Alienware Alpha Advice

  • RageBoy 12 Dec 2016 18:47:40 400 posts
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    Looking for a bit of advice please.

    Have just bought the first generation Alienware Alpha from Amazon (damn you hotukdeals.com) - it's the 2014 first generation, basic model, i3 Processor, 4gb's of ram, etc.

    Anyway, I've put in an SSD, and am planning to swap the 4gb ram to 8gb from my Laptop.

    My Laptop has an i7-3630QM@2.4GHz and I'm wondering if I would get any benefit from also swapping the processors - i.e putting my laptop's i7 in the Alienware in place of the i3-4170T@3.2GHz? I think the processor is compatible - pleasea advise if not! but I'm also wondering if it would actually be any faster/better performance?

    Thanks

    Edited by RageBoy at 18:48:30 12-12-2016
  • BigOrkWaaagh 12 Dec 2016 18:55:53 9,315 posts
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    I believe the T is one of the low power variant mobile CPUs, whereas the QM is most definitely not. I would be very concerned about overheating if it even is compatible.
  • Shivoa 12 Dec 2016 18:56:50 6,314 posts
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    4170T is a low power (T) bad(ish - very budget at the least) desktop CPU (2 cores, hyperthreading up to 4, fixed clock) using the FCLGA1150 socket. https://ark.intel.com/products/81209/Intel-Core-i3-4170T-Processor-3M-Cache-3_20-GHz

    The 3630QM is a nice (if older, but still 22nm) mobile CPU (4 cores, 8 threads, dynamic clock up to 3.4GHz) using the FCPGA988 socket. It even has more thermal headroom (45W vs 35W). https://ark.intel.com/products/71459/Intel-Core-i7-3630QM-Processor-6M-Cache-up-to-3_40-GHz

    So... that's not going to work at all. But, if it was socket-compatible, it would be a good upgrade to make.

    Edited by Shivoa at 18:57:43 12-12-2016
  • RageBoy 12 Dec 2016 19:03:12 400 posts
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    Ah right, thanks guys for the speedy response.

    Not too fused really, would have been nice to be able to pinch the laptop's CPU but I suppose it shows there's still a little bit of life left in my laptop.

    The Alpha will do as a media server/older STEAM games player/emulator/another box under the TV that I really didn't actually need.

    Just out of interest, if I did decide to buy a new CPU, what FCLGA1150 socket CPU would you recommend?
  • Deleted user 12 December 2016 19:06:42
    CPU upgrades in the Alpha first-gen are kind of pointless anyway, there's only 35W available for the CPU, so most upgrade options above an i5 get throttled and underclocked, so while you'll get a boost in some circumstances you'll be seeing a negligible gain in gaming, especially when they're more GPU bound.
  • Shivoa 12 Dec 2016 19:15:13 6,314 posts
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    LGA 1150 means Haswell (iX-4xxx) or Broadwell (iX-5xxx), but they only ever released two desktop Broadwell chips and they're both 65 Watt so too much heat (and potentially power draw) for your 35-45Watt cooling/mobo.

    I think the nicest chip they ever released that'd fit that thermal envelope is the i7-4790T. 8 thread, 4 core, 3.9GHz boost clock, 8MB cache. Two and a half years old but I'm not sure how used prices are for these lower-power chips (Intel are pretty bad for exhausting stock before releasing the new clip gen, even delaying a release to clear inventory, so old stock is rarely greatly discounted).

    Thread saying 45W works ok: https://www.alienwarearena.com/ucf/show/203260/boards/technical-support-1/ForumPost/alienware-alpha-processor-upgrade

    I'd look for a cheap upgrade first and foremost with the conditions that it was one of these 4-core chips (not to be confused with a 2-core chip that enables hyperthreading) if you're looking for a meaningful upgrade in CPU performance.

    Edited by Shivoa at 19:17:54 12-12-2016
  • Deleted user 12 December 2016 19:18:53
    Seriously, I wouldn't bother with the CPU at all. Even if you get one cheap it's pointless.

    Citation: I own one and have done it.

    Edited by Gremmoo at 19:19:29 12-12-2016
  • RageBoy 12 Dec 2016 19:26:29 400 posts
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    Well, I'll see how I get on with the i3 anyway - from reading online, it seems to do everything at least as well as my Laptop, and it means I no longer have the hassle of connecting that to the tele.

    What are your impressions of the Alpha Gremmoo - it was 250 at Amazon and was a real impulse buy. By the time I had thought about cancelling it, Amazon already had the order at the dispatch point.
  • Shivoa 12 Dec 2016 19:29:48 6,314 posts
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    Ye, TBH I generally am not a great fan of i3s (for gaming or just for general desktop responsiveness - I even found a Llano AMD to be better than the similar era i3 laptop when I got two laptops at the same time). I steer people away from them where possible.

    But with a small thermal envelope and not a modern socket (new Intel is very good at low power - even with only 15 Watts and the need to do iGPU work, they can build an ok CPU) then you're limited in how much you're going to win from the upgrade and paying i7 money for such a swap may not be a great mix for a low power system with all older components. But if you've got infinite money to drop, an i7 isn't going to be worse than your current CPU.

    Edit: you paid 250 for the system? In that case enjoy it for what it is and if you ever see something nice in an i5/i7-4xxxT on ebay for 50 think about it then. That i7 above is something like 300 to buy new today so way more than your entire system was.

    Edited by Shivoa at 19:32:24 12-12-2016
  • Deleted user 12 December 2016 19:36:54
    I bought it about a year ago for around $200, so it's served me well for that price point. Whacked in an SSD and upped the RAM to 16, which was an awesome improvement, threw in an i7 and saw max gains of 5fps in games I tested. I nuked the OS straight away though and went for a clean install, the custom Kodi interface they've got going on is horrendous.

    Also flip it over and open up the bottom tab for a nice secret hidey hole USB port.
  • RageBoy 12 Dec 2016 20:12:40 400 posts
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    @Shivoa yeah, Amazon had it at that price last week - kept going in and out of stock so I decided to put an order in whilst I thought about it but they processed the order in super quick-time.

    I'd just bought a 500gb SSD in the sales as well so that didn't feel like an extra (it was going to go in my laptop to replace a 128gb SSD).

    I'll keep my eye out for the processor but yeah, can't complain for the price I got in for.
  • RageBoy 12 Dec 2016 20:12:48 400 posts
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