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My Alienware Super M17X R4 Custom Build Log

post #1 of 111
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EDIT: I'm pretty much done with this build for right now. I have it tweaked and overclocked and finished moddeing and now its ready for harcore/competitive gaming.

This isn't like some epic awesome cool desktop build log, its just to show case what you can do with customizing and creating a gaming rig out of a high end gaming notebook. Its not something really special but it is a fairly unique build and I did much of it by myself, with some stuff purchased at XoticPC.

This log is pretty much on hold until I get all 3 of my monitors so I can start it up again and do debezeling and building an eyefinity array for the system to use.
I'll update it when I can get my new monitors and parts.

Feel free to ask questions or leave comments, thanks for taking interest. Audios, ~Franbunny Alice Viera

Stats and Specs
Super M17X R4 Specs
CPU: Intel Core i7 3740QM IvyBridge Overclocked @3.77GHz all cores, turbing up to 4.06ghz 2 Cores, according to CPUZ
GPU: Dell/Alienware AMD Radeon HD7970M 2GB GDDR5(Thames/Wimbledon XT)[MXM Slot]
Motherboard: Alienware M17xR4 HM77 Socket fcPGA988(Sandybridge/Ivybridge)
Memory: Kingston HyperX 12GB 1866mhz DDR3 Dual channel, 4 SODIMM units: 2 x 4GB+2x 2GB
Storage Solution: 64GB Crucial M4 mSATA SSD[boot drive]
750GB Western Digital Scorpio Black[Storage]
60GB Kingston SSDnow! V+ SSD(Caching)
Case/Chassis: Alienware M17X R3/R4 with XoticPC service applied custom artwork created by Me(Franbunny Alice Viera)
Display: 1920x 1080 60HZ Super Clear Super Bright Alienware 17.3inch FHD WLED screen @ 72%NTSC Gamut.
External ASUS VS207-T 2160x1215 Downsampling(1600x900)monitor.
Optical Drive: 8x DVD Buner RW drive slim slot load
Audio: Creative Sound Blaster Recon3Di High-Definition 5.1 Audio with THX TruStudio Pro Software, Audio Powered by Klipsch 2.0 4speaker array.

Overall Cost: $2300 even.
Base system: 1909$
XoticPC upgrades: 198$
Aftermarket upgrades: 193$
Includes all taxes shipping cost
Doesn't include the 30$ extra charge for the artwork update I got, but a friend paid for that for me.

Quick links:
Teardown and upgrade: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvxtMZ3QGQE
Benchmarks: http://www.overclock.net/t/1397732/my-alienware-super-m17x-r4-custom-build-log/0_100#post_20133599
Stock 3dmark11: http://i.imgur.com/cVBuJe4.png
highest overclock: 3dmark11: http://i.imgur.com/rv6V4SO.jpg
Stress test temps: http://i.imgur.com/XrtsuYd.jpg
Game Screenshots and performance: http://www.overclock.net/t/1397732/my-alienware-super-m17x-r4-custom-build-log/0_100#post_20149091


Thanks for following this guys and gals. I'll be leaving this thread open to for discussion and games suggestions, and will be updating the screenshots post as well as I might have a photograph take some high quality photos of the system
I'm pretty much done until I can gather 3x18.5inch screens for my Eyefinity array. I will be debezzling them so I'll revive this when I start that.
Cya round OCN!

Original thread post below! Lots of cool stuff, check it out thumb.gif

Alright so I got my M17X R4 today and I'll be starting my build here soon.
I dubbed it a "Super M17X R4" because it has advanced upgrades that you can't get stock from Alienware.com
Its basically a stock HD7970M 1080P M17X R4 Nebula Red with an SSD from XoticPC installed, and my personal graphics artwork applied to the lid(Art by me, Vinyl application done by XoticPC)
Nothing super fancy like some of the guys's nice rigs around here hey its a stretch for a laptop.

Heres my concept art to real world imgur thread with photos from XoticPC: http://imgur.com/a/VcQiR

The "super" upgrade that I'm doing
Base build
i7 3630QM
HD7970M
750GB HDD
1080P 60HZ Screen

XoticPC upgrade
64GB Crucial M4 mSATA SSD for OS
Custom artwork Vinyl(120$ had to do a 2nd print)
Total machine price from at unboxing: $2103

My Parts list
12 GB DDR3 Dual Channel Kingston HyperX RAM
(Kingston HyperX 2x4gb 1866mhz Memory Modules
Kingston HyperX 2x2gb 1866mhz Memory Modules, 6GB per channel.)
Kingston SSDnow! V+200 60GB SSD
Intel Centrino 6250 Multiband WifiCard+WiDi compatable+WiMAX technology
Artic MX-2 Thermal Compound
Update: Got a i7 3740QM from Alienware free of charge as an error with XoticPC's problematic customer service, ty Alienware!
Got my first of 3 1600x900 monitors and Soft modded the driver for 2160x1215 downsampling resolution.

"Soft Mods"
Xotic PC did a clean install of Windows 7 HP for me but They were missing some drivers so I'm catching theme as I go along.
Debating whether I should just drop in a clean install myself before doing all the software level mods.
(^Lol did this last night, done)
Login Tweaks wallpaper
Windows Manabí OS-Tan Windows 7 theme modified with my own changes(Done)
Intel SRT Technology(to be used with the 60GB SSD)(Done)
Windows OS Symbolic Links creation for SSD theory operation(see below)(done)
Downsampling custom monitor resolution: 2160 x 1215(+15)(2.62 megapixels)to emulate future eyefinity workload.

Hardware Mods
Chassis and Crucial M4 SSD Install(XoticPC did this)
ArticMX-2 applied.(done)
Full CPU overclock: 4ghz OC 2cores, 3.77ghz OC 4 Cores
HD 7970M Super Clock: Gaming stable clock: 972mhz Core/1225 Memory

Here's what went into the system.





Storage System schematic, part of the "Super" build title meaning

So before anyone asks about my storage solution set up here "Why 2 SSDs?"

One is for OS, the mSATA, its specifically for OS, Drivers, Communicators, and browsers. If something of that sort doesn't fall under that category I simply do not want it to be on that mSATA SSD, I want to keep it clean and as quick booting as possible
This SSD will be separate to operation of user applications and games.
However the 750GB HDD will be paired in raid operation with the 60GB SSD which will cash and pin programs from the 750GB HDD to give me maximum storage and performance ratio.
It's going to be a pain to set up all the symbolic links and moving around system files to keep files off the SSD but keeping everything operating to perfection is an absolute must for me.


I'm stoked to see this M17X R4 finally arrive, because It will handle every game I play without issues and will later on be able to support a 720P eyefinity set up which I plan on saving up money for.

I'll be doing an unboxing and overview video, along with an upgrading video as well.

EDIT, got a semi unlocked CPU for this part, OC'd it to 4Ghz with Bios and Intel XTU settings.
I've never used AMD graphics before, but since GCN Radeon HD 7000 series is better for high resolutions and multi screen performance, as well as my workstation projects and programs I desided to hang up my green and black for a red and black tshirt and wanted to get something that would fit my value and resources..

I'm curious on the difficulty of overclocking and tweaking the mobile GPU to achieve a worth while and stable overclock to support the higher resolutions for downsampling, eyefinity and games in general.
I don't want to push it hard, I just want to see a good 3dMark11 score pop up, and have acceptable frame rates at high to max@720P to 900P eyefinity.


And great frame rates on downsampled games from earlier years.
Here's my 3dMark stock with the 13.6beta drivers

Can anyone show me how to directly download driver builds from AMD, i dont want to use their automatic crap.
http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/6683977
After all the hardware is installed and running, and full windows updates.
http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/6688658


This will be my 4th Alienware, and my 3rd Alienware laptop, and I'm stoked to see it come to life.
I hope you guys enjoy my presentation, because I'm absolutely stoked. thumb.gif

Checklist:
Hardware upgrades: Done!
File system managed: complete!
Overclocking: This is next
Downsample Resolutions: coming soon.



Hardware upgrades: Done!
File system managed: complete!
Overclocking: Done and Stable 4ghz OC 2cores, 3.77ghz OC 4 Cores
Downsample Resolutions: 2160x1215 External monitor softmod Downsampling

Build progression

Concept

First Mock up

Final mock up


Artwork completed

Final Print


Fun Fact.
This is the 27megapixel image that I created for the Vinyl artwork.
http://franbunnyffxii.deviantart.com/art/m17X-skin-R3-364624834

This took me a little over 41hours to do(not including mock ups or stuff like that), because it was done pixel by pixel...
In MSPaint and then the image was drafted and finalized and rendered in MS Powerpoint2007.
The original image of fran that is in the middle of the artwork is a 45megapixel digital graphic. It wasn't cleaned or optimized for usage
http://franbunnyffxii.deviantart.com/art/Fran-Final-Fantasy-XII-352296560
I cut and cleaned this image out pixel by pixel, by hand in MS paint, for the most humanly accurate possible raw image.
It took me 36hours to do that.



Build photos from XoticPC

Crucial M4 mSATA SSD installed





Unboxed and to the next stage



Teardown and rebuild video





Current Set up.







Got a new Buckling Spring keyboard. Love this keyboard so much.




Final base station layout.


Edited by FranBunnyFFXII - 4/1/14 at 8:12pm
post #2 of 111
Drool, the desktop I could build with $2100... =)

So hott, the laptop is pretty cool to:Do
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post #3 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nramotar23 View Post

Drool, the desktop I could build with $2100... =)

So hott, the laptop is pretty cool to:Do
I know right?
I had a GTX690 build for 1900$ on my newegg wishlists :<<br /> MAN how i wish i could own a desktop DX
But hay a custom super laptop....just :Depic.
post #4 of 111
Not really a build log if you aren't showing what you did to it (specifically pointing to the "hardware upgrade done" part"). I have always liked the M17xs but after having an Asus G73SW, which is something like 4 pounds lighter than the M17x, I wasn't too stoked on the idea of carrying it around. Anyways, talking about the Alienware, I do love how the graphics cards are so easy to swap because they use a nearly universal MXM format.

Good luck, but like I said, if you want it to be a build log; show some building!
 
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post #5 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboTimeTV View Post

Not really a build log if you aren't showing what you did to it (specifically pointing to the "hardware upgrade done" part"). I have always liked the M17xs but after having an Asus G73SW, which is something like 4 pounds lighter than the M17x, I wasn't too stoked on the idea of carrying it around. Anyways, talking about the Alienware, I do love how the graphics cards are so easy to swap because they use a nearly universal MXM format.

Good luck, but like I said, if you want it to be a build log; show some building!
I got videos, I just haven't edited or uploaded them yet.
post #6 of 111
Thread Starter 
Alright I got the videos uploaded and everything.

Now I can go on to overclocking and stuff. biggrin.gif
http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/6693475


http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/6693520


Highest I can take it without overvolting biggrin.gif




WOOT
http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/6694445


this is where my laptop was failing before, because it was so heavily undervolted. apparently it was a full 0.25 under standard voltage.
Its pretty epic to see this score pop up being on such a low voltage.
I think I got a good card. thumb.gif

Anyone think I can break 1ghz?

20minute stress test a 99% gpu load.
didn't even break 67C XD



Wow...

1ghz HD7970M
http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/6695051

Edited by FranBunnyFFXII - 6/7/13 at 3:06am
post #7 of 111
This is great and entertaining
Interested in the ssd and caches and had stuff though along with memory performance such that if clocking ram to higher speed and so forth

I'm not sure if there is any hacked bios out for it will have to wait to get home from work to look

Pretty good scores and temps wow
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post #8 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by odin2free View Post

This is great and entertaining
Interested in the ssd and caches and had stuff though along with memory performance such that if clocking ram to higher speed and so forth

I'm not sure if there is any hacked bios out for it will have to wait to get home from work to look

Pretty good scores and temps wow
Nope. Its all native, which is one of the reasons I got the M17X to begin with. If you look deep down at the M17X R4's specs you see crap that alienware put in it that other companies didn't like the native support for up to 2133mhz ram, along with HDMI In, and Sound recon3Di, and klispch audio, ect.
The MSI laptops couldn't support my SSD system, the asus couldn't either, and both MSI and asus will void your warranty if you pull off the heatsinks and repaste if you're not a qualified specialist at a retail vendor. blahlblah.
alienware doesn't care. "mod away! we love to see that stuff" they just don't support whatever 3rd party stuff under their warranty.
But yeah everything you're seeing here is native, nothing tweaked beyond software.


And I've breached P7700.
Full on 1 ghz edition HD7970M biggrin.gifbiggrin.gifbiggrin.gifbiggrin.gifbiggrin.gif

Blows me away to see this thing is benching upwards to half the power of a GTX 780/titan...
just amazing for me.
Edited by FranBunnyFFXII - 6/8/13 at 2:39am
post #9 of 111
Haha trucks are stuck at my work site great though allows me to nerd out

Dang that is pretty nice

I want my y580 to clock memory higher but no go

I really do like where you are takin that gpu
You have notebook review thread on another forum
Modified vbios?
You could get more I bet wink.gif I think instructions are there on how to do it all

Svl7 knows his stuff
I used his bios whitelist for my comp and smooth as butter bumped my gpu to 1ghz as stock have yet to overclock it yet (to hot during day and night now I really heavily on ambient air temps keeps me feeling natural I don't use ac unless I'm in dire need of it in my camper home)

I figure that its a pretty simple process of booting from USB drive and running a script to back up and flash like that of a basic bios on your mobo
Edited by odin2free - 6/8/13 at 3:05am
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post #10 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by odin2free View Post

Haha trucks are stuck at my work site great though allows me to nerd out

Dang that is pretty nice

I want my y580 to clock memory higher but no go

I really do like where you are takin that gpu
You have notebook review thread on another forum
Modified vbios?
You could get more I bet wink.gif I think instructions are there on how to do it all

Svl7 knows his stuff
I used his bios whitelist for my comp and smooth as butter bumped my gpu to 1ghz as stock have yet to overclock it yet (to hot during day and night now I really heavily on ambient air temps keeps me feeling natural I don't use ac unless I'm in dire need of it in my camper home)

I figure that its a pretty simple process of booting from USB drive and running a script to back up and flash like that of a basic bios on your mobo
Nope, native bios, just the limits changed with a small tweak to MSI Afterburner, that unlocks the voltage control in sapphire TRIXX. its a weird little trick but it works and it lets me overvolt the gpu.

What I really want to learn is how to Downsample on this mobility chipset+built in display, along with how to change the 1866mhz memory timings a bit so I can get a better score without pushing the gpu much further, but any xmp profile I load or custom profile I use just doesn't work.
Edited by FranBunnyFFXII - 6/8/13 at 3:37am
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