Dell will purchase high-performance PC vendor Alienware, the two companies announced on Wednesday.

The acquisition will "complement Dell's own line of high-performance computers" while giving the Alienware products the benefits of Dell's "supply chain and operational efficiencies," the companies said.

The purchase, which was rumoured for weeks, is expected to clear regulatory requirements in 30 to 60 days. Ultimately, the acquisition will shorten the time it takes for customers to get their hands on Alienware's sleek gaming workstations and laptops.

Voodoo PC CEO Rahul Sood told Forbes it was his belief that the deal was partially propelled by Dell's need to see off competition from Apple.

"With the recent Intel/Apple relationship, it's clear that 15 per cent (or whatever) of the consumer space for Dell may not be enough," wrote Sood. "Apple is likely to go to 8 per cent with the help of Intel, over the next year or so."

It takes from four to six weeks for customers to take possession of some of Alienware's products, said Mark Vena, an Alienware spokesman. For Dell that lead time is generally less than ten days, he said. "They're absolutely world-class in that area."

Dell already sells high-end workstations under its XPS brand, but with the Alienware acquisition it gains gamer cachet.

"Dell will always be thought of as a good business-and-consumer company," said Tim Bajarin, president of the Creative Strategies analyst firm. "A Dell logo will still not play in the same way Alienware would."

Bajarin said it was unclear whether or not the company might discontinue its XPS systems, following the acquisition. "It's hard to tell," he said. "There are some segments that would still buy Dell because of the service and support image, and who really don't care about the gamer image," he said.

The Miami-based Alienware will continue to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of the PC maker, and will continue to develop, market, sell and support the Alienware products.

Founded in 1996 by Nelson Gonzalez and Alex Aguila, Alienware is best known for its high-performance gaming PCs and stylish laptops. The privately held company sells systems in United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Alienware employs a staff of about 700, none of whom are expected to be laid off as a result of the acquisition, the companies said.