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Upgrading my Alienware x51?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 6, 2013 12:47:44 AM

Hey everyone, I apologize if this question has been asked before but I'm an owner of an Alienware x51 and could use some tips on how to upgrade my graphics card. To keep it simple, here are my main questions..

1. If I upgrade my graphics card extensively, do I need to upgrade my processor which is an Intel i3 Core 3.30 GHz?

2. I see mixed responses on how to go about upgrading an x51 due to it's small size. What's the best graphics card I can purchase for the x51, without having to make physical modifications or modifications to my power supply?

3. This is in part with question #2, would that graphics card last me a good few years? I don't want to upgrade if I'll have to upgrade again a year later.

4. How much cash should I be willing to dish out for the graphics card referred to in question #2 and #3? I don't want to burn a hole through my wallet but I do know these cards aren't cheap..

Thanks for any advice, I sincerely appreciate it.
a c 143 U Graphics card
March 6, 2013 2:48:14 AM

Depends on how much you're willing to buy? First of all it depends on your monitor's resolution, for 1080P gaming on high settings you'll need at least GTX 660TI. Most games utilize more than 2 cores so you'll need a Core i5 CPU.
Seems like the Alienware 51X is up for a GTX 680!
http://www.gamespot.com/features/the-alienware-x51-and-...
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a b U Graphics card
March 6, 2013 2:52:22 AM

Well we need to know when you bought it, as there are newer versions out now.

The i3 will also hold you back as there are games out now and games coming out that get much better performance from an i5 over an i3. Then there's the power supply... I don't think it will be big at all, ok it's 330W

INTERVENE: Ok, just did some research, check this out:
http://au.gamespot.com/features/the-alienware-x51-and-n...

So, depending on what you currently have in there and your power supply, you should be able to get a GTX 660ti in there. A 670 might be too power hungry. Ofcourse a 680 won't work but a 660ti would be a pretty safe bet. But unfortunately, that won't last you for a few years, maybe 2 at best.
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March 6, 2013 3:08:09 AM

1. If I upgrade my graphics card extensively, do I need to upgrade my processor which is an Intel i3 Core 3.30 GHz?

2. I see mixed responses on how to go about upgrading an x51 due to it's small size. What's the best graphics card I can purchase for the x51, without having to make physical modifications or modifications to my power supply?

3. This is in part with question #2, would that graphics card last me a good few years? I don't want to upgrade if I'll have to upgrade again a year later.

4. How much cash should I be willing to dish out for the graphics card referred to in question #2 and #3? I don't want to burn a hole through my wallet but I do know these cards aren't cheap.

I am an X51 owner myself. Also looking to upgrade. I don't know all the answers, but I will try my best to give you what I think is correct.

1. I am not sure on this one.

2. Many people swear by the GTX 670. If you go that route you will need the reference model 2gb version. Anything higher will require modification. Though the 670 is not supported by Alienware. The highest performance card that is supported by Alienware is 660. Maybe a 660 ti but I am not sure. Remember, has to be reference model or you will need to modify. Your 330 should be o.k. But, some users have reported having to drop down to about 76% with the 670 to prevent overheating. Others have said they haven't had this problem.

3. This is an issue I am grappling with also. It seems that some people suspect 2gb vram will not be enough to handle most games on max when new consoles drop. As for playing the game on medium or so you should be good for at least two years. Probably more.

4. Reference model of a 670 is about 400$. The refrence model of a 660 is around 300$. With the 660ti being about 340$.





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a b U Graphics card
March 6, 2013 3:32:53 AM

chaosclown17 said:
1. If I upgrade my graphics card extensively, do I need to upgrade my processor which is an Intel i3 Core 3.30 GHz?

2. I see mixed responses on how to go about upgrading an x51 due to it's small size. What's the best graphics card I can purchase for the x51, without having to make physical modifications or modifications to my power supply?

3. This is in part with question #2, would that graphics card last me a good few years? I don't want to upgrade if I'll have to upgrade again a year later.

4. How much cash should I be willing to dish out for the graphics card referred to in question #2 and #3? I don't want to burn a hole through my wallet but I do know these cards aren't cheap.

I am an X51 owner myself. Also looking to upgrade. I don't know all the answers, but I will try my best to give you what I think is correct.

1. I am not sure on this one.

2. Many people swear by the GTX 670. If you go that route you will need the reference model 2gb version. Anything higher will require modification. Though the 670 is not supported by Alienware. The highest performance card that is supported by Alienware is 660. Maybe a 660 ti but I am not sure. Remember, has to be reference model or you will need to modify. Your 330 should be o.k. But, some users have reported having to drop down to about 76% with the 670 to prevent overheating. Others have said they haven't had this problem.

3. This is an issue I am grappling with also. It seems that some people suspect 2gb vram will not be enough to handle most games on max when new consoles drop. As for playing the game on medium or so you should be good for at least two years. Probably more.

4. Reference model of a 670 is about 400$. The refrence model of a 660 is around 300$. With the 660ti being about 340$.

* I would upgrade to about a AMD 7850 (not sure if you have a PCI-e power connector in that system, the 7850 requires 1 PCI-e power connector).
* With your limited PSU power options, I wouldn't go much over a 7850 at this point, since it shouldn't require any modifications (assuming your GPU slot allows the GPU dimensions).
* The 7850 coupled with your i3 should be a good fit, so neither one is limiting your gaming experience too much. If you feel in a year or two that you don't have enough gaming power, you might consider building a new system around your current parts or just start from scratch.
* Than main issues/limitations are your GPU dimensions that the case can hold and whether or not you have a PCI-e power connector. If you don't have a PCI-e power connector than you will be limited to a 7770 or the like.

If you can measure the dimensions of your GPU space that you currently have, we could probably help you decide which GPU might fit in your case without any modifications. The other issue is whether or not you have a PCI-e power connector.
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March 6, 2013 3:38:44 AM

I think it is worth noting that the first entry in the 700 series is expected around spring this year. It might be better to just wait and see. Not only do you have the chance of getting a better card. You also have the chance of picking up something from the 600 series cheaper.
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March 6, 2013 3:40:20 AM

pezonator said:
Well we need to know when you bought it, as there are newer versions out now.

The i3 will also hold you back as there are games out now and games coming out that get much better performance from an i5 over an i3. Then there's the power supply... I don't think it will be big at all, ok it's 330W

INTERVENE: Ok, just did some research, check this out:
http://au.gamespot.com/features/the-alienware-x51-and-n...

So, depending on what you currently have in there and your power supply, you should be able to get a GTX 660ti in there. A 670 might be too power hungry. Ofcourse a 680 won't work but a 660ti would be a pretty safe bet. But unfortunately, that won't last you for a few years, maybe 2 at best.


Ah, well I purchased my x51 this summer around July-August. I took a look at that article and that whole process just looks incredibly intimidating to attempt. I supposed the GTX 660ti would be my best bet and in my price range.. then I would also have to invest in an i5 or i7. I will look into the GTX 670 though, I just feel like two years wont be worth the investment. I appreciate the help.
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March 6, 2013 3:42:47 AM

chaosclown17 said:
I think it is worth noting that the first entry in the 700 series is expected around spring this year. It might be better to just wait and see. Not only do you have the chance of getting a better card. You also have the chance of picking up something from the 600 series cheaper.


Really? That actually sounds like a good route to go. I'm wondering if the 700 series would be more compatible with my x51 (smaller, less power usage, etc.). If you have any interesting articles please link! :) 
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a c 143 U Graphics card
March 6, 2013 3:44:48 AM

No noticeable upgrade will be done until you change the PSU too, which is a painful process.
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March 6, 2013 3:52:48 AM

Like I said, expected. I think everybody is a little gun shy with new consoles dropping this year. So there really isn't any way to tell when they will be released.

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a b U Graphics card
March 6, 2013 3:58:57 AM

If you can answer this:
If you can measure the dimensions of your GPU space that you currently have, we could probably help you decide which GPU might fit in your case without any modifications. The other issue is whether or not you have a PCI-e power connector.

We can move forward with recommendations. I'm think the 7850 is your best bet right now without any modifications to PSU and/or your case, but we need to know a couple things first.
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March 6, 2013 12:06:13 PM

no offense you made a bad desision on getting a alienware pc...
anyways i dont think a 7850 would be able to fit inside that compact pc
you may want to get a nvidia gtx 660
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March 8, 2013 1:30:26 PM

Hmm, changing the PSU is a painful process??? on an X51...? no its really easy since it uses an external power brick. Several people have had great results with GTX670 and a 330W brick. You can buy the brick from Dell for like $99.

As for CPU change I don't agree. Most games are graphics power dependent and the i3 has enough horsepower to support. X51 is about the balance between CPU and GPU power. I'd stick with the i3 and go GTX670. Just use a 670 that is "reference design" meaning it pulls air from inside the chassis and blows it out the back.

7850 will fit in it. Check out the dell forums and you'll see owner posts and pictures about it. This small system is alot more versatile than some give it credit for. there is a huge thread just about this topic here http://en.community.dell.com/owners-club/alienware/f/37...

FYI, I have 2 X51s . one with 660 the other with GT640. Max graphics card length for X51 is about 9.5"
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August 13, 2013 1:43:50 AM

Computer Noobie said:
Hey everyone, I apologize if this question has been asked before but I'm an owner of an Alienware x51 and could use some tips on how to upgrade my graphics card. To keep it simple, here are my main questions..

1. If I upgrade my graphics card extensively, do I need to upgrade my processor which is an Intel i3 Core 3.30 GHz?

2. I see mixed responses on how to go about upgrading an x51 due to it's small size. What's the best graphics card I can purchase for the x51, without having to make physical modifications or modifications to my power supply?

3. This is in part with question #2, would that graphics card last me a good few years? I don't want to upgrade if I'll have to upgrade again a year later.

4. How much cash should I be willing to dish out for the graphics card referred to in question #2 and #3? I don't want to burn a hole through my wallet but I do know these cards aren't cheap..

Thanks for any advice, I sincerely appreciate it.


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