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My experience upgrading an Area-51 R2 to 2020 specs

eg1122

Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
21
I posted this over at the dell community forums but decided to share my experience here as well.

I just wanted to share my experience upgrading the 2014 Alienware Area 51 R2 model. Initially I just wanted to upgrade from an i7-5820k to an i7-6950x, my ram from 2133 to 2666 and to a 20080 super. But I started to think about it more and more, I decided to try to upgrade to a 10th gen i9 instead. Here are my results.

Video Links:

https://vimeo.com/424410274

https://vimeo.com/424410024

As you can see my case LED's are working, but I can't install Alienware Command Center to change them. The effects you see are the ones I had before the motherboard swap. I tried the bios trick to install it but both versions that I found for windows 10 cause the PC to freeze during install. Can't remember if its during cleanup or determining file size or something like that. The only other thing that does not work is the eject button for the DVD rom but that was to be expected. Here is a list of what I swapped out.

Primary Components:

Motherboard: MSI MEG Z490 ACE

CPU: 10th gen i9-10900K (Quick note, this is hard to find in the US. I ordered from UK via overclocker.co.uk. Price is right even with conversion and it comes with a bunch of free goodies such as Fallen Jedi)

CPU Heatsink: Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2 (did not use fans that came with it)

Thermal Paste: Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut Thermal Grease

Memory: Corsair 32 GB (4 x 8 GB) DDR4 4600

GPU: 2 EVGA RTX 2080 Super XC Ultra in SLI

GPU Bridge: EVGA RTX NVLink (3 slot spacing)

PSU: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 G2, 80+ Gold (Had this from before mobo swap)

Case Fans: Corsair ML120 Pro RGB 3 pack with Lightning Node Pro (added an extra 3 fans for a total of 6)

SSD1: Western Digital Black SN750 1TB M.2

SSD2: Western Digital Black SN750 500GB M.2

SSD3: Team Group GX2 2TB Stata III

Miscellaneous items:

NZXT Internal USB Hub (motherboard has 2, needed 3)

Front Panel HDD LED/PLED/Reset/Power/SW/SPK Extension Cable

Noctua 4 Pin Y-Cables (set of 3)

Noctua NF-A8 Chromax Fans (3) to help cool top GPU

120mm & 80mm fan grills

PCI Side-blown Video Card Heatsinks Cooling Fans Mount Rack (3). I modified two of them to mount a Corsair fan right in front of gpus (area where gpu retaining bracket goes). The third one I used to mount the 3 80mm fans on the side of the top gpu. I had to use some type of space to clear the nvlink. I ended up using some small tv mount spacers I had laying around.

Belkin USB-C 4 Port Mini Hub (so that I can have usb-c up front, going to mount it in the space between top handle and front panel)

USB-C Extension Cable for the hub

Todo List:

Cut out side panel to make a window

Full custom water loop (will probably wait for 3080ti to do this)
 

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eg1122

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Apr 24, 2020
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Decided to try to install command center once again. This time it installed and no PC freeze. I now have fully functional lights on a z490 MSI board!
 
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eg1122

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Apr 24, 2020
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Some pictures
 

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Crazyhorse

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Joined
Nov 11, 2020
Messages
2
So, you didn't have any problems with the new mobo fitting in old space? Also, what year did you purchase your Area 51 R2? The one I gave I purchased in Dec 2016...The mother board was designed by AW and built to specs by MSI...
 

eg1122

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Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
21
So, you didn't have any problems with the new mobo fitting in old space? Also, what year did you purchase your Area 51 R2? The one I gave I purchased in Dec 2016...The mother board was designed by AW and built to specs by MSI...
No problem at all. The original mobo is atx and the the tower will accept other atx boards. I purchased it towards the end of 2015. Motherboard was also designed by Alienware and built by MSI.
 

Crazyhorse

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Joined
Nov 11, 2020
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2
Thank you. I was actually mistaken, I bought in Dec 2015...Up until i found your thread and these forums, I thought I was stuck. When I purchased this comp, I did it because AW/Dell claimed the thing would be fully upgradable which turned out to be poop. In their forums I got nothing but grief with people telling me if I tried to up grade it I might as well buy a new pc...The biggest issue is the mobo as it is the heart of the pc and with out being able to swap it out, you're pretty much dead in the water. So again ty. I'm going to go with the MSI Z490 with the i9 10900K cpu and TRY to get a hold of an RTX 3000 series card with out breaking my piggy bank...I really like the case and being able to keep it makes me happy...Cheers!
 

eg1122

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Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
21
Yeah I'm waiting for my 3090 for my system. I have a spare evga 3070 if you interested. I bought it for my son's pc, but I got a hold of the 3090 and decided to sell it and give my son my 2080.
 

eg1122

Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
21
Thank you. I was actually mistaken, I bought in Dec 2015...Up until i found your thread and these forums, I thought I was stuck. When I purchased this comp, I did it because AW/Dell claimed the thing would be fully upgradable which turned out to be poop. In their forums I got nothing but grief with people telling me if I tried to up grade it I might as well buy a new pc...The biggest issue is the mobo as it is the heart of the pc and with out being able to swap it out, you're pretty much dead in the water. So again ty. I'm going to go with the MSI Z490 with the i9 10900K cpu and TRY to get a hold of an RTX 3000 series card with out breaking my piggy bank...I really like the case and being able to keep it makes me happy...Cheers!
Forgot to quote you on the post above
 

Chronox2

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
7
First time posting here. I just bought a r51 r2 for $250 and I'm thinking of getting a msi z490 board being reading and I will try to make a video of the process to make it easier for others.

Eg1122 Gracias! I bumped on some of your work and explanations and make things easy to understand.
 

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Chronox2

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Feb 6, 2020
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I am curious about something. I got at home a aurora R7 water cooled with 64gb 3000mhz ram and a i7 9800 with a 1080ti. My plans were to get a r9 or a r11 motherboard and swap it, but got the luck to buy the area 51 with a 1500w PSU and i7 5820k which all it needs is ram, ssd and a video card (all that i got on the other) my question or what is in my head right now.

The aurora r11 comes with water cooling for the processor, which is the same one as the r7 and mostlikely the same as the area 51 r2, is one radiator and fan that can cool down the new i9-10900kf so I should be good to run the aurora r7 radiator and fan to perform better than the r51 one or am I missing something? New vs old? Blades? Pump or something is better?
 

Chronox2

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Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
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20201222_141217.jpgthis is my Aurora r7 with 64gb of ram running great. I always buy "used" rams from Amazon most I paid for one stick was like $62 so 3 of them were from $45 to $50 so under $200 for something that Dell charge $900. I might used this R7 board for testing my skills on swapping a board on to the A51 case; also getting a Z490 board just to venture with out having a solid and successful swap will be kind of on the edge for me, as I've never done this before. I might work with what I've got, as I dont want to spend money on a new motherboard and get a new processor and I messed up somewhere lol.

I'll start a thread here and on Facebook alienware page when I start gathering the parts for this.

Merry Xmas and happy new year guys!
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
8
I posted in a different thread but found this one and need help understanding how to get the swap working. I remember reading the r5 Area 51 has a longer front io connector, is that true?
but really I just need help! Lol I’m sweating right now because I’ve already started to order all the parts. If there’s a step by step or even someone helping me one on one? I’d greatly appreciate it thanks in advance
 

Cass-Olé

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
241
R5 owners swapping to aftrmrkt mthrbd, it very well could be a matter of longer cables, it depends on the mthrbrd u buy since most have a unique layout where basic audio/USB/FrontPanel headers locate at. The below info might help

HJ5Y7 USB 27J7M 0NX92.jpg HJ5Y7 N4R4N 27J7M 0NX92.jpg
*Above: 'proprietary' Front Panel & USB headers + cable part#'s for 51 R3 R4
*R5/R6/R7 have same headers but may or may not have same cable part #'s
*Those proprietary cables lead directly to the FIO board (found in hard drive bay area, see pic later below)

Note: When swapping an aftrmrkt mthrbrd (Asus MSI AsRock Gigabyte etc) into R3 R4 R5 R6 R7, u can not use the proprietary Front Panel & USB cables shipped in your case, u must buy standard internal Front Panel / USB cables instead
R5 R6 R7 3FFYN FIO.jpg
*Above: R5-R7 FIO board (3FFYN) … the Front Panel, USB2.0 headers & Front Panel Pinout are shown center
*FrtPnl ('rainbow') header is standard MSI layout (DuPont 5x5 10pin) & most mthrbrd makers are adopting this layout
*When swapping, find your mthrbrd Manual (paper or PDF), compare it to pic above & it will either be plug & play or u will need to mod your new FrtPnl cable to it so that new mthrbrd is compatible relative to the PowerSW/HDD LED/PWR LED pins
*Note the FrtPnl & USB headers are slightly different relative to pin 9 & 10 (a pin is either there or absent) … true FrtPnl cables can be hard to find & some users simply buy a double-ended USB2.0 cable as a substitute & then mod it by using a needle to poke a hole into the USB connector slot9 so it will fit over pin9 FrtPnl header … otherwise, purchase a true FrtPnl cable

I haven't swapped into the R5-R7 case before nor do I have time to shop for people's parts, I assume standard Front Panel & USB cables in the 22" - 28" range will suffice. Since the R2 models already use (short) industry standard USB/FrtPnl cables & they tend to need longer ones as would an R3-R7 owner, start here 51 R2 mthrbrd replacement extensions

Someone else will have to help from here, so good luck

____________________
Below is basic info intended for a stock 51 R2 x99 upgrade to the R3-R7 x299 or AMD TRipper alienboards, for anyone interested
107826193_600853917533067_5516031732607825985_n.jpg
*Above: an R2 x99 owner swapped in an R4 x299 board, & used a basic 2pin (DuPont) between mthrbrd & FIO for power on/off
*Note: R5 R6 R7 owners do not do this, since above is the stock alien mthrbrd & proprietary headers
*R2 owners doing stock x99-to-x299 need to purchase the 27J7M / 0NX92 cables (seen below) from Dell Spare Parts
geforce-gtx1080ti-koteigu.jpg
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
8
R5 owners swapping to aftrmrkt mthrbd, it very well could be a matter of longer cables, it depends on the mthrbrd u buy since most have a unique layout where basic audio/USB/FrontPanel headers locate at. The below info might help

View attachment 3634 View attachment 3635
*Above: 'proprietary' Front Panel & USB headers + cable part#'s for 51 R3 R4
*R5/R6/R7 have same headers but may or may not have same cable part #'s
*Those proprietary cables lead directly to the FIO board (found in hard drive bay area, see pic later below)

Note: When swapping an aftrmrkt mthrbrd (Asus MSI AsRock Gigabyte etc) into R3 R4 R5 R6 R7, u can not use the proprietary Front Panel & USB cables shipped in your case, u must buy standard internal Front Panel / USB cables instead
View attachment 3637
*Above: R5-R7 FIO board (3FFYN) … the Front Panel, USB2.0 headers & Front Panel Pinout are shown center
*FrtPnl ('rainbow') header is standard MSI layout (DuPont 5x5 10pin) & most mthrbrd makers are adopting this layout
*When swapping, find your mthrbrd Manual (paper or PDF), compare it to pic above & it will either be plug & play or u will need to mod your new FrtPnl cable to it so that new mthrbrd is compatible relative to the PowerSW/HDD LED/PWR LED pins
*Note the FrtPnl & USB headers are slightly different relative to pin 9 & 10 (a pin is either there or absent) … true FrtPnl cables can be hard to find & some users simply buy a double-ended USB2.0 cable as a substitute & then mod it by using a needle to poke a hole into the USB connector slot9 so it will fit over pin9 FrtPnl header … otherwise, purchase a true FrtPnl cable

I haven't swapped into the R5-R7 case before nor do I have time to shop for people's parts, I assume standard Front Panel & USB cables in the 22" - 28" range will suffice. Since the R2 models already use (short) industry standard USB/FrtPnl cables & they tend to need longer ones as would an R3-R7 owner, start here 51 R2 mthrbrd replacement extensions

Someone else will have to help from here, so good luck

____________________
Below is basic info intended for a stock 51 R2 x99 upgrade to the R3-R7 x299 or AMD TRipper alienboards, for anyone interested
View attachment 3638
*Above: an R2 x99 owner swapped in an R4 x299 board, & used a basic 2pin (DuPont) between mthrbrd & FIO for power on/off
*Note: R5 R6 R7 owners do not do this, since above is the stock alien mthrbrd & proprietary headers
*R2 owners doing stock x99-to-x299 need to purchase the 27J7M / 0NX92 cables (seen below) from Dell Spare Parts
View attachment 3639
thank you so much for this! i totally understand and will go another route.
 

Domiratus

Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2020
Messages
22
Hi There, I was wondering if anyone can help me.

I have an empty case and I bought this for it :

CPUIntel Core i9-10900 Socket 1200 Processor
CaseDell Alienware Area 51 r2
RAM
Corsair 163301 Vengeance LPX 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4 3200 MHz C16 XMP 2.0 High Performance Desktop Memory Kit, Black
Capture Card ( Internal )
Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 PCIe Capture Card, 4K 60 HDR10 Capture
SSDSamsung 860 EVO 1 TB SATA 2.5 Inch Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) (MZ-76E1T0)
HHD (1)Seagate BarraCuda 8TB Desktop Hard Drive 3.5" SATA III 6GB's 5400RPM 256MB Cache
MotherboardMSI MEG Z490 ACE Motherboard ATX, LGA1200, DDR4, Dual LAN, 802.11ax WiFi 6 + Bluetooth 5.1, USB 3.2 Gen2, Lightning USB 20G, Type C, M.2, RGB Mystic L
Cooler
Corsair CW-9060024-WW Hydro Series H80i V2 120 mm High Performance All-In-One Liquid CPU Cooler - Black
Graphics Card1 x NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
GDDR6
Power SupplyCORSAIR - RM850x Modular ATX PSU - 850 W


From my knowledge, these are all compatible. Please let me know if I would have any problem fitting this into the dell Dell Alienware Area 51 r2 Case?

Especially the power supply. I spoke with someone they say you need a slimline power supply?

Also does this mother board support the lights?

Sorry if these are dump questions, this is the first PC I have ever built so everything is a bit daunting.

Best
 

Cass-Olé

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
241
I've owned an R2 case & I'd say it'll all fit, yes, u may want to look into an M.2 SSD sooner or later

Slimline PSU?, noooooo, only install a standard ATX (Corsair/EVGA/Seasonic etc), below is an RM series like u picked out
20200528_080212.jpg
Member eg1122 started a Motherboard Swap Database, u might have luck w/MSI MEG, you'd have to install it 1st, lights will either work, partially work (generally the side panels fail to light up), or not work at all. If your lights work 100%, post into eg1122 thread so yours can get in the database

I see u also posted into How To Install CmndCntr on non-alienboard

I've heard some people say that (some version of) CmndCntr directly installed without issue (no install block), I've heard others say they experienced a block which is what the how-to does, unblocks it. So, download a CmndCntr version & try to install it & if u get a block then follow page1 instructions & pick up the R2 reg file on page 3 & retry install

One tip is from Member Orlov who said "I turned off all compatability with bios in uefi settings -CSM included- installed cmndcntr with no issues, no reggedit patch required using 4.0.59"

*the above tip might work to install the latest/last 4.8.25 w.out a block, if not, see reg-edit trick in the how-to

For wiring the front panel (on-off/HDD LED/ PWR LED etc), see page 4 & R2 mthrbrd cable extensions
ext.JPG
Examples 1 2 3
 
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Domiratus

Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2020
Messages
22
Hi Cass-Olé,
I've owned an R2 case & I'd say it'll all fit, yes, u may want to look into an M.2 SSD sooner or later

Slimline PSU?, noooooo, only install a standard ATX (Corsair/EVGA/Seasonic etc), below is an RM series like u picked out
View attachment 3640
Member eg1122 started a Motherboard Swap Database, u might have luck w/MSI MEG, you'd have to install it 1st, lights will either work, partially work (generally the side panels fail to light up), or not work at all. If your lights work 100%, post into eg1122 thread so yours can get in the database

I see u also posted into How To Install CmndCntr on non-alienboard

I've heard some people say that (some version of) CmndCntr directly installed without issue (no install block), I've heard others say they experienced a block which is what the how-to does, unblocks it. So, download a CmndCntr version & try to install it & if u get a block then follow page1 instructions & pick up the R2 reg file on page 3 & retry install

One tip is from Member Orlov who said "I turned off all compatability with bios in uefi settings -CSM included- installed cmndcntr with no issues, no reggedit patch required using 4.0.59"

*the above tip might work to install the latest/last 4.8.25 w.out a block, if not, see reg-edit trick in the how-to

For wiring the front panel (on-off/HDD LED/ PWR LED etc), see page 4 & R2 mthrbrd cable extensions
View attachment 3641
Examples 1 2 3
Thank you for your amazing comments on all of this.

Seriously you have been so so so Helpful, I can not thank you enough.

I will look into all of this in depth and get back to you on my findings.

Best

Domiratus
 
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