Alienware m15x Crack Explained

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We recently reviewed the Alienware Area-51 m15x for LAPTOP and awarded it our editor’s choice rating. When we hear reports, like the one this morning on Engadget, that a system is overheating or experiencing physical cracking issues, it becomes our job to figure out what’s going on. crack.jpgWhen I reviewed the m15x, it wasn’t just benchmarked; I also took it home to take Crysis for a spin on my own time. The system gets hot, sure, and most do—but I never had any issues with overheating to the point that the system shutoff or became unstable—even during a 4-hour session of Crysis. On the left side of the unit, just above the Ethernet port, I can see a small opening where people are experiencing cracks. Perhaps excessive force on the lid or directly on this area could cause a crack. One example could be a fist pound around the keyboard, after getting fragged, for example. My pictures are zoomed up close, but in reality it’s hardly noticeable. In one, my finger is holding down the gap just above the Ethernet port. Perhaps this could have been caused during shipping, and harsh treatment could possibly result in a crack. We called Alienware to get their reaction. crackdown.jpg“From a testing standpoint—assemblers put the barebones together and look at the physical features, then the integrators look at it. Then we get it, examine it, and give it a final signoff,” Chris Bell, technical marketing manager for Alienware, explained. “We’ve had less than five percent of customers reporting heating problems, and cracking is less reported. We haven’t been able to replicate the problem here because the issue is so low,” Bell said, noting that the gap could be a shipping issue. "Trust me, we have everyone with two hands down in the factory right now." And the customers that already shelled out a few grand on a new system? “We’ll provide a call-in number, a special e-mail address. Customers will end up happy one way or another.” The address is: Have any of you experienced these problems? We’ll get to the bottom of this overheating issue and keep you updated, even if it means I have to play Crysis ‘til the end of the day. Official Statement:

"As an update to the statements made recently regarding reported overheating issues with Alienware's Area-51 m15x notebooks, we are continuing our efforts to isolate the root cause of the issue that some users are experiencing. Among the thousands of m15x notebooks that have shipped, we have only received a few direct reports to Alienware of any specific issues regarding overheating.  Despite the limited number of reported cases this is currently Alienware’s top priority to resolve and we will do so as soon as possible. 

There have also been reports of a small gap on the chassis near the LAN port. Again, we have received a minimal number of direct reports in relation to this. All units go through quality assurance testing and multiple visual inspections before they ship therefore in addition to any potential engineering issues that may be contributing to this effect we are also assessing external factors such as packing materials, shipping procedures, carrier handling, etc. 

Customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance to Alienware.  We will continue to investigate the issues, identify their root cause and will not rest until we find the appropriate resolution.  Once we determine a resolution, we will let our customer service technicians know immediately so they can begin working with those customers affected. We will continue to update the Alienware forums and respond to other postings with updates.  In the meantime, we have setup a unique e-mail address for these m15x related issues to be reported to.  Customers experiencing these issues are encouraged to email our support team at, please include account information, order number and a description of the issue.

Thank you for your support,

Frank Azor

VP, Product Group, Alienware"

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  • Mike Jacobson Says:

    Okay, so its been a year or so since ive had my alienware m15x. I was really excited about this computer but i have to say its been a bit of a let down. Ive had a boarload of issues that ended me having to send the computer in to alienware three times. Some of these issues include cracks under the left side of the screen, sometimes it would just shut off, or turn off while booting up. They replaced my mother board, my gpu, the plastic shell around my screen and of course, my keyboard which had keys falling off after a couple of months. Im writing this on the eve of sending in my computer for a 4th time, it seems that my screen is once again cracking under the left side of the screen near the hinge and pieces of plastic are beginning to fall out. Finally, I have one last greivance to share that all other m15x owners share with me regardless of the quality of their unit. That is that since its release over a year ago, only one driver, still in its beta stage has been released for the m15x's 8800 GTX running windows xp. This is really starting to bug me as some games slow down, like Empire total war, when I know this computer can easily handle it on mid to high settings. My 3dmark06 score was also pretty crappy, especially when trying the beta driver, somewhere around 4-5000 was the highest i could push

  • K. T. Bradford Says:

    arun, though Alienware laptops are pretty awesome, why not consider a less expensive but still powerful laptop that you might even be able to carry around? WE have a list of <a href="" rel="nofollow">good notebooks for students</a> that includes a few that will do you right as a gamer.

  • arun Says:

    ive been a console gamer, but now college is gonna start soon, so i need a good laptop.
    Alienware does seem expensive...and i always thought quality for the price is what alienware gave its customers.Im interested in the alienware m15x because of the fact that you can add extra battery life to the system and hence get about 5+ hours when not gaming(low settings+stealth mode).I was worried about the heating issue, but never really thought i would be as big a deal as it seems to many customers here.
    Im starting to get a little nervous about buying an m15x...any one with positive results? not having heating issues?
    a little consolation here please :|

  • NotMe Says:

    Well first off I'm not amazing when it comes to computer knowledge so I can't tell you if my system downclocked or what ever. But I know enough
    So I can tell you something. I have played games like Crysis and Supreme Commander FA for LONG periods (SupComFA lans lastiing almost 16 hours of nonstop play) and yes the system runs hot to a point where it starts lagging badly. But here is an EASY fix to that problem. Prop up you damn machine. Its intake for the ventilation is on the bottom. If you let it sit flat on your desk it can't cool itself efficently. Thats what I did. I monitor my CPU temp and when it skyrockets while gaming I set my laptop on a little piece of wood and within a minute the CPU speeds up again because the fans now can actually pull air. And if that does not help buy a cooling pad for 20 bucks. Its worth the investment as it takes quite some stress off of the internal fans.
    Otherwise just live with it. That notebook has some amazing components and the faster stuff gets the hotter it gets...and then its all packed into a fairly small case. (Its not a 17" brick)

    My 5 cents to this conversation

  • Malice Says:

    I'm malice....hheheheehhahahahaha

    ok, just joking.

    I have friends who owned alienware laptops m15x for no problem at all. The downclock button works perfectly even IN-GAME!! I can immediately see the difference before and after he press the button, so people don't get mad so quick, sometimes you need patience to solve any obstables ahead. then you will be happy :)

  • Jack Says:

    I think Alienware are pretty cool.

  • Funny Says:

    5 months later, people still having the SAME problems, AW crapped on their fans with the m15x.

  • WillJay Says:

    I love it how anytime Alienware has an issue, no matter how hard they work to correct it, people jump out swinging. I've had issues with Alienware systems in the past but they have always been resolved. I had a PC die, completely die , about once every 4 months. This continued for about a year and they shipped me a brand new fully loaded one that has not had ANY problems to this day. Let them do their job children and simmer down. The first production line of anything ALWAYS has a few problems, and there is always a percentage of anything mass produced (and the components in an Alienware system are) that fail or act up. You spend the extra money on a high end system to minimize this but it can never be eliminated. Also, pause to take a breath and think or what you want? I hope it is a fix to your system and obviously they are working on it. But in response to the reader who got angry over the author suggesting that maybe hitting your system would do it anger is a lot of times caused by guilt and or being cornered. Why don't you go buy an Apple, and sit around with other cultists and talk about how awesome the "plain" styling is and ignore the slowness of the actual machine. Sure it won't break (but some do also) but neither will a pair of scissors used as a lawn mower versus a john deere. Todd, don't apologize for your suggestion, stick to your guns. If it offends them then it is their problem, at least you were thinking outside of the box trying to help someone with anger management issues. My guess is that they don't own one (like Brad) or they had too much Kool-Aid and tried shoving Crysis into the PC thinking it was a slot loading drive...

  • Hitman Says:

    They said they've only received a few direct reports about the issue. It's possible it doesn't exist on all the notebooks or most people aren't noticing it because the system is still fast enough? If the graphics downclocks even at the downclocked speed it could still be fast enough for most games people are playing escept for maybe Crysis.

  • Todd Haselton Says:

    First off, as the author of the article, let me explain a few things. Alienware doesn't pay any of us to review its products and we don't get to keep anything. (To be honest, I'm more of a desktop gamer anyway).

    Second, I am an avid gamer myself and played Crysis across many days of testing--not just one--in fact, over a time span of a few weeks. I'm sure I made my editors nervous toting it home on the Subway after work every day. The system here doesn't have overheating issues, so I'd be falsifying readers if I said it did, too.

    Third, Why would I post pictures of the small opening if I loved Alienware? If I had a crack or a shutdown, you betcha I'd film it and post it. The fact is, we didn't have any problems with the unit and wanted an explanation for ourselves to do a service for our readers, hence the contact information for tech support.

    And of course, the keyboard punching comment was a joke on my part, so if it makes you feel any better, I take it back.

    Hate Mail /Love Mail can be directed to:

  • Jason Says:

    This is your "explanation" of why users are having these crack? You've got to be kidding me. You're making a lot of people who have spent a lot of money very mad... and laptopmag look like a joke. I also took a look at your m15x review. Come on, Todd. That's not a review. Let's get serious here.

  • dhoang417 Says:

    Overheating and downclocking are totally different things. Just playing a game for 4 hours won't automatically tell you that it's downclocking. Please use atitool version 0.27 to monitor the GPU temps and clock while running a PC within a window. You will see what m15x owners are complaining about.

    Unless you didn't get a lemon.

  • cody Says:

    i sent mine in for repair on the downclocking issue. i know it cant be fixed i just want to play along with alienware so i can get ALL my money back.

  • Jesse Says:

    please run some tests and show results... try rivatuner... and don't assume everyone is gullible, stupid, or just out to bash AW. NO, we are not banging our fist on the laptops. We are the people who have dished out $3-5k+ and we intend to take really good care of it. it's not a free review unit like your. Please do some research and don't think your one night of gaming means jack squat. test it out for 3 weeks and come back with an update, photos, and real bench results.

  • Exodus Says:

    Do you know how to run rivatuner or ATI tool?If you answered YES then we all advise you do it. and Screen your results. As far as the cracking issue goes did you own the test system more then 3 weeks? yes no? If NO then you have no right saying that cracks can happen from a fist pound on the table. Here is one for you to test the crack theory see how many times you can open and close the lid till you see stress marks and cracks forming(to simulate you a 3 week senario) then the 2 days or so you have the machine.

  • shaun Says:

    The notebook overheats when I play crysis for 2 hours. The system is a joke and I feel like I wasted my money. They replaced my GPU and I still have the overheating problem. I wanted a full refund and they are making me pay a 15% restocking fee. Their customer service is horrible and so is your explanation. Just because alienware probably gave you your notebook for free doesn't mean you should cheat the public people out of a REAL response to the issue. You should be taken off the web my friend.

  • brad Says:

    You're a moron. Everyone who has tested the system has had a problem with it. You do not get cracks by your ethernet port for Hitting your keyboard.... how you could come to that assumption drives me crazy. If someone gets mad in a game and hit their keyboard.... their system would turn off. I've hit my E1705 from Dell many times.... i have no cracks rofl. Learn to get off alienwares bandwagon homeboy. It's a poorly built notebook with overheating problems. PERIOD.

  • Saint Says:

    There are several people with the overheating issue and therefore I wouldn't call them "some" like the Alienware customer service &amp; marketing staff call it. When you look at the message board of you will hardly find people without overheating problems. (even a moderator has the problem on his review-m15x). For some people the problems just occured after some days without underclocking. So one day of playing Crysis without the issue doesn't mean your m15x was fine.

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