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My Experience with the New Alienware Area 51 R2 (Late 2014): Compatibilities, Damages, and Other Issues

// Last update on October 5, 2015 | The unit is still in process for a resolution

 

// Last update on January 9, 2015 | The replacement units are damaged again (Pictures on page 6):  

http://en.community.dell.com/owners-club/alienware/f/3746/t/19608440?pi21932=6

 

// Last update on November 29, 2014 | Section on the drives and RAID

 

On November 4, 2014 I ordered my New Alienware Area 51 R2 (2014) with:

Intel Core i7-5960X (8 cores)

Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64bit English

32GB Quad Channel DDR4 at 2133MHz

128GB SSD SATA 6Gb/s Main + 2TB HDD 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s Storage

Dual NVidia GeForce GTX Titan Z with 24GB Total (2x 12GB)

4 Year Alienware Enhanced Support

Total Price: $7,482.56 CAD

Estimated Delivery Date was for December 4, 2014.

 

On Tuesday November 25, 2014, I received my delivery with Purolator. As you can see in the two pictures below, I was happy until I saw the box was damaged.

The New Alienware Area 51 R2 (2014) box had only 2 of 4 clips that hold the top-box to the base-box. Purolator delivered my Alienware Area 51 R2 (2014) box upside down.

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Here is a sample of my conversation with the delivery guy:

Me: It would be nice to see the people to handle it with gently with care.

The Purolator Delivery Guy: Why would I? It’s just a big heavy box?!!

Me: Because you’re holding a super expensive computer the box is damaged. Do you still have the two missing clips that hold the box in place?

The Purolator Delivery Guy: No I don’t have them. I received your box like that when I loaded my truck this morning.

Me: Alright... I’m hoping everything is fine when I’ll open the box. Would it be possible to help me bring this big box upstairs? It’s a bit difficult to handle alone.

The Purolator Delivery Guy: Sure, I can.

Once we got on my apartment floor, I signed on the terminal for the reception of my delivery. Before he left, I told him: I’m worried my computer is damaged.

The Purolator Delivery Guy: It’s normal! The damages happen all the time for a delivery and if something happens to your computer please contact Dell. Plus there are no symbols, signs or icons to show that’s fragile or which side is up. How am I supposed to handle the box if there’s no indication. Normally this kind of box should not be delivered by one guy, but two. Also, the bottom was hanging out so I had to handle it upside down. The clips were not strong enough to hold the bottom part of the box. They should add more tape around it.

Me: Well, I guess they didn’t think that it was necessary.

  

I noticed Dell changed their packaging this year. They cheaped out a bit with the New Alienware Area 51 R2 (2014) box compared to the old Alienware Aurora R4 (2013) box. Here’s a video showing the unboxing of the Alienware Aurora R4 (2013) for comparison:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3irfNNI4U5Q

In order to show how the quality of the box has changed, I compared the previous year to this year.

From this YouTube video, you can definitely see the old Alienware Aurora R4 (2013) was really well packaged.

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You’ll notice there’s a symbol with an arrow on the box below the kid’s left hand showing the right side up. Also, at the same level on the box, there are other instruction symbols which are not on the New Alienware Area 51 R2 (2014) packaging.

As you can see in the two pictures below, the big box contains two other boxes, each with padding on the corners.

3362.AW A R4 001.jpg

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One of those two boxes is accessories box, with foam compartments for the manuals instructions, discs, mouse, keyboard, power cord, mouse pad etc.

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The second box is the computer box that has 4 clips at the bottom.

7462.AW A R4 005.jpg

You have to remove the clips before pulling the upper part of the box.

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Inside that box you will find 4 foam corners padding the computer casing and with the computer case protected by a cover sheet, preventing scratches and rubbing the computer case against the foam.

3252.AW A R4 007.jpg

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As you can see, the Alienware Aurora R4 (2013) was really well packaged for transportation.

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For the New Alienware Area 51 R2 (2014) Dell has omitted the necessary layers of protection and to secure the unit in place so it won’t have any accidents.

I detached the two remaining clips in order to pull up the upper part box to reveal the contents inside the box.

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As you can see the presentation of the Alienware Area 51 R2 (2014) box is unpleasant to see and is not grandiose like the previous one I showed above. At the top you‘ll notice the accessories box, however it is not padded like the prior model.

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On the top front and back of the computer there are two cardboard triangles, meant to stabilize the computer. However the triangles were squished and essentially useless.

Then the computer casing has a foam hat to cover the top of the computer. But the computer casing was not place correctly in the foam place holder base.

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The computer was actually standing on one side corner of the hexagon shape. The state of the two triangles cardboard that’s squished show that they were not strong enough to hold the computer casing in place when the delivery guy flipped the New Alienware Area 51 R2 (2014) box upside down during the transport. Another important mistake Dell made in the packaging that wasn't present in the previous year, is not having the computer casing covered with a cover sheet or a thin plastic film to prevent rubbing of the foam against the computer casing during transportation.

Due to the lack of protection on the casing, the casing was damaged. Below are pictures of the damage on the computer casing.

Scratches on the right door.

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Scratches on the left door.

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Scratches on the left door and dents on the black plastic frame and dust.

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Other dents on the black plastic frame.

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There’s a bend on the left metal frame edge where the left bottom door sits on before the door can be snapped on the casing.

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On the picture below, the left door has a gap because the left metal frame edge is bent inside the computer casing.

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The gap also prevents the left door LED light from lighting up because the contact doesn’t touch with the Alien FX connector. Also there's no stickers for Express Service Code and the Product Key for the Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64bit English.

I immediately called Dell.ca to report the issue. For the three hours, I was transferred back and forth between Canada USA where I had to explain my problem to 5-to-6 customer service agents before someone helped me submit a request an exchange.

   

After I finished the call with Dell Customer Service, I decided to look inside the accessories box:

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The box contained manuals instruction, Microsoft Windows 8.1 Recovery Disc, Alienware Disc, Power Cord, mouse and keyboard. The keyboard box was upside down. However there was no mouse pad, no DVI-to-VGA adapter, and no extra modular cable 6 pins to 8 pins to add a third GPU card.

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To be sure I wasn’t missing something, I looked inside the computer casing and effectively there’s is no extra modular preconfigured to add a third GPU card.

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Dell have completely removed the extra modular cables that were in position R3 and R4 of the power supply.

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However the cables should be there because I remember Eddy Goyanes (Alienware Marketing) mentioned the computer will be ship with the extra modular cable at 4:06/5:28

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xPG3AK9CE0

Joe Olmsted (Alienware Director of Product Planning) also talked about it here at 10:43/13:10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-urlcdzvgA

 

  

On a side note, for those who want to know the specification of the standard ATX Power Supply 1500W, see the picture below or http://www.plugloadsolutions.com/psu_reports/DELL,INC_D1500EF-00_1500W_ECOS%203950_Report.pdf .

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Further, the choice for default drives that comes with the unit could be better. The main drive is a Samsung SSD PM851 | MZ7TE128HMGR. The specifications below will give you an idea of the performance you will get.

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4478.017 SSD.PNG

http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/product/flash-ssd/detail?productId=7992&iaId=83...

The storage drive is a Toshiba HDD | DAT01ACA200, which is average and manufactured on OCT-2014. The date is quite recent like you can see on the picture below.

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The HHD specifications and performance are like the other drives in the same category of 2TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s 64MB cache.

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http://storage.toshiba.com/storagesolutions/client/dt01aca-series

I’m curious to know what kind of drives Dell will put in the system when you upgrade for the option of 256GB SSD 6Gb/s Main + 4TB 6kRPM SATA 6Gb/s Storage or 512GB SSD 6Gb/s Main + 4TB 6kRPM SATA 6Gb/s Storage. One thing for sure these upgrade come with a storage drive that run slower at 6kRPM compared to Toshiba HHD 2TB 7200RPM.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: You will not be able to RAID your SSDs. Dell/Alienware don’t officially support the RAID for SSDs in the bays/SATA ports 4, 5, and 6. They made a really bad decision and design choice for the motherboard firmware.  Most of the hard-core enthusiasm gamers will be very angry and furious when they will try to install their SSDs in RAID 0, 1, 5 & 10.

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In my case, I can’t even RAIDed all my Intel SSDs 730 Series 480GB the way I want.

NB to Dell or Alienware: Please fix your motherboard firmware and please unlock all the SATA ports for the RAID mode and add the support for the NVMe. Your X99 high-end PC desktop should have all those options available.

 

To my surprise, my first initial boot up was already done by someone. It has a username of “ooba1”.

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I don’t know what happen there? Why is there no initial setup when you boot the first time the computer?

Another surprise, the Intel i7-5960X is not factory overclocked at 4.0GHz like they stated on www.alienware.ca.

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It was set at 3.0GHz which is the default speed set by Intel.

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To conclude, I’m a bit disappointed to see my New Alienware Area 51 R2 (2014) with all these damages with the delivery, the lack of good packaging, missing the extra modular cables, the issue with the RAID Mode, the initial booting was already done by another user and the Intel CPU i7-5960X was not factory overclocked at 4.0GHz. It feels like Dell was not ready to release and they were rushing to push this product out quickly.

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There is a snowstorm in Montreal Canada; winter is here. I hope the next delivery will be better, but I doubt they had the time to improve the packaging so that it is more adapted to the weather conditions and for transport like the older model.

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The only thing I would caution is to pay attention to the length of card extender.

They make a few different part numbers, each with different lengths.
I found the p/n mentioned above for the GTX 770 fit and worked fine with my EVGA GTX 780Ti.


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That plate with the (3) screws on Nvidia video cards is called a card extender.
This is not a Dell part but an actual Nvidia part shipped with OEM GTX 770s, 780s...etc.

 

The nvidia part number for a GTX 770 is 320-0866-001.
Different cards will probably call out a different NVPN (different card lengths).
The plate is powdercoated steel - very rigid. The card extenders that ship with OEM Radeon cards are plastic.

 

I have 3 brand new Nvidia GTX 970s and the 3 screw holes are present in the heat sink.
I also have an EVGA GTX 780Ti - with the titan style cooler and it has them as well.
The common factor is the Titan style cooler.

 

I like the idea of the added stability these bring with heavy video cards so I searched high and low for them. They just dont exist as a standalone part.

I have 3 OEM GTX 970s installed in my Area 51R2 and was very surprised how well they are in there without those brackets. Some of that may be attributed to the angle of the cards.

Short story - you do NOT need them.




 

If you want more info - google "Nvidia Card Extender" and read the PDF for the Tesla K20 card. Page 8 will be what your looking for.

 

Dell parts was unable to provide card extender. Was able to source Nvidia Card extender from sabrepc.com

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0930, How can u get the quote ? is it possible to purchase it ? i contacted dell in indonesia, malaysia, japan

and all of them said its impossible to buy the parts unless buy a new whole PC again. If there is a way to buy the parts pls let me know. thx

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0930, How can u get the quote ? is it possible to purchase it ? i contacted dell in indonesia, malaysia, japan

 

and all of them said its impossible to buy the parts unless buy a new whole PC again. If there is a way to buy the parts pls let me know. thx

 

If you are looking for the support bracket that attaches to the GPU this can not be purchased through Dell, unless you purchase a GPU directly from them. I was able to order the NVIDIA 320-0867-000 Flat Extender from sabrepc.com. Item is not listed on website but if you speak to customer service they may have this item in their spare parts department.

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0930, many thanks for the great info, will contact them asap for the extender. how about the pci cables for second gpu, HPDD5 . Mine shipped with only first and third gpu cables. that is the r1 r2 for first gpu and r5 r6 for third gpu. not sure why they skipped the r3 and r4 for second gpu. all dell support in asia are not helping. any ideas how to purchase the cables and sli bridges (GYN70) or (40NMJ) ? thanks

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0930, many thanks for the great info, will contact them asap for the extender. how about the pci cables for second gpu, HPDD5 . Mine shipped with only first and third gpu cables. that is the r1 r2 for first gpu and r5 r6 for third gpu. not sure why they skipped the r3 and r4 for second gpu. all dell support in asia are not helping. any ideas how to purchase the cables and sli bridges (GYN70) or (40NMJ) ? thanks

HPDD5 and either GYN70 or 40NMJ are the correct part numbers for the PCI cable and SLI bridges. As usually if the Dell operator is unable to locate these part numbers when you call the spare parts department they should be able to escalate the matter to their support area and get back to you. Had to wait about 5 weeks after order for parts to arrive. 

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Dell in asia have no sparepart department or such thing. there is no way they will give us the parts. especially if its free. if you could get one in your country, mind if i buy it and ship it to me ? thanks

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Hope everyone who got concerns with their rigs would get resolved soon! Sooner the better!

Got mine in great condition. No major issues or whatsoever except the resource dvd they've sent me was blank. But i would be getting my replacement soon! And oh I've got my SLI bridge connector last Monday after I requested one on the 23rd.  Didn't pay anything for the li'l bugger. Great!

Have a great weekend, guys!20150501_154738.jpgIMG_3456x.jpg

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did u order ur rig with dual gpu ? how come you not paying for the bridge if u only order ur rig with single gpu ?

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I see the pic  for the 1500 power supply, but its not clear to read - could some one give me the part number for it 🙂  

Alienware Area 51 R2  with GTX Titan x SLI ......well when the replacement cards arrive 🙂

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