The m15x was greeted with open arms when it first arrived in our offices on February 19, 2008. By the time we’d finished our review, on March 20, we awarded it our Editors’ Choice, because it earned great benchmark scores compared with other gaming rigs that had come through our office. But our benchmarks didn’t pick up on the troubles that were soon to follow its release. Within weeks, there were reports of cracking and down-clocking of the system’s GPU core clock and memory clock speeds from 500 MHz and 799 MHz to 275 MHz and 301 MHz, respectively, once the system had reached 90 degrees Celsius. Shortly thereafter, a BIOS fix was released, and we no longer saw down-clocking on our test rig. Since all of our products are merely on loan for review, we sent the system back. But over the past weekend, I received a complaint in my inbox that stated the following: “I own [the m15x] and it is a good computer as you say. However, the second hard drive is pure vapor ware. I ordered one three months ago and still haven’t gotten it. And they can’t even give me an expected delivery date. Obviously and unfortunately, this appears to be pure marketing hype. Further, I defy you to figure out how to order this second battery on the Alienware website. You are not even offered the battery for purchase. I strongly suspect this is vaporware too.” Now the trouble here is that, when we review systems, companies tell us what will be available and what will not, and they include the accessories with the notebooks. I had both the additional six-cell battery and the second hard drive here in the office. But apparently m15x owners can’t actually buy them. So the whole “hot swappable” feature becomes moot. Then today, the great people at NotebookReview.com, owners of the m15x and original discoverers of the aforementioned issues, wrote us a letter. As it appears, forum members and owners are now claiming that the CPU is down-clocking as well, and the issue is affecting the Intel X9000- and X7900-based systems. Apparently Alienware has stopped issuing BIOS updates and has left some owners’ queries unanswered for up to ten days. Worse, owners are now also reporting “wobbly screens” that have been “too much for some users.” While those RMA’s have been answered, it’s now apparent that some systems have faulty Kensington locks, making their systems susceptible to theft. I want our readers to be aware of these issues, specifically considering that I’m the original author and no longer have the system. Please leave your comments below, and let’s try to get an answer. We spoke to Alienware, and the company confirmed that a SmartBay hard drive and battery were being mailed out to the above customer. As for the overheating issues, we were only told:
Among the thousands of Area-51 m15x notebooks that have shipped, we have only received a few direct reports, to Alienware, of any issue. Alienware’s top priority is to investigate any concern or issues reported to our customer support team. If there is any issue, we will let our customer support team know immediately so they can begin working with those customers to resolve the issue. We recommend that if any customers are experiencing issues, they should please contact our team at: email@example.com. We ask that they please include account information, order number and a description of the issue. Regarding Smart Bay Battery/Drives: Currently, customers ordering the Area-51 m15x with an additional smart bay hard drive or battery are receiving those items, which are shipping with the unit. If there is an issue where a customer did not receive his or her drive, they should contact customer support for assistance.
But if the above statement is true, why are the NotebookReview.com forum members not getting responses for their defective systems? And why are there so many reported failure cases that the forums were able to identify the troubled CPUs before Alienware made a statement? Alienware, what’s going on?