Re: Alienware Area-51 ALX upgrade
The Asetek-designed main-processor (CPU) liquid-cooler, sensors, lights, and extra case fans are all controlled by the MIO-Board. The MIO-Board is a separate "machine" or micro-controller. It runs it's own programs independently ... sort-of like a mother-board your might find inside a router or a printer. This explains why users seem to think it has a "mind-of-its-own" because, well ... it does.
Again, you can test the MIO-Board (and all its attached components like Asetek liquid-cooler, fans, lights, etc.) from Dell 32bit Hardware Diagnostics (outside of Windows).
If all components are detected and pass individual "exercising" and testing ... you DO NOT have a hardware problem. If it doesn't work in Windows, you have a driver or Windows problem. A careful clean-Windows install might fix it. There are a few tricks to help insure it turns-out working. It's been reported that disconnecting the MIO-Board's connection to motherboard (at USB-header) during initial Windows install, First-Time-Setup, and core drivers sometimes helps. Toward the very end of build-up, shut-down, reconnect MIO-Board, power-up and let it detect, dissipate flea, then clean-install the proper Alienware Command Center.
Since you have an Area51-R1, running Win10-64bit, did you must use AWCC v188.8.131.52 . According to mine and others testing, it must be this exact version. Must be installed in Windows-8 Compatibility Mode (this version just barely supports Win-8/64bit). Must set Thermal Controller to auto-start with Windows with it's options set to Manual Thermal Control, and manual Curves for fans shown.
Reboot and dissipate the flea-power every chance you get during clean-install of the AW-CC driver/app suite.
The radiator fan's PWM speed control is over SMB (SMBus ... similar to I2C) like any other PC fan control on any motherboard. In this case, that control just "passes through" the MIO-Board and smaller daughter board. This is because there are other fans and lights to control, which the MIO-Board does. So, these other signals stop at MIO-Board, while the radiator's fan control must just "pass-thru" to the fan itself. That is my understanding of how it works. For much more explanation than that, you will have to ask the Aliens that designed and built it years long ago.
Newer Alienware desktops use a totally different architecture. There is a very simple MIO-Board. Really, just a PCB of header connectors, with maybe just a single micro-controller. Most of the MIO-Board higher functions are then "virtualized" and run with the power of the main processor. Again, that is just my understanding. I didn't design or build it. Much of how this all works is confidential Dell/Alienware proprietary information.
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