no, if you are going to be spending that kinda money, you can afford to be fussy. Let me break it down for you. in my experience, the bandwagon isn't the best place to be.
for one, your right, the alienwares are overrated, i can think of many machines in the sub 1300 range that can do just as well, and much lighter.
an extremely decent graphics card isn't always needed either, it depends on what you want, let me share my specs with you. I have a I7 quadcore, with a 1TB, 32GB SSD ( cache, hybrid ) , 8GB ram, and a radeon 8770 with 1GB dedicated. 15.6 touch screen and a backlight keyboard. I wanted a backlight, and touchscreen.. which is hard to come by in a decent gaming laptop. Further more, i don't really game. However, when i do.. i don't want to have to use the lowest settings, now i know the radeon 8000 series isn't the best on the market, but honestly i can play ALL my FPS games on high settings with zero issues, including TF2. With that said, my laptop is less than an inch thin, , and i can get 6 hours of battery life all day long, when im gaming with wifi off, i can probably get closer to 3, possibly 4 on high, and 5 with med / low settings. Again, my laptop isn't deisnged for gaming in mind, but it gets the job done regardless. If you want portability, and the ability to game, check out the samsung 7 series. if you don't care about bulk, and battery life, and want to do more gaming than work, check out the 580, Y500, ect ). These are both good series to look into, i like sleek sexy design, so obviously they both do a good job, the samsung will always look better simply because it's a samsung. I paid under 1.3k, and i love what i have. but going down the route of being " cheap " won't work. Trust me, i wen't through many, many laptops. I finally settled, on the series 7. all in all, it does what i need it to.