The handwriting has been on my wall for a while.

Since April, my primary computer has been my Dell XPS 15 laptop. It has a fast motherboard, 8 GB RAM, 750 GB at 7500 HD, a backlit keyboard, high def monitor, a DVD that plays Blu-Ray, and a 9-cell battery. It weighs like a cannonball.

I use a lap desk with two fans to cool it. I treat it well, keep it clean. It’s never been dropped.


Glad you asked. The graphics card is inadequate. It’s a card with both sound and graphics on it, so I can’t listen to anything while I work in Photoshop. And even so, it locks. It used to recover and knowing the source of the problem, (insufficient video RAM), I rebooted frequently. Mostly, it was okay. Lately, it has stopped recovering. It goes down, stays down. Hard crashes and blue screens of death.


Last week, it gave me a black screen — fatal error — which told me it did not recognize its power source. It was plugged into an AC outlet, so I suspect the battery is starting to go.

For months now, it has refused to install Microsoft updates, except antivirus. I figured I didn’t really need the updates, but I’d have to be stupid to not see the warnings. My faithful laptop is getting tired. Some day soon, it’s going to quit.

I bought this computer in March 2012. It was refurbished, a year old when I got it. Buying refurbished let me buy more computer. I had gotten serious about blogging. Also, recently out of the hospital. I had (have) a desktop, but I needed a laptop. This was top of the line then, and if you look at the specs, it is still better than 90% of the new computers on the market … except it has grown old. For two and a half years, this laptop has taken whatever I threw at it without (much) complaint. What it did in the year before I got it, I have no way of knowing except that it had some mileage on it.

I could wait until it dies. Probably in the middle of writing a post. Not a smart move, especially considering the issues swirling around Microsoft. Namely, Windows 8. I hate Windows 8.



With all of its quirks, Microsoft never screwed me over the way Apple did. Every expensive Apple computer I bought was obsolete mere weeks after buying it. Apple always assured me the new machine would be upgradeable. They lied. In 1999, they did it again. I had barely had time to set up the new system before Apple made it obsolete.

“This is,” I said aloud, “the last time Apple is going to screw me.”

I donated the Apple to my alma mater. I bought the most powerful Windows 98 PC I could afford, which — with upgrades — ran flawlessly for 6 years. I never bought another Macintosh product until an iPhone snuck into my world a year ago.

I want nothing to do with Macs. I don’t like the inaccessibility of the operating system or the hardware. I don’t find it intuitive. I find it confusing and annoying. I want a PC, thank you. But not Windows 8. From what I’m hearing, I don’t want the upcoming Windows 10, either.


Which put me into a bind. Windows 7 machines are disappearing. Even a few weeks ago, there were more choices. Despite the other issues we have, I need a new laptop. This is what credit is for … and that’s why I buy from Dell. Because when no one else would give me credit, they did.



Possibly for the first time, I got enough computer to do what I need to do. It’s a gaming laptop, Alienware 14. It has 16 gigs of RAM, a dedicated 2 gig video card. DVD reader/writer. High definition graphics. Heavier than I’d like at 6 pounds, but nothing lighter had all the features I want.

Here are the specs for my fellow geeks:

  • 4th Gen Intel Core i7-4710MQ processor (6MB Cache, up to 3.5GHz w/ Turbo Boost)
  • 14.0 inch WLED FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare Display
  • 16GB Dual Channel DDR3L 1600MHz (2x8GB)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M with 2GB GDDR5
  • Intel 802.11n/ac Wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 driver
  • 1TB 5400RPM SATA 6Gb/s
  • Windows 7 Professional 64 bit Service Pack 1, English, w/Media
  • Optical Drive : Slot-Loading 8x SuperMulti Drive (DVD/R/RW)
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 @ 5GHz + Bluetooth 4.0
  • Backlit English Keyboard
  • US 110V Power Cord
  • Battery : Primary 6-cell 69W/HR
  • Power Supply : Alienware 150W AC Adapter
  • Alienware 14 Silver Anodized Aluminum

It won’t be here till the beginning of November, but I think I’m good until then. I sure hope so!

Oh, they threw in a free 7″ Android tablet. I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but I guess I’ll figure it out. And a $150 gift card. For accessories.

Categories: Computers, Operating System, Software, Technology

Tags: , , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. Wow! You racked up on the goodies! Great to hear! Here’s hoping your old machine doesn’t cash in until your new machine gets here! *fingers crossed*


    • Thanks!! So far, so good. I’m very careful to not do things I know will cause it to go blue or black. I know what’s wrong with it. If it were repairable, I’d be fixing it. It’s frustrating that this machine is so good in so many ways but has a fatal flaw.


  2. My God!
    I started out on a little Mac SE – tiny B&W screen. Bought by my girlfriend – second hand at an auction for 1500 dollars. It had about 40 programs loaded on it though: Graphics Programs, Spread Sheets, Word Processors .. tons of stuff. So I practiced and practiced .. and thot I knew something .. which eventually got me a job at a very small printing firm. I still don’t know why that guy hired me?? Musta been a spiritual master in disguise.
    I have a good (heavy laptop) too. Cost me a fortune. Only use it on trips.
    Hope they’re getting cheaper these days.


  3. Nice! I have a Mac that I got in 2007 (post-divorce present to myself, ha ha) and it has been obsolete for a while. I finally just got a plain ol’Windows-based laptop last month. If it wasn’t an impulse buy (got it while getting a new TV to take advantage of a huge discount) then I would have looked at AlienWare more closely.

    Now, I do have Windows 8…but it is interesting to hear how much dislike there is for it. Nothing has crashed, refused to work or refused to open yet, which is really all I needed.


  4. I owned a series of Macs and was never enchanted by them. I think they are way more expensive than they are worth. This computer — fancy as it is — costs significantly LESS than a Macbook.

    Windows 8 is horrible. I have used it. I hated it. I’ve got a friend who figured she was bound to get used to it, but in more than a year, STILL hates it. It is very hateable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like you got a good deal. Last year, I bought my husband’s laptop from Dell, and I was thrilled that I could have them install Windows 7 instead of Windows 8. It’s his first computer, and he doesn’t have a smart phone – no way could he deal with Windows 8. I have been very pleased with Dell.


    • The choices in Win 7 are down to just 2 models — this one and one of their better Inspirons. If they had an XPS … or something that would do the job for me from the outlet — I’m not at all averse to buying slightly used/refurbished — I’d have done that. My current computer was refurbished and it owes me nothing. But the outlet only had — in Win 7 — very low end stuff that wouldn’t do the job I need to do … or Alienware laptops 17″ or 18″ in size. In my opinion, a laptop that big isn’t portable. You need a forklift. Six pounds is, as Doob said, 4 lbs. too much … and they were three or four pounds more than that. No way I could even hoist them, much less carry them anywhere.

      Maybe I shouldn’t have waited so long because there were a lot more choices a couple of months ago, but I was still trying to save this computer. I could STILL save it … if I give up processing photographs on it. Except that is what I do. Photography. Writing … that takes very little from a computer. Even a tablet is good enough to handle text, but Photoshop is a total resource hog and I have never had a computer that could stand up to it’s demands.

      My other choice? A Mac. Ironically, a decent MacBook would cost me not only as much, but MORE — and I would have had to replace all my software, too. I really didn’t want a Mac. So I got what I could get that would do the job. And feel guilty about it because I don’t feel I deserve the machine. Garry and my son both tell me I’m being ridiculous, but I feel like I’m spending money I should be using for other things. Anyway, it’s fake money — credit. It will be a while getting paid off!!!


      • I’m with you all the way. Until recently, I had a Windows 98 stored in my bedroom just in case it might be needed at some point. Never mind that I also had an old Windows 2000 and XP. I actually had taken the XP to see if I could add more memory, and the store told me it would cost more than a totally new PC. I’ve had that “new” PC for about 4 years now, and I’m hoping it will last a whole lot longer because it would take me weeks to transfer all that data to a new one. Sometimes I’m sorry computers were even invented – pen and paper never get outdated, really.


        • I hate setting up new computers and am serious considering getting Jeremy, the local computer kid, to do it for me. It might be worth it to not have to do all that installing and setting up. It’s electronic hell week.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. That sounds like a lot of computer Marilyn which is just as well as I guess it’s going to have to do you a few years until Microsoft comes up with an operating system that people actually like. Dell sound good to do business with.


  7. Blimey, Alienware! I’ve always wanted one of those but even on Dell Outlet they cost a fortune. Very nice 🙂


    • The outlet versions were all physically enormous — 17 or 18 inches. Weighed TONS. This is STILL cheaper than a Mac. But I think Macs are seriously over-prices. I couldn’t touch a really high end Mac for under two grand … and this was significantly less than that. I think they are cheaper on this side of the pond.


  8. Wow, that’s one hell of a powerful machine. It’s certainly way beyond anything I would need for my fairly routine computing needs. And given that I demand portability, a six-pounder is about four pounds too heavy for me. I, too, am concerned that when I’m ready to replace the laptop I currently use, Windows 7 will no longer be available. I haven’t tried Windows 8.x, but from what I’ve heard, I ain’t missin’ much.

    And I do agree with you on the Mac. I love my iPhone and I’m good with my iPad, but my wife has a Mac, which she loves, but I just don’t like it. What can I say?


    • In my entire life, I never bought I computer that was genuinely adequate to my needs. This one was supposed to be, but the crappy video/audio card in it — NOT upgradeable — has made it increasingly unstable for what I do the most — process photographs. Writing? You can do that on anything, even a netbook or a tablet. But Photoshop is a total resource hog and it won’t work without significant power behind it. I didn’t want Windows 8 in any form and the previews peeks I’ve gotten at Win 10 are not encouraging. What IS Microsoft trying to do? I just don’t get it.

      Like it or not, there aren’t many things left in my life. Physically, I’m limited. If I don’t have a good computer, I don’t have much of a life at all. Fortunately, even with the bells and whistles, the new computer is less money than a Macbook. Since Dell’s ain’t cheap, I’d say Macs are bit overpriced. And I don’t like them. I know a lot of people are devoted to them … but I’m not a member of the club.

      I hope this computer is as good as it is supposed to be. It gets really good reviews from users, so I sure hope so. I don’t think there’s anywhere for me to go from here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know it seems that Apple computers are obsolete as soon as you buy one, and that’s because, instead of buying it when it’s the latest thing, we often, like myself and others, wait a while to see if it will work. Here’s the thing.., they never really work, or do everything you’d expect and are usually broken when offered for retail. But it seems to be the way of the computer world including the software and OS whether PC or Mac. They just don’t seem to be capable of keeping up, or fixing things fast enough. I have several Macs and use them exclusively because it’s such a pain to switch.., and I don’t like PCs at all. I too have machines that go back to SE and they all still work. So much for obsolesence.

        One of the audio editors I use, the one I love, still operates on a 7100/80 running OS7.6 and I just used it recently on two major CD projects…, slow as hell, by today’s standards, but sounds sooo good. I have a more recent MacBook Pro, 2010 or 11?, that I use as a back up recorder when working on location. I guess my point is if it does what you want it to.., it’s not obsolete and you shouldn’t feel too bad about a new model 3 months after your purchase. Macs tend to last a long time and so become cheaper over time. Unfortunately the market demands manufacturers constantly produce something new, instead of make one thing work perfectly. So when a new product is introduced it may only be broken to a select few, but If it works for most.., on to the next thing, and we’ll offer a fix sometime soon. Again “whiskey, Tango Foxtrot”

        Recently I discovered a local outfit that service and sell used Macs. I can even trade in my older ones at times.


        • I have such a heavy investment in windows-based software, much of which is no longer available, just replacing the applications would bankrupt me — if I could replace it at all. And I’m used to a windows environment, though if they don’t come to their senses and make a usable OS, I will be forced to do something else … and I REALLY don’t want to.



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