does anyone know if it is possible to change the default motherboard to a 3th party one?
I would like to have 64gb ram on the Area51 R2, but on the default motherboard there are only 4 DIMM slots... with another motherboard I could have 64gb (8x8gb).
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Yes, you can change the default Alienware's ATX motherboard to a 3th party one. Here's the video that confirms that you can swap to another ATX motherboard and a ATX PSU.
Go to 10:30/13:10 | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-urlcdzvgA
I can say the answer is you can. I know, since I did :-)
I think Dell does a really nice job with cases. I've owned a Dell XPS 730x which served me reliably for many years. I upgraded the 730x to ivy bridge which kept me going for a few more years. When the Area 51 came out - I knew it was a worthy successor.
My goal was to have the latest and greatest, which included new M.2 storage which the Dell motherboard didn't support. Since Dell desktop motherboards are typically made by MSI - I purchased a new MSI motherboard hoping it would be a "drop in" type arrangement (like the 730x). Alas this wasn't the case and needed some longer internal USB cables and power cables to get everything hooked up.
I installed the new motherboard and then carried over my CPU and memory from the original motherboard and installed a shiny new Samsung SM951 M.2 based drive. For the most part - everything works and it SCREAMS. The only nit is I need to replace the chassis fans as new motherboards typically run system fans at 50%, which makes quite the ruckus with the Dell fans (CPU pump and fan work fine though). Even the cool signature Alienware lights work (I even managed to get Alienware Command Center to run) - but the side panels won't stay lit for some reason (I need to pop off a door and pop back on the get them going again).
I own an Area 51 R2 myself and I am thinking of changing the motherboard too... Have you indeed already done this? And if so, does it work? :-)
A seller on eBay had an original R2 mthrbrd for sale, I asked if he did a swap-out, this is all he said:
I wrote back, asked for more info (bottom) but the answer he gave me makes zero sense (top), lol:
Found on another forum, possibly related to the liquid-kooler radiator on the left & something worth paying attention to:
'I recall back at Prime when they were talking about the case, you need to mod the case a bit to get it to work with a standard ATX motherboard. The case was designed for their ATX motherboard, which did end up having a proprietary shape (hence the lack of 4 RAM slots). The motherboard is basically a hybrid of mATX and ATX'
It can be done; behold:
I purposely bought a low end build knowing I would likely make some updates. Here are the changes:
The CPU (5820K), cooler, chassis, etc. is the same. The CPU has a mild overclock to 4Ghz.
The video cards, PSU, etc. came from my other PC so I was in for the motherboard, M.2 drive, and RAM. The surprise was the system fans. The Dell stock fans ran at 50% on the new MSI mobo which made a terrible racket - so I bought quieter versions.
I managed to get Alien Command Center mostly working. I'm able to change the lights - but the temperature and overclock functionality no longer works. There are other tools for that though. The funky thing are the side panels - they don't light consistently (but they've always been a bit persnickety).
The work did take some time though - so plan accordingly and be prepared for a few surprises. For example, the Dell internal USB cables are sized to fit the original motherboard, so I had to pick up some longer ones (link).
Hope that helps. Good luck!