A few weeks ago, I decided to upgrade my two year old PC. It was
still serving me well and it was running World of Warcraft fine, but
I thought that two years
was long enough in hardware time to warrant an upgrade. So far, I had always bought my
PC’s from Dell but this time, I decided to go more hardcore and order
one from Alienware.

My first disappointment was that it took much longer for them to ship
it than my initial reading of the web site led me to believe.
I thought I would get my new computer in about five
days, but after that time, my payment hadn’t even been processed yet.
After that, it took more days assemble it, then run the tests and
finally ship it. Overall, two weeks separated the time where I
confirmed my order online and the time where it was delivered to my
home.

Unfortunately, my new PC never worked properly: after one or two hours, it would completely lock up and I had to cold
reboot it. And because of that, Vista didn’t get a chance to dump any
kind of meaningful information, so viewing the Event Log produced
absolutely no clue about what was happening. This was absolutely
maddening.

I contacted Alienware’s Technical support and a long email dance
started. They started by offering me generic advice and then became
more and more technical as it turned out that none of their solutions
worked. In the latest stages, they were asking me to update my BIOS
(which voids your warranty) and other crazy things such as changing the
clock timings of my memory. The more I interacted with the technicians,
the more obvious it was to me that they had absolutely no idea what
they were doing and that all these recommendations were actually
complete shots in the dark.

Of course, none of them worked and my system continued to crash every
two hours or so. At the height of my frustration and running out of
options, I decided to start the cancellation process, something I wasn’t
exactly looking forward to since it appeared that not only would I
have to pay the shipping costs (which they charged me
for $170 on the way in) but they also featured a 15% restocking fee (something I
would fight tooth and nail since I really doubt restocking fees apply
to defective units).

I also started doing more research on my side and just as I was about
to finalize the return process, I finally found the miracle fix.

All I needed to do was to go to Vista’s Power Options and check the
“High Performance” option, as shown below:

Once I did this, my computer stopped crashing.

Overall, I find it absolutely unacceptable that a company whose core
business is gaming and high-end PC’s was unable to diagnose such a
simple problem, but what is even worse is that they didn’t even catch
this problem in their hundreds of tests that they claim they subject
the machines to before they ship them to customers.

I’m going to keep this machine since it now works correctly, but this
is definitely the first and the last time that I ever buy something
from Alienware.