One of the oldest-established gaming PC brands, Alienware, has a reputation to maintain and it does so in style. The Area-51 LAX comes with a high spec and a high price, and while the competition is fiercer than it used to be, it's still got the edge on service.
The custom case is the most intimidating sight in this Top 10, with a huge heft that takes up a chunk of desk space and is tricked out with your choice of coloured lights. Disappointingly, it's sculpted from plastic rather than the carbon fibre you might be expecting and is a touch flimsy as a result, but the performance is much more impressive.
The quad-core Core 2 Quad Extreme QX6850 is overclocked at the factory to 3.33GHz, and like the H2C it needs a liquid cooling system to keep it in line. It's joined by up to 4GB of dual-channel RAM clocked at 1066MHz, and the result is blisteringly fast performance.
Four become two
Hard drive space is similarly excessive, topping out at 2 terabytes. While the graphics aren't as OTT as when the system launched – the impressive-sounding but sadly underwhelming quad-SLI graphics have been ditched – two GeForce 8800 Ultras in SLi configuration are enough to sustain silky-smooth framerates in any game you throw at it.
As you'd expect from a gaming system there's the option of Creative X-Fi to issue high-quality audio, and the mouse and keyboard are quality Logitech items rather than the cheapo kit you get with entry-level systems.
Dedicated online warriors can also opt for an Aegia PhysX physics card and a Killer gaming-optimised network interface, although we'd suggest not bothering as you'll need hummingbird reflexes to notice the results.
Unusually, you can add hi-def DVD playback too, with optional twin Blu-ray drives. You'll need to add a compatible monitor to enjoy the results, however – minimum 24-inch widescreen is required to see Spider-Man in maximum detail.
Gaming-wise, performance doesn't get any better, but this doesn't come cheap. As with most of the PCs here you can customise it to suit, but even the cheapest model opens at over three grand and once you've loaded up with a decent screen and top-end innards it's pushing five.
You do get a lot of extra love in exchange for your hard-earned – premium technical support, logo'd merchandise, customised nameplate, the works – but in terms of raw horsepower, there's more bang to be had for your buck elsewhere.