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Win 8 Pro on a clean install SSD or alien restore?

dnbluprints

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Hello alien owners!

I'm a new alien owner myself as of a day ago of a new X51 with which I immediately unwrapped and popped a GTX 660 TI and a kingston Hyper-x 256m SSD. Everything seemed great until I tried to restore the OS (Win 8 home) onto my SSD so I could keep all of the alienware wallpaper goodies ect.

My first issue was upon using a DVD created alienware "respawn?" disc I received an error of 0x400112.... Then I switched the bios to Legacy boot mode and the respawn goes through the song and dance but when I reboot it tells me the boot disc has no info. So was I supposed to do some funky partition on the SSD before restoring?

OK... so now I've read doing a "respawn" on the SSD isn't such a good idea and there are ways to keep the cool alienware stuff on a clean install so the OS configures the SSD properly. I currently have a big fancy brick of a system so doing a clean install sounds like something I'm more familiar with. I reset the bios as I'm not familiar with UEFI bios except what I've seen on the web. My DVD of Win 8 won't load. So I go to legacy and the disc does load but right before I have to input my product key I get a window telling me my product key for the supplied os is invalid. I see they are putting the product key on the bios in these little machines.

SOOOOO.. my question is, to get a SSD working on my new box, the most stable and effective way, what should I be doing? I can access the 2 TB hard drive with OS still if I need to. I want to purchase the win 8 home to pro upgrade but will I retain the same serial number thats embedded in the bios so I can do the fresh install? Where do I get the alienware specific wallpaper, start screen etc for my X51 and is there some guide to install it?

Thanks for your help.
 

nizmoz

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IMHO, Clean restore is the best way on any PC. You can always use Google to find wallpapers. It's out there.
 

dnbluprints

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Thanks Nizmoz, I usually do a clean instal and typically build my own pc but the size of this thing for the performance is great.

Amyway, after hours of messing with this box and the ssd, I called Dell and they are sending me the Win 8 disc so that I can get the ssd working. The embedding of the serial on the bios makes for a pain in the ass reinstall.

So for anyone who ends up having the same problems I've had who might search for a fix for this, if you have a X51 preinstalled with Win 8 you can't use your Win 8 pro disc to install at all unless you modify it on USB install so it bypasses the serial embedded in the bios. You can't use respawn on the ssd because of the drive structure and the uefi boot mode. The partitions are different and unless you have a 2t ssd, you cant do a one to one complete restore. If you purchase the win 8 pro pack you can not use the serial to instal windows 8 pro from disc as its a "upgrade" but you are given a new serial and it does upgrade your version to pro with media center.

Sheesh, Microsoft and Dell like to made things difficult, dont they.
 

Scottao

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I just took advantage of the outlet coupon and grabbed an x51 myself. I ordered an ssd as well, and have been searching everything I can find for how I'll get Win8 on the new ssd. Am I correctly understanding that you just ended up calling Dell and they agreed to send you the disc? Or did they charge you for it?

Thanks!
 

dnbluprints

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I called and they asked me if I was installing hardware that was not purchased from Dell and explained they wouldn't offer tech support with installation. Then they said they would overnight me the install disc. Something to note, you can't use respawn on the ssd to make a backup because the restore partition is on the original hard drive. Also, the install disc was just windows 8. No alienware goodies are retained and since its Windows 8 all I could find were some wallpaper and Command Center, so I'd recommend using respawn to make a system backup before installing the ssd incase you want to sell the machine in the future and keep your ssd or whatever.

I'd also strongly advise not to upgrade the video card as the 660 ti I installed smoked due to overheating. Even the oem gtx 660 gets too hot sometimes in a large cabinet. I thought the difference between the oem vs 660 ti reference would be big but it wasn't, plus you can still update drivers from Nvidia directly without waiting for Dell to release oem drivers like I originally though. I have a custom fan ordered so I can blow the hot air out of the cabinet. Also, just my experience but for anyone interested in a Aivia Osmium Mechanical Keyboard, I'd say look elsewhere as the keyboard doesn't work at boot untill Windows loads so its inconvenient.
 

Scottao

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I'm reading all of these posts about losing all of the Alienware goodies, and am wondering if it won't be easier/better to just clone the drive to my new ssd. How much of a terrible thing is it to clone the drive over a fresh installation of Windows 8?
 

sway

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Never clone always do fresh install, you can always get back the alienware software.

tappin from the Note II
 

nizmoz

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I'm reading all of these posts about losing all of the Alienware goodies, and am wondering if it won't be easier/better to just clone the drive to my new ssd. How much of a terrible thing is it to clone the drive over a fresh installation of Windows 8?

I plan to use Acronis to clone my drive to my ssd once my laptop comes in to keep the system intact for now.


HD
 

dnbluprints

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The absolute nightmare I've had with this x51 and installing to a ssd, I'd recommend not using a ssd. After the fresh install the performance gained was negligible but I had to hunt down most of the original alienware software as its not put in a nice easy to find place on Dell. Before installing the ssd, my new gtx 660 ti worked well for the few days I was testing it on the factory hard drive, after fresh install on ssd I've had crashes in games and on the desktop on the new video card and on the oem gtx 660. I'm not sure if there was an issue with a driver I installed or what but so far installing the ssd on this box has been nothing but a headache.

I've build all my own pcs but I didn't want to have to deal with the headache so I bought this prebuilt but after all of the hoops to get the ssd to work and losing the computer branding, hunting for drivers, things not working like they did before the install, I'd recommend not even bothering. Obviously if we wanted something with much more upgradability we would have built our own or bought an Aurora, this just isn't an easy to f with box.
 

Scottao

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I think I'm going to try cloning my spindle drive over to the ssd. I can always format if it sucks. What problems can I expect to run into with cloning as opposed to a fresh install?

I'm so afraid I'm going to screw this whole thing up :(
 

sway

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I think I'm going to try cloning my spindle drive over to the ssd. I can always format if it sucks. What problems can I expect to run into with cloning as opposed to a fresh install?

I'm so afraid I'm going to screw this whole thing up :(

You run into to many different problems to name off, it's really easy if you've installed fresh Windows before. All the drivers and software are on Dell's site or just use the disc you got. Any ssd upgrade is a big upgrade but since the x51 doesn't have sata 6 you won't see 500mbs plus speeds, I was getting around 230mbs vs my storage drive getting barely 100.

tappin from the Note II
 

Scottao

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You run into to many different problems to name off, it's really easy if you've installed fresh Windows before. All the drivers and software are on Dell's site or just use the disc you got.

tappin from the Note II


About that... I only got one disc. To do a full Windows 8 reinstall, wouldn't I need the product key (which seems to be strangely missing from anything and everything that the computer shipped with)? And it definitely doesn't say Alienware anywhere on it - it's just a Dell recovery disc.

I've never done a fresh Windows install, so I'm completely anxious about that too. This is just a somewhat expensive toy to experiment on without having any prior experience or walkthrough.
 

dnbluprints

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To do a fresh install you need the Windows 8 oem disc from Dell. It doesn't ship included. The product key is embedded in the system bios so when you put the disc in it will automatically verify product key from the bios. The fresh install isn't hard and the drivers are easily accessible from Dell's site, however the alienware specific software is not easily accessible, to install command center for example, you need to select windows 7 64-bit when searching drivers. The Alienware Respawn will not install correctly because the SSD doesn't have the proper recovery information partition. I haven't figured out how to brand windows experience/device page either. Wallpapers can be googled as long as they aren't low res rips or I found them officially from Dell's site by doing a lot of poking around.

EDIT:

You CAN bypass the bio product code but if you have never installed Windows it may be intimidating to do since you need to modify how Windows is installed from within the iso and make a bootable usb or DVD.
 

Scottao

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To do a fresh install you need the Windows 8 oem disc from Dell. It doesn't ship included. The product key is embedded in the system bios so when you put the disc in it will automatically verify product key from the bios. The fresh install isn't hard and the drivers are easily accessible from Dell's site, however the alienware specific software is not easily accessible, to install command center for example, you need to select windows 7 64-bit when searching drivers. The Alienware Respawn will not install correctly because the SSD doesn't have the proper recovery information partition. I haven't figured out how to brand windows experience/device page either. Wallpapers can be googled as long as they aren't low res rips or I found them officially from Dell's site by doing a lot of poking around.

EDIT:

You CAN bypass the bio product code but if you have never installed Windows it may be intimidating to do since you need to modify how Windows is installed from within the iso and make a bootable usb or DVD.


For whatever reason, my system shipped with no Alienware branded discs at all, but a Windows 8 restore dvd. Whatever - it worked out just fine for me. I was able to download all the AW stuff after Windows 8 reinstalled.
 

dnbluprints

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Cool, everything seems fine for me as well after a fresh install on my ssd. I'm just having some problems with my 660 ti. First one reached temps of about 89c until I put an exhaust fan in the cabinet its in. But after some Starcraft 2, I got some artifacts and it would no longer work without crashing immediately. After a RMA the new card works great and hasn't gotten past 60c on max load but I'm having some crashes in some games like Witcher, Deus Ex Human Rev and Assassins Creed 3. I'm wondering if its just these games because I've done a clean install of drivers several times. I can run Tomb Raider in ultra with no problems and several other games. Might be a setting causing me problems. Enabling vsync on Witcher fixed its problems for whatever reason, but Witcher 2 runs great on almost max settings.

I don't know how confident I am in a laptop style power supply running the card, might need to look into an external as it would still fit in my cabinet fine.
 

Scottao

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I haven't had any crashing issues with mine yet, and I've been running SC2 on extreme settings. Though, my card came in the system and I didn't mess with it at all.

As for the external power supply, I honestly think it's a great way to save on case space and internal heat. Then again, I was perfectly fine leaving everything but the ssd alone and using it as the toy it is in my household (the time is divided pretty evenly between me playing Starcraft 2 and my two year old daughter watching Minnie's Bowtique on Disney Junior's website). Clearly, my days of doing major hardware changes are in the past.
 

dnbluprints

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"Clearly, my days of doing major hardware changes are in the past. " - That's what I thought lol... I miss my full tower but I just don't have the time or room for another. I still have that itch to mess with this x51 but I think I'm done with modding it and am just happy with the new card and added ssd. Glad it worked out for ya.
 
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