Alienware Area-51 ALX

JWA

New Member
Feb 1, 2021
2
0
Australia
I have an Alienware Area 51 ALX (specs below) and I'm looking for advice on how to upgrade to a modern system whist still keeping the case and its features as well as compatibility intact such as the fins at the top, command center, as well as the lighting and motorized front bay door that goes up and down upon pressing the alien head. After looking around for a while on various forums I have found that it's quite complicated and temperamental especially within regards to the lighting as some users have reported the lighting doesn't work on newer motherboards?

For upgrades, I just want advice on what AM4 motherboard I should buy with the best chance of compatibility as well as stability as well as connections for the daughterboard that controls the active venting and lighting. I assume selecting the right motherboard and connecting it all up is the most time consuming and difficult part whilst upgrading this specific desktop? I have no idea what I would need to start connecting everything all up if I need converters, additional wiring etc.

Any advice is truly appreciated as I'm desperate to keep this case alive and well, thanks.

Current specs:
Alienware Area 51 ALX (With motorized front bay door, Active venting fins)
Nvidia GTX 980 TI
Intel i7 975 @3.33ghz
Ram = 16GB
 

Cass-Olé

Member
Jan 9, 2013
267
83
Virginia
regards to the lighting as some users have reported the lighting doesn't work on newer motherboards?
That's with newer R2-R7 models, for R1 just pick a motherboard out & put it in, follow page1 How to Install Command Center for a Non-Alienware Motherboard & install CmndCntr version 2.8.11

The factory case harness has all the cables & connectors needed (mthrbrd 24pin / CPU 8pin / Video / SATA-Molex etc)

After Win10 install, check if top vents close or not, if not see: Area-51 R1 Fix Top Vents Not Closing w/ Windows 10

View attachment 3665
Old mthrbrd has x3 USB2.0 headers, most new motherboards have two; for AlienF/X MIO daughterboard to work, find cable labeled USB_3 & plug it into a 2.0 header, find USB_2 & plug it in, that will allow two of the top external 2.0 ports to work & you lose one port since USB_1 may not have a header to plug into, if so you can look into an internal USB hub (NZXT or similar hubs)

View attachment 3666
The front panel pinout wiring (PWR SW / PWR LED / HDD LED) for original mthrbrd is above; after u buy a new mthrbrd, open the owner manual (book, or online PDF) & compare it to pic above, it will either be plug n play or you'll need to back out pins & move them, it depends on mthrbrd u buy & what its pinout turns out to be

Click these posts & find/open/save/download the attached PDF for something that approximates a how-to swap in a mthrbd
*Alienware Area 51 (R1) Skylake Processor / Motherboard / EVGA 1600 P2 Power Supply Swap
*Area-51 ALX: the Alien Transplant

You can re-use the original AIO liquid cooler, but it will have the original socket 1366 retention ring; for the new mthrbrd, find out its socket type & buy a retention kit for it from Asetek/Amazon. If you install an aftermarket cooler (Corsair H100i / 80i or similar) it would have a retention ring in the box. New AMD mthrbrds need an AM4 ring, Intel Z490/590 get 1200/115x … get a good thermal paste, ArcticSilver5 minimum, Phobya nanogrease, thermal grizzly etc for better pastes (--> avoid liquid metals)

Look for / research good DDR4 memory kits, 3200MHz or faster, G.Skil / Kingston /Corsair / Crucial etc

For faster USB3.0, look for something to put in the DVD drive bay area or the floppy bay (5.25", 3.5")

I cant recommend a mthrbrd, but try to spend at least $200 on one, look for it to have m.2 NVME SSD support, work slow getting things in & out … this post & the PDFs should get you started
 

JWA

New Member
Feb 1, 2021
2
0
Australia
That's with newer R2-R7 models, for R1 just pick a motherboard out & put it in, follow page1 How to Install Command Center for a Non-Alienware Motherboard & install CmndCntr version 2.8.11

The factory case harness has all the cables & connectors needed (mthrbrd 24pin / CPU 8pin / Video / SATA-Molex etc)

After Win10 install, check if top vents close or not, if not see: Area-51 R1 Fix Top Vents Not Closing w/ Windows 10

View attachment 3665
Old mthrbrd has x3 USB2.0 headers, most new motherboards have two; for AlienF/X MIO daughterboard to work, find cable labeled USB_3 & plug it into a 2.0 header, find USB_2 & plug it in, that will allow two of the top external 2.0 ports to work & you lose one port since USB_1 may not have a header to plug into, if so you can look into an internal USB hub (NZXT or similar hubs)

View attachment 3666
The front panel pinout wiring (PWR SW / PWR LED / HDD LED) for original mthrbrd is above; after u buy a new mthrbrd, open the owner manual (book, or online PDF) & compare it to pic above, it will either be plug n play or you'll need to back out pins & move them, it depends on mthrbrd u buy & what its pinout turns out to be

Click these posts & find/open/save/download the attached PDF for something that approximates a how-to swap in a mthrbd
*Alienware Area 51 (R1) Skylake Processor / Motherboard / EVGA 1600 P2 Power Supply Swap
*Area-51 ALX: the Alien Transplant

You can re-use the original AIO liquid cooler, but it will have the original socket 1366 retention ring; for the new mthrbrd, find out its socket type & buy a retention kit for it from Asetek/Amazon. If you install an aftermarket cooler (Corsair H100i / 80i or similar) it would have a retention ring in the box. New AMD mthrbrds need an AM4 ring, Intel Z490/590 get 1200/115x … get a good thermal paste, ArcticSilver5 minimum, Phobya nanogrease, thermal grizzly etc for better pastes (--> avoid liquid metals)

Look for / research good DDR4 memory kits, 3200MHz or faster, G.Skil / Kingston /Corsair / Crucial etc

For faster USB3.0, look for something to put in the DVD drive bay area or the floppy bay (5.25", 3.5")

I cant recommend a mthrbrd, but try to spend at least $200 on one, look for it to have m.2 NVME SSD support, work slow getting things in & out … this post & the PDFs should get you started

Thanks so much for this, I appreciate it a bunch - I had zero ideas where to even start with this project at first and I left it for months and you've addressed all my concerns in under 3 minutes of reading time. Cheers mate.