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Games-cool PC maker Alienware – known for its powerful (and pricey) PCs and its UFO themes – says it will remain a standalone operation, despite being acquired byDell in a surprise move yesterday.

Games-cool PC maker Alienware – known for its powerful (and pricey) PCs and its UFO themes – says it will remain a standalone operation, despite being acquired byDell in a surprise move yesterday.

That goes for the Adelaide-based Alienware Pacific Rim subsidiary as well as the Miami parent company, much beloved by serious games players – to whom the Dell move has come as a considerable shock. (“Oh, no – they’ll fill the machines with Dell support  stuff,” wailed  Allira Wright, an Australian 3D animation creator who recently ordered an Alienware laptop, yesterday).

Alienware is a legend among games players, animators and graphics geeks. Founded in 1996 by Nelson Gonzalez and Alex Aguila, two childhood mates, it is on track to hit US$225 million in sales this year, up from $172 million in 2005.

Its notebooks, desktops and workstations come crammed with the latest technology, which may include gold-plated copper liquid cooling systems, AMD
64 dual-core processors, fast terabyte hard drives and cost-no-object Nvidia or ATI graphics processors. Prices – and margins – are high by conventional PC standards.The desktops are also wild-looking and come in unconventional colours like “cyborg green” and “conspiracy blue”. All are built to order, with delivery typically taking two to three weeks.

The Australian-based operation, at Flinders Park in Adelaide, was set up a couple of years ago and now has 25 fulltime and casual staff – expected to grow as the company expands deeper into Japan, Malaysia and other Pacific Rim countries, says PR Luke Flesher. The Adelaide outfit is responsible for
26 countries.In Australia prices range from around A$1700 for base model desktops to well over $8000 for top-end work-stations. The most popular desktop system is the Aurora 7500 with AMD Athlon 64 4000 processor and Nvidia GeForce 7800GT graphics, starting at $3518 in basic trim. (The specs alone are “enough to create trouser strain for even the most hardened geek,” said a recent review in New Zealand’s not-always-aptly named Tone magazine.)

Desktops tend to be AMD-powered (which promises to be a revelation for currently Intel-only Dell). The laptops use Intel Celeron and Pentium M chips and run up to $6000 or so.


Defence, govt, Brumbies buying up

It ain’t all fun and games: Alienware has also been scoring government and corporate sales. “We have already supplied systems to Australian Customs, the Royal Australian Navy, many individual Defence Force personnel, and corporate clients such as Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based WETA Digital, and the ACT Brumbies Rugby team,” says Flesher.

He’s confident Dell won’t meddle too much. On Alienware’s US Web site, founder Gonzalez echoes that, saying the acquisition will not alter the company’s culture or unique products. “You’re not going to see Alienware logos show up on Dell products and vice versa,” he promised. Dell said Alienware would be a wholly owned subsidiary, with current management operating it as a standalone unit.

– Footnote: In the US, Dell has recently entered the video games market with its XPS line, aimed at competing with Alienware and Voodoo: its top model, the XPS Renegade goes for just under US$10,000. However no XPS models are currently being offered in Australia. – David Frith

 

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