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Alienware M18X R1 GPU Upgrade


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Hi there, I recently picked up an Alienware M18X R1 from 2011, hoping to upgrade it. I was looking for MXM GPU upgrades for the laptop and so far it seems that the best GPU I can upgrade to is an 880M due the UEFI support on R1. I was hoping to replace the SLI 580Ms I have in it with something like a GTX 1070 or an RTX 3000 MXM card. I was also wondering if there's anything else I should upgrade/replace in the laptop as well. Specs sheet is below.

 

Any help is much appreciated!

 

- I7-2860QM at 2.50 GHz

-32GB DDR3 1600 MHz

-Dual GTX 580M in SLI

- 256 GB M.2 SSD and 1TB 2.5" SSD

 





 

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Hey Tcoli :icons8-raised-hand-100:

Upgrading your Alienware M18X R1 sounds like a fun project! I've been working with laptops since the 90s and while doing some research for a personal batch of laptops that came in I stumbled across your post here and decided to make this account just to help! Here's some of my personal tips based on the information you've provided and my experience with this era of laptops:

1. **GPU Upgrade**: You're correct that due to UEFI support limitations on the M18X R1, the GTX 880M is likely the best MXM GPU upgrade you can go for. Newer cards like GTX 1070 or RTX 3000 series MXM cards might not work due to compatibility issues.

2. **CPU**: Your i7-2860QM is still quite capable, but if you're looking to push performance further, check if your motherboard supports any higher CPUs in the same socket type. However, CPU upgrades in laptops are generally more limited than GPUs.

3. **RAM**: 32GB of DDR3 at 1600 MHz is quite good for that era, so you're likely set in terms of memory.

4. **Storage**: Your SSD setup looks solid with a 256 GB M.2 and a 1TB 2.5" SSD. Unless you need more storage space or faster SSDs, this area seems sufficient.

5. **Other Considerations**: 
   - **Cooling**: Upgrading to a more powerful GPU like the GTX 880M might increase heat output. Ensure your cooling system can handle the extra thermal load.
   - **BIOS/UEFI Updates**: Before upgrading, make sure your BIOS is updated to the latest version available for compatibility with newer hardware.
   - **Battery**: If your battery is old and not holding a charge well, consider replacing it for better performance when using the laptop unplugged.

Overall, while GPU upgrading options are somewhat limited, your Alienware M18X R1 can still benefit from enhancements in other areas like cooling and potentially CPU if supported. Good luck with your upgrades!

If you'd like some more advice or require further assistance please reach out!:classic_smile:

 

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Might be hit or miss but DDR3 1866 is known to work on that generation which does give a bit of a boost. The msata drive is a bit on the small side and if lucky for around $40-50 could potentially get a 1tb model however the 2tb are not cheap anymore sadly. The 2.5 sata ssd is likely good enough though sometimes high end 2tb and 4tb turn up used that were retired from data centers with next to no use at decent prices. Be warned though the GTX 880m is known to run hot.

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18 hours ago, alienwaredude1989 said:

Hey Tcoli :icons8-raised-hand-100:

Upgrading your Alienware M18X R1 sounds like a fun project! I've been working with laptops since the 90s and while doing some research for a personal batch of laptops that came in I stumbled across your post here and decided to make this account just to help! Here's some of my personal tips based on the information you've provided and my experience with this era of laptops:

1. **GPU Upgrade**: You're correct that due to UEFI support limitations on the M18X R1, the GTX 880M is likely the best MXM GPU upgrade you can go for. Newer cards like GTX 1070 or RTX 3000 series MXM cards might not work due to compatibility issues.

2. **CPU**: Your i7-2860QM is still quite capable, but if you're looking to push performance further, check if your motherboard supports any higher CPUs in the same socket type. However, CPU upgrades in laptops are generally more limited than GPUs.

3. **RAM**: 32GB of DDR3 at 1600 MHz is quite good for that era, so you're likely set in terms of memory.

4. **Storage**: Your SSD setup looks solid with a 256 GB M.2 and a 1TB 2.5" SSD. Unless you need more storage space or faster SSDs, this area seems sufficient.

5. **Other Considerations**: 
   - **Cooling**: Upgrading to a more powerful GPU like the GTX 880M might increase heat output. Ensure your cooling system can handle the extra thermal load.
   - **BIOS/UEFI Updates**: Before upgrading, make sure your BIOS is updated to the latest version available for compatibility with newer hardware.
   - **Battery**: If your battery is old and not holding a charge well, consider replacing it for better performance when using the laptop unplugged.

Overall, while GPU upgrading options are somewhat limited, your Alienware M18X R1 can still benefit from enhancements in other areas like cooling and potentially CPU if supported. Good luck with your upgrades!

If you'd like some more advice or require further assistance please reach out!:classic_smile:

 

Hey!

Thanks for the guidance! I'll be sure to reach out if I require any assistance in the future! hopefully someone figures out a way around the UEFI support limitations on the M18x R1 in the future soon...

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Lot's of people have tried bypassing the UEFI issue but unfortunately with no success so far. The 880M's are the best Nvidia cards. The AMD R9 M290x is also an option and doesn't require modifying the display driver like the Nvidia cards. 

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Alienware Aurora R15 - i9-13900KF - RTX 4090 - 32GB DDR5 

Alienware M18x R2 - i7-3920XM - GTX 970M - 16GB 1866Mhz DDR3L - Samsung 970 Evo with MXM to NVMe Adapter - Custom Delft Blue  

Alienware X51 - i7-3770 - NO GPU - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3  Alienware M17x R3 - i7-2760QM - GTX 580M - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3

Alienware Area 51 ALX - i7-975 Extreme - GTX 980 - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3   Alienware Aurora R2 - i7-3770K - GTX 670FTW - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3 

Alienware Aurora R4 ALX - i7-3930K - GTX 1060 - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3        Alienware Aurora R4 ALX - i7-3930K - GTX 670FTW - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3

 

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Yo guys i managed to get my hands on a m18x r2. The gtx 680m is dead.

 

i can get a tesla m6 gpu, is this compatible ( plug and play no mod inf )and is its performance better than a 680? 
 

or what is the best gpu is without having to edit or mod anything ?

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On 7/3/2024 at 10:32 AM, Pfudaniel said:

Yo guys i managed to get my hands on a m18x r2. The gtx 680m is dead.

 

i can get a tesla m6 gpu, is this compatible ( plug and play no mod inf )and is its performance better than a 680? 
 

or what is the best gpu is without having to edit or mod anything ?

I had this video card for quite a long time, I even overclocked it and it was very good. It has the same performance as the 980M, if you overclock it slightly without raising the voltage. or without overclocking it will be a little worse. but for me this video card was the best in terms of price/performance, since I was able to buy it for $60. It fits mine without any modifications. Naturally, in addition to the modified BIOS firmware and SG video mode.

Alienware M18x R2: i7-3920XM @4.7 GHz / 24GB DDR3-1866 /  Quadro P4000 Oc`d

upgraded from: Tesla M6 Oc`d

Alienware M18x R2: i7-3720QM / 16GB DDR3L-1600 /  Quadro M3000M

Alienware 17 R1: i7-4710MQ / 16GB DDR3L-1600 /  Quadro M3000M

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Hello All,

 

I too have a question about this. I have a M18x R1 with a pair of 560m's that are on their way out. Would anyone be able to tell me if 675m's would work on this model and if its just plug and play? I already have a pair of them in my closet that aren't being used at the moment. 

 

Thanks!

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On 7/5/2024 at 11:25 AM, odw2aa said:

Hello All,

 

I too have a question about this. I have a M18x R1 with a pair of 560m's that are on their way out. Would anyone be able to tell me if 675m's would work on this model and if its just plug and play? I already have a pair of them in my closet that aren't being used at the moment. 

 

Thanks!

 

The 675M will work but it's not plug and play. You will require a modified Nvidia driver to get the card to work. It's not overly difficult and there are plenty of guides out here on how to do it. 

Alienware Aurora R15 - i9-13900KF - RTX 4090 - 32GB DDR5 

Alienware M18x R2 - i7-3920XM - GTX 970M - 16GB 1866Mhz DDR3L - Samsung 970 Evo with MXM to NVMe Adapter - Custom Delft Blue  

Alienware X51 - i7-3770 - NO GPU - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3  Alienware M17x R3 - i7-2760QM - GTX 580M - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3

Alienware Area 51 ALX - i7-975 Extreme - GTX 980 - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3   Alienware Aurora R2 - i7-3770K - GTX 670FTW - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3 

Alienware Aurora R4 ALX - i7-3930K - GTX 1060 - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3        Alienware Aurora R4 ALX - i7-3930K - GTX 670FTW - 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3

 

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