Alienware Area-51 Motherboard Swap/AlienFX

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Alienware Area-51 Motherboard Swap/AlienFX

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Hey guys. I have a couple questions for anyone that might know. I have an Area 51, and I want to swap the motherboard out, because honestly, it stinks. LOL. It takes forever to boot, and overclocking on it is terrible. I have an EVGA X58 Classified board, that I tried putting into the system, and it fits perfectly. But I am having issues with command center. I cant control the lights, fans, or the vents. The lights dont come on at all, and the front PCI Fan runs at full blast. Command center app opens up, but changing anything in there results with no change. The AlienFX board is fine, as I tried swapping the original board back in and all was working again.

Anyone know how to fix this issue? Anyone else swap their motherboard out for a different one? I know Dell wont warranty anything but the stock parts, which is why I am keeping the stock board handy. Any and all help is appreciated.

Alienware Aurora R4
Intel Core i7 3930K
16GB 2133MHz Corsair Dominator GT
3GB AMD Radeon HD 7970
SoundBlaster Recon3D Fatal1ty
Killer 2100 NIC
512GB Crucial M4 SSD
19-in-1 Media Card Reader
Blu-ray Disc Combo / DVDRW
W7 Ultimate x64
23" Samsung S23A750D 1080P 120Hz

All Replies
  • m3th0d1c4l

     I have an Area 51, and I want to swap the motherboard out, because honestly, it sucks. LOL. 

     

     I am running a stable 975 EX 4.1 OC on my $730.00 Alienware Motherboard just fine. I have my Dominator GT 1600 OC to 1876 just fine. I am not running your ATI 5870's but I am running 3 GTX 285's OC'd along with 2 intel X25 M's and 4 1TB Seagates in raid and the motherboard handles it all like a dream. It does boot slow I'll give you that one.

     

    Are you running the 4pin cable from the MCB to the 4pin CPU fan header on the new X58? If so and its not working then my guess would be that it also needs the Alienware BIOS to function. What if maybe the Control Center is looking for something in the BIOS and it can't find it so it won't work? I don't know but lets say the Area 51 does not have ESA support then that would be it or if Dell uses thier own kind of ESA and its not finding it in the BIOS anymore.

     Try using some of the other command center versions and see if that helps.

     

    My money is on the BIOS and AlienFX are tied together and you need to return that EVGA board.

     

    You should have researched all this before you bought the board bro. The XPS 630/730 line was the same way. You would not be able to use the AlienFX. You had to download the Nvidia ESA driver to control the lights and fan. You can try and install the Nvidia ESA driver and see what happens. I dont think the Nvidia ESA will work ether but its worth a shot. Get your money back and learn how to OC what you got since you HAD much better to begin with.

    Chris has the specs up for your 975 and a 4.0 OC. It's simple as hell to do. Do that and set your power options to performance which you should have on anyway since you are running SSD's and wait for the BIOS update to speed up the boots.

     

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/nvidia_system_tools_6.03.html

    __________________________________________________________________________________________

    Area-51 Cosmic Black/Windows 8 64-bit Pro/BIOS A11
    Intel Core i7-980x Extreme Edition @ 4.0 ghz/Intel 160gb X-25M SSD Raid-0
    6GB Corsair Dominator GT 1866 DDR3/PNY GeForce GTX 680 SLI/ATI TV Wonder

     

  • I believe it is something tied in with the Motherboard BIOS and the AlienFX board. I know the price of this alienware mobo is $730 bucks, but it is not worth it for the money. In my case, using turbo mode to OC is not a true overclock, and is not even stable. I have run the system at the factory OC level 1, 2 and 3, and they all fail Prime95 within at least an hour or so.

    I was using the 4pin cable, and I tried all the different Command Center versions. I cant use ESA because I dont have any Nvidia Chipset at all, so it wont install. But the problem isnt the software, its the connection between the MIO and mobo. My XPS 730x didnt have this problem with a motherboard swap, so I am sure its the MIO board at fault here.

    You know, they say this machine is fully upgradeable, but it actually isnt. The PSU also has multiple proprietary cables for interior lighting and the MIO board, so upgrading my PSU is also out of the question.

    I did test the Classified board a little further, and I find that putting the PC to sleep , and then waking it up has the mobo detect the MIO board and all works fine. But when I put the PC to sleep again, it shuts the fins as if the PC was being shut down instead of sleeping. But on a cold start, I get nothing. With the Classified board, I got a nice OC of 4.20GHz @ 200BCLK and 21x multi and only 1.3125Vcore 100% stable OCCT and 24 hours of prime95.

    As for now, I swapped in the alienware board and I am waiting for the BIOS update. I might just end up selling this thing and build my own rig. I love the Aesthetics of the system, dont get me wrong there. Its beautiful and has many options, but its not geared towards a true enthusiast. I will wait and see what the new BIOS and MIO firmware updates bring, and see how everything works before I decide to sell this.

    I have the dominator GT 2000Mhz, and they work fine on the mobo, but it wont resume from Sleep, which is an issue for me because I use sleep mode a lot. Mainly because I dont want to wait for this thing to slow boot everytime, and I would like my electric bill to be a bit less rather than have the system on 24/7.

     

    Alienware Aurora R4
    Intel Core i7 3930K
    16GB 2133MHz Corsair Dominator GT
    3GB AMD Radeon HD 7970
    SoundBlaster Recon3D Fatal1ty
    Killer 2100 NIC
    512GB Crucial M4 SSD
    19-in-1 Media Card Reader
    Blu-ray Disc Combo / DVDRW
    W7 Ultimate x64
    23" Samsung S23A750D 1080P 120Hz

  • I know waiting a minute and a half is long for a boot up but it's really a short time. Go pee or something and come back and it will be on the desktop:)

     

    I replaced the PSU in my XPS 730 and 730x systems. What I had to do was take the 10-pin Master Control Board power connector from the old PSU and use it on the new one since no PSU has that Dell connection. They have a wire diagram in the manuel section for it. I am sure you could do the same with the Area 51. Once you power the MCB the lights and fans work just like they always did. The rest of the power connections on the systems are all standard ATX.

    First thing I did when I got my Area-51 was to clock it to 4.2ghz and run Pime95. I went to work and when I got home it was still running. That was with all 4 cores clocked to 4.2ghz .I just don't see the need to run it that fast.

    And I love the turbo mode. In the past you had to run your CPU at full speed all the time but now you can surf the net and not have the system running all out. Start a game and Bam you got your full clock. I think its awesome. I have the balanced and performance power settings set up so in balance it will clock only the CPU back and in performance it runs the full clock all the time.  I keep it on balanced most of the time for the power savings just like i do with my video cards.

    I didn't get the GT 2000 memory because Dell will not support it. They only support up to 1600 so I went with that. Maybe that is your sleep issue? I have read a few other people posting a sleep issue but it works for me. If your system is not stable with the oc 1,2 and 3 settings I would call Dell. Something is not right. Mine is rock solid all the way up to the 4.2 range. Maybe that is also related to the unsupported memory but I dought it. I run at the 1876 just fine.

    __________________________________________________________________________________________

    Area-51 Cosmic Black/Windows 8 64-bit Pro/BIOS A11
    Intel Core i7-980x Extreme Edition @ 4.0 ghz/Intel 160gb X-25M SSD Raid-0
    6GB Corsair Dominator GT 1866 DDR3/PNY GeForce GTX 680 SLI/ATI TV Wonder

     

  • Yea I did that mod with my 730x, but it didnt seem to work. The fans and TEC cooler worked, but lights wouldnt. Its also kind of a PIA mod to do, because you have to tap into the +5VSB wire on the main 24 pin connector. The XPS 730x's MIO board was a little better in terms of functionality with aftermarket boards. I could still use ESA and AlienFX when swapping the mobo too.

    My GT's were running at 1600MHz, and 1333MHz, and still had the same sleep issue. When I disable XMP and run at 1066mhz or 1333mhz, there is no problem at all.

    For me, I like to have it overclocked so the CPU is running at that speed all the time. I tried OC'ing this PC with the BCLK and tuning the voltages myself, but it would not post at all if I modified the BCLK, and even lowered my Multi.

    The boot time is another issue. I dont really mind it that much, but when comparing getting to my desktop in less than 30 seconds with a classified vs 90 - 120 seconds with the stock board is quite a difference to me.

    I might just end up selling this thing and building my own custom rig. I do like this machine, especially the case with the HDD racks, venting and lighting, but I will wait for a BIOS update and see how it goes before I make a decision I guess.

     

    Alienware Aurora R4
    Intel Core i7 3930K
    16GB 2133MHz Corsair Dominator GT
    3GB AMD Radeon HD 7970
    SoundBlaster Recon3D Fatal1ty
    Killer 2100 NIC
    512GB Crucial M4 SSD
    19-in-1 Media Card Reader
    Blu-ray Disc Combo / DVDRW
    W7 Ultimate x64
    23" Samsung S23A750D 1080P 120Hz

  • m3th0d1c4l

    My GT's were running at 1600MHz, and 1333MHz, and still had the same sleep issue. When I disable XMP and run at 1066mhz or 1333mhz, there is no problem at all.

    For me, I like to have it overclocked so the CPU is running at that speed all the time. I tried OC'ing this PC with the BCLK and tuning the voltages myself, but it would not post at all if I modified the BCLK, and even lowered my Multi.

     

     

    My XMP profile works fine but instead of it using the stock  7,7,7,20 timings it uses 8,8,8,24. To run it at the 1600 with stock timings I had to set them myself. Now to do the 1876 OC i had to up my volts. Did you do that? For me I had to use: Memory 1.65v , IOH  1.20v , QPI & Uncore +120mv. Set the GT's yourself if thats how they work. Who cares about the XMP thats for grandma to use not you:P

    If you want it to run at 4.2ghz all the time you need to set the OC 3 so it gives you the volts. The OC 3 volts work just fine for 4.2 OC. Then set the turbo to 32,31,31,31. Go into your control panel/power options and set it to Performance. It will run at 4.2ghz all the time.  Always. You can run CPUz to confim this. Keep in mind Dell wont support that clock. They only support the 4ghz one.

     

    __________________________________________________________________________________________

    Area-51 Cosmic Black/Windows 8 64-bit Pro/BIOS A11
    Intel Core i7-980x Extreme Edition @ 4.0 ghz/Intel 160gb X-25M SSD Raid-0
    6GB Corsair Dominator GT 1866 DDR3/PNY GeForce GTX 680 SLI/ATI TV Wonder

     

  • m3th0d1c4l

    You know, they say this machine is fully upgradeable, but it actually isnt. The PSU also has multiple proprietary cables for interior lighting and the MIO board, so upgrading my PSU is also out of the question.

     

    The cable is proprietary but is the cable can be connect to a Aftermarket Modular power supply?

     

    Edit: Modular Power Supply*

     

  • What settings do you use to get 4.2?  I'm runninng Dell authorized Level #4 which gives me a solid 4.0 Thanks.

    (My configuration provided for questions/comments)

    Alienware Area-51 (not ALX)
    CPU-Intel Core i7 975 @ Level # 4.00GHz
    6GB Multi-Channel Corsair Dominator DDR3 at 1866MHZ (3x2GB DIMM) running at 1866MHZ 9-9-9-24-C1, (no OC)
    Alienware high performance Liquid Cooling
    Windows 7 ultimate x64
    (3)  nVidia GeForce GTX 285 1024MB-triple SLI, (no OC), 3D Mark P33815
    Power supply-1000 watt
    (additional front mounted Visiontek 450W power supply for the third GTX 285)
    (2) - Velociraptor 300MGB Raid 0,
            Crystal Disk-Read-204.0, Write-235.9 (not sure why the write is faster than the read, comments?)
    Dual DVD Drives: 6x Blu-Ray Burner(BD/DVD/CD) + 16x Samsung DVD-R
    SoundBlaster X-FI Titanium sound card (Removed for the third GTX 285 card)
    TactX Keyboard
    Kensington Trackball-K64325
    MS-XBox controller for PC, Logitech Rumplepad
    Creative Turtle Beach gaming headset
    Logitech Z 5500 5.1 speaker setup
    Dell E248WFP monitor
    Dell SP2309W monitor
    Samsung Syncmaster 2233RZ 120hz 3D ready 22' LCD monitor 1680X1050
    Nvidia Stereoscopic 3D kit

     

  • I had no problem running the Memory at 1600MHz+, it was that sleep wouldnt work when I enabled XMP. My timings were also set to 8-8-8-24, but sleep didnt resime, which is why I can use my GT"s.

    The MIO board has a non standard 10 pin cable. No it is not attachable to another PSU. You have to cut it and mod it yourself using the wiring diagram. The PSU is modular, but not what you think. The PSU is modular only for 1 Giant cable, that only fits on Dell PSU's. It wont work with other PSU's. You can fit any ATX PSU you want in the case, but you will lose the MIO board functions, unless you mod the 10 pin cable from the Dell PSU onto the new one.

    I got to 4.2GHz on my classified. Not the Alienware motherboard. On my alienware, i only have 3 levels of OC, Level 1 , 2 and 3. The Level 3 OC gives me 4ghz, but Prime 95 reports instability on 2 cores after half an hour. I get no errors on the Classified. The thing is though with the Level 4 OC (which i dont have), It is only 4GHz on 1 core out of 4 cores. I tried setting the level 1 OC (3.60Ghz) and going into command center and setting it on high performance, and the CPU speed is still not fully at 3.60GHz all the time. It only jumps up under a good amount of load.

    Do you guys have a Level 4 OC option in your BIOS? Because I dont have one.... 

    Alienware Aurora R4
    Intel Core i7 3930K
    16GB 2133MHz Corsair Dominator GT
    3GB AMD Radeon HD 7970
    SoundBlaster Recon3D Fatal1ty
    Killer 2100 NIC
    512GB Crucial M4 SSD
    19-in-1 Media Card Reader
    Blu-ray Disc Combo / DVDRW
    W7 Ultimate x64
    23" Samsung S23A750D 1080P 120Hz

  • I set it manually:

    Bin+4 4.00GHZ 133, Enabled, Auto, 100, Enabled, 31,29,29,29, 180, 200 ... First set the BIN+3 value and it will set the volts or you can do them yourself. The Bin+3 volts are just fine for the 4ghz. If you set the Power Plan(control panel-power options) to High Performance it will stay at the 4ghz. Use Balanced Power Plan if you want it to clock back when not being used

  • No, I completely understand that every chip is different, no doubt. But what I am saying is that I can get a stable 4.20Ghz on the Classified motherboard with and without using turbo mode (BCLK OC), but my Alienware mobo wont do it at 4.2GHz. So in this case, I dont think its the chip. I did have the factory OC of 3.60Ghz, but it isnt stable on the stock board with the level 1 OC. I am not going to bother getting it replaced with a refurb'd CPU, because I can achieve perfect clocks on a different motherboard.

    I actually wonder the same thing about the fans. I have a black piece of thin plastic covering the top venting area next to the Liquid Cooling unit. What is the point of having the vents if they are covering them? LOL.

    And I went inside and took another look at the PSU cables, and there are actually a few proprietary cables in there besides the MIO board connector. The interior system lighting uses proprietary connectors with even wierder connectors than the MIO. If you look inside up at the top of the case in the back next to the radiator, there is a small board that has a power cable on it for powering it. I am pretty sure that is no standard ATX connection. I also checked my +12V rail rating while the system is idle, and the +12V current shows at 11.60V, which is not good. It should be a lot closer to 12, or higher. So upgrading to a better GPU in the future that requires more power is not really possible unless I get a 5.25 supplementary power supply, which I think defeats the purpose of having 1000 watts of power.

    I think I am just going to sell this thing and build my own so I dont have to worry about all the compatibility problems. If they eliminated all the proprietary cables then I wouldnt mind. But I definitely cant even make full use of the system if I upgrade down the road to a better PSU, not to mention MIO compatibility.

    I am glad I didnt buy one of these myself, because frankly, I would be pretty unhappy if I did.

     

    Alienware Aurora R4
    Intel Core i7 3930K
    16GB 2133MHz Corsair Dominator GT
    3GB AMD Radeon HD 7970
    SoundBlaster Recon3D Fatal1ty
    Killer 2100 NIC
    512GB Crucial M4 SSD
    19-in-1 Media Card Reader
    Blu-ray Disc Combo / DVDRW
    W7 Ultimate x64
    23" Samsung S23A750D 1080P 120Hz

  • The power connector going to the Fan Board up top is coming from the Master Control Board. There should be no need to mess with it. The only plug you would change is the 10 pin power connector. Rewire that,plug it into the MCB and then plug in the 4pin PWN connector to the motherboard and thats it. Now there is a another 8pin on the motherboard but that looks standard to me. Is that the one you are talking about? To the left of the CPU? Any PSU will have that connection and if not they sell adapters for them such as 6-8 or 8-6 depending on what you need. You can also buy Dell 3 pin and ATX adapters if you search around.

    This is what I did on my 730. I bought the Corsair 1000w PSU. I took the 10 pin MCB connector from my Dell PSU off. You do not need to cut it or anything you just pop out each wire using something small like a nail. I then took one power cable on the Corsair and did the same exact thing to it. I then pushed the wires into the Dell 10 pin. I had to splice 2 wires. That was the hardest thing I had to do. I fired up the comp and everything worked.

    Only thing on the Area 51 that would need to be changed with a swap is that same 10 pin connector. Thats it. The Mobo,CPU,Sata drives are all standard. The area 51 is really the same system as the XPS 730x on the inside. I have had the 730,730x and now the Area 51 and I have had all 3 apart and sitting in peices on my bench. I have replaced every part on the Area 51 model. Trust me its all running off the MCB. The lights ,fans,all of it. And all you need to do to fire that up is pulg in the one 10pin power connector. Dont worry about the lighting connectors because that is not going to the Mobo or PSU but is going to the MCB. Same with the fans.

    Could be a bad Mobo why not have Dell come replace it? If you didn't pay for the OC you may have to talk your way around it but im sure you could get it changed out. it should run the 3.6 and if not its gotta be a bad Mobo since like you said it clocks fine on the EVGA. That 12v does sound low. It should be closer to 12v. Tell Dell that and have that replaced also. Mine stays at 11.97. Check and see if it jumps up and down any. That is a real killer if it does. The PSU is a 80plus Silver and should be really good on the volts.

    Tell ya what head over to my630i forums and chat with them. These people have all done what you are doing now. They can help you a lot. I know its not a Area 51 but its still the same basic thing you are doing. http://www.my630i.com/

    __________________________________________________________________________________________

    Area-51 Cosmic Black/Windows 8 64-bit Pro/BIOS A11
    Intel Core i7-980x Extreme Edition @ 4.0 ghz/Intel 160gb X-25M SSD Raid-0
    6GB Corsair Dominator GT 1866 DDR3/PNY GeForce GTX 680 SLI/ATI TV Wonder

     

  • Actually, I am one of the Guru's over at my630i. LOL. I have been a part of that forum for a long time, and I know these systems in and out pretty well. I have been modding these things since the XPS 630 too, and that one was by far the easient one. No proprietary connectors, no problems with the MIO Board, everything was just a plug n play setup. But the motherboard on that PC had some serious problems.

    The cable I am referring to is the one on that small piece of PCB up top where the liquid cooler (Corsair H50) is mounted next to, and the wires from the liquid cooling connect to this PCB. If you look at the longer rectangular black connector, that cable is coming from the PSU. I traced the wire and mine is wire-tied to the long 8 pin connector for the mobo. The cables for that PCB are coming from the PSU, not the MIO Board. The sensors are hooked up to the MIO, but this is a proprietary power cable. I can show you a picture if you would like to see it. I know all the other cables are standard ATX. Just these few cables are not. There is also a very short 8 pin at the bottom of my case too, dont really know what the heck I would use a short cable like that for though.

    And yea I have done that 10 Pin mod on the XPS. But I really dont feel like splicing and modding a $250 Corsair PSU just to power an MIO Board. Not worth the headache. I just decided to sell this thing and build a custom rig. Less headache, no compatibility problems (as long as I piece it together right), and fully upgradeable in the future.

     

    Alienware Aurora R4
    Intel Core i7 3930K
    16GB 2133MHz Corsair Dominator GT
    3GB AMD Radeon HD 7970
    SoundBlaster Recon3D Fatal1ty
    Killer 2100 NIC
    512GB Crucial M4 SSD
    19-in-1 Media Card Reader
    Blu-ray Disc Combo / DVDRW
    W7 Ultimate x64
    23" Samsung S23A750D 1080P 120Hz

  • Trace the wire again. It goes from the fan board into the back of the case and down to the top of the PSU. It then runs across the top of the side left panel to the front of the case and then out and over to the MCB. It plugs into the rear right hand side of the MCB not the PSU. The cable will be labled with a black sticker that reads FANCON1

    Open your case and look at the MCB. See the long black connector in the back on the left side? Thats it

    Post a pic because mine is not like that at all.

    __________________________________________________________________________________________

    Area-51 Cosmic Black/Windows 8 64-bit Pro/BIOS A11
    Intel Core i7-980x Extreme Edition @ 4.0 ghz/Intel 160gb X-25M SSD Raid-0
    6GB Corsair Dominator GT 1866 DDR3/PNY GeForce GTX 680 SLI/ATI TV Wonder

     

  • From engineering - The system is designed to look at the Master I/O first and if communicates fine (thru USB) it will work fine. If it doesn’t see the MIO, then it will check the BIOS for identification of an Alienware system. Make sure the customer has the Master I/O plugged in (USB) correctly when he tries installing command center.

    (Liaison for Desktops, Alienware, Monitors)
    #iwork4Dell
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    Drivers
    Order Status

  • So were you ever able to get this going?  I have an EVGA x58 SLI3 and Alienware Area 51 ALX case I would like to move into.