Quad-core processors have long since penetrated the market and lower manufacturing costs already pushed them into mainstream offerings. However, hardware upgrades seem to have lost their appeal, as lines between mainstream and high-end parts get blurred.
Alienware is currently looking for solutions to increase the hardware performance in their top-notch gaming systems and faster hardware may not be the answer. According to the company, one of the most efficient ways to increase system performance is to switch from 32-bit operating systems to the 64-bit offerings.
"So many people are caught up in this hardware race. Dual-core, quad-core this and that", said Marc Diana, Alienware's product marketing manager for desktops. "If these companies - Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, ATI, and AMD - if they'd just sit down and realize the performance benefit of optimizing their drivers and software for 64-bit", he continued.
Diana claims that using an optimized operating system is the best and cheapest method to make the computer perform faster. Most of the computer users are still running a 32-bit operating system, such as Windows XP and even Windows Vista. Alienware also ships its gaming rigs with pre-installed versions of 32-bit Windows operating systems and Diana said that the company is not "comfortable shipping a system to a customer with the 64-bit driver support that's out there in the industry."
32-bit operating systems also have troubles managing large amounts of memory. In theory, they only detect and use a maximum of 4 GB of system memory, although practically they are not able to allocate more than 3.2 - 3.5 GB of RAM.
"They're building (software) for something that is inherently very old technology", Diana explained. "We need drivers that are very healthy in the 64-bit space. I'm not saying that 64-bit drivers don't exist. I'm just saying there's not enough software development and support on that end to warrant companies like us to move to 64-bit operating systems", he continued.
Faster processors and graphics cards are not everything when it comes to computing performance and Diana also explained that a key element in building a fast computer is the motherboard. High-quality motherboards can deliver increased performance even when paired with a mid-range dual-core processor/video card.
"If I was looking to invest in one component over another", Diana said, "I would probably invest in a really good motherboard", he concluded.
Computer enthusiasts who are already using DDR3 memory enjoy increased system response and performance, but this is not a solution to be widely implemented in Alienware's products, as they are still pretty expensive.