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Old 02-23-2013, 10:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
I'll shoot myself anyway
 
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Need help/advice

Last may I bought an Alienware Aurora R4, and over the past several months I have been having trouble with it. Rather than re-type the issue, I have added a copy of an email I have sent to Alienware in hopes of getting the issue resolved:

Quote:
Sirs,

This has been going on with my Aurora R4 for more than three months and to say I am upset at this point is an understatement. My problem started when I began noticing the System fans were getting so loud, you could no longer hear the TV in the room while my computer was running. I checked the Alienware command center and noticed that the System Fan was running somewhere around 7500RPM while the other fans were all running at around 1500 to 2000RPM. A google search revealed that this is common with these and as long as the Ambient Temperature was ok, it should not be a problem. I did check all the connections on the inside of the computer just to make sure that everything was ok, and there didn't appear to be any problems.

Soon, I began to notice huge performance issues. Online gaming went from fun to unbearable as I began to notice that anything I did caused the FPS to drop to the point of making any gaming unplayable (Specific games: World of Tanks, World of Warcraft). I keep my system up to date, and perform regular virus/malware/adware scans and as a safety measure I did so again and did not reveal anything. Not long after this, I started noticing audio problems through my headset (Logitech G35). I switched my headset to another computer and did not have the issue, so I knew something was going on with my R4. I reloaded the drivers for my headset and the problem persisted. Also, audio problems and framerate problems started to occur with offline games as well (minesweeper, mahjongg, and some others).

A call to Tech Support didn't reveal any problems, so I pressed on. Later, in December (If I get the time right), I turned on my computer and noticed that my monitor wasn't coming on. I checked the connections and all was fine. I Unplugged the monitor and connected it to a laptop and the monitor came right on. I plugged it back into my Alienware R4 and nothing!

Again I called Tech Support. The monitor managed to start, but the I could find no reason for the failure. The first tech I contacted (Mr AAAA) was completely UNHELPFUL as he only wanted to sell me an Anti-Virus program and insisted that it had to be a virus and that I had no Anti-virus program installed. He found a reference to the PC being unable to connect to the Microsoft Antimalware database and said that was a virus. (I have MSE which is a complete antivirus/malware piece of software). He offered no further assistance whatsoever resulting in me calling back the next day. The next day, I contacted tech support again and spoke with Mr BBBB (I only remember the name because of the email follow up he sent me). With his help, we were able to get the video restored to my monitor, however the PC would not boot up, it would get to the "Starting Windows" logo and freeze. We ran the MATS test (failed), tried booting in SAFE mode (failed), and tried a couple other things which were all unsuccessful. Jimmy determined that something happened to the RAID on my HDD and promptly sent me new ones. Before getting the replacement HDDs I made the decision to go ahead and add a SSD to my computer for the performance boost. I waited for a couple weeks for the SSD drive to be delivered. The SSD drive arrived this week and yesterday (2/21/13) I installed both HDD and the SSD and called Tech Support again to get assistance with reconfiguring my PC and getting Windows reinstalled. The tech who helped was VERY good. He helped get everything to the point where Windows was actually installing. He told me that the process could take up to 20 minutes and when it gets finished, I was to call back and he would help me (via GotoAssist) to get the rest of the computer drivers/applications reinstalled and updated. After Windows installed, I called back to Tech Support and the rep I spoke to (Ms CCCC), told me that she could not help with getting the drivers/applications reinstalled and that I would have to schedule an appointment for someone to call back on Sunday if I needed this. She provided me with a link to steps for me to do this myself. I got the rest of the drivers installed, and noticed that the PC was only recognizing my SSD and not my two HDD. I called again to Tech Support and the rep was helpful in getting these recognized and answered a few more computers.

I followed the steps she outlined, and allowed Windows to start downloading/installing updates. I ran the Windows Experience and saw the Processor was rated at 5.4 where previously it was at 7.9 (prior to my last system crash). I thought that this had something to do with the updates being downloaded so I let it go. All seemed ok at 11PM EST so I went to bed and let Windows finish. When I woke up this morning, I saw that my PC was AGAIN frozen on the "Starting Windows" logo and would not complete the bootup process. I restarted the PC and tried running the Windows Startup Repair, it never worked. I restarted and tried to boot up Windows normally, failed at the same point. I again called Tech Support (your system was down), the tech asked me to try to boot up in SAFE mode - failed. His only other option was to have me reinstall windows on one of my other drives. This is not acceptable for me. I can say with absolute confidence that the HDDs and the SSD are not the problem as I was experiencing the EXACT same problem with my previous drives.

I have been almost THREE MONTHS without a computer, and quite frankly I am about ready to chuck the entire thing out the window and purchase another brand altogether. I did not pay the amount of money I did for an Alienware paperweight, I wanted a PC. The system I bought may not be much in your grand scheme of things, but it was a very significant investment for me. Because of this problem, I have already lost all of my information that I had on my previous drives, and now it looks as though I am still without a computer.

I would really like this fixed ASAP. If it cannot be fixed, then I need to go ahead and make an arrangement to have the PC returned and refunded the money I spent on it.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Aaron Lopez
This is not a thread to bash Alienware, but am I really being unreasonable here?

Does anyone have any ideas about what could be causing the issue? I got home from work today and the PC started right up with no problem, however, once the Windows updates installed, the computer shut down and now will not start again. (Gets to the same point and freezes). My thought is that there is something going on with either the MOBO or PSU, but I'm not sure.

I tried to install Linux via CD Rom by changing the boot options in the setup menu today but the PC would not recognize the CD/DVD drive at all (received the message: No bootable drive detected when I disabled the SSD from the boot menu. Only attempted to boot from the SSD when I left it enabled, regardless of the boot order in the setup.)

My PC is still under warranty, and thought I know the basics about what to check for, I am probably lacking the skills to troubleshoot any further on this one. I don't want to start taking apart my PC as I'm scared because I am so mad right now that I will break something and void the warranty....

I appreciate any help/advice you can provide.
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Old 02-24-2013, 02:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You are not being unreasonable, they are. A gross example of incompetence on their part imho.

Usually you first test your RAM. Safest and easiest assumption is always RAM issues.
bootable memory tester here, usb key option avaible Memtest86+ - Advanced Memory Diagnostic Tool
But that is obviously depends on whether your computer can still boot from usb, as it cant from CD...

The increased fan speed seems to be pointing to overheating, but the freezes coupled with recognition issues, IMHO point to MOBO problems. Could be Bios corruption, which, somewhat good news, because sometimes it is possible to reflash the bios.
The other option is a southbridge chip overheating/breaking down. Might be fixable with a replacement/aftermarket southbridge cooler, but i wouldnt put money on that.


Imho, make use of the warranty, and demand data recovery, pointing to the fact that their support, obviously exasperated the problem and caused the data loss. (No idea if they will agree to provide data recovery tho')
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Old 02-24-2013, 03:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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it's under warranty? send the mother ****er back and let them worry about it. not worth the headache if someone's already paid to do it.
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Update: After two more calls to Alienware, they are sending a technician to my house. They will be replacing the MOBO and the RAM. (Tried another RAM test and it passed, but when we tried the built in ePSA test from Alienware, the system would not complete it. So as a precaution, they are replacing both the RAM and MOBO). Hopefully, I will have a working computer before long.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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hope all works out for you. for the cost of their mediocre product, Id expect better service and full replacement. Let us know how it goes after they replace the parts.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Latest update... The Alienware "technician" came to the house and replaced the motherboard and RAM. I put "technician" in parenthesis because he obviously didn't know what he was doing. Didn't know how to open the case, about the door in front of the video cards, how to remove the video cards, and a host of other things. He was supposed to have put everything back together, reinstalled Windows (which he magically seemed to have uninstalled... ) and made sure everything was working. Well... he left before windows was installed. I had to go to work, so my wife called Alienware back and was able to get a hold of a technician who took over the PC and was able to finish everything. Hopefully, I'm done with this entire saga. As of right now, my PC is running.. and running quietly.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Dell outsources their techs, it really depend on location. The Chicago loop guy is awesome, he's also coincidentally the tech for Lenovo (best customer service of any laptop/desktop company).

I've noticed IT skill in general are usually based on location. The farther south and the more rural the worse the skills get. Florida would be the absolute worst.

The great plains states are the only exception, since they have pretty high IT resources out their between the data center boom and the natural gas boom.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WebFisher View Post
Latest update... The Alienware "technician" came to the house and replaced the motherboard and RAM. I put "technician" in parenthesis because he obviously didn't know what he was doing. Didn't know how to open the case, about the door in front of the video cards, how to remove the video cards, and a host of other things. He was supposed to have put everything back together, reinstalled Windows (which he magically seemed to have uninstalled... ) and made sure everything was working.
i wonder why they are so reluctant to give you a new computer. at this point pretty much the only original part is the tower itself, right?
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