Alienware 17 R3 and AGA - Clean Win 10 instructions?

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by merkman, Jul 24, 2020.

  1. merkman

    merkman Notebook Consultant

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    Greetings all. Long time user of these forums, as when I've needed help with ANY of my laptops or desktops... this site had helpful people with posts that could get you up and running again.

    Just a quick mention about me. I'm a 20+ year computer tech, I know my stuff... but I also know I don't know everything. And while my Alienware 17 R3 has been a tank for the most part, I have had to figure out little things here and there. Bad PS in the AGA after 6 months (as usual, the Corsair I replaced it with seems bulletproof), a SSD that corrupted and required my overwriting the drive with a fresh install of Windows 10... then seemed to work fine.

    One issue that eluded me for the longest time. I'd bought a Samsung 512GB SSD to use as my boot m.2 drive. I then had the 1TB SATA that came in the computer, and eventually bought a 2TB WD "Blue" m.2 that I installed in the second SSD slot. I knew it was not MVe, but the slower SATA speed unit when I bought it. But whatI didn't expect was load times for games like Division 2 to be more than double than what they'd been installed on the SATA drive. It was only recently I learned that the second m.2 SSD slot in the AW 17 R3 has half the channels of the 1st slot. Add to that, prices on 2TB SSD's have come WAY down, and I decided to do something about my system.

    I've ordered a well reviewed ADATA 8200 m.2 MVe drive from Amazon for $250, and it should be here tomorrow. It's been a long time, but I'm familiar with downloading the latest MS Windows 10 OS to USB, and installing the OS fresh. What I don't remember, is do I need to disconnect EVERYTHING from the laptop, including the AGA, run the install, and then what order do the other drivers install in?

    I did a search in this forum, and I just didn't find the post I know is probably here. I'm sure SOMEONE has detailed all this, the way they did for my ASUS ROG 17" laptop back in the day.

    Once again, thanks to the owners of the site, everyone who posts here, and hope everyone has a great weekend!
     
  2. Vasudev

    Vasudev Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    I don't think AW 17 r3 can take dual sided M.2 SSD.
    Disconnect everything from AGA and unwanted SSD/HDD and then clean install Windows 10 1909.
    I'm still using 1809 because with 1909 I did get black screen and no boot screen and choppy gameplay. Dunno if the issues are fixed on 1909 or 2004 Win 10.
    Install Latest DCH driver from Intel and for nvidia use NvSlimmer or NvClean Install to slim down bloatware and let it install AGA driver first and then reboot. Disconnect AGA and see if your 970M is working properly or not!
     
  3. merkman

    merkman Notebook Consultant

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    Appreciate the reply. My ADATA 8200 Pro arrived Sunday, so I went through the install and upgrade. Fortunately, it went rather well.

    I removed both of my older m.2 units, leaving my 1TB SATA I use for data (pictures, music, videos, etc.). I used a tool from MS site to create a USB with Windows 10 installer on it. I then used that to image the ADATA 2TB with the OS, while the laptop was unplugged from everything and sitting on a laptop table near my recliner. Once the OS was installed, I'd logged in with my MS account, creating my user account, setting my background, and Windows doing several driver updates as part of the original install. It automatically activated Windows 10 Home (I used the 64-bit OS of course), and so far I can't see any reason to "upgrade" to Pro... so I've set my workgroup name, accessed my NAS so the OS knows that user account and password, and the basics were done.

    I then took the laptop over to my computer desk, and plugged in only my network cable and power cable... so installs could go full speed over my gb network, etc. I went out to Dell and downloaded the Command Center, AGA app, and others I knew weren't coming from MS. Killer downloaded through Windows, and I read bad things about installing the one from Dell, so I left that out. And I didn't install EVERYTHING, but anything that seemed important. I have NOT installed the Intel Rapid Storage driver to this point, even if I should. I'm set ACHI in my BIOS, and have no need for RAID so I haven't changed it sincem OS was installed.

    Once the BULK of the drivers were done, I downloaded and installed Geforce Experience... though I don't think I installed any drivers until I'd connected to the AGA and booted up that way. After connected to the AGA, I ran Geforce Experience, I installed my Fanatac 3.46 driver for my wheelbase and CSL Elite with load cell brake setup, installed Steam, Epic, EA's game tool, started installing my games. Halo MCC, F1 2020, Football Manager and Football Manager Touch, and others to name a few. When I was done about 8pm that night, I'd installed most of the important stuff... had used about 500GB of the 2TB, and ALL my games and apps were running off the ONE m.2 SSD in slot "1" as marked with the bottom off of the laptop. The "left" slot, furthest from the SATA drive location on the right.

    I've also installed the drive tools, done a trim once the apps were all installed and ready to go, oh... and I reinstalled and tested my Oculus Rift S, all of which worked perfectly like before. So I think I'm in pretty good shape, though I ended up at the eye doctor yesterday. I've needed cataract surgery on both eyes about 10 years ago, and I knew that having the "sack" of the eye "pull away" from the back of the eye socket is a normal and typical thing. As long as the "bag" doesn't tear, it's not like the basic occurance requires surgery, etc. That said, 3 of the last 7 days I'd had increased floaters and eye pressure, so I went to my eye doctor yesterday, got a full check over, and I'm going back in 3 weeks for another appointment / check. All and all, I'm ok... but the floaters can cause a little "distortion" of my vision, and Mom is over 70 and needed some help, so I didn't get any lunch or get home until about 3 in the afternoon. At which point I deciding eating SOMETHING was a good idea, laid down to watch TV, and don't remember much of anything after that napping then sleeping most of the rest of the day and night.

    HOPEFULLY, I'll find some time for F1 2020 today. While I got the full edition for a couple bucks more than the "regular" one, and could play the game 3 days early... I've had trouble getting used to the game again with most assists off, and I still haven't driven my first race. But I'll test some games and report back how it went! :)

    Thanks again!!!
     
    MNColdMidwest and Vasudev like this.
  4. MNColdMidwest

    MNColdMidwest Notebook Enthusiast

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    I would be curious to know the order of installation you took for the AW drivers.
    (If there is a "wiki", I've not come across it yet)

    I have "standardized" on the ADATA XPG 8200 for NVMe storage.. I've heard that the AW 17 r3 does/does-not support double sided m.2 drives, so your confirmation is appreciated. Excellent price/performance and good availability/reliability. (i have one in my work Dell XPS-15)

    Did you put a "regular" m.2 SATA drive into the 2nd slot?

    I guess the one thing I like about Win10 Pro is if you are using Hyper-V and WSL2 (when that finally goes GA)
     
  5. MNColdMidwest

    MNColdMidwest Notebook Enthusiast

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    I found my Win10 1511 installation and key for Pro and get it reloaded. Then I had to immediately upgrade to 1809 via usb stick in order to get the latest drivers all to install.

    Then I just went through the list. I used the Intel drivers for the 8265 and bluetooth instead of the ones from Dell.

    I did the chipset series, then the network, then the video, and then the apps. Anything not already there or a device was unknown was resolved by having Win10 look for them online.

    A final pass with the Dell utilities and everything is working fine. I went back and removed all the previous updates with drive cleanup and then ccleaner to clean the registry and "stuff" and no issues now.

    FYI: The ADATA XPG 8200 series fit just fine and some thermal pad add on is all it took to keep it nice and cool.
     
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