Impulse Buy, Two AW17R4-7345SLV-PUS. What Do?

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by VWDieselJunkie, Jun 25, 2018.

  1. VWDieselJunkie

    VWDieselJunkie Newbie

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    Quick description before storytime:

    Two brand-new retail AW17R4-7345SLV-PUS in unopened packaging. Label reads as follows:

    Alienware 17
    Gaming Laptop
    Model R4
    Silver
    -----
    Display 17.3" Full HD Display
    -----
    Performance Intel Core i7-7700HQ Processor
    16GB Memory
    1TB Hard Drive
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 + 8GB
    -----
    Software Windows 10
    -----
    Includes Wireless-AC Bluetooth
    HDMI
    USB 3.0
    Alienware Sound Center

    Storytime

    My M18xR1 had fought the good fight. Bought by my wife in 2011 as an anniversary gift to me (I think she likes me), I swore to never allow myself to ever know how much she spent on it (because I'm a tightwad) and have thus far been successful. It came with the 6990m CF. I never really played any game that had a chance to tax them, as I was a dedicated Diablo II addict, who had only just ordered Diablo 3. It's an old-guy thing, i guess. I started with Diablo, then Diablo II, then Starcraft, then LOD, then BW. I'm a one... scratch that... two-trick pony.

    Within three years, the primary AMD GPU began to give up the ghost. I knew just enough to understand that it was inevitable, and reluctantly removed it and replaced it with the secondary after the 8-beeps of death routine. I've been chugging along every since on the one card, swatting away the occasional, though obligatory, driver failures. I knew I would have to do something soon, as the onboard Intel GPU struggles horribly with anything beyond web surfing.

    In the most recent past, I had begun to acknowledge that I must find a replacement. My wife had just purchased the new 13 with the OLED display. It was beautiful. I had been bitten, for sure. Remember the above comment about being a tightwad? I refused to buy myself an AW, in that I mean that I refused to spend anything in the neighborhood of $3k on something I spend my nearly every waking moment on, when indoors (at no point do I point to tightwads having any sense).

    After a week of ownership, my I.T. Professional spouse who refuses to work on her own computer, decided that she genuinely did not like anything about the 13, especially for the price, and the fact that every time she sat down with it, she had to work on it (driver updates/rollbacks, not retaining user preferences, refusal to play well with the external monitor(s) etc.) and after a brief talk with Dell, the decision was made to send it back. It was at this point I realized I was now shopping for TWO desktop replacement laptops.

    Today, I came across this pair of 17r4's at my local "tax-free due to my employment" establishments for a price I felt I could not pass up (read: the pair for less than my wife spent on the 13). I was actually there to seriously consider buying a pair of Acer Predator Helios 300's, but saw that "yesterdays price" was a limited time introductory deal that I had JUST missed by a matter of a day or three, and they had gone up $300. I had a brand new charge card account that I had opened that morning for a work-related purchase, and was granted 10%-off any purchase made on the retail side of the house, these two machines were NOT for sale earlier when I came through at lunch time, and the 'store' was about to close in 20 minutes. Panic set in, I knew they would not be there when "came back tomorrow", and there was that whole 10% discount time-clock thing... the pressure was too much, I caved.

    Now, as I type this on my poor, aged m18x, I am glancing over at the two manilla-colored cardboard cases that shield my eyes from the "what have I done" guilt of having made the purchase. I say that, because before un-boxing them, I sat down to educate myself on what I just bought, and read one horror story after another about Windows 10 Updates, bricked displays, and other tales of alienware-woe. Then I realized that apparently the AW17r4 isn't a single-build nomenclature, but it spans a few years with different internals. I realize now that I actually don't know what I have or how to judge it compared to the stories I've read. I don't know if I made a good buy or not, and I don't know if these are going to be more hassle than they are worth.

    /Storytime

    What can the forum members tell me about these two gems?

    Have I done well by snagging them up? Will they serve me at least as well as my m18x has? Or should I promptly, and apologetically return them in the morning because they, above all things, are un-apologetically DELL? More than anything, I have the fear of having to constantly babysit them, coddling drivers and nursing glitches. I would love for something to simply work as advertised, right out of the box, but I know that's not a reality.

    What Say Ye?

    edit: It's late, and I didn't spell check.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
  2. VWDieselJunkie

    VWDieselJunkie Newbie

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    After a night's sleep and sufficient coffee this morning, I realized I never actually asked the question that led me to create the thread.

    Now that I have bought these machines, what should I do with them when I unbox? Anything need to be done before connecting to a network? What are known windows upgrade issues (if they apply here) or driver issues?
     
  3. senso

    senso Notebook Evangelist

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    Media Creation Tool and just do clean installs.
     
  4. win32asmguy

    win32asmguy Moderator Moderator

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    If you have the cash to pay off the credit card you used to purchase these then its a fine purchase. No point in paying interest on gaming laptops.

    My wife and I also have similarly configured 17 R4's. We were able to get them for about $1400 after tax earlier this year from Best Buy as open box returns. I replaced the included HDD / SSD with a larger 2.5 inch SSD to improve the performance. The only other thing I would consider is getting a couple of Windows 10 Pro OEM licenses so you can defer feature updates.

    If you are looking for a nice backpack we have the Alienware 17 Vindicator 2.0. They fit the laptop well and are well built. They can be had for $80-$90 when on sale. The only thing I do not like is the fact that they are somewhat of a theft magnet so I am considering having my wife sew a patch over the Alienware logo.

    Also, consider extending the warranty on these machines. The motherboard has the GPU and CPU soldered on, so even if a USB port breaks it would be a thousand dollar repair.
     
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  5. VWDieselJunkie

    VWDieselJunkie Newbie

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    That is the case here, as I only used the card because of the available discount and related perks.
    For the win10pro, what will I genuinely gain beyond having control over the intrusive forces updates? Curious about what I need to keep my eye on in that aspect.
    As for the extended warranty, oh yeah, you betcha.

    This seems to be the most common theme I've read about on how to stay sane with an alienware. Though I will search more on the topic, what can you tell me about known headaches in the process? Should I make a backup of the machines first, anything like that, or just assume everything pre-loaded is bloatware, and nothing is worth retaining?
     
  6. senso

    senso Notebook Evangelist

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    I do clean installs in all laptops, either mine, or from friends, too much crap pre-installed.

    All drivers are available online, so its a matter of downloading them.
     
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  7. VWDieselJunkie

    VWDieselJunkie Newbie

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    Curious. These r4's came with a 1tb hdd. We've already placed an order for two win10pro copies to load on them, but we also want to install at least one decently-sized ssd in each to be the primary boot drives. What should we do with the hdd? Just wipe and move on, using them as secondary storage (files, music, photos, etc) and retain those win10home licenses for some other use? Are those licenses worth even holding on to?
    With my experience of my m18x with dual 512mb ssd's in raid0, I can "feel" the realistic difference between the ssd and hdd (of other machines, current and previous, boot times and such). Would I be better suited to remove the hdd's all together, possibly leaving them intact with the OEM win10home? In case we have to send one/both back for warranty issues or to sell the systems later down the road when we're ready to upgrade again?
     
  8. l4k3rkb

    l4k3rkb Notebook Consultant

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    You will likely have to repaste and repad, and maybe even balance your heatsink depending on how your temps are. I've put probably 5 hours just into fiddling with drivers, heating, throttling, etc., And I still get stuttering which is being "escalated" by Dell… but let me tell you, when it works, it works amazingly.
     
  9. VWDieselJunkie

    VWDieselJunkie Newbie

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    I'm confident I had already made this post, but that it was awaiting mod approval, so I'll try it again:
    [​IMG]
    We unboxed and immediately did a wipe and load with 10 PRO. Let windows handle all the drivers, a few restarts later, and all is running smooth.
    We haven't downloaded any utilities yet to monitor temps.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
  10. VWDieselJunkie

    VWDieselJunkie Newbie

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    I guess I spoke too soon on that whole "running smooth" thing. Sound is crap. Through all I've read so far, I get the impression I shouldn't download drivers directly from dell, or that I should, or that I need to get them directly from the manufacturer's site, and that I shouldn't.... With everything supposedly in conflict with everything, how does anyone actually get things to work correctly?
     

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