Several years ago I had a terrible experience with Dell’s customer service and a video card on my still-under-warranty system. The experience involved me being hung up on and eventually sourcing my own parts from my local Microcenter.
After ignoring them for my subsequent computer purchase I’ve since ordered other Dell products, mostly because they offer IMHO the best combination of customizability and pricing that I’ve been able to find. My Inspiron 530 worked pretty well except for the “missing RAM” problem that a lot of people both with and without Dell products got stung by. It was that missing RAM experience combined with my earlier customer service issue that had driven me to try a boutique online computer shop instead of Dell originally.
Once that was all sorted out I decided to go with an Alienware machine in spite of my concerns. The costs and ability to get pretty much exactly what I wanted won out in the end.
About 3 weeks after I received the new system, the fan on the Video card (ATI Radeon HD 5870) started making noises that told me that it was giving up the ghost. It was especially disappointing given that all the other fans on that computer stay very quiet depending on the load. This one fan was louder than my nearby fridge when it’s in full swing.
So I called Alienware support (still separate from Dell’s support ultimately even though the front end is the same) and all the horror stories I had heard about Dell ruining the Alienware branding proved… unfounded.
The tech was knowledgeable, we quickly came to an agreement as to the issue. They shipped out a new card which arrived a few days later and whose box I used to return the failing card with no hassle or cost.
The new card is working great and I’ve had no other issues. The Alienware machine is pricier than piecing together a machine for yourself, but that also depends on how much you value your time. I much prefer *using* my computer to tweaking it, generally speaking.
I wanted to put this kudo out there for Alienware’s support and say that my experience, at least, was just fine.