ALIENWARE 15 R3 — THE GOOD AND THE HUH?

I always have very mixed feelings when I realize I’m going to have to buy a new primary computer. I love technology and I love computers. I love gadgets and widgets and cameras and lenses and software. From the first day I put my fingers on a computer keyboard, I knew I’d found my place in the new order. Computers felt like “home” from the first day.

New computer

However, getting a new primary computer that will be your everything computer is a big deal.

I’m not talking about a tablet. Or a Kindle. Or an old computer you want to keep because it contains software you can’t buy anymore and which you like better than “new improved” versions.

No, in this case, I’m talking about the one item of equipment that you use all the time for years on end. It’s the constant use computer. The machine on which you blog. Take care of your daily business. Banking, shopping, email, photography. It’s where you process pictures. Where you have software and filters. It’s where you write. Design books. It is important.

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Getting a new computer up to speed, configured the way you want it has always been a process that takes anywhere from a few hours to several months of tweaking. In this case, it also involved getting used to a new operating system — Windows 10 Pro up from Windows 7 Pro.

PERFECTLY FROM THE DAY I TOOK IT OUT OF THE BOX

This computer worked absolutely perfectly from the day I got it. There was no start-up time, except the time it took me to figure out where the new stuff was on this computer that was somewhere else on my earlier computers. If I didn’t feel I need to know what’s going on inside, I need not have bothered to find out anything. I’m still finding out things, though more now than before since that BIOS download the other day, but that’s a different issue.

THINGS THEY COULD DO BETTER — AND PROBABLY WILL

The C-port “Thunderbolt” replacements for the USB drives are not very sturdy. They work, but they are fragile. I’m sure they will be improved with time, but as of today’s writing, they should have included more USB ports. I have added hubs, but the lack of a CD drive for a camera card is a real pain in my butt. They should put it back.

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It won’t help me much. However, for future computers … put the CD drive back. Add at least two or three more USB ports. There are a lot of items that only work properly in a USB port. Eventually, maybe everything will love these new ports, but they don’t love them today. My external hard drives and my DVD/CD drive won’t work in the C port … and of course, I also need something for the CD flash card too. In theory, you can use a hub, then put stuff them through the C port, but that’s really stupid. Too many hubs, too much stuff. I’m sure I am not the only one complaining about this.

A FEW QUESTIONS ANSWERED BEFORE YOU ASK THEM

Why did I stay with Windows rather than getting a Mac? Because I actually prefer Windows. It’s a structured, work-oriented system. Its design and the way I think work well together. I have owned Macs and used them, but in the end, I’m much more comfortable on Windows. I’m task oriented. The Mac with its “do your own thing” unstructured style doesn’t mesh well with my style. Of course, there’s also the software I own that runs on Windows, but won’t run on a Mac.

I am not a hardware kind of gal. You won’t find me rewiring anything or prying open the case to get at the innards. Software? No problem.

Hardware? Call the guy with the toolkit. The second-hand market it good for people who aren’t afraid of getting down and dirty with the guts of the hardware, but I’m not one of them … so new was the way to go for me. Windows PC. High end. New.

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My previous Alienware laptop was very satisfactory, but technology has been whipping along at light speed for the past few years. The computer was more than two operating systems behind. I was not interested in overlaying a new operating system on the old one. I tried that and failed. Badly. It was also getting difficult to run new software on the older system. It ran, but not run well. Frustrating and annoying, but the development world is not interested in my opinion.

OTHER QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Why Windows 10 Pro you ask? Over the decades, I’ve found the “professional” versions of Microsoft operating systems are more stable and much less buggy than the “home” version of the same OS.

Every version of Windows has essentially the same stuff in it, but the menus change. The most alarming difference for more was the complete removal of the “Restore” and “system configuration” menus which has been part of Windows since the beginning. The pieces are now parceled out to other menus (Systems and Task Manager).

HOW DOES IT DO?

It boots up in fewer than 10 seconds. I don’t know how many different windows I could open, but whatever it is, I haven’t found it yet.

THE GOOD AND THE WHAT-THE-HELL?

I would have gone all the way and said this is the best computer I’ve ever had. Basically, it still is, but that download the other day from Microsoft was evil. I’m still recovering from it. To be fair, things seem to be working more or less normally — again.

It’s a great computer.

The problem is, you never know what kind of rat poison you’re going to get in downloads from home base. Apple has done it, Windows has done it more. They really need to step back and ponder users and what we need.


THE PARTS AND PIECES:

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  • 16GB DDR4 at 2133MHz (2x8GB)
  • English Backlit Keyboard, powered by AlienFX
  • NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5
  • N1435 & N1535 Wireless Driver
  • 256GB PCIe SSD (Boot) + 1TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s (Storage)
  • Windows 10 Pro (64bit) English
  • Killer 1435 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1
  • Intel(R)Core(TM) i5-6300HQ (Quad-Core, 6MB Cache, up to 3.2GHz w/Turbo Boost, Base frequency 2.3GHz)
  • 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare 300-nits Display
  • Lithium Ion (68 Wh) Battery

IF YOU DO A LOT OF STUFF ON THE COMPUTER, A GOOD ONE IS WORTH THE MONEY

The computer I had before this one is now Garry’s computer. Aside from not handling newer applications well, it’s a fine computer and will last a very long time, especially with Garry using it. Even if it needs a hard drive or something else, it’s more than worth repairing. You can’t say that about a lot of the cheap, cheesy computers.

They are cheap, but they aren’t good. And they won’t stand up to repair.

22 thoughts on “ALIENWARE 15 R3 — THE GOOD AND THE HUH?

  1. I recently (early January) had to buy a new primary computer. In another post I saw you mention CS5. My big issue is I installed CS5 but it won’t update. Without updates I can’t use the raw files for my OMD EM5. Anyway, Your new machine sounds like a great computer!

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    • CS5 is an old version of Photoshop. As for RAW, that’s always been a bit of a problem. Usually, your new camera has a CD/DVD in it that handles the RAW function since there are SO many of them. My newer version of CS6 doesn’t include RAW files for my Olympus. But my Olympus software (V3) has it and the software came with the camera. IF you didn’t get one with your camera, you can look it up online and I’ll bet you’ll find it and can install it into CS5 as a plug-in.

      Nothing short of spending a lot of money is going to entirely fix your problem. When you don’t have money, you have to be a bit clever. You can be LESS clever and pay Adobe somewhere between $5 a month and whatever they are charging to use their online stuff, but I do not pay to play. I can’t afford it and given we live on fixed incomes, some stuff has to stop.

      Also, you can check online. There are a lot of small (freebies and very short money stuff) that deals entirely with whatever version of RAW you are using.

      I don’t use RAW. I’m sure I should, but it’s just too much like work for me. I don’t print, which is where the real difference would show up. I mostly (entirely, maybe, at this point) post everything online. It isn’t the best way to go, but it’s pretty good … and again, I have to draw a line. That’s MY line 🙂

      And do remember that there ARE other versions of software for cameras. Nothing is quite as good as Adobe, but it has come a very very long way over the years. For a LOT less than $100, you can get pretty good software that will (mostly) do what you need done … but again, nothing is going to be everything for you. If only that were true.

      Liked by 2 people

      • CS5 always worked for me on the old computer, but it is possible they stopped supporting it and that’s why it won’t update. I’ve tried other programs and don’t like anything as much. I guess I’ll have to break down and buy a subscription…
        I take everything with RAW+jpg. I can get away with using the jpg 90% of the time, but there are occasions where I’d lose the shot if it wasn’t for raw.

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        • I have my version of CS5 working on my very brand new computer, so it DOES run. But sometimes, the DVD gets sort of funky. That’s why I stopped using 6 and went down to 5. I’m not sure I understand it, but it does work.

          There are some weirdnesses in Adobe products that no one has ever explained.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, it runs, but the update doesn’t work. However, just now I went to Adobe and am downloading the updates one at a time and installing them. Hopefully after I get to the latest version the auto update works again (the first thing I updated was Adobe RAW, which supports the EM-5)

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              • I went to Adobe and updated. I went to Camera raw, and sure enough my EM-5 ORF files opened without a problem. I think it was a Windows 10 issue – when I did the auto-update, the files would download but wouldn’t install, but Win 10 puts them in a different location than earlier versions.

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                • I’m not surprised. But Adobe has made it very clear that if you already OWN a version of their older software, you can of course use it … but sometime last year, they finished with downloads. Unless something special happens, of course. ALSO, you can get all kinds of plugins that work with your original file. So you aren’t actually limited to what Adobe gives you. You’ve gots lots of other choices.

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure which menu you mean by “system configuration”, but if you right click (instead of left click) on the Start button you can access all the “old” interfaces. The only thing you can’t get to any more is the “old” Windows Update, which has moved from the Control Panel to the new “Settings”. Everything else seems to have a duplicate.

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    • Task Manager has also moved, and no longer does what it used to do. Much of that has moved into System. The good news is that they don’t send fixes every week anymore. Hardly any since I got this guy last November.

      Mostly, I’m a bit cheesed off at the lack of USB ports where I need them. I’m sure they will improve, but they aren’t there yet.

      Otherwise, yes, it’s a great computer. With a bit ot “huh.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wanted to wait a while before I reviewed it and see what was wrong with it. Aside from all those c-thunderbolt ports — which all the new computer have — and the lack of the DVD (which most new computers no longer have) it’s a great computer. It was maybe $30 to buy it from Amazon (and it’s an original Dell … but DELL wanted $50) for the exact same thing, it really is great. Expensive, but if you need a really good computer, this is one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is indeed. I like it because it’s so CUTE. There are lots more ergonomic mice on the market, but when they get very fancy, I can’t use them anymore. This has the stuff I use and not the stuff I don’t use. And it’s Logitech, so it will last forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Incredible isn’t it??! i buy some computer stuff – or a program – and it’s so full of flaws and bugs (like WIN 10) that you’d made one of these things before??? And there’s often nothing you can do about it.

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    • I don’t have a problem with Win 10. I like it. I don’t like the c-ports *thunderbolt” processors and I do NOT care for them leaving out simple things like a place to put a CD drive. Win10 Pro takes a while to get used to, but once you figure out where stuff is, it’s good. Also, it is a LOT faster than 7. Hugely faster.

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  4. My mics won’t work on WIN 10 for unknown reasons. Others have the same problem.
    I do like it’s built in photo editor. Just select a jpg and it pops up. Select the Edit option and it does a very nice job.

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    • I’m not sure what the problem with the sound is, but others have had them too. Mine sound went off, but I went in and jiggled around with it and it came back up. It had turned itself off. Now it’s working. No idea why it went off in the first place.

      Like

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