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THIS. And note the pile of screws to the right.

That is the current state of LeeEv right now.  In case you have forgotten or were otherwise unaware, LeeEv is my main system at home.  Please note his current state of (mostly functional) disrepair.

I took the front bezel off of LeeEv because I had finally, FINALLY gotten around to ordering parts to fix the hinge mounts.  As you can see (by the logo that is also the power button), LeeEv is an Alienware laptop.  Specifically, he is an m15x circa 2009, pre-Dell takeover.  I have to say, his innards are marvelous.  And that screen is wonderful.  I really like it.  But I also have to say that his mechanical design SUCKS.  Big time.  It’s like the design team spent all their time trying to think up expensive parts to put inside the machine and make the outside LOOK nice, but function like…not well.

Remember how I told you that LeeEv’s left hinge had issues?

This is the left hinge.

Do you not see how stupid their hinge mount design was?  The hinges screw into some very flimsy plastic attached to the front cover.  Do you not see how much of that plastic has crumbled away?  The plastic was obviously not up to the job of dealing with a laptop hinge.

Well, after dealing with maer’s hinge earlier last week, I finally decided to order parts from Dell to fix LeeEv’s hinges.  Yes, that’s right.  Dell.  Alienware was bought out by Dell.  It’s not really a huge deal, except that I am firmly convinced that Dell has thrown out all the records for 2009.  I, lucky person that I am, bought LeeEv in June of 2009.  Dell took over Alienware in September.  The support issue for these pre-Dell Alienwares is murky.  Both sites say to go to Dell, but more often than not, I find that Dell reps have no idea what LeeEv looks like or what parts he needs.

Example #1: The first time I tried ordering parts for LeeEv, it was rather simple.  I just wanted a replacement power brick.  LeeEv draws a lot of power (it’s the ginormous screen and vid card) so the brick is correspondingly huge.  I had heard that after Dell took over, they redesigned the brick so that it was a more reasonable size.  I thought I’d pick one up so it’d be easier when LeeEv went with me on trips.  But when I looked that the part online, it looked like the plug was a different size.  I decided to verify with tech support.  She assured me that it was the correct part for my m15x even after I asked her to double and triple check because I had an older laptop.  She was adamant it was the right part.  Ok, fine.  I ordered it.  It arrived.  It was the wrong plug.  I had to go back to tech support and tell them about it AND THEY WOULDN’T BELIEVE ME.  I finally had to get out my calipers, measure the jack on LeeEv and then the plug on the new power supply and report both sizes, which are quite different, to them before they would believe me.  And I tried to tell them again that I had a 2009 Alienware m15x, not a current one.  They seemed to understand (I have since reconsidered).  I got to return the part with shipping covered both ways because the situation was so stupid.

Example #2: This one is directly related to the hinge problem.  I ordered the new hinges after talking to tech support again.  I told them several times that LeeEv was a 2009 m15x and that it didn’t look anything like the current generation.  The rep said she understood and looked up the parts for me.  I asked her to send me the quote, which she did.  I also asked if I was able to verify the parts online to make sure that they would fit my laptop.  She said pictures were not available online because the front cover was a rare part and only available through a direct quote.  Fine.  I ordered it anyway.  They came yesterday.  They are completely the wrong parts.  Oh shock and surprise.  The cover and the hinges they sent me are for the current generation of laptops.  Obviously, I am annoyed.  I talk with tech support again and again they don’t understand my problem.  They are placating, but they obviously have no idea what I’m talking about.  I actually have yet to obtain the RMA number to return the parts they sent me.  In the meantime, my right hinge now looks like this:


It was already starting to go and when I was trying to see if I could somehow get the new hinges and cover to work on LeeEv (not even the slightest possibility), the right hinge mount gave out.  Yay.  That means LeeEv has two broken hips.  I’m propping the screen up using my sewing machine.  This whole thing is so dumb and I have precious little time to waste on it.

When I was looking into fixing the hinges before, I had chanced across a third party vendor that sells parts for older m15x’s.  They even have a photo of an older m15x on their site.  This…gives me hope.  It may be a false hope…but I will have to contact them and see if I can get parts to finally get LeeEv back running like a normal laptop.

Aside: Codename Roodee, my runner system, is also an Alienware (an m11x), but I acquired Roodee only last year.  Dell has since redesigned the hinge mount completely and the whole unit feels much more solid than LeeEv ever did.  If you’re looking into buying an Alienware but are skittish about the manufacturing quality, I can assure you that if you buy a new one (gen 3 or later for an m11x, I assume something comparable for the other laptops) the build quality is excellent and what you expect it to be for the price you pay for an Alienware.  I am quite satisfied with Roodee.


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