My story so far..........
I have bought a maxxed out Alienware M17x, nearly £4000.00 paid, three weeks into the system and this is the result, it has major problems and flaws, and Alienware/Dell have confirmed this machine is not all powerfull as it is advertised or made to be or at least at this moment in time it is not, not sure why they are selling it as I am on the verge of wanting to return it for either a proper working replacement or a full refund.
My system has the Vista 64bit, Dual Geforce 280M cards, QX9300 Quad Core 2 Extreme 2.53ghz , 1TB 7200rpm HDD in Raid & 1200p resolution on the screen with 4GB DDR3 ram (opted for 4 rather than 8GB at the moment, as I intended to wait for prices to drop, everything else maxxed out with all options).
Problems so far : (Which Alienware/Dell have acknowledged as follows, Have emails to prove this from Dell/Alienware Reps)
1. Dual Geforce 280M graphics cards do not work properly in SLI mode appears to be a driver issue and fault, the onboard integrated card kicks in when in boost mode with one of the Geforce 280M cards hitting 70C + on temperature, whilst the second 280M sits idle at 35-45C. My benchmarks graphics test cannot hit more than 8-9 fps under DirectX9, forget DirectX10 benchmarking so far cannot get the system to do anything properly in DX10 mode just a blank screen, although when running dxdiag.exe the system reports upto date with DirectX10. Microsoft FSX cannot achieve more than 5-9 fps in boost SLI mode when maxxed out on settings (see other users on You Tube with similar maxxed out settings on other systems with Ati Crossfire and or desktop systems using the same Geforce 280/295 graphics cards in SLI mode). According to the norm with the setup working properly, one should be able to achieve at least 25-30 fps easily with capacity to hit the 60's with further testing and tweaks.
2. The quad core 2 extreme QX9300 chip tends to push all the workload onto one core running at 80+% again temps hitting the 70C's whilst the other three sit at 15% workload and temps of 35-45C. There is some flaw which is causing this and it is pointless having all this power and not being able to utilise it properly.
3. HDD, due to having carried out some changes i.e. disable GPU's in BIOS under Alienware instructions to alter the hybrid SLI mode so that one can manually control the save and boost modes i.e. integrated GPU and Dual Geforce 280M mode, the machine began to suffer blue screen crashes, after having gone through approximately 20 odd crashes I reverted back to the enable GPU's in bios settings. The HDD's since are knocking so loud that one can hear it across a noisy room. I believe the crashes have damaged one or both of the hard drives somehow and in order to reduce the sound, I had to go into Vista settings and disable "Superfetch", this reduced the knocking sound but as soon as the hard drive is accessed the knocking is there, again not sure how long this will carry on for before a failure occurs.
4. Alienware/Dell at this moment in time are working on the solutions but do not have one to give to customers so for those like me having paid out a fortune for something that is supposed to be the most powerful laptop in the world are left with a machine that just is the most expensive desktop led lightshow on earth, that is fact, I can give them that credit. At least I have managed to get it to flow slowly through all the rainbow colours across the lit keyboard. 4 weeks in and I have not been able to use the machine at all as intended apart from surf the web looking for solutions. I dont think the Alienware reps know what to say and so far no one can advise what status I hold, I may have to complain to the Credit Card company to seek some form of compensation, either I have been sent a dud of a machine or Alienware/Dell need to let the consumers know the reality.
Anyone wanting to know more, I am more than happy to comment and take things further specially if there are other M17X purchasers out there. Just my input to add to all the hype around this machine which I admit I fell for...................
All Vista updates current, running Norton 360 64bit all up to date, all drivers report up to date status too, Dell / Alienware have confirmed to me in writing that there are issues that they are working on and that I am not the only one with the problems specially on the GPU side, I happen to be one of those individuals that want the maximum performance out of such a machine not only in gaming but cad and other heavy graphics and calculation applications. I like to carry out benchmark tests and look at every aspect of a machine to see what I have really bought. So far the AW does not meet any expectations at all and is not as has been advertised.
I also forgot to mention earlier that my 2 year old 17inch Toshiba Qosmio is still running strong and by far has been the best laptop I have ever had to date, infact even to this day just simply looking at the screen brightness which has faded a little over time (HD To Go Trubrite 17 inch) is still twice as bright as the maximum brightness on the new Alienware. I actually took pictures with my digital SLR a few days ago and sent the comparison pictures side by side of the qosmio and the m17x to prove to the AW/Dell rep with the brightness setting showing on screen, that the Alienware had a very poor screen as well as the many other problems I have at the moment. I was told unfortunately that is how the screen is on the Alienware very dim, but from what I read on the ads it was meant to have a bright similar screen as other media/gaming laptops. When turning down the brightness one can barely see the image on the AW, tried to adjust it via Nvidia control panel but I cannot get it anywhere near the Toshiba Qosmio crispness and brightness. So far I am still using my Qosmio for everything and £4000.00 short of pocket, the Alienware cannot handle anything huge, the noisy fans spin up on anything heavy (one is a little rocky sounding), GPU's are not working correctly, Quad Core 2 Extreme working at odds on the cores and the HDD knocking sound is to the point of annoying. I was told that I must not update the GPU drivers from Nvidia direct as they have to be from Alienware direct to ensure compatibility with all the AW hardware such as motherboard etc. I nearly bought the new Qosmio, but I was put off due to the silly curves and bright shiny colours in my opinion has ruined the Qosmio brand from the sleek looking machines they had prior, I had been looking at the Alienware brand for a while and wishing like we do, then comes the M17X looked like a sleek mean machine and I thought yep enough waiting, lets go for it.
I am wondering now whether it was a good decision. Is it just hype or can this machine really do what has been claimed etc. So far I cannot find any decent reviews where a M17X has been benchmarked fully to the max with 3DMark etc just supposedly is meant to be the best of the best. The benchmarking I have used is so poor to the point of too shameful and pointless to even mention, even more so for Alienware as I am now begining to hit the forums, so it is only a matter of time I take a few screenshots and other pictures and reveal the poor performance of the machine.
I still like the looks, the fancy led stuff etc etc but I hope this isnt to fool the fact that the hardware as expensive as it might be, just doesnt work together properly etc and that already a few weeks into the purchase, what is supposed to be a top performance spec etc the HDD is already knocking due to a few crashes which I point out were due to AW telling me to alter bios settings for the GPU's.
I am beginning to worry about the money spent. Could have had nearly two maxxed out laptops from another company. Have a kind rep at the moment trying to help but it appears to be beyond his knowledge. I dont know if it is me but he sounds like he has no authority to do anything, sounds a little lost to advise anything apart from telling me to wait for a solution from AW. I just want a working laptop....thats what I paid for, not a prototype test bed to test out for them with my own money etc......
They should be selling working, fully tested machines, so far my Alienware M17X is only as good as an Asus netbook! (I have one), and I am not joking! I am as serious as is gets.
Obviously quantity is more important that quality in this case. Typical corporate greed. Pity, because this could really backfire on them. The guys who founded Alienware must be sick to their stomachs at seeing their good name being dragged down.
Alienware - ALX X58 (Pre-Dell, one of the last ones ever made)
Core i7-975 @ 4.02 ghz, 12gb RAM, nVidia GTX295, 2TB HDD
Asus P6T Deluxe V2 M/B
Vista Ult SP2 x64/Windows 7 Ult x64
+ Dell Mini 1010 w/XP Pro SP3 x86/Win 7 Ult x86 Dual Boot
I am still like I used to be, ......Wishing.........for that seriously powerful dream machine......despite having purchased one!!!, I can tell you I have never in my life suffered so many problems with anything be it dirt cheap or most expensive, techy or non-techy, in such a short space of time after having made the purchase, this is a first.
I dont think many people realise the true inner workings of these types of machines until someone really begins to push boundaries. I have seen desktops and laptops like Sager / Clevo / even the new Qosmio doing things that so far my Alienware M17X cannot touch or compare too. Just check out you tube, type in FSX HD or NVidia SLI, ATI Crossfire, Clevo, Sager, Qosmio, there are others in there too. I have not come across a fully loaded M17X showing what it can do yet......I wonder why?, looks like us geeks out there are discovering what AW didnt know for them so that they can improve the design and hardware issues etc, what becomes of us is what worries me.
I am at a loss for words at how it feels. I have not changed my mind because of the money or credit crisis or anything like that, just want a fully working M17X laptop to replace my old and last Qosmio, simple. I think a replacement is due and if that, then a proper working one or I have no choice to request my money back and just go for the new ugly looking Qosmio and stick with Toshiba, I have the Toshiba Portege Tablet (Maxxed out with finger touch) several Qosmios to date. Maybe this is a punishment for leaving them and switching to Dell / AW. Dont get me wrong I am no fan of Toshiba or any other, would have loved to be on you tube showing what the M17X can do with maxxed out hardware........looks like so far everyone just showing off the lit keyboard whlst a few running Crysis etc.
I mean come on, what can this machine really do, give us some beef, Microsoft FSX with the acceleration Pack running DX10, what is the maximum fps the M17x can pump out, it doesnt get much stressfull than that. I have seen similar hardware machines push out 80-120 fps with all settings maxxed out on FSX. You should have heard the fans on my M17x as loud as the jets on the plane and not coping with 8-9 fps at times down to 5fps even with the single Geforce 280M it should have performed far better with 4 cores, twin 500GB 7200rpm HDD's in Raid each at 2.53Ghz should have been eating it...........my old Qosmio can hit 5-8 fps and thats with a decent integrated GPU a Centrino chip at 1.8ish Ghz with far quieter fans humming away on twin 250GB 5400 rpm internal HDD's in Raid !!!
I have been asked to do HDD tests by Dell / AW and report back to the rep, been trying for a couple days, cant run any diagnosis tests as yet due to Vista 64 and other unknown errors, incompatibility mainly. I have been asked to put the original AW disc into the machine and try to do a diagnosis of HDD under BIOS.......will be giving that a go shortly....
Thank god, I did pay with CC.
I have several Qosmios, all with built in tuners, and to date the best media / gaming laptops I have had, each one was better than the previous. I love the screens, the colours and the brightness even on the most sunniest day, with all the glare you can see everything, I think they had two tubes lighting the LCD as opposed to one.
I thought the AW M17X was going to be the best I had so far, although it didnt have the built in tuner which I thought ok a USB or Express card thing from ebay will do, the sacrifice for having so much power. I was joking and making fun out of friends/work colleagues winding them up for weeks saying you are not going to believe the power on what I am getting next, check this ad, check this review etc, that cad thing your working on or that graphic thing or that game can be chewed and spat out with my new M17X............do I feel stupid or what...... I was joking at being able to run the national grid LOLOL, things you do when waiting in anticipation....
I am getting famous for having bought the most expensive LED desktop lightshow on the planet..........I am serious, it's even making me laugh at how true that statement has become, and the more I see people on you tube just showing the led lights on the keyboard........the more I am believing it.
Funny thing all the guys were waiting to see what my new mean machine was going to be like and I am pretty sure a few of them would have bought one too, maybe not as fully loaded, but they are now looking at Sager / Clevo and others as new replacements. I think a couple of them still have some faith in the AW brand but a very cautious one now and would prefer to buy a used one rather than new if they do buy AW but would be happy to buy new with other brands.
Latest status as of today, Dell / Alienware have confirmed to me that they shall arrange to replace both Geforce 280M GPU cards on my M17X, Both the 500GB 7200 rpm hard disc drives and a possible screen replacement, after reviewing the matter & seeing my minidump files from the blue screen of death crashes I suffered when trying to run demanding applications after Bios changes.
Will keep the info flowing as the matter progresses, a little alarming, as had I not raised my concerns and findings with Tech Support with some depth, had not known a little about stress tests/benchmarking on hardware, even I would not have known that there was a serious lack of performance from the machine with average daily use such as surfing or emailing and the odd spreadsheet or word doc. I would have thought it is me and my setup etc not the hardware if trying to run demanding apps.
I found a good quick test tools for graphics from the Unigine website - The Tropics Demo V1.2........give it a try with the varying settings, also a Sanctuary Demo V2.2 from the same website, will raise a few eyebrows when you run benchmarks. I have scores and frames per second currently as the machine stands range from 12-13 fps under DX9, very poor, will see what it reads when the changes are done and hopefully the next time I can perform a proper DX10 benchtest run with the demo without the dark blank screen. So far DX9 is the only way to run any benchmark tests on my machine, despite dxdiag.exe showing my machine to be updated to DX10.
In order to be fair customer support and primarily the rep on my case has proved to be very helpful, would love to give his name out here to give him due credit he is of German origin I think, he has been steady, keeping in touch with me and has managed to progress matters, despite my worries. I am going to see what the overhaul of the M17X does 4 or so weeks into the purchase, just hope the machine is not damaged when being opened by the service tech and worked upon, i.e. clean unmarked edges, unmarked screws, hatches, clips, latches etc to remain as new, yep I am a little fussy on such things. If the changes resolve the problems I will be a cautious happy man, just hope the machine remains stable and reliable if the fixes work.
Watch this space..................................
Just read this thread after posting a similar experience in another thread Re: New M17x Poor Video Performance
- Commiserations! - It sounds like the only answer Dell/Alienware have at this time is to replace GPUs.
Something I just tried which seemed to help to a degree (for me).
1) Install DirectX User Runtime (installs all updates to June 09)
2) Vista x64 SP2 - yes it is available here before AutoUpdate later this year!
The drive knocking I get isn't as bad as yours but during surfing, I do get occasional loud clicks from HDD /freezes for 1-2 secs.
I've seen someone else talk about the light-bleed from the bottom of the screen - I have this on mine also - not so noticeable with WIndows Taskbar up, but when screen goes blank - it is quite visible then (I would have thought blank screen would make it disappear, but backlight remains)
Did your Nameplate come with the custom name you chose, or "M17x" default as appeared with mine?
Question for anyone else with M17x 280M / SLI - what kind of frame-rates/scores are you getting in 3D Vantage, Crysis etc? Not looking to compete/overclock - just to see if in the same ballpark - and whether SLI /Physx enabled etc. Ta
Also not looking to be facetious - but anyone with an M17x that is running entirely without issues out of the box?
Thanks for the tips, have had the GPU's changed, and also one HDD changed late last week, second HDD change happening in a couple days, however the Technician that came to do the change and I say this, as it wasnt his fault, had never worked on an M17X prior, I was a little worried in one of my last posts to ensure nothing was damaged in opening the machine, unfortunately despite his run through of a training session a day earlier from which he had some print outs, he followed the guide but in trying to prize off the upper power button trim with the touch sensitive buttons like eject and volume after undoing a few screws under the panel under the machine, he had trouble and pushed a screwdriver under the forced up trim panel several times, I was quietly thinking OUCH in the head, but it came off eventually with a sharp snap he expected it to lift off easily or at least thats what his print out guide suggested. It looked like the delicate thin plastic panel survived, it had a circuit board that runs the entire length under neath it, he proceeded to change the GPU's & HDD, then he left after putting it all back together. I noticed very tiny edge marks on the side trims left and right the keyboard where the screwdriver had been pushed across and under the upper trim but extremely faint and minor ;-( , however when carrying out a respawn, (knowing I still have a second HDD to be replaced the technician came with the wrong size second drive) i just wanted to test the new GPU's hoping for improvement. Believe it or not the lack of knocking on the HDD's was noticable and the HDD noise i.e. reading and writing also seemed far quieter, but I heard one knock again which is probably the second HDD which hopefully will be cured with the second HDD change. Looks like the original HDD's definitely had issues. My Toshiba Qosmio has never had a single knock in 2 and half yrs and is silent under drive access in raid 250GB x 2. Anyhow onto the GPU's......but one further new problem...
I ran a full respawn setup, installed fresh drivers as per the resource CD provided, but the disc kept ejecting in between and I kept thinking whats going on, only then I realised after a little playing around that at one point where the Technician had inserted the screwdriver under the top trim panel that the touch sensitive area for eject was acting as if continously pressed even after the cd had ejected, you can hear the drive going through the robotic sound of eject repeatedly, so once again after a few taps and pressing upon the back end of the panel I managed to get the laptop to keep the disc within the drive, finish the respawn and ran a previous quick demo of Unigine Tropics V1.2 to check on DX9 / DX10 Frames Per Second that is if it would run under DX10, it wasnt doing so before. I have sound in windows and on websites such as you tube, but no sound on the Demo now where as before It had nice music playing along with the nice tropics scenery, it only ran under DX9, I reinstalled the demo several times and ran the benchmark test with the odd eject of a cd happening here or there whilst keeping pressure on the trim panel despite there being no cd in the drive and at times without me even touching the laptop, the trim panel definitely needs a change, anyway the frames per second didnt appear improved under DX9 infact were lower than before, may be something to do with this lack of sound out of the blue and the possible ejects, cant tell yet.
I have been busy over the weekend and today in my own office, have already emailed Dell Rep to see what he can do with the top panel and the new problem of lost sound under DX9 on the graphics demo. He has suggested to me to do a fresh respawn again. I am awaiting the second new HDD and hopefully a new upper trim panel once the Dell Rep reads my last email as he has not responded yet. Will then try the fresh respawn, looks like it will be Wednesday now possibly later in the week, and in addition will update on the the tips you have provided to see where I get with the machine.
I had a winge last week, will run the course of all the changes and a few more whines before I totally give up. Personally for me the true test of this machine is running heavy on demand, one of which being Microsoft FSX with the Aceleration pack and a few add ons such as VFR London, Traffic X & a few Just Flight Airbus add ons and possibly REX. Under DX10 this machine should be capable of at least 40-60 frames per second if not more ( I would be happy with a constant above 30!!!), at maximum settings on everything, full resolution 1920x1200 with absolute smoothness i.e. no jerks on frames etc. The reason I say this, is simply because I have colleagues with Desktops running similar not as powerful but good hardware under dual SLI cards, quad cores and they are achieving blistering FPS, I mean 100+s. The M17X is supposed to be the equivalent of a near true almighty desktop. I want to go further, once I can get the machine working properly, I want to sensibly overclock the quad cores as well as the GPU's a tad, get some added large monitors using a Matrox Triplehead2go, to really use the M17X for something like it was designed for in heavy usage..........pure hardcore in everything, EYE OPENING & PLEASING performance and results, be it CAD, GRAPHICS or GAMES, not your average power laptop.............thats the whole point of this machine and the "ALL POWERFULL" branding status.
Lets say we ignore my friends, just check out FSX HD or FSX REX on you tube and see what FPS others are getting with less powerful GPU's in SLI some with better, with Quad Core Extreme processors some clocked some not, check out Nvidia SLi or Crysis, or Farcry, I mean you will always get variants, however the M17X on all round specs is better than most of what you can find on You tube and yet cannot hit anywhere near close the lowest FPS I have seen on some of the vids. Yes people tweak Anti Aliasing down, or off completely. I tried everything and matched the settings of many out there on FSX as an example but could not hit similar or close FPS in boost SLi mode, which caused me to pick up the phone and talk to the Support. My average fps under MS FSX with maxxed settings was 4-7 FPS in boost SLi mode, the integrated GPU was doing similar more jerky fps in save mode, where as with lower settings no AA etc and dropping the res down to gamer settings of 1680x1050 etc could not achieve more than 9-11 fps in boost mode. Thats when it seemed to me that there was something seriously wrong.
Once again watch this space.......it will be a shame after all the changes and the respawn and still no joy.......that I have to make that call to the credit card agent and confirm action to reclaim monies under faulty goods, which is on hold at the moment. In a way, deep down, I really want the machine to suddenly perform beyond expectations out of the blue, might make it worth the headache but thats the techy side speaking, in truth there should have been NO headaches whatsoever for such an expensive piece of kit. I will keep posting.....until it works or I have to abandon all hope, reclaim monies and go for something else instead. If i do go for something else, I will post the results in comparison to the M17X results so far. I am also keen to hear or see what someone with a maxxed out M17X has achieved as I cant seem to find much out there yet.
Cheers (Once again thanks for the tips, will give it a go once ready)