The likeliest explanation is that CrossFireX is new and Alienware's still getting to grips with it. That suggests a driver update is in order, but it seemed appropriate to update the BIOS first. The Asus motherboard had version 0601 installed while the latest on offer was 1109. The update went smoothly, the system rebooted and... the RAID array vanished.
Despite the fearsome price this PC doesn’t come with a display or speakers
Integrated RAID controllers are fickle things and you mess with the BIOS at your peril, but the fact is that graphics performance was none too hot out of the box. It may have been more prudent for us to have updated the graphics drivers before monkeying with the BIOS, but sooner or later anyone who owns a high-end machine with a high-end Asus motherboard will update the BIOS and then... like that, it's gone.
As we mentioned earlier RAID 0 as a bootable drive seems like a poor idea but you have to wonder why Alienware didn’t allocate some cash on a dedicated RAID card that would separate the RAID controller from the motherboard BIOS.
On the matter of the cost, the Area 51 ALX CFX would seem to be incredibly expensive. At retail, you’d pay £1100 for the CPU, motherboard and memory, £600 for the pair of X2 graphics cards, £150 for the hard drives, £20 for the DVD writer and £120 for Windows. That’s £2000 in all, and if you add in around £600 for the cooling system, chassis and power supply and some cash for the mouse and keyboard then you're still a long way short of the £3624 Alienware is asking for this baby.
The jury is still out on CrossFireX, and on this early showing you’d have to be very brave to sink such a huge pile of cash on the Area 51, despite its good looks.
Alienware Area 51 ALX CrossFireX gaming PC
I purchased an Area-51 from Alienware
And I am going back to building my own systems.
I thought, geez, I'm tired of all the research, compatibility testing, tuning, and troubleshooting... Why not pay someone to do that for me? Alienware had a great reputation the last time I checked (that shows how long ago I checked, I guess). So I shelled out thousands of dollars for a fancied-up glowing box with oodles of RAM and an Intel Core 2 Quad processor, with a nice RAID-1 setup. [aside: I don't ever want to live through another hard drive crash. I still back up offsite, even my games, but I'm RAID-1 from here until death.].
After spending over 20 hours of on-phone time, and countless more hours of other time downloading testing software and running long tests, my machine is still unusable. I have used Vista on other machines, and for all its problems Vista is not enough to explain this level of instability. To anyone who has built systems it is obvious that the frequent random bluescreens are a sign of a hardware issue. Even after running Alienrespawn to wipe the drive and reset to factory configuration, it bluescreens. However, Alienware insists that it is a software issue, and will not do anything except tell me to run more tests.
If a company won't stand by their product enough to fix or replace obviously broken systems, I have no use for them. I am contemplating sucking it up and paying the 15% restocking fee (which is enough to buy a nice new laptop by itself!), just to see the back of this nightmare. I hope everyone at Alienware gets warts on their eyelids.
Is there any decent company that makes premium systems, or am I stuck building my own forever? It was fun for a while, but now it is just work.
and people say Apple make overpriced computers!
No sound card??
'There’s room to install a sound card, but as things stand you’ll probably be relying on the integrated SoundMAX audio.'
That comment there is enough for me to never look at an Alienware rig again, a decent sound card is part of a good gaming machine now days, onboard sound just doesn't cut it.
@£3624 I'd expect a top of the range x-fi card.
At that price, it's about 2 grand more than it's worth...
Can we have a NSFM tag on articles like this one? - Not safe for monitors. There's a lot of coffee gonna be spat out at the sight of that price tag.
Mac Pro? Seriously?
Since when has an 8 core Xeon workstation cowered in fear of a Core 2 based gaming rig? That doesn't make even the slightest bit of sense - the Mac Pro and this abomination of good taste are intended for an entirely different market.
And Price wise - the Mac Pro starts at $2,299 US - with a 2.8 GHz 4-core Xeon. The Area 51 starts at $2,099 US with a2.66 GHz Core-2 Duo.
That's just asinine.