Problems with Alienware Freezing
By Joseph Walker
Known for their gaming capabilities, Alienware computers come standard with the latest processors and graphics cards. Due to the quality of Alienware hardware, software problems are the most likely cause of computer freezes. However, some noteworthy hardware issues with Alienware computers also can freeze your system.
At least 20 individual processes run on an Alienware PC at any time, including your open applications, as well as invisible processes of Windows or security software. Sometimes, one of these processes malfunctions and consumes all the processor's resources.
To check for rogue processes, you open Task Manager by pressing "CTRL," "ALT" and "DEL" on your keyboard. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, you'll need to click on "Start Task Manager" on the screen that appears. After you click on the Task Manager's "Processes" tab, if any of the processes show 100, right-clicking on that process and choosing to end it should bring your computer back to life.
Viruses and Malware
Viruses and other malware can freeze any PC, but your Windows operating system's Safe Mode helps you resolve such problems. Tapping F8 after restarting your computer gives you the option to enter Safe Mode. (You may have to restart multiple times before your timing is right.) Running a virus or security scan in Safe Mode increases your chances of removing the threat. You can boot normally into Windows after the scan ends.
Damaged Hard Drive
According to a November 2010 report by Anthony Kennedy, a senior technician at PC Guru, hard drives rank as an Alienware machine's weakest hardware link. A failed hard drive renders your computer unbootable, but a damaged drive freezes your computer when you try to access files on its damaged sectors.
In Windows Vista and Windows 7, you can test your hard drive by clicking on the "Start" button and typing "Disk Defragmenter" into the search box. This utility attempts to repair any errors it encounters. Alienware computers also come with a BIOS hard drive diagnostic, accessible by pressing F2 after restarting.
Powerful CPUs and video cards can lead to thermal management problems in any computer. Once the CPU reaches a certain temperature, it will turn off and cause the computer to freeze. An overheated Alienware laptop feels uncomfortably warm to the touch. If your desktop PC overheats, you'll feel hot air blowing from the case fans.
You can check your Alienware's temperature by tapping F2 at the BIOS splash screen on boot. A healthy CPU at boot-up reaches approximately 40 Celsius/104 degrees Fahrenheit. To help mitigate heat buildup inside your Alienware PC, it should stay in a well-ventilated area, not sitting upon fabric or other heat-trapping material.
Malfunctioning Power Supply
In December 2010, Bit-Tech's Gareth Halfacree reported about a serious problem with the Alienware M17x when placed under high power demand. To resolve a power supply issue, you must replace it. Alienware notebooks use an external power adapter; to replace a desktop computer's power supply, you must remove the computer case's side panel and unplug the power supply from the devices to which it's connected, before unscrewing it. Alienware power supplies have a white or silver sticker that notes the power supply's wattage in large numbers, followed by a capital "W." You'll need to know this number when buying a replacement power supply.
Update Your Drivers
Your Alienware system has a piece of software known as a device driver for each hardware component inside it. Some early versions of drivers have bugs that can cause a computer freeze. Alienware regularly releases new drivers on the "Drivers & Downloads" section of its support website. Dell's website hosts Alienware drivers for systems purchased after September 2009.
Joseph Walker began his writing career in 2001 as a copy editor for MBNA America Bank. Since then he has written for several publications, including "BusinessWeek," "Dollars and Sense" and "Computerworld." Walker holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from the University of San Diego.