Alienware 17 possible upgrades... Help?

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by mExIaZtEc, Dec 17, 2020.

  1. mExIaZtEc

    mExIaZtEc Newbie

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    I've had this laptop for a few good years now, instead of buying new, I want to upgrade this one...

    Specs:
    17 inch 1600x900 ***
    R9-M290X(HD8970M) ***
    8GB Ram **
    i7-4710mq **
    80GB Samsung SSD *
    1TB HDD (5400rpm) **

    * = Not Upgrading
    ** = Possible Upgrade
    *** = A MUST

    Why upgrade instead of getting a new laptop? ... Covid.. ATM I'm not interested in spending 1k+ on a new laptop.. so an upgrade it is. The laptop is STOCK and has never been taken apart, it comes with the 240W brick and the 100W(3 pipe) Heat Sink.

    I've NEVER upgraded an Alienware laptop, I've found a few forums regarding the GPU upgrades and I keep getting mixed answers.. some say I'm going to need an unlocked bios, and a modded driver for NVidia cards newer than a GTX 880M? I'm interested in replacing the R9-M290X for an RX 480, my friend has one and is willing to get rid of it for $150, lastly the display, does anyone know the model number for the 120hz screen and eDP cable?
     
  2. Tenoroon

    Tenoroon Notebook Consultant

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    For the display you have 3 options:
    1. Stock 1080p 60hz panel (This uses the LVDS cable, so you don't need an EDP connector if you go this route.)
    2. Stock 3D 1080p 120hz GLOSSY panel (The model number for the display is GN36T and for the EDP connector, the model number is N392W iirc.)
    3. MSI N173HHE-G32 1080p 120hz MATTE panel (This was made for MSI laptops, but fully works with the Ranger, this display is a bit cheaper, but you have to do some bezel mods to get allow the EDP connector to fit right.)

    For the GPU, an RX480 is a similar performer to the 1060m at like half the price. You will have to get some driver mods, but I'm not too familiar with that as I haven't read much on the AMD side of GPU upgrades for the Ranger. (3 heat-pipe heatsink should work fine with that card.) There are some other people who may be able to answer this question better.

    For the RAM, you can have at most 32gb of DDR3L at 2133mhz (Though I think you can overclock the RAM if you ever want to.) The Ranger has 4 RAM slots, but the CPU can only run in dual-channel. I forgot the exact name but HyperX makes a kit of 2x8gb sticks at 2133mhz with a CAS Latency of 11. This is the best RAM you can get for this laptop.

    For the CPU, the best upgrade is the 4940MX, but the 4930MX is more popular because it is cheaper and people have had better OC's on the chip. If you want more of a budget CPU, the 4910mq is great because it has a few turbo bins (4 iirc) and only uses 47 watts of power unlike the 4930/40 that have a TDP of 57 watts. Though, the 4710mq should be fine as it performs quite well still. If you go down the 4930/40MX route, you will need a new heatsink. Theres a Chinese ebay seller who sells special 4-pipe heatsinks on ebay, but those have been hit or miss according to other people because the contact plate for the CPU can be a bit iffy. Though, if you stick to a 4910mq, I don't think you need a new heatsink.

    For the SSD, Im guessing your current one is an mSATA drive. That's still pretty good, but the Ranger has 3 normal SATA slots that can be used. So you can upgrade to a normal-size SSD in the future if needed.

    For the HDD, I would recommend just getting a 1tb SATA SSD or at least a 1tb 7200rpm drive with a built-in cache, these are referred as SSHD (solid state hard drive) and have speeds between a SATA SSD and a normal HDD.

    Let me know if you have any questions or need me to explain stuff in more depth. A few others may be able to help you out too (especially on the RX480.)
     
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  3. mExIaZtEc

    mExIaZtEc Newbie

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    Thanks for the reply, today I finally had the time to do a bit more research and found this:

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/thr...e-17-ranger-2013-owners-lounge-thread.721578/
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/alienware-17-r1-2013-upgrades.820974/
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/alienware-17-early-2014-gpu-upgrade.827579/


    I'm a bit more informed, unfortunately I still haven't found any info regarding the MXM versions of the RX 480/580 :(, therefore I believe it would be safer to spend my money on an NVidia card instead.. the question is which one... :/ For now I've ordered the 3D Screen(was cheaper than the regular 1080p screen) with the eDP cable and a Samsung 860 EVO 500GB SATA SSD(To replace the HDD)

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/4-Heats-Fo...535971&hash=item3d8cde4269:g:jSAAAOSw8HBZMWj2

    ^ Is that the heat sink you were referring?

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/All-copper...535971&hash=item3d8ad1306c:g:AfMAAOSwmuVafDUN

    ^ Has anyone actually seen better temps?


    Lastly does anyone have a modified/unlocked version of the A17 bios? And If I get an NVidia card(don't know which one yet)... how exactly do I, or find a modified version of the driver?
     
  4. Tenoroon

    Tenoroon Notebook Consultant

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    The CPU heat sink from Cicichen was the one I was talking about. I think @TheReciever used a special version of Cicichen's GPU heatsink, but it was for extreme overclocks (You can talk to him about the heat sinks as he has more experience. Though, I think you will be fine with the 3-pipe GPU heat sink. As for the GPU, I think @Maxware79 has some experience with the RX 480, but I may be wrong. (If so, I apologize Max!) If you do end up going the Nvidia route, a 1060 isn't too worth in my opinion. The 1070 performs about 40% better and will last you a lot longer than a 1060, and its only about 100 US dollars more.

    For the modded Nvidia drivers, you don't actually need a modded BIOS, but if you really want one, I can guide you on how to flash it properlly as I figured out how do to it and there isn't really a guide on how to do so. ALSO, what BIOS are you on right now, if you are on A14 DO NOT upgrade. The A16 and 17 BIOS's had a microcode update for the intel Spectre fiasco that really slowed down some older chips. If you are on A14, don't upgrade to anything newer unless its the A14+, If you are on A16 or A17, then you can upgrade to A16/17+ if you would like because you already have the microcode.

    Some others should be able to help with the Nvidia drivers, but I know someone made a giant list of where to get the modded drivers. But all you need to do is make sure you are in a PURE UEFI environment, and then disable driver signature, and then finally flash the modded drivers onto the GPU.
     
  5. MrNiceGuy80

    MrNiceGuy80 Newbie

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    Hi, not sure where you live, but my HD8970m/m290x die on me and is more than enough for what I do. So I would be interested in buying it from you... I'm in the Montréal, Qc, Canada area.
    So maybe we can arrange something.

    Thanks
     
  6. Reciever

    Reciever D! For Dragon!

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    I made my own heatsink, it will not fit any ranger vanilla chassis that much I can guarantee...
     
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  7. mExIaZtEc

    mExIaZtEc Newbie

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    Ill research the heat sinks later, my main concern atm is the GPU, Ive looked on eBay and Alliexpress for a 1070 and they are about $400... NO WAY, at this point I would be spending way to much.. so the RX 480/580 is my top choice, I just wish there was more info regarding those cards, I've been researching like crazy and found this comment by SMGJohn

    "The RX 480M cards wont work on eDP displays sorry only on LVDS, you need to get the WX7100M in order to get it working on eDP display"..... GREAT, for now I've canceled the screen and the eDP cable...

    One of his posts:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/thr...ning-on-120hz-edp-3d-display-it-works.828697/
    Other interesting posts:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/possible-mxm-rx480-card-on-clevo-laptops.799952/
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/thr...-compatible-with-an-rx-480-4gb-mobile.834335/

    Unfortunately I'm on bios version A17...... is there a way to downgrade to version A14 again?


    [/user]

    I don't mind selling the R9 M290X(HD8970M) CHEAP when I have successfully upgraded the graphic card..
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2020
  8. Tenoroon

    Tenoroon Notebook Consultant

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    Wait, you made both a custom CPU and GPU heatsink?
     
  9. Tenoroon

    Tenoroon Notebook Consultant

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    As for the BIOS version, I don't fully know if you can downgrade the microcode, there may be a program or somethings, but I'm 99% sure that downgrading to A14 wont do anything.
     
  10. Reciever

    Reciever D! For Dragon!

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    I fabricated the CPU side and doubled the mass, GPU side I just added a lot of copper to the VRM area as a passive heat displacement didnt do the job for me.
     
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