Gaming desktop for college?


Mar 21, 2012
Hey guys, I'm pretty much new here. I am going to college and have been persuaded not to purchase a gaming laptop. SO, I am considering the Alienware x51 because it is small and not to hard to bring to college and if necessary, back home (5 hour trip). So, my price range is about 1200-1700. Definitely not passing $2000. Can somebody give me suggestions? Also, I know its cheaper to order piece by piece and building it but I am way to inexperienced to do so, so rule that out.

Other: I'd like to run Bf 3 on high/intense graphics and also run games like Shogun 2: Total War, and Skyrim. So yea, if possible, I'd like a "smaller" desktop, nothing to crazy looking and something that has good speccs for my price range :) Thanks a lot guys and help and advice is appreciated.

EDIT: I would actually maybe consider building it myself, but I want to hear peoples opinions first. Difficulty level, what tools I need, etc. But please, if you ave any suggestions with what I initially posted this about, let that be the main priority.
Well, pros and cons of building your pc yourself

-cheaper than buying a prebuilt
-you know what's in your system
-hopefully you will also know how it works
-you learn a lot along the way
-(optional) some people experience great satisfaction from playing on their homebuilt pc and also ability to boast to friends that you put it toghether youself, it works and has shiny lights

-requires time and effort
-requires even more time if you're doing it first time or not very knowledgeable about pc hardware
-could be frustrating if you run into troubles since there's no corporate tech support phone number to call (but there's plenty of other places you can turn to for help)

things to mention: - could be troublesome if you get DOA parts, but you could get DOA parts in a prebuilt machine too, it's not out of the question, so in the end can happen on both ends.

Things you will need to build a PC:
-preferably large level area (ie dining table/work bench/etc)
-tools: screwdrivers, a regular phillips will go a long way, but you probably will need a miniature screwdriver set too
-(optional) multitester - it's just good to have one around the house
-lastly most important - enthusiasm and patience

hope that helps a bit


Sep 4, 2011
Building a pc is easy if you’re not sure about compatibility just ask people of here and when it comes to building watch a few YouTube vids, i have just moved my pc to a new case so I have had to take it apart and build it again took me about 2hrs and that was with cable management. If you are willing to spend $1700 on a custom build you are going to have a beast of a machine.


Sep 4, 2011
"EDIT: I would actually maybe consider building it myself, but I want to hear peoples opinions first. Difficulty level, what tools I need, etc. But please, if you ave any suggestions with what I initially posted this about, let that be the main priority."

Tools all you will need is a small screw driver and as far as the difficulty goes its fairly simple unless you want water cooling etc.


Mar 20, 2012
Hey man i'm in the same boat as you! I just recently too had to make a decision to either build a desktop or to just buy a laptop. I am going off to school next year too and i decided that im going to be having a dorm room with a desk like at home so i was like hell why not. I recived all my parts about 5 days ago and built my system that same day, and let me tell you it was soooo worth it. Honestly i spent 1300 and got a full blown rig that i bench marked at about 1500 on novabench. The computer is awesome but honestly the thing that was most worth it was the feeling of accoplishment i got after finishing my build. If your going to get a computer go for the build, you will be pissed off figuring out how to do it as a first time builder. But thats half the fun ;)


Jun 23, 2011
Build a desktop for gaming, as gaming on a laptop is, sucks.

I'm in college now, myself. The only things I use a laptop for at school are document, group project related things that certainly don't require a very expensive machine.

Gaming laptops are, at best, a serious compromise. You'll spend a load of money on it, and it will never be even as remotely good as a similarly priced best, this will leave you with a serious case of buyer's remorse, and at worst, you'll cry yourself to sleep every night - - dreaming of being able to play BF3 on ultra.
Hi :)

I own computer shops in the UK near a University...and Laptops that students own get stolen from their rooms a LOT...

So do nice looking gaming towers.....

So I have two pieces of advice.....

EITHER.....make sure whichever you buy is insured by YOU for full cost of replacement...


Build a good gaming machine into an OLD BEIGE case that a thief will look at and not bother to steal...

We have built a couple like this for students who had their fancy towers with pretty lights and windows stolen...

All the best Brett :)