Alienware M17x R1 - C2D T9600 - 2 x GTX280M (SLI) - 8GB DDR3 1333 - 2 x 256GB SSD (alive )
Dell XPS M1730 - C2D T9300 - 2 x 8800M GTX (SLI) - 4GB DDR2 677 - 2 x 256GB 7200RPM (raid 0) (dead )
I would personally not like to have my Fans on as they will wear out quickly.
1) maintenance: depending on how dusty the enviroment is around your PC u should be cleaning out your Fans with compressed air every 3 to 6 months.
2) buy a laptop cooling pad with fans, some say fans that blow air up into the laptop is better but others argue the cooling pad fans should draw the air away from the bottom of the laptop. You will need to experiment, also try to align the cooling pads fans with the vents on your laptop.
Though I agree running the fans all the time may be detremental to their long term health, its probably far cheaper for Dell to replace a failing fan, even a laptop GPU fan, than having to replace the whole MXM module when it fails.
I replaced the fan on my old Alienware 7700 (go6800) and it was actually fairly painless.
Also, my going on 4 year Alienware had a BIOS update that added the fn-F2 key to force the fans on and that worked brilliantly while gaming.
OK, so why not change the fan yourself? Could save you alot of time and aggrevation as it seems like you know what you doing... :smileyhappy:
EDIT: Question, why did you buy a Dell after Alienware?