Wednesday, March 12th 2008

Alienware Area 51 m15x Hit by Overheating and Cracking Issues?

Members of the NotebookReview.com forums alarmed yesterday that some of Alienware's high-end Area 51 m15x laptops might be affected by overheating and cracking issues. While some reported strange overheating issues during operation, others can't seem to find the right words and describe why their new laptops are starting to crack? Alienware replied that it is aware of the problems and is trying to collaborate with owners. The manufacturer also reported that once the issues are isolated, their customer service technicians will immediately help owners of the damaged laptops. Until then, follow these two threads here and here.
Source: NotebookReviews
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25 Comments on Alienware Area 51 m15x Hit by Overheating and Cracking Issues?

#1
Azazel
wow this is bad news for alienware.... :) ...how didnt any of this come up in there tests???? before they released it
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#2
thebeephaha
HA! My overheating MacBook Pro doesn't crack! :laugh: It just warps.... :banghead:
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#3
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
I have a hard time believing those cracks are from overheating. He stuck a screw driver in there and twisted it, or someone did at least.
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#4
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
That must be seriously hot, at least above 60 degrees Celcius for hard ABS plastic to 'crack' that way, and if a notebook heats upto 60 C the user would know. It will begin to smell of heated plastic...a distinct odour that generally comes out of the heat vents. And you can touch to feel it hot.
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#5
Azazel
maybe the plastic was made wrong..or something..something went wrong in the plastic factory hehe....like chemical reaction went in the wrong direction hehe

haven't done chemistry in 3 years :)
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#6
nflesher87
Staff
yeah seems to me the plastic was just made wrong and most likely isn't alienware's "fault", the mixture used resulted in it being too brittle
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#7
pentastar111
btarunrThat must be seriously hot, at least above 60 degrees Celcius for hard ABS plastic to 'crack' that way, and if a notebook heats upto 60 C the user would know. It will begin to smell of heated plastic...a distinct odour that generally comes out of the heat vents. And you can touch to feel it hot.
Good point...Although I think it would have to be alot hotter and faster than a gradual build-up of heat. A "blast furnace" comes to mind.:rolleyes:..So here's a scenerio.....{I turn on my notebook and I'm tooling around the internet for about a half an hour, when SUDDENLY...I go from 25 to 30 degrees above ambient temp in the book to 250 degrees above above ambient or more, and back to just above 30 degrees above..in a split seconds time frame...AND without damaging and frying the internal components}..:eek:..HIGHLY UNLIKELY!!.:shadedshu...I don't know how hot you have to make abs plastic to get it to "crack" without melting or how quickly this has to occur, BUT I'm sure that any gradual heating to that certain point would indeed involve an infernal stench and subsequent melting of the material.:wtf:... I have to agree with you on the heat theorie and Newtekie1 on the twisting screwdriver scenerio....:D
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#8
Polaris573
Senior Moderator
btarunrThat must be seriously hot, at least above 60 degrees Celcius for hard ABS plastic to 'crack' that way, and if a notebook heats upto 60 C the user would know. It will begin to smell of heated plastic...a distinct odour that generally comes out of the heat vents. And you can touch to feel it hot.
That's not necessarily true. Repeated heating and cooling causes stress in materials, which can lead to cracks.
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#9
jocksteeluk
nflesher87yeah seems to me the plastic was just made wrong and most likely isn't alienware's "fault", the mixture used resulted in it being too brittle
it is more than likely Dell's fault, no doubt they reduced manufacturing costs on the Alienware products.
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#10
nflesher87
Staff
jocksteelukit is more than likely Dell's fault, no doubt they reduced manufacturing costs on the Alienware products.
agreed
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#11
1c3d0g
Well these are all OEM products, so they're produced by a large corporation (Asustek, Compal, Quanta etc.) which brand these notebooks individually. Obviously it appears something went wrong with the production of these particular units. I hope Dell will be generous enough to offer a free replacement, because if I was a customer I know I would be pissed! I would expect nothing else than complete satisfaction, especially when I shelled out over $2,000 for one of these things.
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#13
pentastar111
jocksteelukit is more than likely Dell's fault, no doubt they reduced manufacturing costs on the Alienware products.
That too, sounds logical.
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#14
Darksaber
Senior Editor & Case Reviewer
newtekie1I have a hard time believing those cracks are from overheating. He stuck a screw driver in there and twisted it, or someone did at least.
Actually reading up in it. it seems that the display cover has some sort of metal clamp under the plastic cover, which pushes up so hard that it bends the plastic upward...

A lot of people seem to have problems with their AW m15s...

And it seems to be limited to the EU at first sight, as they seem to get their notebooks from a different supplier?

cheers
DS
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#15
Bundy
The crack seems to be at a weak point. Metal expands more than plastic with heat, perhaps the plastic cover got stretched by the metal underneath until it broke?
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#16
WarEagleAU
Bird of Prey
yes dell bought alienware a year or two ago.

cheaper materials would make this happen. Highly unlikely a joe blow consumer would pop a screwdriver right there and do that. Also it could have been dropped and tested to see if it worked but not really visually inspected. Ive known it to happen. And the constant temp change as was said above, would cause it to happen as well...
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#17
imperialreign
btarunrThat must be seriously hot, at least above 60 degrees Celcius for hard ABS plastic to 'crack' that way, and if a notebook heats upto 60 C the user would know. It will begin to smell of heated plastic...a distinct odour that generally comes out of the heat vents. And you can touch to feel it hot.
For ABS plastic to crack from heat - it'd be well over 60C. You'd be looking at closer to 75-80C for it to start cracking of warping . . . and considering how thin the casing looks in the pics, I'd say it would have to warp before it started to crack.

It takes some serious heat to damage ABS plastic - big reason why it's become the norm in the automotive industry. Headlamp assemblies for both halogen and xenon bulbs are made from ABS, as it's the only thing (aside from glass) that can withstand that kind of heat.
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#18
lemonadesoda
The "cracking" issues and the overheating issues arent necessarily related.

The crack in the picture shows a stress point... connection with ethernet cable that will get knocked, pushed, pulled. It might have nothing to do with the laptop heating up (AND cooling down). The question is whether those are compression or expansion cracks.

The "warp" is interesting though... it seems like the plastic clamshell doesnt fit over the subframe. Design/manufacturing tolerances NOT GOOD. If the plastic has expanded (permanently) at temperatures <150 C then thats seriously cheap plastic.

1./ Poor choice of materials. There are better plastics than those used for cheap portable hi-fi's.

2./ Poor design. The plastic bevel and thin sections are MUCH TOO THIN around stress points.

Designers to fall on swords.
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#19
Trigger911
I don't know but all these people seeing this cant be good for aw I always wanted one but seeing something like that would make me worry. But I'm sure they will do the custamers good a friend had one of there desktops they wad very good to him when he got a doa system they pretty much doubled his buck.
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#20
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
That's what I was hinting at. The plastic shell can't spontaneously crack of heat, it requires repeated heating/cooling that stresses the material....implies the plastic was of substandard quality.
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#21
IcrushitI
WarEagleAUyes dell bought alienware a year or two ago.

cheaper materials would make this happen. Highly unlikely a joe blow consumer would pop a screwdriver right there and do that. Also it could have been dropped and tested to see if it worked but not really visually inspected. Ive known it to happen. And the constant temp change as was said above, would cause it to happen as well...
I'd go with the cheaper material, why do you think Dell bought Alienware out, for that reason alone, anything with Dell on it usually means CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP.
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#22
Wile E
Power User
newtekie1I have a hard time believing those cracks are from overheating. He stuck a screw driver in there and twisted it, or someone did at least.
No, because there aren't any gouge marks. The edges where the plastic pieces are supposed to meet would be marred, at least a little.
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#23
Darkplace
Omg I have the same problem also, I think I'll return my laptop before my 30 days return policy is up..... I should've did some research before I brought the laptop. And no its not due to heat problem it just started cracking due to the open and closing of the laptop. My only guess is that this has something to due with the cheap plastic they use. Sigh I'm still piss that I gotta pay 15% restock fee for a refund. Brought this laptop on April 4,2008 and its already like this in less then 20 days.... it's ashame AW sucks now.
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#24
Polaris573
Senior Moderator
You let them charge you a 15% restocking fee? That's preposterous. They can't restock defective merchandise. Generally just mentioning that you don't want to pay the restocking fee is enough to make them not do it.
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#25
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
I don't get it. Re-stocking fee is based on a percentage of the price of the product? So say I return my $2000 item, fee being 15%, I pay them $300 for putting the item back on the shelf? Ridiculous. Laws should be amended in a way to fix re-stocking fees, not basing them on the price of the product.
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