Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Acronis True Image *Free* for Western Digital M17x Owners

For those of you who received a Western Digital drive with your M17x, you can access and download the WD Edition of Acronis True Image.

Acronis True Image WD Edition Software
File Size: 121 MB (approx.)
Version: 11.0 (build 8,311)
Publish Date: August, 2009

Key Features of Acronis True Image WD Edition Software:

*Drive Cloning - Copies the source drive to a new WD drive, leaving all data on the source drive.

*Drive Migration - Erase the source drive after the new WD drive has been imaged.

*Drive Deployment - Enables users to prepare a WD drive so that selected folders or partitions can be excluded from the destination image.

*Drive Image Backup - The long-term usage of the Drive Kit software will be to provide full drive image backups of a source drive at any time. Backup drive images will be stored as a file, which can be copied to any direct attached drive, network attached storage drive or optical media (CD/DVD).

*Drive Image Recovery - The Recovery Manager enables users to restore a drive image from a direct or network attached drive. The Recovery Manager can also either erase just a portion of the drive to be used for the restored drive image, or all of the previous OS.

*Create a Bootable Standalone Recovery Manager - With the Drive Kit software, users can create a bootable ISO image file, which contains the WD Drive Kit Standalone Recovery Manager software.

*Recover a Drive Image from the Bootable Recovery Manager Software - The bootable Standalone Recovery Manager enables users to recover a drive image from either a CD/DVD drive, a direct attached drive, or a network attached drive.

You can download it directly HERE.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fix for Intermittent Stuttering/Laggy Startup/MP3 Playback Popping

Several owners have reported intermittent stuttering in-game which results in a severe drop in FPS. Wireless connections suffer delays when auto-connecting @ startup as well as popping during MP3 playback have also been reported.

I believe I have identified the offending items (AlienwareFusion Service and the AlienFX Controller - both are components of Command Center). This 'fix' has not been tested on Windows 7 however I can report it has worked for me under Windows Vista.

1. Disable the AlienFX Controller @ startup (I use CCleaner's Startup items function since its a quick way to access Startup items).
2. Stop and set to Manual startup the Alienware Fusion Service.

Reminder, when making changes to Services always do so by typing 'Services.msc' into the Run command. Never make changes to Services using the Services tab within the Task Manager.

Downsides to this fix:
1. If you need to change your lighting just launch AlienFX Controller from the Start Menu ---> Programs--->Alienware --->Command Center. Once you have finished your lighting changes, right click on the AlienFX icon in the task tray and choose Exit.

2. When switching to battery power, you will need to manually kill your lighting if you want it off. It will not power off/Go Dark since these two items are not running. As with changing your lighting, you will need to follow the steps to 'Go Dark' as outlined above.

Hopefully these issues will be resolved in the next update to Command Center.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

IT8512 CIR Receiver, v5.0.4.7 (Vista) and v5.1.0.1 (Win7)

Dell is on a roll this week. Another updated driver to install. Today, Dell posted an updated IR Receiver driver. Originally posted for the new AW M15x, it is fully compatible with the M17x.

Direct download HERE. I have also updated the Current Driver page as well (of course). ;)

Bluetooth 370 Driver Updated

Dell posted an update to the Bluetooth driver. This driver was posted for the Bluetooth 365 card however the INF supports multiple Dell Bluetooth cards including the Bluetooth 370 used in the M17x. Dell states this driver includes:
General bug fixes and updates
Direct download link for the Bluetooth driver is HERE.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

IDT 92HD73C1 v6.10.0.6233 Audio Driver released

Today Dell posted an update for the M17x's Audio Driver. v6.10.0.6233 resolves the following issue:
Audio playback device cannot switch to HDMI device automatically.
I have updated the Driver page with this new driver. Direct download HERE.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Alienware OSD v2.21 released

Dell posted an update to the OSD (on-screen display) application today. This is the software which interfaces with the M17x touchstrip and function key assignments.

According to the release notes:

*This update must be used with System BIOS A02 or newer.

Improves the following items on Vista 64 and Win 7. Cannot toggle display by Fn+F6 under the conditions below:

- Vista OS + Nvidia VGA
- Vista OS + AMD VGA
- Win7 OS + Nvidia VGA

I have updated the driver download page with this release and you can grab it directly via THIS LINK

Monday, September 07, 2009

186.91 now available

Another Windows Update release... 186.91 is now available. As with 186.82, HybridSLI is again fully supported. I have not had a chance to run any benches, but if this one is anything like 186.82 it will be a keeper.

Grab it direct from Microsoft:
Win7/Vista 64-bit
Win7/Vista 32-bit

LV2Go has also posted 186.91.
Win7/Vista 32-bit
Win7/Vista 64-bit

NOTE: You will need to run the executable to extract it. Once the driver is extracted, look inside the directory for the 'Additional INFs' .zip archive. Extract this and copy/paste the 'nv_whql.inf' into the top level of the 186.91 directory. Once this is done, run the setup.exe app to install. This is required for the driver to recognize the hardware in the M17x. The default INF (nvfu.inf) does not support the M17x GPUs.

Update: 186.91 was released roughly 10 days after 186.82. 186.91 also offers complete support for the M17x's HybridSLI setup. After a bit of testing, it is my opinion the 186.82 remains the better choice at this time. 186.91 produced slightly lower benchmark numbers compared to 186.82. I also noticed slightly higher temps (idle and load) for the 9400 mGPU. Again, this is just my opinion and I will be staying with 186.82 until the next release. You should conduct your own testing of course. Have fun!

Friday, September 04, 2009

NVIDIA SLI Profile Update #2

NVIDIA has posted their second SLI Profile update.

Release Date: 2009.09.03
Operating System: Windows Vista, Windows Vista 64-bit, Windows XP 64-bit, Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows 7 64-bit
Language: English (U.S.)
File Size: 0.237 MB

This update adds support for:
Biohazard 5 (Resident Evil 5)
Call of Juarez: Blood in Bound Demo
Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim
Need for Speed: Shift

This update also provides increased performance for:
Batman: Arkham Asylum

Please note, the release specifically states:
This version of the NVIDIA profile update should be used with v190.62 WHQL display driver.

Since I do not own any of these games I am unable to test compatibility with driver version 186.82 which, at present, is the best performing driver for the M17x.

If you download this SLI Profile update and find reduced performance with 186.82, the best way to remove the update will be to uninstall the 186.82 driver completely and then reinstall 186.82.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Essential Apps (all freeware)

I've compiled a list of the main apps/utilities I use and recommend. I see multiple posts in the forums from new owners asking what monitoring app to use, etc. This list should cover all of the basics.

1. HWMonitor - a small app used to monitor CPU/GPU temps. It should be noted that HWMonitor will require a bit of tweaking for proper reporting of CPU temps. Once you launch HWMonitor for the first time, it creates a config file. If you have a P8600, P8700, T9600 or T9800 CPU in your M17x you will need to open the config file using notepad and edit the following line:


Change the default value of 100.0 to 105.0. This will ensure HWMonitor is reporting the correct temperature of your CPU. For the Q9000 the TJMAX value can be left at default and no editing is required. I am still trying to locate the TJMAX value for the Q9100 and QX9300 CPUs. Once you have made the change in value, save the file and then open the file properties by right-clicking on it. Change it to a 'read only'. This will prevent it from being overwritten by the app the next time it is launched. Don't ask me why this is...

2. Auslogic's Disk Defrag - a very fast alternative to Vista's own Disk Defrag

3. GPU-Z - a lightweight utility which can be used to check clock speeds of your GPUs. Note: some of the info from the main window will be missing or reported incorrectly. This will hopefully be fixed in a future update. Still a great utility to verify your current clock speeds.

4. CPU-Z - another handy utility from the makers of HWMonitor, this little app will display info on your current CPU clocks/multiplier along with info on installed RAM, etc.

5. CCleaner - of all the registry cleaning tools I have tested, CCleaner is the safest and most effective of the bunch. This one I use almost daily to ensure the registry is free of old/non-essential entries. It can also be used to quickly access and enable/disable startup items.

6. Recuva - another top app from the makers of CCleaner, this utility can be used to restore files that have been accidentally deleted from your computer, memory cards, mp3 players, etc. If you've ever accidentally deleted an image from a camera memory card and needed to recover it, this is the app to have installed.

7. ExtractNow - is a great compliment to Vista's built-in .zip archive support. I use this one for all the .rar files I encounter. It supports the following formats: ZIP, RAR, ISO, BIN, IMG, IMA, IMZ, 7Z, ACE, JAR, GZ, LZH, LHA, TAR and SIT. I leave .zip archives to Vista, but the others are handled by ExtractNow.

8. Notepad++ - This is one of the best freeware source code editors I have ever used. This little app is essential when it comes to modding INF files and other formats. It also features a very handy built-in 'Compare' feature.

9. Stardock's LogonStudio Vista - this cool app is a lot of fun. You can take any .jpeg file and turn it into a Vista Logon screen. I will be posting a few Alienware M17x logon screens I have put together and this will be required if you want to try them out. Take a look, this app is great. Did I mention the app does not have to be running in the background? Launch it, set your Logon Screen and hit apply. That's it.

There you have it - my recommended freeware app list. If I think of any others I'll update the list.