How To: The Social Engineer's Guide to Buying an Expensive Laptop

The Social Engineer's Guide to Buying an Expensive Laptop

Laptops are almost a necessity in today's society. It doesn't help that a laptop that can actually increase your work productivity will put at least a $1,500 dent in your wallet. I'm sure you have searched around to try to find factory direct deals, or (shiver) even looked at used laptops, but that isn't the way to go. You need something that actually has a warranty, and good performance, but at the same time, doesn't require you to sell a kidney. This can cause quite a dilemma, as it can take some people months or years to save up for even the worst computer.

Well, if you are a computer gamer, or just an enthusiast, you have probably heard of Alienware. They are the most expensive, the most gorgeous, and above all else, the most powerful gaming laptops in the universe (no, people... having 3 hard drives doesn't make Sager better). The drawback of these beasts are the steep prices. To get the specifications maxed out Alienware, it will run you back 5 to 6 grand. This is the power that you get to play with:

  • Screen: 18.4"  1080p WLED
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 2960XM 2.7GHz (3.7GHz with Turbo Boost, 8MB Cache)
  • Memory: 32GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 1333MHz (4DIMMS)
  • GPU: Dual 2GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon 6990m (4GB)
  • Storage: Up to 512GB Solid State Drive SATA hard drive
  • Misc: SATA3, USB 3.0, HDMI input, 4 year warranty and more
  • Total: $6,949.00The Social Engineer's Guide to Buying an Expensive Laptop

This is a force to be reckoned with. However, the toll for this gorgeous piece of hardware will do some damage to your wallet. What if it doesn't have to, though? What if I told you, that with some clever shopping, and some hardcore social engineering, I got this laptop down to $2,000? No joke. In today's Null Byte, I am going to show you exactly what it takes to get the most out of your money from Alienware. I'm going to sleuth around and get the best price on parts and then finish off with some social engineering to lower my price even more. This isn't just for Alienware, though. These methods are applicable to all things expensive. Pay close attention, this could save you enough money to buy a car.

Social engineering is a natural-born talent for some people. Convincing someone to trust you, and playing on human emotion can really save your skin when it comes to big spending. I've used it to my advantage more than I can remember when it comes to purchasing things.

Step 1 Prepare for Battle

Before we begin, we should shop around for upgraded parts and see if we can get them cheaper elsewhere. This will put a good dent in the preliminary price on our order, making minimal to no sacrifice in regards to performance. Upon looking around, here is the modified list that we can come up with:

  • Screen: 18.4"  1080p WLED
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 2860QM 2.5GHz (3.6GHz with Turbo Boost, 8MB Cache). I swapped this out to the 2860QM because it costs half as much and can be easily overclocked to be faster than the 2960XM, while maintaining a 8MB cache size. Clearly a better option.
  • Memory: 16GB Kingston HyperX PnP Triple Channel DDR3 at 1866MHz (4DIMMS). I chose to order RAM from someone other than Alienware and "downgraded" from 32GB of 1333MHz to 16GB of Triple channel memory clocked at 1866MHz. This upgrade is much faster, and can be overclocked to 2000MHz, easily. Almost a 100% speed increase is achieved while we also save $1,780.00. This means that we also get 4GB of RAM for free with the laptop because it comes with it, stock. Sell it.
  • GPU: Dual 2GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon 6990m (4GB). Stick with the dual AMDs—they are faster than the nVidia 580m cards and are a lot cheaper. Option seems pretty clear to me.
  • Storage: 256GB OCZ SATAIII SSD R/W 500/MBs. This drive is faster than any of the drives offered through Alienware.  I chose only one because an SSD larger than this, for now, is pretty ridiculous. The Alienware will still come with a 500GB HDD, which can be used for storage, so you can keep the OS and your games on the SSD to increase performance greatly.
  • Warranty: 1 year advanced warranty. I upgraded to the 1 year advanced plan to cover accidental damages. A lot of people do not know this, but a few months before your warranty runs out, you can call the factory and pay to have the warranty extended. Why pay for it now if we don't have to?
  • New Preliminary Total: $2,860 on the Alienware. $3,380 is our new grand total, with extra parts included. We have already saved more than 50% for a rig that outperforms what we would have had.

The Social Engineer's Guide to Buying an Expensive Laptop

Step 2 Social Engineer FTW

There are a number of things that come into play when pulling this part off. Here is what we need to do to successfully lower the purchase price:


  • Call on the phone. When you call, you can haggle with a sales rep. Contrary to popular belief, the prices on the website are never set in stone. When a sales rep. makes a sale, they get commission, so why would they push a customer away? You have the power. You have the money that they want. This is what opens the door to social engineering our way to victory.
  • Order at the end of the month. Sales reps also have a quota that they need to fill. If you call enough times, you will get lucky and find someone that will offer you a special price. Believe me, they will be more than happy to accept your money on a discounted computer.
  • Stay confident. Confidence is key to making your point. If the sales rep sees that you are weak, verbally, you will not get your reduced price. Would you let a bluffer get away with talking you down hundreds of dollars in commission? I don't think so!
  • You can call back. If you don't get the deal you want, just keep calling back until you get someone willing to work with you. Set a goal for a price, and try to get as close to it as possible, or beat it.
  • Use manipulative phrases.
        "It costs XXX? But, I only have XXX much to spend."
        "I can only order one now, but I'm ordering 2 more in a few weeks, could you work with me on the price? I need it now."
    Get creative.

The Flow of Coversation

I called a few times to get the best quote possible. When you want to try to get a lower price, tell the representitive to email you the quote, and you should be able to keep the price quote they gave you for a few days. This locks in your price so that you are safe to try again.

  1. Call and ask to be connected to a US representitive. These are not outsourced jobs to different countries, so these reps have more freedom. This means they have the ability to lower the price more than anyone else.
  2. Be polite and courteous. Ask the rep. how their day is going. This can go a long way before you even start to talk about your machine's build. They will have a great disposition towards you, and often times will be more than willing to help you out.
  3. After you run through the build and they give you a quote, use some manipulative phrases. Here is what I did:
    Rep: "Your build is <reads off my parts list>, the price comes out to $2.760" (already cheaper).The Social Engineer's Guide to Buying an Expensive LaptopMe: "Oh, damn. Problem is, I am a little bit short right now, and need this laptop for work. My current laptop died, and I have a large chunk of money lying around for it, but I don't quite have enough for the specs I want. If I don't have a laptop, I can't do my job. So I'm bouncing back and forth beween decisions right now. I don't know if I want to sacrifice some power in an Alienware, and regret that I didn't wait to get a better one, or if I want to just get an Asus from Best Buy, because I can't afford to not have a computer."
  4. After a little while of spitting "pity me" lines for my laptop being broken, he lowered the price to $2,420.00, thanks to a coupon code and some friendly manners. 
  5. I asked the rep., "What kind of bag does the system come with?". Now, I did my research. Alienware only offers bags for an extra fee, but since I assumed the system came with a bag, he was afraid of losing the sale and asked me, "Which one would you like? We have an over-the-shoulder messenger bag, and a backpack". Victory.
  6. After the quote was set up, I pushed it as far as I could take it.
    Me: "As I said, I really need this for work, so is it possible that you could be fast with it? I have work on Monday."
    Rep: "Sure, I can bump you up to next business day, free of charge, courtesy of Dell."The Social Engineer's Guide to Buying an Expensive Laptop


I got the system I hoped for, for an insane $2,420.00 with a free messenger bag and next day shipping. That's a savings of $4,529.00. I told you it was possible. I can't wait until this gorgeous machine is in my hands!

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very nice, i hope to try your method some day

Nice! What do you mean about finding parts elsewhere? Do you mean leaving those as stock parts and installing the upgrade yourself?

Alex has had them make a custom laptop with his parts list that is better than their most expensive premade computer. As opposed to the mum's who ring up and say "I want that fancy laptop i saw on the front page of your website for my little boy" and end up paying 3 times what it's actually worth. All in all he made an actual saving of $340 (plus bag and shipping) but compared with the average uneducated purchaser he's $4,529 better off.

I linked to the parts I bought from a third party in the tutorial. Buying the parts elsewhere, I save a lot of money, and the ones I did purchase actually outperform Alienware's current line-up. I have RAM that will over clock to 2000MHz easily, opposed to their 1600. I actually saved $1,940 I think. That's if you include the swapped parts and haggling. Total, I saved $4,529 :D.

But yes, you just leave those as the cheapest and upgrade them yourself?

Yessir. Then you can sell the extra parts and add that to your savings if you want.

sorry for replying so late...
but i was just wondering, how hard is it to replace computer parts?

I have little experience... but i am pretty delicate with my hands,
It sounds so interesting... i am probably getting an alienware soon :D

Nice tutorial, I have a member purchase account with Dell so i might get a better price if i say im the head of the IT department and am looking at purchasing Alienware laptops for my "employees"but need only one to test out . I have gotten a good deal on an Inspirion laptop before because they thought i represented my company so i might get an even better one now if i follow your tutorial. Anyway s if anyone plans on buying an Alienware M18X here's a coupon code for $100 dollars that expires in 2 days 3JC1P7MZKPZNBP

You can sli on a laptop? wow. That's a lot of power, are you going to do something extra to cool it down? That thing might just melt the table.

AMD cards user Crossfire, not SLI ;D. But, no. I'm just going to downclock it and speed up the fans until I want to do some serious hash cracking. At that point, I'll put it on a cooling mat and overclock it a bit to get some good speeds :).

Haha, I should have done that...well, I sort of did. I did get a free copy of MW2 because I told them my graphics card might be faulty (I really did think that), but it was just my shoddy monitor. Got a AMD Phenom II X6, 1TB HDD, 8GB RAM for $1,500. You definitely got the better deal. I want that laptop just for the keyboard, that's totally awesome! :)

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