Dell Alienware Mods,
Is support for the Dell Alienware 17 R3 laptop dead? It's been awhile since we've seen updates, such as:
- Dell Intel Graphic Display driver
- nVidia Graphic Display driver
- Killer Network Communication (bluetooth/wireless/ethernet) drivers
- Intel Management Engine Interface drivers
I understand new products continue to emerge, but for the money spent - I expect on-going driver support for at least 12-24 months.
Additionally, if the support team is not updating the Dell support website for said product, then is it recommended to proceed with updating straight from the manufacture (i.e. Killer Network's website, Intel's website, etc.) for the latest driver?
Is there any major disadvantage to not using the Dell authorized driver for said example drivers above?
I don't know what the mods will say (I suspect that Dell will insist, quite rightly, that drivers other than Dell's are unsupported if troubleshooting is required), but I've been dealing with driver issues for my 17r3 over the past year, from new. The system was essentially unusable straight out of the box.
I HAD to use the vendor's drivers initially, as WIndows 10, Skylake and the 17R3 had just been released and Dell support was several releases behind - particularly in the case of Intel and Nvidia. I also used the Rivet Networks drivers and suite, and some other drivers from vendors, but the bulk is still from Dell.
As all these components have matured, Dell driver support is better and I doubt there is any really urgent need for releases, and remember there is always a risk with any new release that unforeseen issues may arise. Look at the release history (..oh right, there isn't one...) of the 17r3 bios for a good example of what can go wrong. Even Support Assist went through a rough patch.
I would expect Dell to take the approach that it is best to leave well enough alone. I'll be surprised if there are many further updates for the base system - but hopefully they'll support new components like NVMe drives, and peripherals,
Meanwhile, I've continued to use the vendor's drivers with, as far as I'm aware, no issues. Nvidia of course have almost daily releases, but Intel's most recent HD530 release is some months old. I'd say that for me, there is a disadvantage in using Dell's drivers for graphics, and I'll stick with what I have for the rest, because it is working.
I'm hoping that Dell will eventually resurrect their ill fated Thunderbolt Dock, in which case we might see updated drivers for it, if they decide to support the dock on the 17R3. And maybe updates for the AGA as new graphics adapters become available.
The drivers you see at Dell are drivers that are either first run for that machine, or they are modified to fix a problem and are generally months out of date when they are updated on the site. When it comes to Graphics cards and the like, you almost always are better off getting the drivers direct from the OEM (Nvida, AMD), then using a Dell/HP/Whatever driver. Sometimes drivers from the OEM sites will not install due to special configurations like the first generation Alienware Alpha. It has a Nvidia GTX 860m that was customized for Dell and the Nvidia drivers won't work.