Area 51 R2, Possible to upgrade Motherboard?


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I have a one year old newer alienware area 51 R2 but I would like to buy a new motherboard like the R3 or R4 boards but Dell will not sell me one. Is it possible to buy a msi one and have it work and by this I mean fit and connect right to the led lights and the front IO port controller board? I was looking for someone who has done this perhaps. I just wanted to get the newer boards so I can get a newer Intel cpu and use Optane technology and also M.2 and etc..
Dell says that they will sell a replacement board for my current service tag only. Which is totally stupid. I think they should just sell me one and they would make more money but whatever.
What I could also do is find someone who owns a R3 or R4 and I could use their name and service tag code to buy the new x299 board. I have the x99 and when I bought my alien like 2-3 months after that they started selling the R3 and then shortly after that the R4 and now they just released the second generation triad chassis version with newer hardware like water pumps and water gpu etc. I think its launching the day after this post actually..
If a board does fit and work I would imagine its the MSI boards only but I dont know.. I think they are ALX form factor boards fyi..

P.S. I posted this in the wrong section of this website and didn't get much feedback so I am reposting in correct place. Very sorry..
51 2.jpg
Someone's recent swap, I don't have time to ID the motherboard or CPU, but I think the case lights turn on with it, you can chime into this thread to ask the person

Hi. The FIO AlienF/X board in the hard drives side of the case seems to have a special 'wake-up' protocol with the original X99 MSI motherboard. In the days after X99 aftermarket boards were released, some X99 types would allow the case lights to come on, others found out along the way that their case lights would either not come on or just the side panels would not light up. No one knows why other than a digital incompatibility of some sort with some aftermarket boards. Because the factory X99/X299 alienboards are by MSI, this user tried MSI X299 Gaming Pro in the hopes it would be a good match, but lost case lights.

R4 x299 motherboard part# is HJ5Y7. On page3 of this post, I outline the design change of the 'new' USB2.0 type headers; they're smaller than your R2 standard headers
The Front Panel & USB2.0 headers are both affected. I suspect the Aliens sabotaged this board in order to discourage X299 swaps for reasons I won't go into. To try to integrate this board into your R2 case means you must purchase the newer USB & Front Panel cables, both of which plug into the FIO board. I don't have the part#'s for those cables, it is possible Dell Support / Sales can find them. You would obtain someone's service tag to purchase parts of necessary, usually by finding an online photo of the rear of a case to get the # off it

The R2 case can take an ATX form factor & E-ATX (if you move some of the black adhesive clips out of the way). All motherboards (Asus, MSI, AsRock etc) will fit in there. Naturally all motherboards can be wired up to the case, but whether case lights work is in question

This post link describes swaps from the past. Most users had to buy new longer USB2.0-type cables to help reach, front panel wiring may or may not need to be rewired for the new mthrbrd; when browsing this thread below, the Dell forum changed over recently & all of the links to other forum posts are broken probably, but a post 'title' search can be performed to possibly find the original:

For example, my post on page4 of the link above tried to collect user swap links by title (links are broken); a title search like 'Area 51 R2-Upgrades, Mods, Clarifications' would take u to the original post after a search for it:

Here's a good place to start checking their archive: 51 motherboard swap

I have an R2 case but haven't swapped an X99/299 board into it, R2 motherboard swapping is something I do not consult on anymore. The best advice would be to sell your R2 & buy a new/used R4/R5 to get what u want, or take your chances on an aftermarket board. If the case lights do not light up afterwards u can live with it, or return the board & try a new one. Since I don't know which boards are proven to give case lights back I do not consult on which one to buy, especially after the MSI Gaming Pro x299 was a bust, it shouldn't have been but it was ... ... ...
Good luck ok
News edit 3.14.18 is courtesy of my friend AndrewSi from Down Under:
"I've upgraded two Area 51 R2's to R4's in the last month. The motherboards are a direct swap, most of the cable from the R2 will fit the R4, there are a couple of exceptions. The R2 has 6 SATA HDD cables (well both mine did anyway) only two of these cables are long enough for the R4 upgrade as the motherboard sockets are in a slightly different position.
*The USB1 and PANEL1 cables on the R2 motherboard have 9 pin female (motherboard) to 10 pin female (I/O daughterboard) plugs on the end of the cable - One pin in each motherboard socket for USB1 and PANEL1 are missing, so female plugs have one slot blanked out.
*The USB1 and PANEL1 cables on the R4 motherboard have 10 pin female (motherboard) to 10 pin female (I/O daughterboard) plugs on the end of the cable - No pins are missing on the mobo or I/O board

Not only are the R2 cables not long enough (not even close, need almost 3 times the length, the location has been moved from right side of mobo to very bottom) They are don't have enough slots in the female plug on the end of the cable, so you have to purchase R4 cables or buy aftermarket extension cables to suit

R4 USB1 and PANEL1 cable part numbers: 027J7M 00NX92
A51 R4 Motherboard part number: 0HJ5Y7"

These are the new R3-R6 'mini' JST-type headers / cables / connectors in question:
usb FP 1.png usb fp 2.jpg
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Oh wow thank you so much for this info.. I am very interested to say the least. Your the best. I will head over to this thread. Thanks Oh and yea I think I have read all other threads about this and I already read that guy who tried this and lost his lights from dell's site. I have tried to contact Dell and I got a mod that just said you can do it. lol.. I am waiting on email from Dell tech or sales rep for more specifics into options for upgrading or just buying from them but I doubt I will be able to.

I would pay to get someones service tag of a R4 if I knew I could order the parts to do this.. Just give me your BTC address lol..

I keep looking at Dell Outlet to find a used or refurbished R3 or R4. If and when one is for sale I would buy that then just swap over all relevant gear like my 1080 ti's and ram etc and just keep the rest for spare. I think its the best idea but its just to soon yet.. I even keep searching ebay for the board it self and such. I am not that tech savy as to the rest like FIO and stuff but I know I can figure it out.

In addition to no case lights I see that the eject for DVD optical drive doesnt work either. For some boards I guess. Getting Command Center to install and work is another issue.

I just bought this R2 13 months ago. I just cant believe I missed the boat for the newer boards. I obviously should have waited but it appears I bought mine and 3-6 months later the R3 came and then R4 and so on. I mean like super fast. I just cant believe it.. No way could I sell my pc already. I mean I guess I could but I would never get what I want or paid for it. I mean not even close I would imagine. I think the best thing for me is to wait for a Dell Outlet used R4 or R5
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