for a DESKTOP i7-based laptop, as these offer better bus throughput than their mobile counterpart, I -do not care- about poor TDP.


5_How much battery life do you need?

1hr minimum, anything more is a blessing IMO.


6_Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

I'm a multiboxer, I will be running 5 to 8 instances of WoW from a single machine.
I also play a metric s**tton of games, and expect that if I drop 6K on a laptop it had better play top-end games 2 years from now.


7_What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.)

I'm a software engineer, I run between 6 and 10 instances of Visual Studio, run a number of test tools and need seamless switching from one app to the next. I need a system with no less than 4GB, I would prefer 6 or 9GB (I'm assuming, again, a triple channel config). I also need RAID-1 support as data loss is not an option in my line of work, I will likely purchase aftermarket SSDs for less than any laptop manufacturer is offering them for.


8_How much storage (H.D.D Capacity) do you need?

I need 3 bays, 2 for raid, a 3rd for "scratch" data related to my job.

9_If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post the links to them.

www.sagernotebook.com

I need some comparable alternatives that offer better configurations than Sager, if such a thing exists.


10_How long do you want to keep your laptop?

1 year for every $1,000 spent, we should all have that expectation. I need a warranty that will match that expectation.


11_What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?

DVD-RW, screw blu-ray it's dead-end. Streaming is the future of all media, and multi-layer DVD's will eventually be what we buy as geeks in 4-6 years, so I'm not going to blow cash on something I'll never use.


12_Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.

I have no preferences, except that I will not purchase from Alienware ever again, and as a side-effect I refuse to make any purchases from Dell.


13_What country do you live in?

USA


14_Please tell us any additional information if needed.

I remember when we could download all of TomsHardware.com onto a single floppy ;)  muahahah!


Thanks!

More about : alienware sager

November 17, 2009 3:03:48 PM

Also, any opinions/experience with these guys? A '2600' priced out is nearly $5600 pre-s/h, and unless I'm missing something it doesn't look like anything special. IMO their GoBOXX 2600 should probably be about 1200 cheaper than it is, perhaps they just don't sell enough of them to give consumers a good deal?

http://www.boxxtech.com/products/goBOXX/goboxx_overview...
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November 17, 2009 3:28:05 PM

Sager NP9280, Priced as Configured: $4523 pre-s/h

- Display: 17" Wide Viewing Angles WUXGA LCD with Super Glossy Surface (1920 x 1200)
- Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-975 Processor Extreme Edition ( 8MB L3 Cache, 3.33GHz, 6.4GT/sec QPI )[+$790.00]
- Video & Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M Graphics with 1GB DDR3 Video Memory
- Operating System: Genuine MS Windows® 7 Ultimate 32/64-Bit Edition[+$95.00]
- Memory: 12GB Triple Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz - 3 X 4GB[+$910.00]
- RAID Storage Options: RAID-1 Storage ( Data Mirror - Requires 2nd Hard Disk Drive )
- Primary Hard Disk Drive: 250GB 7200rpm SATA 300 Hard Drive[+$20.00]
- 2nd Hard Disk Drive: 250GB 7200rpm SATA 300 Secondary Hard Disk Drive in RAID configuration[+$70.00]
- Optical Drive: 8X DVD±R/RW/4X +DL Super-Multi Drive & Software
- Wireless Network Card: Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300AGN - 802.11A/B/G/N Wireless LAN Module
- Bluetooth: Internal Bluetooth V2.1 Module
- Primary Battery: Smart Li-ION Battery Pack (12 Cells)
- Microsoft Office: Microsoft Office Ready with Free 60-Day Trial
- Warranty: Sager 3 Year Limited Parts and Labor Warranty[+$269.00]

GoBOXX is less-than for the same form-factor and less gear (non-raid, no extra battery, etc.) So I likely won't purchase from BOXX.

Also, the NP9850 doesn't offer triple-channel DDR, doesn't offer a 12GB config, and even with a quad or extreme CPU doesn't have the same memory bandwidth as the NP9280. I don't see that Sager offers a better notebook if your goal is maximum performance combined with an absurd amount of system resources.

I will probably use the above as my "minimum requirements" for my new laptop, and I intend to make a purchase this weekend.
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a b D Laptop
November 17, 2009 5:18:01 PM

If you want a desktop i7 based laptop, the Sager NP9280 is about the only one you will find. Everyone else actually uses the same laptop that is based off a Clevo design, ie the GoBoxx you found. It's the same system as the NP9280 just with their name on it. The same goes for XoticPC, ProStar, EuroCom and a bunch of others. IMO, Sager offers better performance for your dollar than Alienware does.

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November 17, 2009 11:05:43 PM

After hours of digging through multiple product lines, I have to say that there are some impressive manufacturers (impressive in the sense of site and hardware look and feel.) I really liked WidowPC's site, and Falcon's laptop designs offering custom paint. Very tempting, but at an equally steep price.

You're correct in that all Desktop Core i7 providers are all rebranded "Clevo" laptops, at least that I could find. Of all the laptops I looked at today (about a dozen manufacturers) Sager provides the best value hands-down (some manufacturers provide comparable hardware at upward of 6k$, and manufacturers like Falcon can easily run you nearer 8K depending on customization, with 'less-than' comparable components at a higher cost, etc.)


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November 18, 2009 12:28:52 AM

I too was just recently given the "SAGER" brand name as an option for the laptop purchase. And while it seems you are looking for a much more powerful laptop than I, I thought I would give you some other sites to look at in your search. I had a similiar experience with a Gateway Desktop. A complete waste of money. I bought 2 desktops that year.

http://www.xoticpc.com
http://www.avadirect.com
http://www.cyberpowerpc.com

These sites were given to me in the hopes I would find what I need. I do not have the ability to buy a laptop every year. That would be wonderful but I do want a high quality laptop. I am also looking at the i7 chip for the same reasons as you. I may be "overbuying" but since I will have this laptop for more than 2 years, most likely, I want something that will still be working. One can hope.

Best of luck in your search.



MrShaunWilson said:
Before I lay down my reqs and budget, let me give you some background: I purchase roughly one laptop a year. About a year ago I decided to purchase an Alienware m9750. I have had nothing but problems with their support staff on 3 occasions. I have a failed Power Jack that I have to constantly "jiggle" it make it work, support woudln't RMA it as defective and so I refused to have it shipped for repair, this resulted in:

1) Failed HDD 7 months in, due to heat.
2) Failed Battery 12 months in.
3) "Glitching" video 13 months in.

All of these happen immediately after a "super-heating" scenario.

Aside from this, the m9750 has the WORST heat dissipation I've ever experienced on a PERFORMANCE laptop.

This year, I want quality, and I want service I can trust. Nobody wants to spend between 2 and 6 THOUSAND on a laptop to feel like they've been sold a defective product with defunct support services and a virtual non-existent warranty. We want our manufacturers to stand behind their product, without question, for the life of a warranty AT LEAST. After my most recent experience with Alienware I will never purchase from them again. I feel that, as a business, Alienware has taken a huge departure from what they used to be not even 5 years ago.

So, a friend online turned me toward Sager as an alternative to Alienware, a company I had never heard of before. Some of their laptop configurations look stellar (by configuration I mean location of HDD bays, Gfx cards, CPUs, cooling vents and fans, etc), my question to you guys is this: Aside from Sager, what other manufacturers are producing laptops on par or beyond what Alienware is providing, and what is their warranty, support services and customer service like?

Now for the good stuff, my reqs and budget for this year:


1_What is your budget?

6,000 USD or less


2_What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

No less than 17" with addt'l DVI and HDMI ports.


3_What screen resolution do you want?

1900x1200 minimum, higher preferred but unlikely.


4_Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

Desktop Replacement, I am looking for a DESKTOP i7-based laptop, as these offer better bus throughput than their mobile counterpart, I -do not care- about poor TDP.


5_How much battery life do you need?

1hr minimum, anything more is a blessing IMO.


6_Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

I'm a multiboxer, I will be running 5 to 8 instances of WoW from a single machine.
I also play a metric s**tton of games, and expect that if I drop 6K on a laptop it had better play top-end games 2 years from now.


7_What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.)

I'm a software engineer, I run between 6 and 10 instances of Visual Studio, run a number of test tools and need seamless switching from one app to the next. I need a system with no less than 4GB, I would prefer 6 or 9GB (I'm assuming, again, a triple channel config). I also need RAID-1 support as data loss is not an option in my line of work, I will likely purchase aftermarket SSDs for less than any laptop manufacturer is offering them for.


8_How much storage (H.D.D Capacity) do you need?

I need 3 bays, 2 for raid, a 3rd for "scratch" data related to my job.

9_If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post the links to them.

www.sagernotebook.com

I need some comparable alternatives that offer better configurations than Sager, if such a thing exists.


10_How long do you want to keep your laptop?

1 year for every $1,000 spent, we should all have that expectation. I need a warranty that will match that expectation.


11_What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?

DVD-RW, screw blu-ray it's dead-end. Streaming is the future of all media, and multi-layer DVD's will eventually be what we buy as geeks in 4-6 years, so I'm not going to blow cash on something I'll never use.


12_Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.

I have no preferences, except that I will not purchase from Alienware ever again, and as a side-effect I refuse to make any purchases from Dell.


13_What country do you live in?

USA


14_Please tell us any additional information if needed.

I remember when we could download all of TomsHardware.com onto a single floppy ;)  muahahah!


Thanks!

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November 18, 2009 8:32:25 AM

I just recently purchased the Sager NP9280 from Xoticpc.com and am very happy with it. Went with the i7-920, 6gb RAM, windows 7. If you really want to, you can go with a higher i7, but from the benchmarks I've seen and what I've read the price difference is not worth the performance difference. I suppose you could go with more RAM as well. My configuration came out to around $2800, but if you're intent on spending more, go for the upgraded CPU and RAM =]

I decided on buying from xoticpc because I read very good reviews about them on sites and in forums, and they offer an extended 2 year parts warranty on to the initial 1 year parts and labor.



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a b D Laptop
November 18, 2009 6:12:48 PM

^RJ Tech sells the same laptops we've been talking about. The only difference is going to be the price and support.
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November 21, 2009 11:27:26 AM

Well, it's paid for and now I eagerly await its arrival.

Sager provided the best deal in terms of total cost, money saved this year is money I can spend next year, after all. So, I went with 6GB of ram instead of 12GB, and decided to go with the default 1yr warranty (that, hopefully, I will never have to use!) which saved me about a grand.

- Display: 17" Wide Viewing Angles WUXGA LCD with Super Glossy Surface (1920 x 1200)
- Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-975 Processor Extreme Edition ( 8MB L3 Cache, 3.33GHz, 6.4GT/sec QPI )[+$790.00]
- Video & Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M Graphics with 1GB DDR3 Video Memory
- Operating System: Genuine MS Windows® 7 Ultimate 32/64-Bit Edition[+$95.00]
- Memory: 6GB Triple Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz - 3 X 2GB[+$100.00]
- RAID Storage Options: RAID-1 Storage ( Data Mirror - Requires 2nd Hard Disk Drive )
- Primary Hard Disk Drive: 320GB 7200rpm SATA 300 Hard Drive[+$35.00]
- 2nd Hard Disk Drive: 320GB 7200rpm SATA 300 Secondary Hard Disk Drive in RAID configuration[+$80.00]
- 3rd Hard Disk Drive: 80GB Intel SATA2 Solid State 3rd Disk Drive[+$310.00]
- Optical Drive: 8X DVD±R/RW/4X +DL Super-Multi Drive & Software
- Wireless Network Card: Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300AGN - 802.11A/B/G/N Wireless LAN Module
- Bluetooth: Internal Bluetooth V2.1 Module
- Primary Battery: Smart Li-ION Battery Pack (12 Cells)
- Microsoft Office: Microsoft Office Ready with Free 60-Day Trial
- Warranty: Sager 1 Year Limited Parts and Labor Warranty

$3,779.00 w/o taxes, s/h applied

I priced it out on RJtech, even though I've already ordered, and it would have only saved me $40 or so. I don't know why, but purchasing from Sager gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling that RJtech's website didn't provide.

As for the choice to go with a 975... a 920 would be more than enough for todays demanding games, as most modern games offload almost entirely to the GPU. However, I'm not a 'hardcore gamer', rather, I multibox WoW and the only real bottleneck there is the CPU. That aside, I'm an infrastructure services developer for one of the worlds most-trafficked websites (not bragging or name dropping, but it's hard to qualify my needs) and often execute performance tests over and over and OVER throughout the day. For me the i7-975 provides benefits in thermal capacity (more stability at higher tempuratures), more room for caching (8MB of L3 cache), and a minor boost in memory bandwidth.. ultimately that results in less time waiting to get my work done. Most gamers, even hardcore gamers, could care less about these things and would gladly buy a 920 or a mobile i7 processor. Me? I tap out my hardware nearly every day just trying to get things done so I can go home. My Alienware has deadlocked numerous times due to heat (or shitty craftsmanship, take your pick) over the last year, hopefully between the 975 Extreme and the NP9280's seemingly superior cooling design I'll have eliminated that problem from my job.

I went with 2x 320GB 7200's an Raid 1 mirrior, again this is because of my job. I can't count the number of times I've had a HDD fail due to heat, I've watched my mirrior rebuild 4 times in the last six months (happened again on Thursday as a matter of fact, I've no idea why.) My development environment is next to impossible to keep synchronized between more than one machine, and having to rebuild it due to a HDD failure is a nightmare, I did purchase an 80GB SDD from Sager for the non-critical stuff (e.g. swapfile/pagefile, Disk-bound tests, game files, etc.)

I think if I wanted a pure gaming laptop, I might have opted for their Core 2 Quad laptop w/triple SSDs in a raid0 config solely because the package offers 280s in SLI. But for day-to-day use it's a less attractive option to me.

As an aside, Sager's sales staff was extremely responsive and made sure that everything went as smoothly as possible. At this point I can only say good things for Sager, though I have yet to receive anything from them they have left me with an excellent first impression. My past purchases from Alienware, Dell and HP were nothing short of shitty by comparison and they've each, one-by-one, lost me as a customer forever. I'll likely remain loyal to Sager for as long as they do right.

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November 21, 2009 11:07:44 PM

Congratulations with the purchase, I hope it helps your work go more smoothly. =]
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December 10, 2009 12:27:36 AM

I just wanted to follow-up on my purchase with anyone who may read this in the future.

This machine is an absolute beast, tasks that would tap out the CPU (90%+) my core2duo@2ghz (alienware) are but a breeze for this machine.

If you are a multiboxer looking for a top-end machine... I now run 5 instances of WoW, full screen with settings set to High and average 59 FPS in the foreground, 30 for the background, and CPU use is <10%. On my core2 machine CPU would average 90%, I had to play windowed at a much lower resolution with settings set to lowest to eek out 30fps foreground. I can run 5 clients, watch an HD movie on Zune (mini-player), and have plenty of CPU available to keep outlook and all of my development tools loaded for when I need them. (I'm the author of Mubox, http://mubox.codeplex.com, and I not only multibox, I run the toolset under a debugger, which in the past woudl eat 3-6% CPU as a given, now it's unnoticable.)

If you're a software engineer, I can't praise the i7-975 enough. I can seamlessly switch between a half dozen instances of Visual Studio with zero delay, I set my swap file to the SDD allowing for a 32GB pagefile, paired with the 6GB of physical I have yet to 'feel' this system swap. I cna now take a production server config down to my laptop and run it unchanged (our servers have 16+ GB of ram on average, and usually I have to tweak production configs for the lack of memory on my workstation.) On my old core2 2ghz w/4GB ram and an 8GB swap app switching could be painful, rebuilding 100MB of source code would take forever (down to 40 minutes from over an hour).

As far as this brand, this is the first laptop I've purchased that wasn't "all crapped up" with extras, it's the first laptop that didn't require driver updates out of the box, and it's been stable since day one without change. Packaging was undamaged, but it looks as though the box could have been recevied half crushed without risking damage to the hardware.

As for this model, heat dissipation is incredible. I intentionally pegged all but one core at 100% cpu for 90 minutes. No glitches, no restarts, and although it runs "fairly hot" under extreme load this is the first laptop that didn't burn my hand when touching the backplane/rear (my alienware is guilty of searing my fingerprints off on one occasion.)

The power connector is worth noting as well, with the recent failure of the power jack on my Alienware this was my biggest concern. The NP9280 uses an edxcellent pin-based power connector which fits securely, it will eliminate the "loose connection" issues I've experienced in the past (which are guilty of burning up my batteries, every time.) The power cables feel firm, and the wrapping on each end of the cabling is a little over an inch long (thus, I expect these gromets to outlive the laptop itself, invariably these gromets, or a thing cable, are the first thing to go on my laptops.) On my Alienware I've had to crack the case, Dremel a section of the backplane out and hardwired the brick to the motherboard. Why? The m9750 connector is pure crap. I've had to do this with 3 laptops to date (Dell, Toshiba, now Alienware.)

My only real complaint about this model is the location of the USB ports. I really appreciate that everything is either on the left or right side of the laptop, and not in the rear, but I do wish the USB ports were closer to the rear rather than in the middle, why? It interferes with my mouse space (I have a pair of Sound Blaster Arena headphones, and a Razer Mamba, and between the two USB cables they generally get in the way of the mouse.) To compensate, I've begun using the surface below the numeric keypad for my mouse, the surface/finish of the laptop picks up great on 3 of my optical mice (MS BT Mouse, MS Wireless, Razer Mamba), and the finish is nice and smooth.

Lastly, my laptop was shipped and had arrived within 3 days of billing. Absolutely excellent. Those of you who waited weeks to get your orders from other companies might find this something to appreciate about Sager.

If you have the cash (4200 shipped) and want the most bang for your buck, I highly recommend the NP9280 (Clevo 900f?, not sure). If you've been burned in the past by poor service, support and a general lack of human communication then give Sager a call. They speak english, they work with you directly, and if you have any questions they don't reduce you to a number in a ticketing system like others (notably Dell, Alienware, and HP.)

:) 
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a b D Laptop
December 10, 2009 2:29:19 AM

^Glad to see the positive feedback. My experience with Sager was pretty similar, hence why I recommend them. Mine is 2 1/2 years old and still kicking.

P.S. Yes, the 9280 is based on the Clevo D900F.
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December 10, 2009 4:43:01 AM

Glad you're enjoying yours, I know I'm enjoying mine, although I went with the 920 =]
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February 9, 2010 7:42:57 AM

i'll give sager another thumbs up as well. i purchased mine from pctorque.com about 6 years ago. its funny that alienware actually used to use sager as their laptop manufacturer as their first Area-51m laptop was a sager (the one i got), i only purchased it for 1200 or so cheaper at the time. sager does have great customer service, the only problem i had is that my hinge cracked on the lcd, but im sure they've fixed those manufacturing problems as it was years ago.
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