Top critical review
It was okay, but I would not recommend it due to its short life span and cost.
on September 1, 2015
7970m died in two years. I kept this computer totally ventilated at all times and used a Cooler Master from day one (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003ZMF27G/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).
I want to blast this computer, but essentially the hardware (sans the card) seemed to do reasonably well. My ac adapter cord broke and I had to buy a generic one, but that was because I did travel quite often with the computer. The audio driver and sound blaster software often crashed, as some other reviewers have mentioned. This resulted in me having to restart the computer.
Conflicts between Dell, Windows, and AMD drivers occurred sometimes, if I mistakenly allowed updates not knowing one involved graphics drivers. Dell's automatic updates, including one in which Dell's Support Assist made our CPU fans run 100% for days left a bad taste in my mouth. No way would I buy another Alienware computer. For what you pay, you are likely to find a better deal with equivalent hardware elsewhere.
I did manage to play a decent amount of games on it, but the cost to longevity (or lack thereof) ratio was not good enough to merit the price tag. To have taken such good care of the computer, and to have paid such a hefty price tag, I find it nearly entirely unacceptable that this GPU would die at two years. But this is my first (and presumably last) gaming laptop, so perhaps this isn't unusual.
In the end, after deeming the 7970m card a loss, I opened up the computer and pulled out the card. There was basically no dust in the computer, but two of the heat pads on the card appeared to be damaged and also one was out of place. It looks like this was done during the card installation, probably back at the Dell facility, when the computer was assembled. I was the only owner and never opened or removed the card until after it became in-operational. Some fellow M17xR4 owners concluded on notebook review that the small damage and misalignment of the heat pads may have caused some irregular heating to the card which I could not detect.
Luckily I bought an extended warranty from Square Trade for this laptop and they are refunding my purchase.
I spent many, many, many hours troubleshooting this laptop, but when it ran (correctly), it ran really well. No way would I go through the hassle again though, not for the ridiculous amount of money that these computers cost.