Alienware m17 to buy or not to buy

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by nick81, May 29, 2020.

  1. nick81

    nick81 Notebook Evangelist

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    Hey all!

    Would like some input from the Alienware fans here as I have finally decided to replace my trusty Alienware 17 R1 (2013)... After 7 years of loyal service, it is time to retire it.

    First question obviously : should I replace it with another Alienware? I've seen plenty of people here upset with the 51M upgrade debacle and the fact that the m17 seem to be difficult to upgrade : soldered RAM, inverted motherboard...
    But assuming, NOT upgrading the components is not an issue for me is the m17 a good choice or should I consider other brands?
    The laptop will be used mainly for work but also for gaming and eventually VR.

    Second question : I read that i9 CPUs run hot and I am not too keen to have a wind turbine as a workstation, so sticking to a 10750H good enough for gaming? Is there a big difference between that CPU and the 10980HK?

    Third question : I've kept my current laptop for 7 years and intend to keep the new one for at least 5. I bought it initially with a 880m that I upgraded to a 980m mxm.
    I am planning to go for the 300hz screen as I'd rather work on Full HD resolution. Anyone here went with the 4K screen? Is it worth it over the 300Hz?

    Fourth question : GPU... 2070 Super or 2080 Super ? The m17 uses the Max-P ones and I am tempted to go for the 2080 Super even though gaming on the laptop itself wouldn't require it... Technically a 1660 Ti would be good enough to game in Full HD I guess. And the 2070 Super should be great for VR as well.
    So why would/should I go for the 2080 Super instead?
    Right now, the only reason I have is to future proof the laptop as in make sure it lasts me for 5 years at least... I know I can hook it to my 4K tv but I just never did it with my R1 as I have all gaming consoles as well and use these on my TV...

    Fifth Question : Raid 0 or go with a 1TB SSD and 2/3 TB storage drive? On the Dell website, they have some option call Raid 0 Plus, which is basically 2 SSDs in raid plus a storage drive (also SSD I think). So not even sure I can go for SSD + normal drive.

    Thanks for the advice guys!
     
    Fire Tiger likes this.
  2. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    Hey there,

    #1, If upgrading is a must for you, then you're really stuck with getting the highest spec'ed system and living with it, which is 16GB and/or waiting out for higher RAM capacity options (if you really actually need it.) The current m17's run VR just fine... I have a fully spec'ed m17 right next to me and it smashes the games that I throw at it...

    #2, The new 10th gen cpu's are not much different form the 9th gen...it really boils down to tuning and whether you do a proper repaste to maximize the cooling potential of the laptop. The HK's are unlocked cpu's and it'll give you some flexibility to overclock, while the H variants are locked, but you can game on those just fine... again there isn't much difference at all between the 9th and 10th gen mobile intel chips.

    #3, If you're gaming then the higher refresh rate screen is a must, especially for fps type games... 4K is nice for work, but if you're gaming get the 144Hz or 300Hz FHD for sure...

    #4, If you're planning on keeping the laptop for 5 years ... definitely get the highest gpu option that you can. The 2080 Super is an excellent card as it uses Samsung memory chips and has a better binned core, over the inferior micron mem chips that are found on other variants. You'll have a much higher OC capacity with the Super cards...again due to having the superior Samsung memory chips with a better quality core. - Avoid the MaxQ's at all cost if you demand gpu performance... the naming scheme is very misleading on the MaxQ cards... Ex. The 2080 MaxQ is NOWHERE near an actual 2080 etc... it's false advertising.

    #5, RAID is fun... but I'd always go with a dedicated drive for your OS, then opt for going with separate storage for games etc... 1TB for the OS is great... I usually throw only my main games onto my 1TB Samsung 970 Pro SSD, then all the other games onto the 2TB dedicated SSD etc...It's always nice to have one SSD purely to hold all your games so that you don't have to redownload them.

    Hope that helps.
     
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  3. Sentential

    Sentential Notebook Evangelist

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    Alienware is no where near the same brand it used to be. The closest "brand" to this available right now is Clevo. So the devil's bargin you have to make now is what thin-and-light non-Clevo are you willing to live with? Lots of good things being said about the Omen 17T right now and many have defected to HP as a result. You can get a feel for how things are brand wise by reading the forum. Most Alienware posts are trying to fix issues out of the box where the HP posts are about BIOS modding to push power limits. The upgrade-ability isn't as bad as you'd think. As long as it has up gradable RAM and HDDs that should be enough. Sucks that most laptops can't change out the wireless card anymore but such is life.

    The i9 of yesteryear you're thinking of is the current 10th gen i7 so there's really no escaping that now. Cometlake is much better on power management than what the 8th gen i9s used to be so I wouldn't expect any noise problems that are not brand specific (ie Razer)

    I wouldn't buy a 300hz panel to be honest. Laptops are about portability and battery conservation. If you want 300hz buy an external monitor, a graphics amplifier and dock it. Having a laptop with 3 hours of battery life is just pointless IMO

    Neither, I'd say 2060 at the most as most amplifiers are cheap and we're going to see a 2X uplift in less than 6 months with Ampere.

    Tried NVME RAID0 in a laptop, battery life was awful, added heat which made the throttling worse for both the CPU and GPU, never again!
     
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  4. Teknobry

    Teknobry Notebook Consultant

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    Absolutely get the best graphics card you can afford. You're into VR gaming, that is the most demanding thing on graphics cards. If you plan on keeping your laptop for 5 years then 2080 super without a doubt.

    I'm similar, mine had the 1080 gtx which i've had for 3 years now and it's still doing well and keeping up with everything i use it for.
     
  5. G46VW

    G46VW Notebook Consultant

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    I had a whole bunch of stuff written but Ill leave it for now. Im tried of trying to steer things. I will say, the whole laptops are only made for portability thing is a bunch of crap and they require long battery life. That crap makes me cringe man, really? Your going to come on here and say that? In the gaming section of a laptop forum...This is why all we have in the laptop market right now is garbage, crappy BGA soldered useless crap with garbage optimus. Manufactures want to make the most profit they can so they solder all this garbage togather that makes the laptop run an extra 20 minutes and what we get out of the deal is a product that is inferior in every way to a decent desktop replacement laptop. And why? Well because people post nonsense like this on forums telling everyone laptops are all about battery conservation and are pointless unless they have more then 3 hours of battery life. I feel sick having to reply to this thread, thats how awful I think it is.

    And to the poster, get the Area-51m, I love my unit I got a few months ago, its been amazing. You just need to do your homework. Dont allow updates that are going to mess with your set up, which can be the case in alot of instances depending on the hardware and tweak the system using msi afterburner and throttlestop to keep temps in check. Prevent alienware control center from updating, also known as AWCC. Its a blasting machine, from the design and the performance. Out of the box was perfect for me, bios 1.8.0, and vbios 1.0.0.5 I think was what they were.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
    Spartan@HIDevolution likes this.
  6. Spartan@HIDevolution

    Spartan@HIDevolution Company Representative

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    Nice story

    [​IMG]
     
  7. etern4l

    etern4l Notebook Deity

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    What if you need more memory a few years down the line? What if the soldered RAM fails out of warranty?
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  8. Papusan

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

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    Look for a new motherboard:) Or buy a new machine.
     
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  9. Terreos

    Terreos Royal Guard

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    Seven years? Nice. They sure don't make laptops like that anymore.

    1: That's totally up to you. If you're ok with buying this machine with all the spec you need up front then it's not gonna be an issue. But you are limited to 32GB of RAM. So if that is an issue you'll need to look else where. My only recommendation is definitely invest in an extended warranty. A lengthy one. It's expensive, but it would be cheaper than buying a new machine or paying for repairs. With the exception of the m.2 ssd's, everything is soldered inside this laptop. So if something breaks you can't just swap it out.

    2: For gaming the 10750H is plenty. But if you need more power for work then of course the i9 might suit you better. And I've seen people tame these i9 cpu's out of the box with undervolts and max fan. But, you mention not wanting to have wind turbine for a work station. So depending on what you do that might mean this machine is too loud for you.

    3: The screen is subjective. 300Hz is great for gaming. Not just because of the refresh rate, but response times. The 300Hz is 3 milliseconds and the 4K is 25 milliseconds. That's a big difference and if you play alot of shooters you will most likely notice it. But if you're gonna be using this as a docked machine and hooked up to an external monitor for gaming and using the onscreen panel for work at the office, then the 4K might be worth it. I'd opt for the 300Hz panel for gaming though.

    4: Since you can't directly upgrade this machine I'd go 2080 Super. I believe this is a 150w version of the 2080 Super so it's gonna be the fastest thin and light that I know of with that chip. It'll smoke any 2080 Max-q laptop and will play games alot better down the road. You can of course get the graphics amp to upgrade the GPU externally. Which might not be a bad solution if it fits your lifestyle.

    5: Use two m.2 ssd's if you can swing it. Or get one large capacity m.2. It's very easy to upgrade yourself ((especially if you use a Samsung ssd they have an easy to use cloning tool)). Or if you have deep pockets you can get a Sabrent ssd. They have 4TB and 8TB models. But will cost a lot to get them since no one else has m.2 drives that large currently.

    Overall the m17 R3 is a powerful machine. But, not being able to replace parts if they break scares me. It really is designed to be disposable. It really is like the Gaming Version of a MacBook. But, if you get a long warranty I think you wouldn't have too much to worry about. Several members on here have mentioned that they have been treated well under warranty from Dell.
     
  10. Vasudev

    Vasudev Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Don't expect the same quality and longevity just like your older AW 17. You will be most disappointed.
    I'd suggest you save money with i7 H series 10 the gen CPU and RTX 2060 Super 90W/110W version along with AGA fitted with 2080 Ti to enjoy your VR and gaming w/o hitting the target TDP.
    1080p 120Hz should suffice for most use-cases. Scaling issues are sometimes so bad on W10.
    For RAID0/1/4 options you should ask Spartan since he will suggest some tweaks for optimal performance. I never used RAID because it doesn't play well with Linux.
    Just took a look at m17 r3 https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/del...laptop/spd/alienware-m17-r3-laptop/wnm17r330s
    With Ram maxed out to 32GB, the price sky-rockets to 3000$ for a model with 2060, 4k screen, 4 zone AlienFX (50$ extra for per-key AlienFX). Feels too expensive for a soldered RAM limited to just 2x16GB modules when they could have soldered 2x32GB Samsung DRAM 2666MHz or 3200MHz chips in that price range.
    With this price range its better to go for 2070 Super. Also, the extended warranty prices have gone up.
    Its too bad they don't have a CTO (Configure To Order) model.
     
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