Alienware going low-end with $1699 gaming desktop

Gaming PCs tend to be some of the most expensive computer systems that you can buy and routinely sell for many times the cost of traditional computers. Gaming PCs also tend to set trends that trickle down into mainstream systems as the high-end components become cheaper.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the gaming PC market is currently worth about $12 billion. To grab its share of this massive market Dell purchased gaming PC maker Alienware in 2006. Rather than integrate Alienware into its traditional business, Dell opted to let Alienware continue to develop and market its own products and simply helped Alienware by using Dell’s massive purchasing power to get cheaper components.

As part of it’s mostly hands off approach to Alienware, Dell continued to develop, market and sell its own line of gaming systems in the Dell XPS line. The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Dell has said it will begin phasing out four of the gaming systems in its XPS line, moving Alienware into the only high-end gaming computer maker operating within Dell.

Alienware tumbled from the top of the gaming PC heap after its purchase by Dell in part due to competition from Dells own XPS line. Dell recently placed Arthur Lewis, who joined Dell with the Alienware purchase, as the head of its gaming PC division. Lewis said that Alienware was still a premier name in the gaming PC market. Lewis was a vice president with Alienware.

Dell is also going to end the tie-in with World of Warcraft and its XPS machines. Lewis says that Alienware is going to be updating its boxes, which have had the same look for a long time, by using new materials for the exterior of the systems.

Gaming PCs in general for the last several years have for the most part used Intel over AMD due to the typically increased performance that Intel parts provide. Despite this tradition, Alienware has also said that it will be bringing a low-cost (by gaming PC standards) gaming system to market in the next few weeks powered by AMD/ATI.

The new Alienware system will be priced at $1,699 according to CNET. The machine will use a quad-core Phenom X4 9550 processor running at 2.2GHz. Graphics for the machine will be via ATI’s dual GPU HD 3870 X2 video card. The system is reported to use an Asus mainboard with the AMD 790FX chipset.

PC gamers will likely understand what Alienware is going for here -- a lower cost system. Price is one of the places Alienware is criticized the most. Marc Diana, Alienware product marketing manager for desktops says, “We're seeing huge demand from customers. AMD is a good entry point."

Other high-end gaming PC makers don’t echo that sentiment. CNET says that Falcon Northwest reports virtually no demand for AMD based systems according to a company spokesperson.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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