Alienware 18 and 970M SLI - About to give up

Discussion in 'Alienware 18 and M18x' started by Cloudfire, Jan 25, 2015.

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  1. Cloudfire

    Cloudfire (Really odd person)

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    I have a Alienware 18 with 4940MX and 970M SLI.

    CPU fan and Primary GPU fan works automatically. The second GPU fan doesnt, which means you will need to use HWInfo to manually control the fan (that goes for both GTX 980M and 970M). And when you do that, you will also need to make fan tables for the CPU and the GPU which originally worked automatically, because if you don`t, no fans will spin and you will overheat the system.

    You have 3 fan modes with HWInfo because Dell have locked down EC table.
    0 RPM: Good to have some silent periods, but doesnt last long until the temperature starts shooting up and you need to use the other two:
    1700 RPM: Decent cooling, but not enough to cool any component really. Temperature will still increase with this mode on.
    3700RPM: More than good enough to cool the components. Problem is that it sounds like a jet engine. If I would guess dB output in this mode, its around 50dB.

    I have tried stock clocks, 4000MHz for the 4940MX and stock clocks for the 970M. 0/1700RPM do nothing.
    I have tried as far down as BIOS allows it for the 4940MX, ie 3300MHz. Despite running bloody 700MHz lower than stock clocks, the 1700RPM is still not good enough.
    I have tried downclocking the GPUs as well, -135MHz on the core, which is the limit for the GPUs using stock vbios. This result in 40FPS in Lords of the Fallen instead of the 60FPS with stock clocks for CPU and GPU. Gone down in graphic settings to get 60FPS with this downclock, still 1700RPM isnt good enough.

    I`m out of options. Both benchmarks like Unigine Heaven and games will stress the system too much that the only mode that cuts it is 3700RPM.
    Downvolting on the CPU with XTU was disastrous for some reason. Thats out of question.
    Downvolting the GPUs would be helpful, but you can`t flash the 970M/980M with Alienware 18 because you can only run pure UEFI with the Maxwell cards. And neither nvflash nor mnvflash supports pure UEFI. It needs Legacy as well, which will brick Alienware 18.

    So I think I have tried pretty much all I can do to overcome the limitations. I`ve had to open up the notebook 6 times completely in 2 weeks and wasted countless hours, take components in and out, do BIOS resets, remove hardware to be able to post. Intel XTU doesnt play nice with this machine at all. I have had to reformat the SSD 3 times due to the reset of BIOS and because the system creates partitions on it that I have never made before.

    You are locked down to Windows 8, which is semi fine. Bad because I bloody hate this operating system. Good because Ive learned a few tricks to make things faster and boot and shut offs happen instantly vs Win 7.
    You need to deal with editing INF`s to install drivers for the GPUs. No biggie for me since it takes 1 minute, but its another limitations that adds up in the total view of the machine.

    Unless anyone have any ideas on what to do, I think I will sell this machine with a great loss since its without warranty and you are locked down tight to a lot of things. If anyone even wants to buy it that is. No way any norwegians from my country are interested, thats for sure.

    I feel sad because the machine itself, Alienware 18, is a beautiful machine with nice features. Just that Dell have really gone allin on making sure that this system stays locked down on future GPU upgrade.

    :(
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
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  2. yotano21

    yotano21 Notebook Evangelist

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    That is so bad to hear. In this hearing this and many other horror stories I'm in the process of trading a m18x r2 for a Clevo p370sm. Its strange, I wanted to upgrade to the same GPUs that you have within 1 years time. I upgrade when prices on parts drop.
     
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  3. Spartan@HIDevolution

    Spartan@HIDevolution Company Representative

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    If I had to waste so much time like you did on a machine just for a GPU upgrade, I'd simply sell it and buy a laptop that comes preinstalled with the GTX 980M

    Stop torturing yourself mate. Dell has put an end to all our "High Performance Systems" and they are no better than ASUS what the latest joke machines they announced.

    I'm just keeping mine with the Dual 780 GTX SLI until the time comes where many games won't run on it decently, I'll just buy a new laptop, end of story.

    just my 2 cents mate
     
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  4. Peter

    Peter Notebook Evangelist

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    @Cloudfire i can understand, what you went through. :) As i said before sell Aw18 and get Clevo if you want dual graphics configuration or system with single 980m. Alienware RIP
     
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  5. Cloudfire

    Cloudfire (Really odd person)

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    Hey yotano
    Yeah Maxwell is a 100% no go for Alienware. Its just as bad as the brands that use soldered GPUs actually. Atleast with the other brands that solder you know you can`t upgrade the GPUs and it will save you for a lot of trouble...

    Well you probably understand how much I wanted this to work.
    I don`t think there is anything I havent tried yet. I would actually have found a solution if something went along with the plan:

    1. HWInfo can read EC and you can adjust whatever speed you want. Or HWInfo could run the fans for more than 1 second if the temp hit the limit you made. It just goes on and off and on and off every 3rd second now. On all 3 fans. Fun. NOT
    2. Dell BIOS don`t block Intel XTU from working properly. There are many stories of people getting a NO POST situation from various of reasons when adjusting parameters in XTU with AW18. I bet Dell put a nasty bug in the BIOS to discourage users from fiddling with their own property :)rolleyes:) and to have the computers sent in to scare people away from doing this ever again. Because a BIOS reset on this machine is not easy.
    3. I could flash my cards to a better vbios with lower voltage/clocks.

    All these 3 things I assumed would work when I bought this machine. 0 of them do...
    Absolutely horrible.

    I have one thing left I could try before raising the white flag, and that is lifting up the notebook an inch to see if the components get better ventilation. But I`m tired of this crap.

    Thanks man. I don`t think anyone would be interested in buying this machine though.
    Clevo would be great, no doubt about that. Atleast they work on UEFI or Legacy with any card.

    I was thinking "Maybe I should just disable the 2nd 970M and just use 1 since that one have a fan that works".
    Then I remembered I dont have 980M cards but 970M which isnt really an upgrade from my AW18 with 770M SLI.
     
  6. yotano21

    yotano21 Notebook Evangelist

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    I really liked this m18 r2, the speakers are nice and loud. I had it for over 1 year now without any issues. I finally was able to max it out. I was in the process to upgrade the GPUs but...,well you know.
    I was able to install 6tb of storage on this laptop with 3 2tb drives and a 256SSD msata. I put all of my movies, shows, and games on it without getting the external HDs out. Its heavy but at least I dont have to lug around any external HDs.

    Everyone I know thinks I'm crazy for having such a heavy laptop instead of a desktop. I dont mind the weight. I guess I wont be turning anymore heads at the library. Maybe I can still turn heads when I turn up the fans to full blast but I might just get kicked out for that.
     
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  7. Zero989

    Zero989 Notebook Virtuoso

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    I will most likely end up going down this road with MXM upgrades and forcing fans at 3300RPM.

    Could you do me a huge favour though and use DPC latency checker with HWinfo running?

    I'm getting really bad spikes which causes the audio crackling.
     
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  8. pathfindercod

    pathfindercod Notebook Virtuoso

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    Its unfortunate Dell is killing off the enthusiast market in favor of consumers. The other unfortunate part is us enthusiast are a very small piece of their overall sales and picture. The majority of the general population don't know, care or desire to do what we do with computers. Dell will probably never know the error of their ways.

    On a side note - I will just keep my AW collection even after they are to slow for any gaming for nostalgic reasons, like I have my 1984 Macintosh classic (still works), Amiga 500 and 2000hd (both still work). The Alienware machine will be apart of my history. They are just a perfection of engineering and a look no other can achieve (the older machines like the ancient 18x r2 :)... )

    Ill buy one of your 970's for my newly acquired m15x :)
     
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  9. reborn2003

    reborn2003 THE CHIEF!

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    Nice you got a M15x! :) Thats gonna be fun to play with!
     
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  10. pathfindercod

    pathfindercod Notebook Virtuoso

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    Oh yes sir. I was toying with the idea. After taking to a buddy who loves his and the ease of upgrading. I started looking and then dismissed the idea. Then in casual browsing I ran across what seemed to be a to good to be true deal but the guy had over 350 100% feedback. So I decided to give it a shot. I got a pristine mint black 15x, 1080p screen, 840 cpu and a crappy ATI card, bluray and a freaking 512gb crucial mx100.. I can't post the price here public all becaue it might hurt my resale value at a later date. Lol but I just ordered a 920xm chip for it and will be putting in one of my spare 680m for now till I find a decent prices 9xx gpu for it. :)

    Not only that, had 9cell battery, cloth sleeve, win 7 ultimate, original leather book with dvd's in it...

    And reborn, you now how I like my sleeves!!


     
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