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Reader Review: Alienware's Area-51 m5550i Notebook

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December 12, 2006 3:17:56 PM

Good review. I've got the m5750 (which is very similar... but has a bigger screen). I bought it back in August. It came stock w/ a 60GB hard drive (5400rpm) and 512MB of RAM. I was easily able to upgrade both the hard drive and RAM. It's now at 80GB (7200rpm) and 2GB of DDR667.

However...

I have experienced many problems with this laptop. The first is that it will sometimes just shut off. The kind of shutting off removing a battery would do. One time it shut off in the middle of a sales presentation (not good!) Also, when I boot the laptop on battery power it locks up during WinXP boot. These are certainly hardware problems because when I installed the new HDD w/ a fresh copy of WinXP MCE, the problems continue.

And as of this weekend I'm having problems with the touch pad. It's very unresponsive and the cursor just "jumps" to strange places during use. I tried the usual (driver updates, uninstall/reinstall) but it seems broken.

So buyer beware... Alienware (from my experience) isn't as great as it seems to be. Quality wise, I rate my laptop below the big box OEMs. I miss my Dell!
December 12, 2006 3:30:37 PM

* Intel Core 2 Duo Processor (T5500) at 1.66 GHz
* 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM 667 MHz (2 DIMMS)
* 256 MB nVidia Geforce Go 7600
* 15.4" WideXGA 1280 x 800 Display
* 80 GB 7200 RPM SATA hard drive
* WUXGA 15.4" display with a 1920x1200 resolution
* Windows XP Professional
* 802.11a/b/g WiFi adapter
* Built in 4-1 card reader (SD / MS / MSPRO / MMC)
* 8x Dual Layer DVD±RW / 24x CD-RW
Which one god damn it?
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December 12, 2006 6:58:25 PM

Well you stated this is the best buy for the money and that is not exactly true. You can get an Asus S96J from cyberpower for about half the price with the same specs. All you have to do is click on the button to double the ram

http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/ntbkx55800.asp?v=d

I've come to the conclusion that most tech support is useless so I just try to buy quality parts not brands that say they use quality parts. Cyberpower sucks for customer service but as long as it arrives in one piece it usually works. If I get hosed at least I didn't spend 2 grand.
December 13, 2006 12:57:42 AM

I bought an Alienware laptop with a high-end CPU (2.33Ghz Dual Core 2). The laptop got so hot it would shut down. It was happening once or twice daily at first. I thought it was Windows related. Support insisted it was the heatsink and/or fan. I got prompt on-site support (which consisted of me, myself and I being told by AW to unscrew the bottom and to "inspect" it). I didn't have any "QC" stickers to add or anything, but the fan was working. Anyhow, two weeks later the laptop was shutting down every ten minutes. I returned it a refund after finding several others with the same problem. It appears to be a design flaw, in my option. 15% retocking fee aside, I found an HP NW8440 with the same exact specs and it doesn't get (so) hot.

Almost forgot, the FPS in games in actually better with the HP. AW sold me a unit that they had tested. It appears they felt 2FPS was acceptable on their benchmarking.

If your system works fine then keep it. I personally highly recommend you pick another brand (any brand) over AlienWare after experiencing their support first hand. It does look cool. I just couldn't risk losing business on a laptop that cost me 4 days of work. And yes, it did shut down during a presentation as well. That's what they call a closing the deal. LOL

-Dave
December 13, 2006 1:11:42 PM

Should have gone with a t7200 processor, 2 gigs of ram, and i sincerely hope you didn't get WUXGA on that 15" screen.
December 13, 2006 5:00:14 PM

I have been interested in this laptop because of its DVI output.

However, my experience with Alienware's customer service and technical support on my one-year old desktop machine has been the worst I have ever had in 30 years of working with hardware.

First, my desktop machine came with a damaged case. There was no external damage on the packing, and so it must have been shipped damaged. When I called they said they were sorry, and the matter ended there---no repair.

Second, my machine was sold with a $400 rebate offer and a $100 free shipping rebate offer. It took me many emails and phone calls and five months to finally get the $400 rebate. Despite repeated promises, I have given up ever receiving the $100 shipping rebate. Show you deal with Alienware, get discounts up front.

Third, technical support response to a video display problem that they couldn't diagnose was to "reinstall Windows." I thanked them for their suggestion, paid for a service call to Microsoft and was finally able to sort things out: Update the driver, despite ALienware telling me to *not* do that, else it would invalidate my support from them.

The report in the post above about their "policy" on dead pixels mirrors my experience: Once Alienware has your money, you are on your own.

Aleinware machines have great specs. Unfortunately, based on my experience with the company, I will likely never deal with them again, nor will I recommend Alienware to others.

Dan
December 15, 2006 5:55:48 AM

If I send my laptop and they that restock fee. I would be going ok. You basicly want to restock a faulty laptop.

This is for mpjesse
The alainware turning off is a heat issue. Check your gpu control panel. Then look at the temp of the gpu. Alainware seem to lack the temp control. I been useing Speedfan 4.32 bata. The other trick I do is wait 10 Mins and click on the fan button and turn it back off.

The alainware bios seems to be lacking on temp control. If I could I would drop the cpu temp to 60c to start the fan. But the cpu wait untel 85c. But by this time the Grapics card is over 100c range. Which is when the computer shuts off.
December 19, 2006 12:08:03 PM

Buyer most definitely beware in regards to Alienware

In regards to the review, the upgradability is only useful so long as Alienware doesn't decide to move to a different technology. I own an Area 51 7600, purchased about 2 years ago. I bought it with an AGP card due to the fact that it was an "upgradable" system. Well, PCI-e came out, Alienware ditched the AGP option and all of the supposed "upgrades" became unavailable because they were for warranty repairs only. No compensation, no apology, just a "Sorry about your luck pal"

Also, I had the overheating issue as well. One part that Alienware never caught but I did on my own digging is that the heat sink grease that they use is garbage, switch to a Silver 5 and the temps will drop noticably.

The battery life issue, the touch pad issue, the screen shutting off randomly, dead pixels, all problems that I had with mine that have not been addressed because they "aren't known issues" and therefore not covered under my warranty.

Now, my harsh words aside, when it is working, it is one of the fastest laptops out there.
May 4, 2010 1:22:46 AM

For those of you buying computers from retail stores, you get what you pay for. You are a CUSTOMER... in tech circles its known as a Custy. If you want a quality product, have someone build it for you. Pay a local technician to build you a computer to suit Your needs. Not some businessman's general idea of what they "think" you want or what fits their bottom line.

If your here complaining about some service your receiving from some guy in India, then all I got to say is LOL. :lol:  Next time try going local or at least pay a consultation fee and get informed before you throw your $4,000 away.
September 28, 2010 3:27:20 PM

This topic has been closed by Buwish
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