dirtdober
6 Indium

Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

A few questions to the forum:

 

I have a Alienware Aurora R!, build date 11/11/2010. ATI Radon HD 5670, 9 GB ram, 512 GB Hard drive. In discussions with Dell, regarding some issues with the lights on the chassis and keyboard, some freezing issues, and my box's insomnia (does not sleep and awaken properly), they suggested I wipe the drive and install the factory image. If I am going to that trouble, I decided to upgrade the drive to an SSD, and install a USB3 card to speed up backups (using Acronis  TrueImage 2009 Home Edition). currently using WD MyBook USB2 external (1 TB) for backups... machine spends way too much time managing this archve.

 

1, If I replace the hard drive with a SSD will this invalidate my Dell Support agreement?

2. Any known issues with the OCZ Vector SSD 512 GB?

3. I have read post regarding SATA3 vs SATA2 support on the R1, suggesting the R1 supports SATA2 on the motherboard.. Some have opted to install PCI SATA3 controller cards to get around this issue. I never saw any feedback on the success of these efforts... did you get 6 GB speed doing this?  I also read Tesla's responses on the return of this effort... makes good sense to just stick with SATA2 throughput as the SSD provides a huge benefit. Still, interested in experience from those that installed SATA3 controller.

4. Does the Alienrespawn image contain the factory image backup as a part of its image? Also as the box came with MSOffice 2010 and Macfe, are those in the image as well?

5. I am impressed with the Lacie Porche 9223 USB3 external drive.... it is geared for the MAC, but seems to support Win7. Any suggestions for alternatives? With USB3, I need a drive that can exploit the increased transfer rates....

 

Thanks!

 

Dirtdober

 

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14 Replies
8 Krypton

Re: Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

0. using Acronis  TrueImage 2009 Home Edition.

 

1, If I replace the hard drive with a SSD will this invalidate my Dell Support agreement?

 

2. Any known issues with the OCZ Vector SSD 512 GB?

 

3. I have read post regarding SATA3 vs SATA2 support on the R1, suggesting the R1 supports SATA2 on the motherboard.. Some have opted to install PCI SATA3 controller cards to get around this issue. I never saw any feedback on the success of these efforts... did you get 6 GB speed doing this?  I also read Tesla's responses on the return of this effort... makes good sense to just stick with SATA2 throughput as the SSD provides a huge benefit. Still, interested in experience from those that installed SATA3 controller.

 

4. Does the Alienrespawn image contain the factory image backup as a part of its image? Also as the box came with MSOffice 2010 and Macfe, are those in the image as well?

 

5. I am impressed with the Lacie Porche 9223 USB3 external drive.... it is geared for the MAC, but seems to support Win7. Any suggestions for alternatives? With USB3, I need a drive that can exploit the increased transfer rates....

0. Interesting. I thought the first version to support Win7-64 was Acronis TI Home 2010. Yes, the backup drive should be external (local or network) and eSata or USB3 is much faster than USB2.

1. It shouldn't, but since it will be used as the boot/OS drive, I'll let Dell answer than one.

2. Only that OCZ doesn't make the most reliable drives. They are known as cheap, not really good. Higher reliability drives are Intel and Samsung. Crucial/Micron would be my 3rd choice.

3. If you can find a good reliable controller that boots machine, and you have room for it, I don't see the problem. Comparing SATA2 to SATA3 on paper is one thing, but in the real-world you are going to find "diminishing returns" (because SATA2 is already really fast). It's not like the jump from 7200rpm to SSD.

You will have to reference a specific thread if you want an opinion. I have written in thousands.

There have been some threads about users considering not installing a SSD at all, just because the machine only supported SATA2/300. As I advised them, yes, it's still a good upgrade (because the alternative is just a spinning drive).

4. Yes, but I'm pretty sure that won't work to restore to a new C: drive. Clean Install instead. You can try to Clone (custom) with Acronis, but I think you are going to end up with the (unusable) Respawn Partition. No big deal on 512gb SSD, but on a 128-256gb it hurts. See my Favorite Threads #1.

For Office 2010 you got an CoA card with serial. Download new ISO from Microsoft. Microsoft Security Essentials is better and free but I think McAfee is in My Dell Downloads. Plus, you are likely paying McAfee these days, so just get latest copy from them and enter your reg. info.

5. I have 2-3gb WD and Seagate USB3 externals (also a USB3 Vantec enclosure). They all work about the same. USB3 is easy to use, so I guess we are stuck with it until the next thing. The only thing I really like about it is that it's faster than USB2. I've been installing PCIe-x1 USB3 cards with Renesas chipsets with pretty good success.


Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
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dirtdober
6 Indium

Re: Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

Tesla,

Thanks!

Although Acronis does not certify 9 for Win 7, I have been running it for 3 years successfully.  Just upgraded to Acronis 2013 this afternoon.  Time for fresh problems 🙂 .

I returned the OCZ drive... talking to Dell they stated they would not support questions on Win 7 on a drive that was not purchased from them...Considering how often drivers get lost or fail to update properly, I did not want to risk the loss of support. I have over a year left on the support contract, so I will switch to a Dell provided Samsung 840 Pro 500 GB drive.

I will give the Alienrespawn image a shot.... lets see what it actually puts on the disk.  I have the factory image on a USB key drive and will boot from it.. We will see if it works as documented.  

I have a clone of the existing disk via Acronis, but do not want to use it.  It is suspect as the issues with lights, freezing, etc. would just be duplicated on the new drive.

Trying out a Buffalo MiniStation Extreme USB 3 drive.  As the SSD project is delayed till I get the drive from Dell, I will go ahead with the USB3 upgrade project.

Many thanks for your thoughts and commentary.

Dirtdober

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dirtdober
6 Indium

Re: Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

Update on previous post...

USB 3 Adaptor installed.... after a misfire at Micro Center. They packaged the card with the wrong drivers... actually we could never figure out whose card it was... so the correct drivers were never located. Returned card and started over, all is well.  Buffalo MiniStation Extreme USB drive did not work out. Tried out the encryption feature, and found the password prompts and slow response to be an issue.  Now using Buffalo HD-LXU3 USB3,  3 TB drive, 7200 rpm. Much better....

Acronis 2013 loaded up just fine, instructions say no need to remove old version, however the install program halted ( and prompted met to remove the previous version).  Menus are different, most things are the same. 92.6 GB image took 30 min to backup.... way better than the 2 hours it use to take before the upgrade to USB3.  

Question:

Using the Dell driver analyzer on my Aurora R1, the driver updates suggested do not appear to be correct.  My Box has the ATI Radeon HD 5670 (dual cards in cross fire config.) and the Dell analyzer suggest I upgrade with ATI 6970 drivers. I actually tried this (it failed.. had to roll back).  Additionally it recommends the Intel Chipset drivers (urgent) and they also failed to load.  The only suggestion that appears correct and was successful with the Bios update to A11.  

I socialized my concern to Dell Tech Support... they said they have no control over the analyzer app... not sure what to make of this, but I do rely on it and need it to work.  Suggestions?

SAMSUG SSD should arrive tomorrow.. will upgrade the drive this week.

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8 Krypton

Re: Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

Question:

 

Using the Dell driver analyzer on my Aurora R1, the driver updates suggested do not appear to be correct.  My Box has the ATI Radeon HD 5670 (dual cards in cross fire config.) and the Dell analyzer suggest I upgrade with ATI 6970 drivers. I actually tried this (it failed.. had to roll back).  Additionally it recommends the Intel Chipset drivers (urgent) and they also failed to load.  The only suggestion that appears correct and was successful with the Bios update to A11.  

 

I socialized my concern to Dell Tech Support... they said they have no control over the analyzer app... not sure what to make of this, but I do rely on it and need it to work.  Suggestions?

Yes, the Dell ONLINE Diags is a separate department. I don't use it, mainly because there is nothing to update (for this machine on Win7-64). If I need to Clean-Install, I already have the last set of working drivers downloaded long ago.

You might also find support.dell.com (File Area) or ftp.dell.com suggesting the wrong files as well. There is however a very complicated grand plan of how it all should eventually work together.

The only file you might want to update is ATI/AMD drivers. I get them from amd.com. Yes, 6970 drivers are the same (Catalyst). But even then, your cards are old (so there will come a time when older Catalyst might work better).

 http://en.community.dell.com/owners-club/alienware/f/3746/p/19340381/19727042.aspx#19727042

See Clean install directions there. It might help to turn off CrossFire-X around time of un-install/re-install.


Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
- Like many of you, I can appreciate a good game-engine.
- I answer questions here, but I'm not a Dell employee.
- Consider giving posts you like a "thumbs-up"
- Posting models-numbers and software versions speeds trouble-shooting.
- Click "Accept as Solution" button on any post that answers your question best.
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dirtdober
6 Indium

Re: Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

Thanks for the link... I see this ground has been covered before.

 

Do you have a suggestion on replacement graphics card? May as well upgrade those as well.

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8 Krypton

Re: Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

Do you have a suggestion on replacement graphics card? May as well upgrade those as well.

 
Just that in an Aurora, I would move to a Single Card solution.
 
Pick an AMD or nVidia in your price range (toward top-end of budget). Get one with good reviews. Maybe AMD 7950, AMD 7970, nVidia 670, nVidia 770 ... something like that or bigger/faster as your budget allows.
 


Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
- Like many of you, I can appreciate a good game-engine.
- I answer questions here, but I'm not a Dell employee.
- Consider giving posts you like a "thumbs-up"
- Posting models-numbers and software versions speeds trouble-shooting.
- Click "Accept as Solution" button on any post that answers your question best.
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dirtdober
6 Indium

Re: Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

Looking at the AMD Radeon HD 7970....  Dell sells it, price is jacked a little bit, but not an issue.

 

Love the attachment... videocardbenchmark.net......

Serious differences between the HD 5670 and HD 7970.....  you are right... my card is slow and old...  🙂

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8 Krypton

Re: Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

Looking at the AMD Radeon HD 7970....  Dell sells it, price is jacked a little bit, but not an issue.

 

Love the attachment... videocardbenchmark.net......

 

Serious differences between the HD 5670 and HD 7970.....  you are right... my card is slow and old...  🙂

 
AMD 7950 or 7970 from XFX will have a Lifetime Warranty.
 
Ya, love that site.
 
Right, so just one nice card will help with the heat & power reqs.  ... and no CrossFire problems to worry about.
 
Right, I didn't want to say anything (but since you did) ... 5670 is pretty low end. Even back then, 5770 and up were the gaming cards. So, even with CFx, you get 100% power from the 1st card, but only about 50% from the second ... 150% of 5670 is still not much ... maybe equal to one 5770.
 
I run a 5670 in my HTPC. It's quiet, has some power, HDMI, etc. And while that box is not built for gaming ... it will game ... wanted to see what Fallout New Vegas and others were like on 96" 1080p projector and 1000w surround sound. 


Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
- Like many of you, I can appreciate a good game-engine.
- I answer questions here, but I'm not a Dell employee.
- Consider giving posts you like a "thumbs-up"
- Posting models-numbers and software versions speeds trouble-shooting.
- Click "Accept as Solution" button on any post that answers your question best.
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dirtdober
6 Indium

Re: Upgrading Alienware Aurora R1 Box

Happy to report New Samsung 840 Pro SSD 512 GB is installed and I am back on line. If it is true we learn from our mistakes, then I am happy to report I am now a genius :).  Zigged when I should have zagged on restoring my outlook folders, but now know what went wrong and am investing the labor hours to fix.

Alienware Respawn image install was smooth... factory image installed successfully, including partitions for the factory image, a small dos partition, and the main C partition. Used a 16 GB USB key with the factory image on it to reinstall. Win 7 updates started immediatley, Alineware Respawn updates were automatic, McAfee came with the factory image install, but was bricked as it was outdated. Went to McAfee website and logged into my account, where a new version was installed and my remaining balance of paid for protection was restored. Went to Dell 'My Downloads' site and replaced Adobe and Nero. Went to MS Web site and replaced MS Office Profesional 2010 (nice little 3 hour download).  Removed, and reinstalled USB3 adaptor and drivers (was not int he factory image as I installed them last week, thats ok, was good practice) and Buffalo USB3 drive is up and running. Other files are being migrated manually... should finish in a day or so.

Still need to reinstall Acronis 2013... waiting for new GPU card to arrive (AMD Radeon HD 7970) before I create a new disk image.

Going forward questions:

I did not install any of the Samsung SSD utilities. They have a migration wizard, and a tools wizard. I did not see much use for the migration tools, I will use Acronis 2013 for that function, but do see value in the tools wizard. It appears there are some configuration options (write cache size, disk health, etc) that I am wondering what some best practices may be.  Also I dont know if there is a driver update I should apply (what driver level is the community using?).

I am now deviating from the original factory image quite a bit, so I imagine using a retsore to fix 'wreirdness' with drivers and updates will need a new strategy. After I get the new GPU and its drivers installed, am thinking of creating my own factory image in the form of a Acronis disk image I store on a USB key (I have seen 64 GB keys, this image willl be closer to 91 GB when all said and done, will need to check it though) or perhaps dedicate one of the old WD USB2 1 TB drives as a repository for a 'factory' image. I would squirrel it away, and perform routine backups nightly on the new Buffalo drive.

Thoughts or other suggestions?  

I would like to have a nice folder with all the drivers I am using today.... not sure how to download and store drivers , the update process I have seen are all automatic through wizards. Any ideas on how to create such a custom repository?

Again.. thanks for all suggestions or commentary..

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