updated 3/22/2006 5:42:29 PM ET 2006-03-22T22:42:29

Dell Inc., the world’s largest computer maker, said Wednesday it would buy Alienware Corp., whose high-ends PCs are widely acclaimed by video gamers for their fast performance and sleek, UFO-themed looks.

Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, didn’t announce terms of the deal. Dell said Alienware would operate as a wholly owned subsidiary and will keep its brand name and its own product development, marketing, sales, technical support and other operations.

Miami-based Alienware was founded in 1996 by Nelson Gonzalez and Alex Aguila, two childhood friends. They will continue to run the company as a standalone unit of Dell, Dell said.

Alienware is on track to hit $225 million in sales this year, up from $172 million in 2005, according to recent projections by Gonzalez, the privately held company’s CEO. Aguila is president.

That growth has lured others to the lucrative video gaming PC market. Dell revamped its XPS line in 2001 to feature high-powered, high-priced computers to better compete with companies like Alienware and Voodoo.

“Alienware’s products are an excellent complement to Dell’s own line of high-performance computers designed for gaming, enthusiast and media content customers,” chairman Michael Dell said in a statement.

“We believe that Alienware will realize significant advantages from Dell’s world-class supply chain and operational efficiencies,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “They will allow us to continue to satisfy our core customers with the most innovative and highest-performing PCs, and ultimately extend the reach and appeal of the Alienware brand.”

Gonzalez and Aguila didn’t immediately return e-mails seeking additional comment. Dell officials also did not respond to a telephone call.

Alienware’s least expensive laptops and desktops start at around $700, but the top-of-the-line, liquid-cooled ALX models can approach $10,000 when fully tricked out with dual-core processors, hard drives that can store up to a terabyte of data, and state-of-the-art graphics cards.

An average Alienware PC costs about $3,000 to $4,000, hundreds of dollars more than similarly configured machines from mainstream manufacturers.

Alienware has branched out a bit by offering cheaper computers. It also has growing sales of workstations and servers — not shaped like alien heads — to corporate and government clients, such as Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army. Gaming PCs, however, still make up 80 percent of sales.

Gonzalez, 40, envisioned a big market for these PCs when he came up with the idea for Alienware, so named because of his interest in UFOs, science fiction and “The X Files” television series.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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