2010 model Alienware Area-51 ALX RAM upgrade 12GB --> 24 GB

Mar 21, 2018
4
0
#1
Hello,

I've had an older model Alienware Area-51 ALX (model year 2010) that I have been using mostly for graphics applications, requiring a lot of memory to render. It originally came with 12 GB installed (3 RAM slots) = 3X 4GB DIMM3. I got a good deal (I think on 3x 8GB DIMM3 RAM and have installed them in the slots, correctly so far as I can tell, but the system still indicates that there is 12GB total memory.

This cannot be due to one or more sticks not being recognized (then it would indicate 8GB or 16GB), so I am wondering if there is a BIOS or CMOS reset required (looking at some FAQs about this problem generally). Is there a particular reset or command prompt that I could use which works, the BIOS is Alienware A10, 11/9/2010?
 
Jan 9, 2013
100
25
Virginia
#2
When system is off, I'd remove two of them, begin with one stick > power up / check Bios / is 8Gb registered > if so, shutdown / install stick 2 / power up / is 16Gb registered > if so, shutdown, do same for stick three

If 16Gb was not registered, you need to reinsert stick up to a half dozen times to try get it to register, getting them to click in just right can be hit or miss ... the same applies for stick 3 / 24Gb

If you want to, if that 1st stick registers as 8Gb, stick 2 doesn't, sure, remove cmos battery for 5minutes or use the cmos jumper to clear Bios then retry, let me know what happened. Because 24Gb was never validated, I was part of an old post that claimed 24Gb was ok, I will dig that up and post any relevant info as an edit here shortly, as well as a link to Bios A11, brb

Historical Driver Suite List is here > http://downloads.dell.com/published/pages/alienware-area51.html

The assumption is that 1600MHz may be the max speed but u can try 1866 of course. If no good, bump back down to 1600. This forum below changed recently, & any old links embedded in posts no longer work, therefore it is very hard to link to old posts, so when u click on it below and read, some of the referenced links will be dead which means I can't know what they were about. Anyways, here's 24Gb @1600 and some of the Bios settings > Alienware Area-51 ALX Intel A10 XMP profile doesn't work with DDR3 1600 MHz > https://www.dell.com/community/Alie...A10-XMP-profile-doesn-t-work-with/m-p/5574271
 
Last edited:
Mar 21, 2018
4
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#3
Thanks! I will try what you suggest, although due to other work commitments I might not find time to do all that (including messing with battery removal and BIOS clearing) for another day or so. Would definitely appreciate any links to old threads about this model regarding RAM upgrades. I did buy it used but was told the MB could take up to 24Gb, I guess I should not be surprised that this is not a straightforward procedure.
 
Jan 9, 2013
100
25
Virginia
#4
the 1st post I typed into this thread describes bios settings you play with to run XMP On/off then basic manual settings for memory when XMP is off > Setting up my Ram in a Area 51 > https://www.dell.com/community/Alienware-General/Setting-up-my-Ram-in-a-Area-51-machine/m-p/5592887

If the CMOS battery is removed we might expect the ddr3 to run at its base clock of 1333 or 1066 etc, then enable XMP to get the speed higher & reboot; if no boot, turn off XMP then read about the overvoltage / overclocking menus in bios, adjust memory multiplier/ratios etc & bump up uncore volts +200mv
 

mpd

Member
Mar 25, 2018
8
0
#5
there may be problems with the OEM Dell/Alienware memory modules not playing nice with industry-standard DIMMs. Mine is a R5 Area-51 and it has problems...
 
Mar 21, 2018
4
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#6
Hi, it's been a few weeks since I started this thread, and basically, I ended up getting an experienced local tech to figure it out. The way to get this old system up to speed is to reinstall everything, and update the BIOS to A11 from A10. That way the motherboard will recognize up to 8GB RAM per slot. Turned out that with the generic RAM I had got, one of the sticks was defective, so I returned it and eagerly await a third 8GB module that works, otherwise I currently have 16GB up and running with one empty slot, system should hopefully be firing on all three with 24GB soon, will post when it's a done deal. Not sure who manufactured these, but I was reminded that the safer bet is using either OEM DELL or Kingston RAM when attempting this. In any case, my system is somewhat faster now than it was before.
 

mpd

Member
Mar 25, 2018
8
0
#7
In my experience and opinion, it is best to avoid Dell OEM ram, which is Micron, because, in my case, it is not compatible with industry-standard memory modules.

I am still working on solving a problem with a Dell accessories RAM upgrade to my OEM sticks as sold with the original machine. I talked to Micron/Crucial about their memory as supplied to Dell, and they told me, in the most polite sort of way, that the OEM Dell memory modules are "...not high performance...".

It's your money, but I am going to replace my OEM 'stuff' with real memory modules.
 

mpd

Member
Mar 25, 2018
8
0
#9
...and I've had Alienware tech support tell me that the MB can't take 3 x 8Gb sticks, rather it must have 2 x 8Gb and 1 x 16Gb sticks, which is, to put it politely, just bollocks.

The final accounting is that Dell OEM memory is just bottom-of-the-line crap, and if you want memory that will over-clock, as all Alienwares are guaranteed to do, the they must all have XMP profiles built into them, which the Dell crap does not.

I've got an upcoming court date to sort this all out with a local judge and Dell, so wish me good luck, cause I'm going to need it (I live in Texas).
 
Mar 21, 2018
4
0
#10
My machine is now working just fine with 3 x 8Gb memory sticks. To be clear, this is an older Alienware Area 51 with three slots in the motherboard, and a BIOS update from the A10 to A11 version was required for the system to recognize more than 12Gb. This machine is nearly twice as old as my 4.5 yo who often monopolizes it for his YouTube fixation. Yikes