View Full Version : Ordered an Alienware laptop

01-21-2012, 06:39 AM
First, I know Alienware has some haters out there. Yes, they are overpriced, look weird, have too many LED's, are owned by Dell, etc., etc., etc. However, I like these machines. They always have good tech specs and their looks are out of this world. (pun intended)

(WARNING: Lots of boring numbers ahead. Computer geeks only!)

Now a little information on my current laptop:

It's an Alienware M11x R2
1.2GHz Core i7
500GB hard drive
Nvidia GeForce 335M 1GB Video card with OPTIMUS
Windows 7 Home Premium
Bluetooth, etc., etc., etc.

Nothing is wrong with it, but the screen size is lacking. As much as I like an 11" screen for portability, it's lousy for games. The video card is strong enough though. I've been playing Skyrim with everything but shadows set on either ultra or high settings and it runs great! Everything just looks small.

The big concern is that the warranty is up on it in two days. Like a sports car, it's time to sell it before things start to break and cost a lot of money to fix. This was a higher end Alienware with the i7, not the Core2Duo, so hopefully it will still fetch some good money on ebay. (If anyone here is looking to buy one of these, PM me!)

Now here's what I bought:

Alienware M18x

Sandy Bridge Core i7 2.2GHz
18.4" 1080p LCD
4GB DDR3 (two DIMM slots used, two open)
Nvidia GeForce 560 1.5GB video card with OPTIMUS
500GB Hard Drive (second HDD bay empty)
Windows 7 Home Premium
Bluetooth, Wireless N with MIMO, etc., etc., etc.

The M18x has lots of expandability! It has 4 DIMM slots for RAM. Two are used by the 4GB of RAM that are in it and I plan to add an additional 8GB of DDR3 since imemory is cheap giving the system a total of 12GB of RAM.

There is also room for two hard drives. I will most likely install my 500GB Seagate hybrid hard drive in it which will be the primary drive and slave the original 500GB drive for data, or I could use an SSD as the primary drive and get a lot faster boot times!

The GeForce GTX 560 also has very impressive video numbers and should play the latest games for the next year or so. The system is also SLI capable, so if the M18x is anything like an older gaming system I had, I can add a second 560 video card down the road. (Probably won't but it's nice to have options.)

Anyways, this thread is mostly to brag. Yes, I'll be making payments just like I did the M11x, so it's not like these things are given to me on a silver platter.

It sure will be nice to have a bigger screen. I hope it's not too big?

01-21-2012, 08:11 AM
My primary machine is an M17x R2.
It's an i7 Q720 (1.6GHz) with 8GB and 2x500GB 7200rpm hard drives and a 1GB Radeon 4870... oh and a blu-ray player, which I've used exactly 0 times in the 16 months I've had it. It also has the superior 16:10 1920x1200 LED screen. Mine is silver.
Oh, and you should have bought a refurb off eBay, they're much cheaper. Or, do like I did, and have an employer buy you an E1705 with completecare, then get Dell to replace it with an XPS, and when that proves to be terrible, complain til they replace it with something better... which in my case was my M17x.

01-21-2012, 08:12 AM
Oh, and yes, you can SLI the 560M in an Alienware. The bare card, used, on eBay goes for like $250.

01-21-2012, 08:58 AM
How much you pay Mark?

01-21-2012, 05:16 PM
$1750. That's $250 off of retail.

01-24-2012, 10:34 PM
Anyone recommend a good SSD drive? I want to get one for the Alienware and use it as a boot drive. At least 90GB, but 120GB would be better. Dell says my laptop will arrive next monday, so if I order a SSD soon, I can have it delivered at the same time. That means I can clone the drive and keep the stock Alienware drive virgin.


01-25-2012, 04:35 PM
Well I bit the bullet and purchased a Corsair Force GT 120GB SSD for $150 after rebate. It seems to have good reviews, plus all the cool stuff higher end SSDs should have, like TRIM support and error correction. As well as a surprisingly high egg rating for an SSD. Looks like they are a little more stable and have a smaller failure rate than the OCZ model I was also considering. It's SATA III and my new laptop is only SATA II, but it's still compatible according to the website.


01-25-2012, 11:41 PM
Yeah, that was the other one I considered before I pushed the button on the Patriot Wildfire I got for the hackintosh build. It was $60 cheaper for a 120, but I decided it was worth it based on the reviews.

01-28-2012, 08:17 PM
Fed Ex still shows my laptop will arrive on Monday. So does my Corsair SSD, though it's being shipped by UPS.

Decided to head down to the local Fry's Electronics and pick up 16GB memory as well. (http://www.frys.com/product/6798175) I could have saved $10 by ordering online, but I want it running perfectly when it arrives on Monday. Woot!

01-28-2012, 09:51 PM
Remember to run Memtest :D

Looking good :nod:

01-31-2012, 04:12 AM
Got it earlier today! It's mostly setup. Still transferring my iTunes collection and I need to download a few Steam games for it to be perfect.

Here's a photo of the M18x sitting next to it's little (older) brother, the M11x.

http://www.systemjinx.com/uploads/IMG_20120130_220152_small.jpg (http://www.systemjinx.com/uploads/IMG_20120130_220152.jpg)
(click to embiggen)

01-31-2012, 04:56 AM
I see you went all-black...

Here's my 17Xr2


01-31-2012, 05:16 AM
That is a beautiful system! I was going to buy a M17x originally. Dell updates the refurbs on their outlet site about every 15 minutes. The good ones sell very quickly so you have to be fast to get one with good specs. I had been watching for an M17x with a 1080p screen and a 560M video card for about 2 days when this M18x popped up with everything I wanted, and it was not much more expensive. So on impulse I clicked the order button and here it is.

As for the color, it's actually a red one. I took the first picture straight on so, the color on the back didn't show through. Here's another photo.

http://www.systemjinx.com/uploads/IMG_20120130_230742_small.jpg (http://www.systemjinx.com/uploads/IMG_20120130_230742.jpg)
Just ignore that discolored area on the back. I tried unsuccessfully to clean a small scratch on the back. (yep. it's not flawless. One little scratch.) I need to clean it with a soft rag and some warm water.

01-31-2012, 05:26 AM
Now I need to load Winamp with the Alienware plugin.


01-31-2012, 10:06 AM

I'm sadly enough down to my best portable being an E right now :look:

01-31-2012, 01:48 PM
The Winamp plugin is pretty cool, I just need to do some more tweaking on it and keep getting lazy...

Oh, and I have the keyboard as a nice light-to-dark blue fade from left to right, the "ALIENWARE" text under the screen sot of a cyan, the speaker ports and alien head dark orange, and the trackpad (which is BY FAR my biggest complaint, it fucking BLOWS) outline is white.

01-31-2012, 06:27 PM
I'm not fond of any trackpads. I usually have an optical mouse plugged in to any laptop I use. Unless I'm on the road of course.

01-31-2012, 07:19 PM
The first thing I notice while using this laptop is the weight. As with my M11x, I set the laptop on a board (for proper cooling), then set the board on my lap. It makes for comfortable gaming while on my bed. At least it did. This laptop is heavy! My legs seem to want to fall asleep. Might need to figure out something different for this machine.

02-03-2012, 12:36 AM
FYI; if you are going to use the SSD for the boot drive and the regular disk drive for your "data" drive, you might want to either disable the swap file or move it to the regular drive. The change rate on the swap file is too high for a SSD and tends to wear them out faster. SSDs have a limit to the number of writes they can handle reliably. There are some scripts available that will level the wear patterns so you don't have hot spots. Do a google search on it. Just something to be aware of. Also, while the SSD drive is fairly new, it will boot faster, but the more use and wear it gets, it will slow down. I've been using SSD's as my boot drives on my linux systems for a few years now. My primary desktop is funning Fedora 14, which now seems to take forever to boot. I could bore you with the spec's on the desktop if you really want to know.

02-03-2012, 03:21 AM
I did the usual SSD optimizations. Killed the swap file (got 16GB RAM), disabled drive indexing, superfetch, prefetch and Windows search. Don't need them.

Still not 100% certain on disabling Windows write-cache buffer flushing or not. I'm reading conflicting reports. Some leave it on by default and others kill it.

02-03-2012, 03:37 PM
kewl ; sounds like you are ahead of the game on that!

02-03-2012, 04:30 PM
Yeah, I have an OCZ Revodrive in my desktop, so SSDs are not a total enigma to me.

Can you or anyone else recommend a good SSD speed testing tool? I want to compare read/write speeds with Windows write-cache buffer flushing on and off to see which one is faster.

02-04-2012, 07:45 AM
Ask the unix guys :)

SSDs are right now a world of deceptive labels and practices. Intel is the biggest player and their figures never jive with anyone else's.

02-06-2012, 12:34 AM
hmmm ; check out "the ultimate boot cd" at http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/ ; IIRC, most of the disk tools that give real-world results are "destructive" to any data on the disk.

On a side note, I've had at least one SSD crap out on me - after the warranty expired. It failed in a way I've never seen a diskdrive fail - the system only had the SSD, corrupted with windoze eXtraProblems, would even POST. I thought the mobo was dead, but it was the SSD. I installed a new drive and then re-installed everything. 30+ reboots later .... the system was back.

02-06-2012, 12:40 AM
Mark, what are you doing with the smaller one?

02-06-2012, 12:47 AM
Yeah, I have an OCZ Revodrive in my desktop, so SSDs are not a total enigma to me.

Can you or anyone else recommend a good SSD speed testing tool? I want to compare read/write speeds with Windows write-cache buffer flushing on and off to see which one is faster.

linux- install hdparm

run a command like this and see the output, replacing /dev/sda with the drive you want to test...
root@ds666:~# hdparm -t /dev/sda

Timing buffered disk reads: 248 MB in 3.00 seconds = 82.57 MB/sec

and just for fun I ran it on my software raid array...
root@ds666:~# hdparm -t /dev/md0

Timing buffered disk reads: 728 MB in 3.01 seconds = 242.03 MB/sec

02-06-2012, 12:53 AM
I'm pretty sure his laptop came pre-corrupted with windoze....

02-06-2012, 12:55 AM
That's what we have live CDs for...

02-06-2012, 01:14 AM
this shows something kinda interesting:

[~]$ /usr/bin/sudo /sbin/hdparm -t /dev/sdf2

Timing buffered disk reads: 658 MB in 3.01 seconds = 218.97 MB/sec
[~]$ /usr/bin/sudo /sbin/hdparm -t /dev/sdd2

Timing buffered disk reads: 550 MB in 3.01 seconds = 182.75 MB/sec

These are 2 identical slices/partition on 2 identical drives (same manufacturer, installed at the same time), partitioned for mirroring, but never setup. The first disk has basically never been used, the other has been used for the past 3 years as the root disk on this system. Looks like the more they are used, the more degraded the performance is.

02-06-2012, 01:36 AM
FYI, it seems to work better if you only specify the device, not the partition.

/dev/sda vs /dev/sda1

02-06-2012, 01:55 AM
right ; it does make a difference because now the drives are almost the same:

[~]$ /usr/bin/sudo /sbin/hdparm -t /dev/sdd

Timing buffered disk reads: 622 MB in 3.00 seconds = 207.17 MB/sec
[bsampley@dual ~]$ /usr/bin/sudo /sbin/hdparm -t /dev/sdf

Timing buffered disk reads: 622 MB in 3.00 seconds = 207.29 MB/sec

02-06-2012, 05:54 PM
I was looking for a SSD tool I could use in Windows. I wanted to compare settings to see which was faster. Mainly to see if Windows buffer flushing set to on versus off was faster. Not a big deal though. I just decided to leave it on. The system is a little more secure if the system randomly shuts off then I won't loose data. All the setting does is write the new data elsewhere before deleting the old data, as opposed to delete old data then write the new data.

Charles, the old hard drive was removed and put in an antistatic bag. When or if I ever sell this laptop, I can drop the old drive back in and it will boot factory fresh. No OS reinstall needed!

02-07-2012, 01:48 AM
Nice unit Ron, how much that one set you back if I may ask?

02-08-2012, 03:45 AM
It's been 8 days so far and the Alienware M18x has been a great system! I have had Firefox freeze a total of 2 times, but otherwise the system has been stable. Games run great and everything is super fast! I'm contemplating selling my desktop since I haven't used it since this beauty arrived.

Anyone want a slightly used desktop? It has a water cooled Core I7 Extreme 965 3.2GHz, Asus Sabertooth X58 motherboard, 6GB DDR3, OCZ Revodrive 120GB SSD, WD Velociraptor 300GB hard drive, dual ATI Radeon HD6770 1GB cards running Crossfire, 850 watt PSU and some fancy Corsair case. I didn't build it, but traded a guy my Clevo laptop.

02-08-2012, 03:51 AM
I can make Firefox crash at will. Chrome, too. And a child can make IE tank... :down:

02-08-2012, 04:15 AM
I've been sticking with Firefox because I love Sync. I have my bookmarks synchronized on every machine I use. Chrome will do the same thing, but the stupid installer doesn't let you pick an install destination and I want it installed on the hard drive, not the SSD.

02-08-2012, 04:17 AM
I suspect there's a command line switch you can use, but I don't know for sure and I can't be bothered to look now.

02-08-2012, 04:18 AM
I run Linux, Windows 7, and Mac under one roof... and I have chrome on all of them. The win7 and linux machine are on a KVM switch and I occasionally forget which machine I'm on since it all looks alike in the browser.

It's pretty cool how in this day and age we have so much in the way of good cross-platform software.

02-08-2012, 04:21 AM
Yeah, there's some hacks out there where you can create a shell directory and it'll install on one drive when it thinks it's installing on another drive, yada, yada, yada... It'd be easier if Google allowed a custom install and I could just tell it to install on the D: drive instead of the C: drive.