T Nation

Looking For A New Computer


So, it's time that i need something new. I've had this laptop for 3-4 years now and it was junk when I got it, it's junk now. This thing is just gonna turn into my porn/ travel piece of shit.

So, what I'm looking for is an absolutely insane gaming machine, for two reasons.
1) I like to toy around with music production, and my laptop now can't handle it. When reading some info about music production the best way to go is usually to buy a comp made for gaming and grabbing a new sound card.
2) For gaming

I was just wondering if anybody had any suggestions and what to look for. I know computers, but I'm not really hardcore into them and was hoping somebody could just give me some pointers on what specifically to look for.


If you want gaming, you want an i7 as the processor. I'd go with a 920 and overclock it a bit yourself. Grab 6-12GB of inexpensive DDR3 RAM (depending on your desired e-peen size), a kickin video card, and a fast main drive, and you're just about good to go.

I'd go with:


processor cooler:

(full atx)


Hard drive:
(spinning platter - budget choice)
(flash disk - choose x25 drive of desired size)
then add platter drives of large size to taste, but avoid current Seagate offerings as the firmware is buggy as hell. Western Digital 1TB and 2TB drives are a good choice right now.

(full ATX case)
shop to taste

power supply:
something by silverstone that's powerful enough.

video card:
You'll get differing opinions on this, but you absolutely won't see an appreciable difference going to SLI/Crossfire unless you have a monitor at a resolution higher than 1920x1200. You can blow money here if you want, but I wouldn't.

You could also go with an nVidia x285 of some sort, which will on paper perform better, but cost a good bit more in cash and power. Of course, go with this if budget allows.

sound card:
the ASUS Xonar series seems popular right now, but this isn't my forte. I can't tell much of a difference as long as it's decent, which the onboard on the mobo is.

I'd go for an e-IPS 24" monitor from Dell.
or the same for a 22", the 2209wfp.

Vista x64.

Optical drive:
Blu-Ray if you want it, otherwise I've had good luck with HP DVD drives. If you're going to be burning a lot of discs I don't have much experience with professional burners though.

If you want to go with a pre-built, G-d help you when it comes to cost. They gouge to the fullest extent possible.

Hope this helps,



Alienware or mac. Im a photographer and use some heavy programs.. this two brands are ok.




True and False.


Good recommendations by Dan, can't go wrong there.


I would not buy an alienware, they're overpriced and the only reason theyre so expensive is because regular manufaturers, like dell, toshiba, gateway, etc., dont make them to target a wider audience. If you know anyone who can build a comp for you, it'd be much cheaper to buy the parts and build one on your own. if money's not an issue though, by all means by an alienware, they're great. Dont't buy macs for gaming.... please no.


Deadsion, is right, its better-cheaper, to have one custom made for you, by someone competent.


Dell actually owns the Alienware brand. They treat it like their normal consumer level machines when it comes to support and build quality; read this as "both will be shit." They've taken to using Foxconn motherboards with a fairly high failure rate recently (I've heard reports up to 15%) and give you the run-around when you need to RMA anything. The exception is monitors, they're pretty good about those.

Small side story - my Dad recently bought a Dell against my recommendation as a new home computer. It started up fine the first time, then started acting up the second time it was turned on. Turned out to be a defective motherboard (shocking). When the repair guy eventually came buy a week after the request, he had a stack of that exact motherboard and the accompanying RAM with him. Not because it was standard procedure, but because they'd been failing so often he was tired of having to place orders, so he just ordered a ton of both. Their "high-end" machines suffer performance problems because they inappropriately bolt pieces together, too. I used a Precision 690 at work that used the slowest RAM riser card known to man. Sometimes it was faster to load from disk than load from RAM. Good God I hated that machine.

Thirded of fourthed that buying a Mac for gaming is about the stupidest recommendation possible.

If you build your own, you'll know what's in it. The parts I recommended are all very good quality (and there are others out there as well, that setup is just one example) and the manufacturers are dedicated to putting out driver updates frequently that often result in improved hardware performance, meaning it'll be even faster for free. I don't know how pre-built gaming machine manufacturers handle this, but my guess is it's not as clean and straightforward.

Oh, one note: if you do get the motherboard I mentioned, don't install the ethernet drivers through Windows Update. Somehow they put drivers up there that disable the network controller. Yay Microsoft. The ones that will come with the board work perfectly well though.