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therealzeldar
1 Nickel

Alienware M11xR1 Battery Premature Death - How to Extend Usable Battery Life

After 15 months of ownership, my M11x battery stopped working and a 'Consider Replacing Battery' message along with a red 'X' over the battery icon appeared.  This happened suddenly over the course of just a day.  My system spends most of its time plugged in on my desk and has been used on battery only occasionally, so it puzzled and frustrated me when I saw that the battery was already shot.  I now have a new $160 battery installed and am wondering if there is something I can do differently to make it last longer.  Previously, I have kept the laptop plugged in and I just close the lid (sleep mode) when I am done using it.  I don't know if this continually cycles the battery or has some other causative effect that killed the battery. 

Is it better to hibernate the system than to have it sleep?  Sleep is nice because it comes up right away when opened, but if it is going to kill the battery again from using sleep, I would gladly use hibernate instead.

Are there any other actions that can be taken to prolong the life of the battery?

I have heard that these Li batteries have a maximum number of cycles and after that, they stop working.  I think the number the tech (not the brightest bulb on the tree) told me was about 1,500.  There is NO WAY I ran down the battery on that laptop 1,500 times!  I had only owned the system for less than 500 days when the battery died, and probably used it on battery without being plugged-in less than 50 times, so there is something else I was doing that caused the battery to 'think' it was cycled so many times.  Either that or the batteries are defective or the number of cycles is far less than 1,500.

I know others have also complained of short usable life from their M11x batteries, so this is not an isolated situation.

I would appreciate any information on how to prolong the time period before I have to buy another battery.  This could get expensive!

Thanks,

Zeldar

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3 Replies
therealzeldar
1 Nickel

Re: Alienware M11xR1 Battery Premature Death - How to Extend Usable Battery Life

In doing some reading and research, I have some additional comments to add, which may be the solution...

My laptop was at 100% charge virtually all the time. I kept it plugged in almost always and just closed the lid (sleep mode) when I wasn't using it. I like sleep mode because the machine comes up immediately when you open the lid. I now think that the M11x battery charging system will smoke your battery if you operate this way. I have downloaded the 64-bit Win7 Dell (not Alienware) Battery Meter application (not listed as a download for my system, but I just found a version for an Inspiron and downloaded and installed it) and will be using it to disable charging when the unit is plugged in. I can use my M11x the same way I did previously without continually having the unit cycle the charging.

I think what was happening before was the sleep mode slowly drained the battery and then it 'topped up' after each slight discharge. By disabling charging and keeping the battery at 40-50% (recommended on several battery-oriented web sites), I hope to have the new $160 battery last at least 2-3 years instead of 15 months!

I might add that the Dell Battery Meter app is invoked when you press <Fn>+<F2>.  After the install and a reboot, both the Alienware OSD 'Battery Enabled' indication and the Battery Meter app will pop up.  The Battery Meter has a checkbox you can use to select whether the battery charges or not.  If you check the box (on the 'Battery Life' tab), you can disable charging.  You can uncheck the box and the battery will charge again.  Without this app, you have to reboot the machine and go into BIOS to do this, which is, um, not exactly convenient.  

I wish this system did a better job of preserving the battery by minimizing the number of charge cycles, but given that it doesn't, this could be a big help.  

FWIW YMMV...

Zeldar....

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Joe Aiken
1 Copper

Re: Alienware M11xR1 Battery Premature Death - How to Extend Usable Battery Life

The battery on my Inspiron 15R has also effectively died suddenly after 14 months. The Windows 7 monitor started indicating an issue and within a week was shutting down my PC after only about 15 mins of operation on battery. Disabling the monitor allowed me to use the battery for longer (about 30 mins) would then shutdown without warning.

Over the 14 months I had made a point of using the battery as the primary power source, charging it once Windows warned of low power, as I understood that this would maximise battery life.  Perhaps I was wrong, but I would expect the battery to survive more than 500 charge cycles.

I notice that there is emphasis on the 12 month guarenteed life of the battery, but if this is because the current batteries catastrophically fail just after this time I am very disappointed.

It is interesting to note that the batteries in our other laptops (ASUS and Toshiba) are normally operated on mains power but have lasted far longer (more than 24 months and more).

Would I be better replacing the current 6-cell battery with a 9-cell one?

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Disrupt0r
1 Copper

Re: Alienware M11xR1 Battery Premature Death - How to Extend Usable Battery Life

Continued exposure to heat is what kills li-ion batteries, so it's pretty much unavoidable. From what I've read, they shouldn't be exposed to heat in excess of 50-60 degrees for long periods of time. In my m14x, I disabled charger behavior in the BIOS (because I always use AC), but I still noticed the max battery life at 95%. Now I remove the battery and only plug it in when I know I may need it. It's not convenient, but saves battery life.

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Alienware M14x | Intel Core i5 | 8 GB HyperX RAM (1600 MHz w/ XMP) | GeForce GT 555m | A05 Unlocked BIOS |

XPS 7100 | AMD Phenom II X6 1075T (OC'd to 3.6 GHz through FSB) | 8 GB DDR3 RAM | Radeon HD 5670 | OCZ Fatal1ty 550w PSU | Creative X-Fi Titanium HD | LG Blu-Ray Burner | Cisco AE1000 Wireless-N | 120mm Custom Case Fan Upgrade

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