Alienware Introspective

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by Gumwars, May 7, 2020.

  1. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Consultant

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    The point of this thread is to directly address some factors that I believe need to be discussed within the laptop community. The first is what I can only describe as Aliewnware (AW) hate. The second is, oddly, what I think is wrong with the brand and possible interventions we might be able to impress on the manufacturer.

    I've been an AW owner for about 3 years. I've pointed others to the brand prior to that and have been aware of the company well before Dell purchased them. What I've noticed as an owner is the parent company moving the brand from a niche market segment to a much wider consumer base. This has had a twofold impact; in my opinion, better customer service (generally speaking) and design changes that poorly reflect the gaming laptop enthusiast consensus.

    My first laptop from AW was the 15R3 (see signature) which is still working fine today. I've owned Aorus, HP, ASUS, Lenovo, Apple, and Dell laptops so I believe my experience is well-rounded at the low, mid, and lower upper laptop tiers. Admittedly, I've never owned the very high-end Clevo products, but I'm also aware that those are special cases already.

    So, really my issue rests with what I call inaccurate reporting. I'm all for throwing shade on an OEM if they sell a product that catches fire (if it isn't supposed to) or otherwise misses the performance mark set during advertising. This includes mitigation efforts put forward by Intel that hinder or diminish those same marks after purchase. I believe forums like this are essential to consumers as part of the research phase prior to pulling out our wallets and committing to a sale. At the same time, we need to be accurate in our criticisms and ensure our complaints are both warranted and not massive editorials that reflect our personal biases more than the actual problems.

    A good example is this thread here. The author's intent falls well in line with what we should be doing as a community that focuses specifically on laptops; inform future buyers of potential problems with products available on the market. However, there is evidence that this issue may have changed and vendors/developers are altering the mitigation so that the problem that was initially reported is no longer the case. What I find interesting is that we are quick to call out a problem with Alienware (and other manufacturers) but don't seem to be equally concerned with fixes when they are available. If we are a research stop for potential buyers, then we need to be fair.

    BGA is not equivalent to planned obsolescence. The problem is deeper than that. When Intel or AMD release CPUs that use different sockets every generation, BGA or LGA don't matter. Yes, BGA does remove your options, at the time of purchase regarding CPU performance (unlocked vs. locked vs. lower-tier vs. upper-tier) but I believe most usually settle on a specific CPU as a part of their research prior to purchase. Additionally, socketed laptop motherboards are simply not compatible with thin/light development. Granted, some technology may become available in the future that changes this but as it stands today, not so much.

    Hot CPUs are part and parcel with Intel's 14nm offerings. Hexa, Octa, and 10 core processors are simply a lot of power concentrated in a very small space. Thinking engineers can create a thermal solution that can deal with that kind of heat in a sub-five lbs form factor, or criticizing them because they can't is ridiculous. I would suggest that you propose a solution rather than complain about their approach to the problem. For those pointing to AMD's Renoir as a possible savior to hot CPUs, think again; 7nm appears to be just as toasty as Intel's 14nm. To the bulk of enthusiasts, we know how to undervolt, we know how to repaste, and these solutions work well enough that the majority of owners never even see half the problems reported here, if any.

    Now, on to Alienware's issues.

    If anyone from Dell or, specifically Alienware, reads this, do not do what the auto industry is doing. Making laptops that cannot be upgraded or tweaked is not what any enthusiast would ever want. When a person spends upwards or in excess of $2000 USD for a laptop, this is an investment and not usually a spur of the moment purchase. It isn't a $300 disposable, consumable piece of electronics that we intend to discard in a year or two. It is an appliance, a commercial purchase, something that we use for work and play and we fully expect it to be something we can expand, improve, and make last longer than the next iteration.

    Soldered RAM is not acceptable.

    Soldered WiFi is not acceptable.

    Soldering down any component that outside of those that require a massive reworking of the motherboard is simply unacceptable. Alienware is not Apple, we are not consumers looking for a "curated electronic experience."

    My last gripe does circle back to the issue regarding thermal performance. If we, the end-user, almost always need to undervolt and repaste your products, why is this not being handled as a part of the production process? Does it make any sense as a manufacturer to sell a laptop with components that thermal throttle, as a function of normal use? Hitting thermal thresholds indicates an operating parameter has been reached or exceed and, in my opinion, should be solved prior to sale. If users are undervolting and repasting more than 50% of the units sold, this should be an operation moved into the assembly process. You have the resources to do this better and with less likelihood of damage than we do, and can likely be done on an assembly line. You can baseline an undervolt that captures 99% of the inventory sold and allow us to fine tune it in order to find that absolute limit. This would eliminate the vast majority of complaints leveled at the brand, capture or recapture consumers that have turned away due to issues in this area, and increase our confidence that Alienware is a maker that cares about their mark.

    Please, Alienware, you can do better than what's been offered.
     
  2. etern4l

    etern4l Notebook Virtuoso

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    Agree with pretty much all points in your post, and would just add a few improvement proposals for AW to consider:
    * Improve manufacturing process either via better QC at the Chinese factory or otherwise - I've owned two AW laptops: the first one (2015 15 R2) arrived with wrong GPU, the other (2019 m15 R1) with a failing one... I would dread ordering another one and wait 2 weeks plus for possibly another dud, as opposed to a next day Amazon delivery or same day pickup from an computer store
    * Improve on-site support - use properly qualified and paid Dell engineers. There are too many horror stories around, and my own experience, although overall positive, was less than stellar
    * Allow end users to perform a wider range of maintenance actions - repasting, fan/heatsink replacements etc. should all be allowed at user's discretion, at least for people with appropriate degrees/experience
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2020
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  3. Biker Gremling

    Biker Gremling Notebook Evangelist

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    My problem with Dell is their approach to product quality. Launching products with less than optimal quality and compensate it with stellar customer service is not a healthy business practice. Really not the way to create loyal customers. What is the good if an issue is solved promptly if the replacement components are equally bad?

    From a profit perspective, isn't just better to spend $10 in making sure that the product is good instead of saving these in lesser quality components and hoping the customer doesn't find out? If the customer then finds out, then what, risk the return of the entire product or major component replacement expenses?

    The best customer service is the one a customer never has to use!
     
  4. Muezick

    Muezick Notebook Evangelist

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    I think the main complaints with the CPU running hot aren't that the engineers are stupid or what ever. It's the marketing that supposes we are just to accept when a system throttles because they stuffed a CPU into a space that is far too small that it can't handle, then sold it as "More performance" when in reality, after it throttles, it isn't, or after a lifetime of running at 99c, it dies a short and painful heat death, possibly right outside of warranty. Consumers shouldn't have to repaste and undervolt and all that excessively technical **** to get the performance that was advertised. Intel is largely to blame for this because of how they handle themselves as a company. they got lazy, amd started kicking their and they have to stay competitive some how, so as usual, its by selling lies, because thats who intel as a company is. Manufacturers are just caught up in it because now they are stuck with the burden of designing a thin and light laptop that can handle 80w+ of heat and yeah thats not really possible, is it?


    They do have a new line that suits your tastes though. It's called the Area 51m. Basically everything is upgradable, if that's what you want. Go for it. It weighs about 55 lbs. If you want thin and light, get a thin and light, with soldered-everything. Can't have both my dude. (At least, not with Alienware)

    Also, calling any kind of computer an "Investment" is kind of a joke. It's an expense, vote with your wallet. I know I will be. And it won't be for alienware, ever again. I've owned 4 of them now, and it was never a good experience. It's super not my job to be overly comprehensive or 'forgiving' to companies that push out bad experiences. If I want to, I can report on my experience, be truthful and honest, but I'm not ever going to be like "Well it's not Alienware's fault, it's just physics... lol" that. They shouldn't sell the product if it doesn't work. Half the problems people have with these things actually circle back to politics, where a general lack of regulation allows them to get away with it, and a consumerist throw-away culture where it's perfectly acceptable to make trash, buy it and throw it away when it doesn't work any more, because we as a species are disgustingly wasteful, and you aren't gonna change that buy asking Alienware to nicely please stop soldering wifi cards or using garbage tri-point heatsinks.


    Again. Vote with your wallet. I appreciate you trying to "talk sense" into Alienware, but it's not going to happen. The only way to "talk sense" into alienware (Or any other company that does trash like this), will be to not buy their. It burns me up and down, but I do this a lot in my life. I won't buy from amazon, or wal-mart (Unless I absolutely have to), I don't play wow anymore because I hate where blizzard is going as a company and I hate it because I actually DO want to play the game! The list goes on and on and on. MONEY TALKS. If more people would realize that, we would definitely change the world.

    You go ahead and keep supporting them and keep hoping they'll get it right some day and listen to your letters of appeal, I guess. I do it too, we're only human, I get it. I own a razer blade while being fully aware of how trash they can be at times. My next laptop will have an AMD cpu in it, but because it seems the only companies that want to give AMD the time of day are HP or ASUS, It'll probably be one of those, and I don't really like either. I actually hate ASUS, but they sell what I basically consider to be the best thin and light gaming laptop in existence right now (The g14) and thin and light gaming laptops are my jam. Just remember, this day and age "Company loyalty" and "Customer Experience" are whimsical thing that are absolutely not set in stone by the company. What you experience with a company does not mean you will experience it again and it certainly does not mean somebody else will experience that either (good or bad!). Buy whatever objectively suits your needs at the given time, regardless of brand. Skip brand loyalty, it's a marketing ploy that companies have been using to brainwash you into spending money on their products regardless of quality for decades.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2020
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  5. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Consultant

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    I've owned two, and another three Dell laptops and have had a very good experience. My Asus G75 is a tank, but it's an LGA/MXM laptop, but it too was a great experience (which can't be upgraded any further than how I bought it, oddly). The worst I've ever bought was an Aorus X5V7, which was expensive junk, in my opinion. There's no denying, laptop ownership is a subjective affair.

    It would mean that I completely disagree with what they're selling, to start. The M17/15 R1, in my opinion, is a great laptop. I can upgrade RAM and storage, if a new WiFi card comes out that's the cat's pajamas, I can fix that too. Mine is light, powerful, and handles the thermals well enough (still waiting to repaste) that I'm not complaining. It's a good product for what I spent; I don't feel like I was taken advantage of. Just like you, I'm aware that Dell can be horrible (just like Razer, or MSI, or Eurocom, or Aorus/Gigabyte) and that for every success we observe there's going to be someone else that had a hell of a time.

    100% agree. I wish AMD didn't screw up a decade ago and didn't sell crap CPU/GPUs in the mobile segment. My first laptop was an HP DV7T that had whatever version of optimus AMD used back then. It was crap and constantly had errors and bugs. Right now, Lenovo/HP/Asus/MSI seem to be the only OEMs giving Renoir the time of day. It's disappointing but expected given how utterly garbage AMD's mobile APUs have been. I wish things were different and more companies were onboard with what seems to be a superior component.

    My argument is that when we are critical of a product or manufacturer, we need to be accurate and not let our emotion turn what should be informational into an editorial. If a product has problems, state it along with any known solutions or when a fix comes along, provide that information too. This forum is a source for consumers to become educated, sometimes it seems like that gets lost in the noise.
     
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  6. Ed. Yang

    Ed. Yang Notebook Evangelist

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    You're going to find my response very familiar, because I've posted the same words in this thread...
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/thr...t-my-dell-latitude-7390.832816/#post-11011043
     
  7. Muezick

    Muezick Notebook Evangelist

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    Yeah I like that.

    I read some 250 pages of Razerblade 2018 posts here before I bought mine. Being able to SEE the product improvements being talked about was a major deciding factor in my purchase. Early iterations of the product had issues, later ones did not (have as many of them).

    It's one of the reason I keep coming back to these forums. They are ripe with fantastic information.

    So ... Completely agree!



    RE AMD MOBILE CPUS:

    Yeah shame that. Here's looking to 2021 for some serious mainstream integration. I want a RB15 with an AMD CPU! Guessing Intel will have 10nm ready by then, so ... My hopes are not high.



    Anyways:
    For what it's worth, I appreciate what you are trying to do. I really do. Calling for objectiveness and for the community to support one another on stuff like this is never bad. So Cudos.
     
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  8. Duck W

    Duck W Notebook Geek

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    I agree to all your points. I just want to add that manufacturers should not depend on undervolt or repaste to control the heat. It should be handled appropriately without any of those from factory. Undervolt and repaste are designed to improve performance, not a solution to fix problems and an excuse to cut corners.
    Think about it like a car, a tune up is only to make a car perform better than its already good performance. An oil change is to prolong its life.
     
  9. 2CPU

    2CPU Notebook Evangelist

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    So I used to be a technical field engineer selling to Dell. Not the Alienware group but you need to understand the bell curve. Every socket placed down costs money 100%, even it only 10% of the customers ever change from their ordered configuration. Now a few cents or dollars seems like nothing but when you sell millions of units that becomes real cost.

    IMO lot of the negative trend was from the lean on the ODMs for design (not Austin engineers, USA engineers are expensive). Cost cutting again with the millions of units adds up. If 95% of the buyers are happy with the design that can be a win in Dell's eyes. There will always be the outliers that are unhappy. But forget the days of Alienware/Dell leaving "money" on the table with over spec/design of the system. Optimization is actually cutting it right up to the breaking/throttle point and keeping a majority happy. It is a less than optimal business model (for Dell) that I was able to use a M15x for 8 years and then a M17x R4 for 6 years.

    You are not going to see Ferrari leaving 100hp out of the design. No, they will risk a few cars literally catching fire to get right up to the breaking/throttle point.

    Now if everyone was willing to buy directly from Dell all of their upgrades, instead of grey market which I would think 95% do, they likely would support it more.

    Alienware is no longer the "only game" in town.(talking like 15+ years ago) External pressure from competition removes the margins they used to have. Vanishing margin might of been why some of the current units seem less "future proof".
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
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  10. Papusan

    Papusan JOKEBOOKs Sucks! Dont waste your $$$ on FILTHY

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    New one out http://forum.notebookreview.com/thr...-win-update-bios.831450/page-22#post-11011621

    Wrong. I fix it for you.
    17 R4, motherboard short circuit

    17 R4, open issues?

    Where can I get a 17 r4 mobo?
    [​IMG]

    The engineers should stop use components that can't be cooled in their notebook design. Intel offer chips for thinner latops with lower TDP. Use them instead. Or make better cooling.
    Intel Launches New 8th Gen Core U-Series And Y-Series
    See my post above.
    Exactly
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
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