I have been a desktop gamer for the majority of my life. In college a laptop was required and I used one with some success and spent some time enjoying LAN parties of CounterStrike and Diablo II, but when I went home I was back nestled in the sweet arms of a powerful desktop. Now that I am a father my time is harder to come by, and I often am not able to get into my office to sit at the computer so I decided if I am going to jump back into the laptop game I needed to do some research. Since I imagine others might be contemplating similar moves I thought I would share my process.
First, I set my budget at 2k. Going over that isn't required since I am not a professional tournament player, and I don't have room in my budget especially since I will need new peripherals to go with this unit. My only requirements were a high end video card, 16GB Memory, a solid state hard drive option, and I was hoping for a 17 inch display.
Second, I wanted to buy a custom rig with some fancy features. A custom built laptop you can often upgrade later if necessary and if built well can outlast a store bought unit which may have several cheap components inside.
Third, I realized this was going to be harder than I thought. So, I asked for advice from friends and on forums and was left with a list of companies to check out. Ibuypower, Digital Storm. Xoticpc, and Falcon NW
Falcon NW seemed great but right away my budget wasn't possible and most everything was listed as sold out and the build would be severely delayed. One down.
Ibuypower and Digital Storm were both lampooned in customer reviews quite often and recently with both having 2 stars or less on sites like Yelp. They also had difficulty hitting my budget and baseline requirements. Ibuypower had lots of freebies which were nice, and many good rigs well below my budget (1500 range) but I was forced to give up on features I wanted, when those features were put in place the price jumped to around 2300.
So, I was left with XoticPc. And they could make a few different laptops to my specs right at 2k. They currently have a series of "Back to School" deals and since I had a few rigs that fit my needs I was able to read some reviews on the basic platforms to get an expert opinion. The newer Alienware 17 seemed to be a favorite of reviewers and so my choice was made. However, Alienware is also available through DELL, so now I had one last price check to make.
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So much for Dell...
XoticPC won out over the competition in the research stage, once I get my hands on the laptop I will see if they are as good as promised in skill and service.
(After publishing the article it was revealed that almost everything related to Alienware is on backorder. So I made the switch to an MSI GT72S Dominator which was PCMag's Midrange Editor's Choice in Laptops. The price was the same and I was able to upgrade a few items like getting the 6th Generation i7 processor instead of the 4th featured in the Alienware model.)