Hello Guys, I was able to get my Alienware M17x R4 perfectly working with the 1070. I wanted to Upgrade this machine since it holds special value to me since It was the first gaming computer that I ever had and wanted to keep it going strong for another couple of years. And besides, I feel like the M17x R4 is one of the best looking laptops alienware has brought out in recent memory. But that's just my opinion. Make sure before buying anything to always read till the end to make sure that this is truely what you want. Anyways lets get to the meat of this post.
1) Let me be the first one to tell you that this is NOT a cheap upgrade. The whole upgrade for me has bite a chunk out of my wallet coming in at a clean 800 USD . You could really buy something better for the total price I spent on this computer and something 8 years more modern. Account for the fact that I bought this laptop for 600 USD and the and then add 800 USD In total for upgrades, and you can get a New better gaming laptop or even a desktop that will be miles ahead of this laptop. So if you didn't understand the message, You need to be willing to spend money on this Laptop and know that this upgrade isn't for everyone
1a) You will need to have the 1920x1080 120hz LCD installed because pascal only supports EDP signal displays and not LVDS signal displays. If you have the stock 60hz, you will need to upgrade
2) you will need to have a Pure UEFI Enviroment set in the bios along with a windows installation that is UEFI. If you dont want to reinstall windows 10, you could proppably find some software that can maybe convert your current installation to UEFI.
(if you dont have the above requirements or don't know what im talking about, you can look at my post above about the 1920x1080 120hz screen upgrade)
3) You will Need a 1070m graphics card. This is where things get tricky as there are various 1070 cards you can look at that will fit into the MXM slot, but because I rather keep things simple, and this card was the one that worked for me, we are going to be looking at the standard 1070M 3.0b black PCB standard form factor that will fit straight in with no modifications needed to our frame. I bought mine on ebay and asked the seller if the card had a 1BA1 Vbios IF it has any other vbios other than this, then it will NOT WORK. So i would advise to ask around for various sellers if.
4) We will need a 240W or a 330W AC charger since stock 150W charger doesn't have enough power for the 120W 1070
5) This part is pretty important, a absolute requirement is a Alienware R1 5 pipe copper heat sink. Without this, your GPU temperatures are going to be way up high in the 86Cs under full load with the stock heat sink. When I installed this heat sink and replaced the original one, It easily brought it down back to stable temperatures. More on this later. This looks alot like the stock 3 pipe heat sink the laptop originally comes with, but do not be fooled, this is full copper and has 2 extra pipes. If you do skip out on putting the 5 pipe heat sink, I would be surprised if your 1070 lasts a year
5a) We also need a 1mm thick 20mm x 20mm copper shim since this heat sink does make direct contact with the core.
6) You will need 2mm thermal pads. The R1 heatsink you buy will most likely have already thermal pads, but they are not of the right sizes and you will end up just tossing them to the side. I personally had had to use completely and exclusively 2mm pads since 1mm pads and 1.5mm pads were not making contact with the heat sink on any of the components of the PCB. More on this later
7) you will need to know how to mod and install NVIDIA modded drivers. More on this later.
8) you will need thermal paste that you think is good!
And that's all for the prerequisites!
Installing The 1070 And Heatsink
1) Installing the 1070 with the heat sink is probably one of the hardest things you are going to do with this laptop. Before you Even think about removing the card, you need to disable windows update services so some random driver does not get installed or something.
2) you need to download DDU and restart your computer into safe mode. (Search it up if you don't know how to).
3) Once in safe mode Open DDU and uninstall the NVIDIA Drivers. Make sure to hit the option that says uninstall and shut down for installing new graphics card.
4) we can now go ahead an begin installing the 1070. Make sure to remove the charger from the laptop and the battery and hold the power buttom for at least 10 seconds to discharge any current that's left in the system.
5) open the back cover of the laptop and remove the fan first then the heatsink along with the 2 screws that hold the card down and slide the old card out and put the new 1070 in. It shouldn't be hard to do, just be careful with the 1070 and do not forcefully put it in. (keep your old card laying around in case you have to reset the bios as it defualts to legacy enviroment)
6) take the new R1 heatsink and with some pliers, bend the 4 prongs down slightly. I felt that it was putting too much pressure for the core where the prongs where. Then take the copper shim and apply some thermal paste on the side that will be touching the heatsink. Make sure that there is enough thermal paste covering the shim and that there are no spots missing thermal paste and do the same for the side touching the core and put thermal paste on the die. (or alternatively, you could solder the shim to the heatsink which will result in better temps)
7) go ahead and put the 2mm thermal pads as below. ( I know its not the same heatsink or card but i can't upload any images right now and its the same layout),
8) Once you have thermal pads installed, you can go ahead and put the heat sink on. You will notice that when you go and put the back cover on, it does bulge because of the 2 extra pipes that sit higher, but still closes with force. If you want you could modify the case and cut the piece where it sits higher to make it close properly.
Booting up to Windows and Modifying/Installing Drivers
1) Before you boot up to windows, go ahead to your bios and disable power adapter warning. If you plug in your 330 watt AC adapter in your computer, when booting it might throw an error at you saying that the computer doesn't know what the power adapter is. Best to leave it off
2) when you do boot to windows, no driver will automatically install, and if you check device manager, the 1070 will appear as Microsoft basic display adapter which is good for now.
3) head over to NVIDIA's website and download the latest 1070 MOBILE game ready drivers. While your at it, head over to the winrar website and download it and install it. Once the 1070 drivers download create a folder on your desktop and Put the driver exe there and right click on it and hit extract here.
4) you will see a bunch of folders Once its done extracting. The one we are looking for is Display.Driver. in the folder, open the file called nvdmi. Here we are going to search for 1BA1 and you'll see a lines like the one below. The important thing is that it says 1BA1. The thing we want to replace to make the installation work is the 076E in this example or whatever 4 numbers and letters are there. This can be done with any line of 1BA1 not just this one. These are some examples.
%NVIDA_DEV.1BA1.076E % = SECTION74
%NVIDA_DEV.1BA1.057B % = SECTION74
%NVIDA_DEV.1BA1.0771 % = SECTION74
%NVIDA_DEV.1BA1.057B % = SECTION74
We are going to go to the edit tab, replace, and in that box we are going to put 076F for this example (or whatever numbers and letters you find) In the "Find What" and 057B in the "Replace with" box and just hit replace all and close out of all tabs.
if making the above is too hard for you, then all you need to do is download my nvdmi.inf file, http://www.mediafire.com/file/lccxo6mmxdy9ahk/nvdmi.inf/file and replace it with the one you have in the Display.driver folder.
5) Now, we need to restart our computer again but this time we need to disable driver signature enforcement ( search it up how to do if you don't know as it is not hard)
6) once you have disabled it, now we can install our modified drivers. Make sure to run setup.exe in the folder and not accidentally run the unmodified version that might be in the folder.
7) midway through the process, it will pop a message saying that the driver is unsigned and you have the option to install it or not install it. obviously click install anyways.
And that's it! you have installed your graphics card and a modded driver!
Performance of the 1070
The 1070 in this laptop performs very well and as expected like every other 1070. In fire strike, I get a score of 17000 which is pretty good for a 1070 but I get a total score 11 722 because my i7 3630 score drags it down. \ the CPU is a clear bottleneck to the 1070 and it will show in most games. In games that are CPU intensive like GTA5, the CPU will start to show its age leading to decreased performance. My recommendation would be to turn off all CPU intensive settings down for more frames or increase the settings that increase the GPU consumption up..In a game like modern warfare which is both GPU and CPU intensive, I get a 80-100 frames on maxed out settings leaning more towards the high side of the frames. Temps are reasonable at about 76C while on a flat surface and 69C while at an angle on call of duty modern warfare. These figures are from an 1 hour gaming session.
There is a problem though where for some reason after turning off the laptop, and turning it back on, it decides to power throttle down massively when I start a test on furmark or play any game. I simply restart it and it usually fixes itself within 2-3 restarts But is something to note as I could not find a solution or reasons on why it did that. The card also loves to power throttle a lot and is normal for this card from what i gathered which is why the frames on games are unstable. On the CPU topic though, You could upgrade to the 3940XM to squeeze out more performance and to alleviate the CPU bottleneck.
If missed any important steps or have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me!