Buying a computer system/Buying a comp.

Advertisement


Question
QUESTION: Bobbert,

First thank you very much for your time.

I am looking to buy a new PC.  I am not a gamer but love the look and features of Aienware.  Here is a link to,the pie.

http://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/productdetails/alienware-13-r2

I am looking at the 1399$ one bottom of the page on the right.

I just want fast best looking graphics, lots of memory best of it all.  Is there a better type or kind to get based upon top of the line everything but light as can be.  Can be heavier if it contains it all.

Thank you again,
Chris

ANSWER: The link you've provided returns a page not found error. Quickly looking on their site at the model 13 I don't see a pre-configured option at $1399, but looking over the various model 13 options they're all generally similar on configuration (e.g. they all have GeForce GTX 960M graphics, very similar CPU options, etc) - they look like they would certainly satisfy the "high performance general use" niche, as well as gaming (if you ever do decide that's something the machine needs to do). When you mention "best looking graphics" that's a bit open-ended - do you mean display quality, or performance capability? If the former, I would suggest the upgrade option to the 1080p or 4K monitor options, but if the later, all of the machines have the same GPU (GTX 960M), although the higher-specified machines include the "Graphics Amplifier" external solution (certainly not a mobile component like the rest of the laptop, but would provide higher performance when the machine was "docked" with it; their website is not entirely clear but to clarify, you do have to provide a graphics card with the "Graphics Amplifier" box - they offer a few PNY models as options that would all represent a performance improvement over the 960M).

As far as other manufacturers, if you aren't tied to Windows as a platform, the MacBook Pro from Apple is also a high quality laptop worth considering. If you're interested in a more customized solution, Falcon Northwest offers a much wider range of customization options than a more mainstream OEM manufacturer (like Alienware). However you will pay a price premium for this availability.

If you have further questions, feel free to ask.

-bob



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Bob,

First of all wow, and thank you very very much!!  I would like to offer you something.  If you have a paypal account I would like to send you $50 in exchange for some back and forth correspondence on building my ideal laptop.  What are your thoughts?  I am quite obviously no where near your understanding and knowledge of computers but through trial and error I guess I am average, just know what I want.  If this is something you be interested in please let me know.  I would provide you sort of a bullet point list and send it to you and see what we come up with.  I know I should be much better at Mac's I am just a Windows guy.  To be completely honest all the insignificant things Alienware offers such as color configuration and a few others they hooked me.

Please let me know when you have the time,
Thank you very much again!!

Chris

P.s here is my per. email:
I totally understand if you do not want to give me yours this is one questionable world anymore.

Answer
While I appreciate the offer, I have specifically resisted the move to "paid volunteer" status over the years and continue to offer my time and expertise for free; there is no need to pay me. There is also nothing wrong, at least from my perspective, with continuing this thread via the AllExperts software, as it tracks things very nicely.

Regarding a new machine:

There's certainly nothing wrong with having an established aesthetic goal in mind, and if that's what you're after, it sounds like Alienware has satisfied that goal. As far as the specifications go, with some general idea of your typical workload it would be easier to advise, however given the relative homogeneity of the Alienware line you have selected (and the relative stagnation in both system requirements and system performance in recent years), there's not much room to make a "bad choice" there. The biggest decisions, at least as I see them, are whether or not you want the higher resolution screen (this will produce sharper graphics, and may also be ideal if you're after watching a lot of HD video content, however it will also yield a finer pixel pitch, which has the side effect of "making things smaller" (technically the objects have not changed size, from the computer's perspective, as they're the same dimensions (in pixels), you're just getting smaller pixels to represent them)), and the external graphics processor box (which, if you aren't a gamer, probably isn't a significant consideration).

The suggestion of Apple isn't coming from any sort of bias towards or against Windows or OS X, just as an alternative to consider if you're after a high quality machine (as Apple is one of the few remaining hardware manufacturers that offers a "premium" line of personal computers that don't come with very high boutique prices (e.g. Falcon NW). The caveat is that, at least out of the box, the machine will run OS X. The newer Intel-based systems can run Windows via Boot Camp, and also have a better time with emulation of a Windows environment from within OS X (as the newer Intel processors support this functionality in hardware, and there is also a common ISA (x86-64) that both Windows and OS X are developed for, as opposed to the days of OS X being distinct not only as a different operating system, but a different underlying platform (PowerPC - OS X 10.0 through 10.5). Finally, with the transition to Intel-based machines, the underlying UNIX-based (and POSIX complaint) nature of OS X has become a bigger asset, as historically "Linux-based" utilities like WINE have become popular choices for supporting Windows applications on OS X as well. If you aren't gaming, there's very little functional/practical difference between OS X and Windows, as both are fully capable of doing simpler tasks like browsing the web, running office applications, enjoying multimedia content, and so forth, although you will use different applications and experience a different work-flow on each system (although that said, there is a significant degree of application crossover, for example Firefox is available for both OS X and Windows). If you are gaming, OS X has become more popular in recent years (e.g. with SteamPlay), however DirectX still heavily dominates the gaming market, which means Windows is required (but it doesn't matter if Windows is running on an Apple or Alienware in this scenario; by contrast Apple's licencing for OS X requires it to be run on Apple hardware).

Again this isn't meant to "push" one brand over another, and if aesthetic qualities are important in your buying decision, that will inform your purchase as well. Alienware is a subsidiary of Dell, and accordingly has excellent service/support options available, so I wouldn't see any problem with going that route if that's the machine that satisfies your aesthetic goals.

If you have further questions, feel free to ask.

-bob

Buying a computer system

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Bobbert

Expertise

I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.

Experience

I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

Education/Credentials
15+ years of experience

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.