Upgrades! :D - Get the Most Bang for Your Buck


Oct 21, 2015
Hi guys!

This is my very first post on the forum so first of all I would like to say Hello to everyone! :)
Few days ago I become a proud owner of AlienWare M14x R2. I always dreamed about such a piece of tech and finally got the funds and also I got it for the right price ;) (2nd hand)
Before anything else I should also add that English isn't my first language so please forgive me.

For the last couple of years I had a Dell Inspiron 1520 - I totally loved the design and that, how well-built was that laptop. I got it fully upgraded but architecture had it's limitations (my 1520 was from Nov 2005) so I finally decided to go with M14xR2 as build seems to be similar at the first glance.

Anyway, the long story short I want to upgrade it as much as possible to enjoy it for another 10years :p
So I would like to ask you guys for all your wisdom and knowledge about this subject to help me out with the right decisions in regards of upgrades. What's worth, what's not.

Subject 1)
The CPU:
Currently running i5-3210 but strangely enough it's running 2.9Ghz - 3.1Ghz for most of the time even without ThrottleStop ON :O
I might only suspect that something has been changed in the BIOS but I don't know it yet so well.
None of the less CPU is rather most important for me at the moment. My hobby is video editing as I'm having a lot of fun doing it. Last month I even started YouTube channel which was a kick for me to finally upgrade my hardware :)
BTW. If you want, please feel free to check my channel, although, it's in Polish but you can get an idea why CPU is something that I crave about

I found the list of supported CPUs:
i7-3520M/3540M (dual core)
i7-3610QM/3630QM (maybe the 3612QM/3632QM/3615QM, but I'm not certain)
i7-3920XM/3940XM (not easy to install)

Today I checked an eBay to look up the price for some of them and also with passmark rating (the more, the better)

3610QM / Passmark rating: 7471 - 130€
3630QM / Passmark rating: 7634 - 165€
3720QM / Passmark rating: 8249 - 190€
3820QM / Passmark rating: 8516 - 400€ ??
3840QM / Passmark rating: 8907 - 270€
3920XM / Passmark rating: 9237 - 350€

Of course, the fastest is the fastest but 350€ it's not nearly as much as I paid for the whole laptop :/
I'm considering 3720QM but I'm curious of your opinion. Is it worth it? What's you reckon?

My 3210m is currently running between 50-75C Sometimes up to 85C which I'm finding a little bit too high. I guess that I should open it up and change thermal paste and if I will get my hands dirty would be great to swap it on the fly.

Subject 2)
Currently I have 8GB installed. Two slots for 4GB. I'm not sure should I upgrade it to 16GB, probably yes but with SSD it's not such a big deal, though ;)
I was looking online and I can get 2x8GB for bout 100€ which can bearable. But which to be looking for. I found one from Corsair i guess but it was 1.5V and seller replied me that it wont be working with M14xR2 as I need 1.3V. Is that true?

Subject 3)
I was able to swap graphic card in my Inspiron 1520 but probably it's not possible here, right?
If not, what can I do? GPU Bios upgrade (i did it also with Inspiron 1520 to change Voltage and Clocks).
If that not either, maybe some nVidia Toolbox or whatever it called to change clock speeds. If so, is it worth it. Wouldn't it run too HOT? I was reading somewhere that this GPU is throttling when it's temp hits 70C which in real life performance would means only that it will slow down faster.
Please share opinions about this one too.

Subject 4)
Here I don't need to change anything but none of the less I can share info what I have :)
- C: primary is 256GB Samsung Evo 840 SSD - Win10, Programs etc
- D: mSata, 32GB Kingston - I got it with the laptop so why not? Currently I'm keeping there some games (It's slower than Evo840)
- E: I'm getting rid of DVD and installing there 2nd HDD Caddy with 1TB HDD as I had in my Insporon although, there was PATA interface and here is SATA for optical drive so I ordered it on eBay from China, in a blink of the eye I should get it to my door step... or about the month time but I can wait.

Subject 5)
I have a feeling that my display isn't great... but happily I'm using it hooked to two 4:3 monitors :p
Anyway, when traveling I have to use it... Colors are washed up and blacks are more... like a gray... is there anything can be done with that?

Subject 6)
I had some issues with Bluetooth under Win7 but after upgrading it to Win10 problem solved itself.
Wifi card probably was upgraded by previous owner to Killer-something a/b/g/n ? Anyway, when at home I have it connected to ethernet

That's all for now. Please if you can participate to my project I would be thrilled! :D
And I hope this thread will be a huge help for other users on this forum.



Oct 21, 2015
Little update.
I upgraded CPU to i7-3720QM and it's running awesome! Way higher performance!
Also, worth to take it apart as mine had some stuck dust between fan and radiator. It wasn't overheating or anything like that but after taking it off now could everclock GPU to 950Mhz and GPU's Memory to 2650 while still having around 50-55C on GPU!
Before it was 69 and throttling down GPU's even down to 550Mhz...