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Analysis: Is the WoW laptop worth it?

Mike Schramm

So as you've probably already heard, Dell is releasing an ultraswank gaming laptop computer, bedecked in WoW paraphernalia like no computer ever has been before. If you're a WoW fan, this is the clearly the ultimate bling in laptops to own-- the kind of computer that Mr. T plays his Night Elf mohawk on. But it retails at a whopping $4500, which makes it too rich for my blood, and probably too rich for yours.

Still, it does come with a lot of stuff-- not just a sweet 17" laptop, but also lots of Blizzard swag, and even that FigurePrints coupon. But the burning question is: when you add it all up, is the WoW laptop really worth it? I could probably think of better ways to spend $4500, and I'm sure you could, too. But if we really did want all of this stuff, and had the money to buy it with, would the Dell deal really be a bargain?

That's what I'm planning to find out. After the jump, we'll break down what you get with the set, what it costs, and whether or not this Dell deal really is the WoW fan's biggest dream, or whether or not you could save some cash just by buying it all separately.

Gallery: Dell XPS M1730 | 9 Photos

So straight from Dell, here's what's in the set (this is the one that we're giving away later on, so keep in mind that you could win all of this stuff for free), and here are the prices I found for everything in it.

XPS M1730
This is the main computer. Dell lets you customize every piece of any computer you buy, so depending on the options that you get, the price will go up or down. But using the specs from the laptop we're giving away (2gb RAM, T7500 7700 Core 2 Duo processor, 200GB HDD, Dual SLI Nvidia cards, Logiitech Gamepanel LCD, backlit keyboard), the closest match seems to be the "Better" version of the laptop. Actually, as commenter Kadaan points out, the WoW laptop has a SATA drive, not a RAID drive. And somehow I missed that the processor on the WoW laptop was 7500, not 7700. So the WoW laptop is actually closer to the "Good" version, which retails at... $3528 $2699. Throw in an extra $50 for the extra 40 GB on the HDD, and you're up to $2749. Obviously, that changes the analysis below, too.

Blu-ray disc drive
This is the only thing I can see that's on the Dell laptop but doesn't come installed on the normal "Better" M1730. And it'll run you an extra... $200.

WoW Customization
Each laptop is custom designed for Horde or Alliance. But Dell obviously isn't the only company that customizes laptops-- an average laptop customization job costs anywhere from $99 to $199. Let's assume that you want it done really nicely, but on the other hand, your cousin knows a guy, so... $150.

WoW desktop backgrounds and screensavers
Who are they kidding? Sure it'll take a little while to find the images and load them on there, but as cool as it is to have this stuff pre-loaded, odds are you'll get sick of it and change it anyway... FREE.

WoW Backpack
I'm not sure where Dell is getting these backpacks, but buy a nice 17" laptop bag from Amazon, customize it with two or three Jinx WoW patches, and voila: a WoW backpack... $29 for the bag + $12 for the patches = $41.

And inside the backpack, you'll find:

Retail copies of WoW and the Burning Crusade expansion (with a certificate to upgrade to collector's editions, a behind-the-scenes DVD, and a WoW soundtrack)
I thought this would be super easy (there is a Battlechest out now, after all), but the collector's edition makes it tougher-- you can still buy the BC collector's edition, but the vanilla WoW CE is only available on places like eBay. And even if we just bought the CE for each, we'd get the pets, but we'd get a lot of extra stuff that Dell isn't giving, either-- the maps and mousepads and so on that came with the original items. So let's say you buy the BC collector's edition, and your good friend sells you his original WoW CE box for retail price and a six-pack of beer. And that gets us the pets, the soundtrack, and the DVD, too, since all of that stuff is in the BC CE. All total... $140.

...With all the patches downloaded and installed
I thought about calculating how much time it would take you to download and install all the WoW patches since the beginning of the game, and then multiply that by the average US wage to get an exact amount of how much time is money in this situation, but come on. As cool as it is to get a laptop in the mail that's updated to the latest version of WoW, is it really worth paying for? FREE.

(Save your "Price is Right arguments" until the end, please.)

Warcraft III Battlechest
Includes Warcraft III and Frozen Throne, and strategy guides for each... $40.

Strategy guides
For both Burning Crusade and the vanilla WoW... $35.

WoW TCG starter decks
For Heroes of Azeroth and Through the Dark Portal sets... $16.

WoW and Burning Crusade paperback novels
Tides of Darkness and the Rise of the Horde novels... $16.

Beta club key card with keys to future Blizzard betas
Can you really put a price on these? Well, probably-- all of the beta keys we know of from Blizzard have come from BlizzCon, and so the only way to get the keys was to plunk down $100 for a BlizzCon entrance fee. Of course, a lot more came with it (including, you know, the experience of BlizzCon), so let's say that getting the beta key was 20% of why you went to BlizzCon... $20.

"Golden Ticket" which entitles customers to a free FigurePrints character made
The site doesn't actually open until next week, but we're hearing it'll be $100 plus $15 shipping to do this without the actual laptop. So... $115.

Knowing you have the cash to pay through the nose for an uber laptop outfitted with everything a WoW fan could ever want, and yet still being a complete nerd...
PRICELESS. I'm only kidding! Let's add it all up and see if the Dell deal is cheaper or not:

Computer: $3528 $2749
Blu-ray: $200
Customization: $150
Desktops and screensavers: Free
Backpack: $41
Copies of the game...: $140 (depending on how you get the CE pets)
... with patches installed: Free
Warcraft III battlechest: $40
Strategy guides: $35
TCG stuff: $16
Novels: $16
Beta key club card: $20 (depending on how much you like BlizzCon)
Figureprints character: $115

Total: $4,301 $3522
Dell price: $4,499
Amount you'd save by buying all of this stuff by yourself: $198 $977

So technically, if you'd rather just buy everything yourself, you could still save about $200. However, in Dell's defense, I didn't charge at all for installing all the patches or choosing the wallpaper, or for the trouble of going out and finding all of this stuff on your own. The cost of that in time, plus the status of owning an official "World of Warcraft Edition" laptop, is most likely worth $200 to anyone who's got the money to spend.

Update: Given that the laptop without the WoW stuff is so much cheaper than I originally thought, you're actually looking at paying almost $1000 for the privilege of owning an official WoW laptop. It's a premium computer at an even-more-premium than premium price. I'm not sure that Dell can justify charging this much just for all this stuff-- sure it'd be a pain to go out and find all of these things yourself, but even if you just want a super customized laptop, for $1000 you can probably have it plated in silver and gold and still have change left over.

Some of the prices are also debatable, I'll admit-- the beta key actually holds a bunch of different keys (though we're not sure if they're for separate Blizzard games or keys to hand out to your friends for one game), so who knows what the value of that one is. And the backpack might be really nice, or it might not-- we just don't know yet. And of course, this analysis is about value to the customer, not profit for Dell-- they're already making a profit on the laptop, as is everyone else you buy this stuff from, and odds are they got all the official Blizzard stuff for free straight from the source.

On the other hand, anyone who's buying this laptop probably isn't buying it to save money anyway-- can you really be a WoW fan and not own retail copies of the game yet? No matter how much you spend, you're going to be getting some things you don't need in this deal. As usual, it's really up to the buyer whether it's worth it or not, no matter what the prices are.

And hey, if, like me, you aren't planning on spending $4500 on a laptop no matter what you get with it, don't forget that you can still win it for free! Stay tuned to WoW Insider for more about the WoW laptop, and your chance to take all this stuff home for $4500 less than the retail price.

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