High-end gaming laptop config (FAQ included)

Hello THG experts. I'm a longtime lurker of the forums for desktop builds but am interested in getting a custom gaming laptop between now and May (so placing an order in late April). I've filled out the standard questions below and would appreciate input.


1. What is your budget?

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
15" or 17"

3. What screen resolution do you want?
1920 x 1080 HD

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

5. How much battery life do you need?
at least 2.5 hours, would prefer more

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)?
Yes, this is the point. I play mostly role-playing and strategy games (Skyrim, Mass Effect series, SWToR, and Heroes of Might & Magic). I would prefer to play them all on high detail)

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
No video. It will also be used for productivity software, some programming, voice chat, and audio recording (through an external USB based recording interface).

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
I think this is what is pushing me toward a 17". I'd like as much as possible on a data drive and an SSD system/program drive.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
I've been pricing from the various custom builders. At this point I have no bias towards any, though I think I'd prefer someone willing to warranty the system for 3 years.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
I'd like it to be at least a "good" system configuration for 3-4 years.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
Bluray reader, DVD burner

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.
No current preferences towards any custom builder. Look are less important, though I really do like Alienware's look. I don't think I'm interested in custom painting. I'd rather have the money go towards extending the useable life.

13. What country do you live in?
Currently the USA. Will likely be spending a significant portion of the the period over seas.

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
Essentially, I'm looking preferred custom builders in the right price range and with gear that will last 3 years, then recommendations on where to make the tradeoffs on processor & graphics to hit my price target. I've seen Alienware get both great and terrible reviews so I don't know whether they're worth it or not, but they do offer the longer warranty and I have a nice discount off their standard prices through my employer. Also, am I better off purchasing now or waiting until later in April? Thanks again!
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