X51 Modding Questions


New Member
May 9, 2015
Hey everyone!
I've owned my Alienware X51 since early 2012, my temps have been running high and performance is starting to drop ever so slightly as of recently so I'm looking to upgrade. I really enjoy the case and have upgraded my gpu and done a few things already, and want to get some input/advice from others who have modded their X51 before I start purchasing anything else or cutting into the case.

Current Specs:
Alienware X51 Case (R2, I have 330W brick)
Intel i7-3770 Quad Core (3.4ghz, 1155 socket)
16gb 1600 DDR3 RAM (The Dell RAM it ships with)
EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 FTW 2gb (It has two large fans on top, and doesn't seem to direct air out the exhaust as well as the sealed OEM 660 but my temps have been slightly lower with this card so I haven't been terribly concerned)
Factory Motherboard, Power Boards, Fans, Heatsinks and HDD
The DVD/CD Drive has been removed to help air flow, I even removed the vinyl along the opening of the drive so air could freely travel.
I also have speedfan installed and working for custom fan plans already.

The first thing I want to do is replace all the factory fans with new aftermarket ones, as this will improve temps and performance without having to make any large changes at first. I have a 60x60x25 Noctua A Series NF-A6 fan picked out to replace the default intake on the bottom. I have two questions about this though, The Noctua is 5mm longer then the stock fan, short of just eyeballing the distance, does anyone know if this will fit? Second, does everyone recommend switching the intake to an exhaust by reversing the fan? I also have a EVERCOOL FAN-EC4010M12CA 40mm Case Cooling Fan to replace the northbridge fan, as this has been reaching some pretty high temps after 8+ hours of gaming. Afaik this should just be a simple swap, correct me if wrong.

I also plan on installing a Samsung 850 EVO 250gb SSD and removing my old HDD, this should free up even more case room on top of the performance jumps of having a SSD instead of a HDD. My question here is, do you guys recommend doing the 80mm intake fan side panel mod where you create 80mm intake fan there to blow air on the gpu? Seems like a cost effective way to drastically improve airflow and I found a Noctua NF-R8 80mm fan to use, but I'm new to the modding scene so I wanted a few other opinions on this before I cut through my case.

I was also curious if anyone had tried converting the CD port into an intake/exhaust by enlarging the opening and adding a fan? I've been brainstorming ways to improve my airflow and I keep coming back to this.

I'm looking to upgrade my CPU Cooler to the ZALMAN ZNPS8900 Extreme 110m Slim CPU Cooler to help bring my processor temps down and hopefully improve airflow in the case. I picked this Cooling Unit because I know it will fit in the X51 case without me having to mod my side panel to let the cooler hang out. My question is, with a different design of heatsink/fan then the stock Cooling Unit, I'll need to remove the piece that directs the airflow to the exhaust port on the back. From anyone who has done this upgrade, does it still manage to vent out without the bracket to direct the air flow? I've heard of others just replacing the fan and changing out to a better heat sink and keeping the bracket too.

Lastly, I've been really interested in updating my Motherboard to something like the Z77 Stinger or the ASRock E-ITX since they're both a good step up from the dell board, but they would require removing the backplate since MoBo ports don't line up, any tips on how to do this? Any other things I need to know before I try to swap motherboards? Also isn't the Alienware light control handled by the BIOS? Will I lose my case lights if I do this?

So how would my air flow look if I did this:
Swap out HDD for SSD
swap stock CPU cooler for the Zalman Extreme Slim
replace the Northbridge & Intake fans with the Noctua ones, reversing the intake to exhaust
add a 60mm fan to the enlarged CD Drive opening (as an intake),
and finally do the 80mm side panel intake mod.

Would this remedy the X51's poor heat dumping/air flow? The motherboard is a later project, air flow is my main focus currently. Any input/advice/corrections are greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!