Viglen first opened its doors as a retailer way back in 1975. In the 1980s it sold and supported systems such as the BBC Acorn, but it steadily moved into PC manufacturing. In 1994, the company was acquired by Lord Alan Sugar and its focus slowly moved away from selling mainstream computers to consumers – instead establishing itself as the top supplier for schools, colleges, universities and local government departments.
That choice to focus on education and the public sector meant that Viglen continued to grow and flourish, while the majority of the local brands in the consumer space shrunk or went out of business completely. Today the Viglen brand is owned by a huge IT solutions reseller called XMA. In 2017, the Viglen brand will once again be seen online and on the high street – as a new team prepares to launch a new range of gaming and consumer PCs.
With custom designed facilities in St Albans, just north of London, the Viglen brand carries huge advantages into the mainstream PC market – namely its size and the fact that it’s part of the Westcoast group, a multi-billion dollar distributor with strong channel connections throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe.
We managed to catch up with Rich Kettle, Head of Product Design & Development, to find out more.
We started with the most obvious questions, so just how big is XMA?
Alongside the enormous facility we have in St Albans, XMA has its UK headquarters in a 30,000 square foot distribution centre in Nottingham and we have another warehouse facility in Milton Keynes that’s over 100,000 square feet. We work with over 100 partners, carrying more than 5,500 product lines and we manage that with a team of around 500 experts.
What attracted XMA to bring the Viglen brand into the gaming market?
We have a High Performance Computing team in house (HPC) – focused primarily on trading systems for the city and specialist computers for engineering & research companies – so we’re no strangers to fast PCs. As well as the experience in performance engineering, we also adhere to the highest standards when it comes to our production methods and customer service offering – from BSI to ISO. Given that some of our engineers have gone on to working for Formula One teams, we know we have the ability to compete at the highest level – so we’re relishing the challenge of competing in the gaming sector.
You mentioned support and partnerships – why should anyone care?
We hold the highest accreditations with our partners, for example Platinum status with Intel and Gold status with Microsoft – which means that we always get product early and our testing/integration strategies are professional and proven. Customers will know that Viglen systems have the very latest technology inside, tuned to perfection and with a solid after-sales support mechanism that’s ready to provide help anywhere in the country.
Can you bring anything new to the market?
We’re starting as we mean to go on – with our latest range of high-powered, affordable gaming PCs being presented to the public for the first time in the EGX Show at the Birmingham NEC. A full range of liquid cooled, highly overclocked systems will be the centrepiece of the Viglen/XMA stand in the main hall – so we invite any gamers who are attending to come over and check out what we are doing… We promise that you will be impressed!
So it will be purely gaming?
We’re also working very closely with Intel’s memory team to develop tiny, high speed NUC systems with Optane memory. This range will include the very latest Intel processors with Iris graphics. The fastest solution will clip onto the back of your TV or monitor and give you console-level gaming as well as plenty of power for content creation with Adobe Photoshop etc. We see a big future for powerful, small form factor PCs and it’s something that we’re going to work hard to develop.
KitGuru says: For a start up, the UK gaming PC market would be a tough sector to enter, but for a system builder with a 40-year pedigree, that already builds thousands of systems a month, the prospects are good and we will be watching them closely. Rich’s team includes people like Craig Connell, who has previously headed up regional sales for ATi, nVidia and AMD – which should also help. Expect to see an Optane-powered NUC in the KitGuru Labs shortly.