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Aurora R4, Overhaul - of sorts


I have the 3960X in my R4. Can I install a RETAIL 4960X or does it have to be the approved Dell 07VY9 Ivybridge E i7-4960X? 

I've seen the retail version of the 4960X on eBay going for as low as £285 - used.

Would buying from Dell replacement parts mean it would push the price to over £1,500.00 even though it's from multiple generations ago, or does Dell actually sell the part for an 'affordable' / reasonable price?


If you want to answer any more of my questions - please read ahead 

Just to give some background on why I'm asking these questions and also apologies for writing so much.

Questions below are preceded by bold text...

I've owned my Aurora R4 for years now - purchased in 2011.

I use it mostly (entirely) for my work. When I first bought it, it was used for games and a bit of work on the side.

In 2012 I took the plunge and became self-employed as a freelance graphic designer. Slowly but surely this became more of a work computer than a gaming computer. Now, since around 2014 / 2015, it is solely used for work purposes.

For the majority of the R4s life, aside from the stock liquid coolers coolant gunging up making it sound like a fighter jet was about to take off ... then disovering I needed to replace it with a corsair H80i, it has been absolutely fine. I've been running Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver ((& Muse (until a year or so ago)) with very few 'blips'.

Recently, tail end of 2018 to now in early 2019, I've been producing much, much more video content for clients (using After Effects alongside Premier Pro) and it is now beginning to show signs that probably it's time to upgrade some components.  

When I first bought this, it was with the intent that I'd upgrade it before I considered a completely new machine. I believe that with a little here and a bit there I can get it running so that it's much quicker than it currently is and hopefully for less than what a brand new computer would cost. 

Here's what I'm working with:

R4 ALX Chassis

875W Multi-GPU Approved Power Supply

Mother Board
Alienware 07JNH0-A02 / X79

2011 LGA i7-3960X 3.30Ghz (OC'd to 4.20Ghz stable) 6c 12t


DDR3 16GB DRAM 800Mhz (Quad Channel)

Dual NVIDIA GTX 690 2GB (running SLI)

Seagate SATA III 1TB 7200rpm Hard Drive

64bit - Windows 10 Pro - Build 1809

From what I've seen online the R4 can be pretty picky in terms of what can and can't go into it. So I want to be sure that anything I buy for it is actually compatible with it - if possible. 

In terms of things which I believe need to be upgraded, they are as follows...

Upgrade notes / my history of upgrading / replacing computer parts 
I found swapping the stock liquid cooler really hard back in 2014 - but I did manage to do it.
(I did almost puncture the radiator in the process - thankfully I did not puncture the radiator)
I've swapped ram before - but in an iMac from 2007
I've never replaced a hard-drive
I've replaced a graphics card and a sound card ... ... ... in 1997

1. HDD upgrade to an SSD 
Does anyone have any recommendations for an SSD that plays well with the Aurora R4? Completely aware that the drives mounted in tool-less trays inside the chassis.

If I were to buy a Samsung 850 Pro would that be easy to install (along with a 2.5inch - 3.5inch enclosure) and then demote my current HDD to extra storage... or is there anything better / faster I could get? Would an 860 pro be out of the question?

2. Memory upgrade
Although I have 16GB the four sticks are running at 800MHz. Is this a case of slow but safe / stable memory?

I've read in another post that the 32GB upgrade parts … Dell 66GKY 8GB x4 Memory Sticks, 1600Mhz, 512X64, 8, 240 are approved for my machine - so in all likelihood, at some point these can be bought as I've found them at Amazon for around £100 a stick. Dell sells them for about £140 a stick - either way this would be a pretty big investment.

Would I actually see a genuine performance boost by doubling both my 4x4GB memory and my current 800MHz clock speed?

I'm pretty certain I need more RAM... although the 16GB I have is arguably a lot, even if 800Mhz appears to be slow to me, it copes (just) with the applications I use - but it does get to around 85% 90% (when I watch the memory percentage in Task Manager) if for example it's exporting videos, so this is why I'm thinking I possibly do need more and faster. 

3. Graphics Card upgrade
I've seen some people have successfully installed GTX 1080 cards on their R4 computers - I would like to do the same if I can... but I've also heard that GTX production is slowly being phased out due to RTX (which at some point is going to start making the cards 'rare'. Would an RTX 2070 for example be possible? Would my CPU not bottle neck the graphics card? I'm not entirely keen on investing in a P4000 though - I believe something like that would be under-utilised by the work I do... they're more for proper workstations / 3D rendering aren't they? They're also wayyyy out of my price range.

Which leads me on to the whole point about making this post in the first place but then deciding to just ask every question I can think of.

4. CPU upgrade
I have the 3960X in my R4. Can I install a RETAIL 4960X or does it have to be the approved Dell 07VY9 Ivybridge E i7-4960X? 

I've seen the retail version of the 4960X on eBay going for as little as £285 - used... this I can absolutely afford. Would buying from Dell replacement parts mean it could be over £1000 (because mark up) even though it's from multiple generations ago, or would Dell actually sell the part for an 'affordable' price? 

I've read here that you can apparently get a retail version of the chip and it will work just fine... should I trust this? I don't see any reason not to, but if anyone from this community has actually upgraded a 3960X to a 4960X it would be great to hear for additional reassurance.

The real CPU question - would I actually see any real diference between the 3690X vs the 4960X?

Even after asking all this if right now I did manage to get the processor for say £300-ish, the memory for £400-ish, graphics card for £500-ish, SSD for £100. For a full overhaul of these components it would end up around £1200 to £1400 ... that's a big investment. Am I correct in thinking the SSD would be the best "bang for your buck" upgrade that I can make? ... Or would it be the graphics card or memory?

Based on my computer has no huge problem running the software I use daily (Mail client, Web broswers and multiple tabs, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier Pro and Media Encoder can all be running and once in blue moon will it crash) but it can get real slugish - I sometimes think a new graphics card would solve a lot of speed issues because when I'm processing work the CPU, GPU and the memory really do go for it (when I check on them) - so a much more powerful graphics card with much more memory would surely make a big difference... BUT then at the same time I'm completely aware that a lot of this 'speed' problem I'm talking about is definitely not helped by my slow read/write HDD by today's standards would be knocked out of the park by a way faster SSD (so therefore my work, the operating system, the applications etc. etc. will all be sped up en-mass... right?)

So... I'm just a bit stuck and I think I've been thinking about this far too much.

Thanks in advance if anyone can help me out.

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