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    3XS vs Alienware vs Dell vs Custom Built

    Without posting two dozen different builds of what I've made up this past week or two of potential desktops, I'm after for a "in general" opinion on how I should proceed for my next desktop. Spending up to £900 for mainly gaming but a bit of video and photo editing. Want to run Win7, but will also be installing Ubuntu for every day computing.

    My current desktop is from 2004 - mainly scan parts and everything but the mobo has been replaced, but I would be upgrading all if I custom built except the DVD Drive & Case and maybe keep the same PSU. And I can get exactly what I want for about £800. But its not a massive saving considering I already have some parts and ball ache it'd be if there is a problem makes the saving is less attractive. I have to buy Win7 which is included in price above.

    Bang for buck, Dell win it on pre-built. But there customer service suck - I clicked their chat thing yesterday to ask a pretty simple question about one of their motherboards on the XPS 7100 and they said "ring 0844 ... blah blah" and I hate ringing Dell as they are no fun and have no real technical knowledge at first point contact. Talking about £880 for something with a 10% discount voucher already taken off plus the possibility of quidco at 7%. It makes it pretty attractive. Basically that deal that was posted about a month ago with a couple of tweaks.

    3XS (Scan) - I really do like their brand but its not as cheap as what I can build a Dell for. I've never had a problem with scan and although never any real cause to use their customer service, I know its there and their rep speaks for itself, I trust them if there is a problem and I can get it overclocked without the potential of it burning my flat down. Gonna end up spending about £910 for their equivalent of the above.

    Alienware - have they improved yet? I always feel like I am paying for a badge but they seem to offer a little different . Yet being under that Dell umbrella is not a good thing - but 10% quidco . I kinda discounted alienware from the start but you have to include them just to compare.

    Anyone else I should be considering?

    16 Comments

    The short answer: Custom build > 3XS > Alienware > Dell.

    The slightly longer answer:
    Custom build = get the exact parts you want
    3XS = Quality parts but you pay for it
    Alienware = You pay for the badge
    Dell = Crammed full of the cheapest ********* parts they can find, if a corner can be cut they'll have cut it. If a corner should never ever under any circumstances be cut, they'll have cut it! But they are cheap, which seems to be the only thing that counts round these parts *sigh*

    Dell owns Alienware now, although the quality of parts compared to a normal dell are better I think the overall quality vs price has fallen for them.

    On a side note have you considered yoyotech they make good computers link ]here and it might offer you a middle ground of custom vs pre-built.

    Original Poster

    Thanks for the yoyotech link.

    Totally agree on what you both said but there is always weighing of each pro and con. Rep to you both to (and to anyone else who puts in some input ;-) )

    Should say with the custom build to. My technical knowledge is probably not that of a fully fledged geek. I have built computers in the past, I am happy with bits of coding and I know what each part does generally. But the finer points I lack and I go a lot on reviews, rep and google searches. Like I know what speeds I want etc but I don't have a strong opinion of AMD vs Intel for example (I'd use AMD first though probably because I've used them the most). Thus why the custom build might not be done to its potential and why I might end up leaning towards a pre-built for that safety blanket.

    Damn, I'm over analysing this - I have less trouble buying a car.

    geeadamg;8812313

    I go a lot on reviews, rep and google searches.



    Even the most hardcore geeks do that, it's not possible to know everything about every last bit of hardware.

    One thing I'd recommend is a decent SSD as a boot drive, makes a hell of a difference much more than a bump in CPU speed would get you for around the same cost.

    Original Poster

    megalomaniac;8812496

    One thing I'd recommend is a decent SSD as a boot drive, makes a hell of … One thing I'd recommend is a decent SSD as a boot drive, makes a hell of a difference much more than a slight bump in CPU speed.



    Yes, this one of the things I was gonna make sure of with my new build and why I originally started with custom. I don't need much storage in there but on boot and to have a good few games on a SSD I can imagine makes a hell of a difference.

    On the CPU front depending how high a spec you are looking for the new Intel i7 or even i5 CPU's seem to be ahead of the similar AMD versions.

    As for SSD it will give you a performance boost which will be useful if you are doing a lot of write intensive tasks which your video editing might do. But for me I still do not think they are value for money and running a couple of hdd in raid should be fine, but each to his own as I do see the merit of having them if you do not need vast amounts of storage.

    Oh and think about the gfx card as well at the moment my preference is ATI over NVidia but again they will both offer plenty of grunt for what you ant to do.

    But if you are serious about your editing make sure you get a good screen if you are purchasing one with your system as they colour representation is something you need to be aware of with cheaper screens.

    Once you have a choice if you wanna post it up I am happy to have a look and give my opinions on it.

    Original Poster

    The video editing isn't a major thing - its just being able to do it on a machine that can handle it well.

    I've been playing with yoyotech now for about 2 hours. Sooooooooo many options and it soon gets out of hand. Can I justify a £1200 system? Hmmms... Probably not. But its an excellent site, and one I wished I saw a couple of weeks ago, so thanks again.

    hotdealing;8812902

    As for SSD it will give you a performance boost which will be useful if … As for SSD it will give you a performance boost which will be useful if you are doing a lot of write intensive tasks which your video editing might do. But for me I still do not think they are value for money and running a couple of hdd in raid should be fine, but each to his own as I do see the merit of having them if you do not need vast amounts of storage.



    True, but SSD's are much more reliable than HDD's and striping drives for performance is a sure-fire way to mangle your data (catastrophic data loss is at least twice as likely under RAID 0 compared to single HDD's). They only RAID setups that can match an SSD for keeping your data safe are slooooooow.

    Ok, so you should have a backup strategy anyway, but that still doesn't factor in the hassle of dealing with the failures: replacement drives, restoring from backup etc.

    megalomaniac;8813190

    True, but SSD's are much more reliable than HDD's and striping drives for … True, but SSD's are much more reliable than HDD's and striping drives for performance is a sure-fire way to mangle your data (catastrophic data loss is at least twice as likely under RAID 0 compared to single HDD's). They only RAID setups that can match an SSD for keeping your data safe are slooooooow.Ok, so you should have a backup strategy anyway, but that still doesn't factor in the hassle of dealing with the failures: replacement drives, restoring from backup etc.



    True, guess that's a bit down to luck I am yet to have one HDD failure must have had over 20 over the last 10 years or so, normally something else that goes. I don't even run raid anymore just have a couple of back up mechanisms the old if it does not exist in three places it does not exist rule.

    However, if reliability is a key issue then yes SSD is the way to go. I will get one eventually just hasn't hit the £ per GB value for me yet.

    Original Poster

    Yeah, I'm not running RAID. I'd don't really have much important data - its all backed up so much anyway as well as on a cloud, I can cope with failure but I still don't want to run RAID as I just don't trust it.

    I have an OCZ vertex and Samsung F3 in mine, which works very well for me although there is newer/faster stuff out now it still performs pretty well. I back that up over a network to a NAS box, which is mirrored, that in turn gets backed up to an external drive, and the really important stuff gets burnt off to DVD. That may be slight overkill, although the NAS backup does service a couple of laptops too and serves as a media server etc. as well.

    If you can't guess I've seen more HDD's fail than I care to mention, often resulting in me having to explain to friends/family memebers why they'll never see their photo collection again :):giggle:

    Original Poster

    I am now actually thinking of dropping the SSD idea. Its just within price range I have to drop other things I've decided I now want. I've already spent far too long on this, getting kinda jaded. I really should just [buy]

    If you are not building it yourself then go 3XS.

    The build quality is stunning, they use quality parts, keep you informed throughout the process and they really know their stuff. My mate got one and i will be following suit in the next few months after the service he got.

    Have a look at the dream pc competiton for their really high end stuff.

    Original Poster

    I've built many things (on screen), I've tried to keep within price range and checked out many ups and downs. I have to stick to £900 and I think I've come to the conclusion that the higher-end overclocked basic builds are the best. It only makes about 2% difference sourcing the parts myself to custom build - probably to do with economies of scale.

    So its yoyotech.co.uk/_ne…233 £880 (added £80 for Win7 64bit Home, but not from them as its £101) vs3xs.scan.co.uk/Con…017 at £892.87 (comes with Win7)

    The Basics
    The yoyotech offers i5-750 Quad overclocked to 4Ghz, 4GB RAM 1333Mhz, Radeon 5850 1GB Graphics.
    The 3XS offers i7-920 overclocked to 3.8Ghz, 6GB RAM 1600Mhz, 512MB XFX GTS 250 Graphics

    Leaves me £20 on the yoyotech to maybe upgrade the RAM to 1600Mhz but I read with the i5 there is no real point as it can't utilise it. But "might" make a little difference if overclocked (which it is). The 3XS has nothing really worth upgrading for a tenner but comes with better mobo, CPU and RAM but weaker graphics. Both have good reviews, the yoyotech maybe slightly more raved about but gotta take with pinch of salt as you never know how much of it is manufacture led.

    Maybe I'll buy a webcam or something with that tenner

    Decided against Dell and other cheap-nasty companies like that. Its a machine I want to trust, not one that says all the right things with the right stats but no substance.

    thoughts - rep will be give ;-)

    Honestly is seems a bit horses for courses depends on what you want. Personally as much as I love yoyo unless you are going to be hammering the gfx card then the 3XS system offers a bit more.

    Both companies offer great build quality so I wouldn't worry about that at all.

    I'd lean towards the 3XS too, but mainly because I've dealt with Scan many times before and they're a known quantity.
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