|Alienware Area-51 Series m5550|
Gaming PCs were once a strictly nerds-only corner of the personal computer market. Heck, you still can't even rent PC games at most Blockbusters.
But then no less than Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) bought game PC maker Voodoo Computers last month; Dell had already gobbled up fellow game PCer Alienware in March. It's easy to see what attracted both H-P and Dell to their game-making quarries. Game-playing computers are cool. They're the Porsche 977 Turbos of the PC market: fire-breathing computational monsters built with the speed and power to handle processor-taxing pastimes such as Doom III or Quake 4. "Our machines have an aggressive contour and design that separates them from the mass market," says Mark Vena, vice president of marketing at Alienware. But the deals got me wondering: Are Dell and H-P becoming serious gaming PC impresarios? A quick look at Voodoo's and Alienware's product lines showed me the big computer makers are not going into gaming with a vengeance. Rather, it's the other way around -- Voodoo and Alienware are going to pump fresh blood into the otherwise lackluster general computer market.