Alienware Customer Experience Needs Work

I’ve been considering an Alienware system for sometime and I’ve now ordered one. An Area-51® 7500 – SLI.
Area-51 7500

Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme QX6700 2.66GHz 8MB Cache 1066MHz FSB
4GB memory.
500GB Raid 0 disk array.
NVidia GForce 8800 / 768MB

They do not provide an option for a second RAID 0 array for video and I want one. So I tried to do some research. None of the reviews of the NVidia 680i SLI chipset or motherboard was specific.
The NVidia site at this point has a PDF for MediaShield – which is their raid system. After reading that, it still was not crystal clear. They talked about raid – in a tutorial sort of way. But never, as far as I could see – said that so and so many drives were supported and so and so many arrays of those drives were supported. I did see something obscure on the Alienware site that says the Area-51 supports 4 drives.

So I called Alienware. The sales folks could only say that they did not provide the option for the additional RAID 0 array and said – in a polite, frustrating Indian way – that that was a Tech Support question which I could not get answered until I had my system. So in spite of my having spent about $5000 with them, they would not answer my tech question until I have received delivery of the system. Of course I wanted to have the disk drives and cables ready when the system arrived so that I could configure it.

But I did manage to find this on the Nvidia site knowledge base. This article shows how to configure the array and it shows that you can configure more than one array. So, question answered, but with no help from Alienware.

I’ve ordered two 250GB, 16MB Cache, 7200rpm drives for $80 each. New egg has very good prices. Alienware wanted $100 for a single 250GB HD, but of course you would expect them to uplift their HD prices, I guess.

I have been a long-time DELL customer – 6 systems in the last 9 years, including top of the line workstations and laptops. Of course I wanted to go with Alienware to get bleeding edge with style. I’m retiring a 6 year old, DELL WS 530 with dual 1.7GHz processors and 1GB of RAM – another system that cost me $5k 6 years ago. And only now are systems available that are approximately 4x in performance. Seems to me that at least some of Moore’s law has been repealed. Feature size may have decreased on schedule, but total system performance has not kept pace.

I have made a lot of support calls to DELL over the years and never have I been treated as I was by Alienware – which is of course now owned by DELL.

Seems to me that Alienware needs to work on their customer experience and train their “Off shore” sales staff to help in anyway they can, especially when they already have a customer. They could provide links or detailed technical data on their components and the sales staff could direct you to the website data when they get a call.

Would I recommend that you buy an Alienware System? Not whole-heartedly, I’m afraid. I’m sure the system will work fine at the beginning and that they will eventually provide any support that I need. But my experience so far indicates that they are likely to cheap-out on their support and I will have to argue with support staff to get what I need if my system has problems. Another sad day for an American company in this global economy.

– d