Last summer, Dell agreed to purchase Alienware in a controversial merger of two very different companies. Alienware, who was looking to raise capital to fund its world-wide expansion, found a good partner in Dell when it came to realize that it would be able to meet its demands while simultaneously benefiting from Dell's famous supply chain efficiencies. The later being a great boon for Alienware, who had been suffering from supply woes, with customers often waiting a month or more to receive their orders. In turn, through the merger, Dell hopes to gain access to the lucrative high-end PC gaming market.
Alienware, with their radically designed, alien-theme computers, is a favorite among gamers and famous for producing exclusive, high performance products. While Dell has been trying to shake their image as a company that makes "beige boxes" for mass corporate and consumer consumption. Although they have made great strides with their XPS lineup of gamer oriented desktops and notebooks as of late. Many enthusiasts were concerned that Alienware would lose its identity as it was swallowed by the much larger Dell.
Alienware gained fame for manufacturing systems single-mindedly designed to achieve the highest performance and has amassed a large following in the gaming community. Dell, on the other hand, markets their own line of gamer-oriented computers with their XPS lineup, which began life as advanced configurations of the Dimension desktop line. Alienware traditionally catered to serious gamers, while Dell's XPS lineup was aimed at the casual crowd. In recent times both companies have been reaching for the middle ground. Since Dell's XPS line is in direct competition with many of Alienware's products, the future of the product line was called into question when news of the merger first surfaced.
Most of the fears and criticisms surrounding the merger have proved unfounded so far as Alienware now operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dell and both companies are maintaining separate development tracks for their products. As a wholly-owned subsidiary, Alienware is free to continue managing its own operations and direction, therefore maintaining its image as a top-tier high-performance system manufacturer. Separate development tracks also means that Dell's XPS line is here to stay, at least for now. Its still left to be seen how the overlap between Alienware products and Dell's XPS line will be dealt with, but for now it seems like everything will remain business as usual.
As if to underscore the decision to keep their operations separate, Dell announced their first factory overclocked computer, the $9,930 fire-breathing limited edition XPS 600 Renegade, on the same day as the official merger announcement, which quickly sold out less than a month after release. Clearly there was enough room in the enthusiast market for a Dell-branded ultra high-end "boutique" box. Last month, at this year's CES, Dell announced their second ever computer to sport a factory overclocked processor, the XPS 710 H2C Edition.
The XPS 710 H2C Edition is billed as a top-of-the-line ultra-performance machine built with the most hardcore of gamers in mind, a niche that Alienware is very familiar with. Not only does the XPS 710 H2C hold the distinction of being Dell's first non-limited edition factory overclocked computer, it also uses Dell's first in-house liquid cooling system to keep it's quad-core power plant cool. The XPS 710 H2C is the most heavily performance-specified XPS system yet, with an Intel Core 2 QX6700 processor, dual GeForce 8800 GTXs, 4 GB of RAM and two Western Digital Raptors in a RAID 0 array, as standard equipment. We recently got our hands on one and we've been putting it through its paces, as it ripped through the benchmarks in our labs.