In 2018 I bought a gaming computer to replace my aging Dell 17″ laptop. The game I wanted to play was VRC – which didn’t require a lot of horsepower, but I wanted to potentially play other games. I found an Alienware Alpha with decent specs and bought it. One thing that interested me about all Alienware systems was the ability to connect them to the Alienware Graphics Amplifier (AGA).

Not knowing what the baseline performance of the Alpha would be, I bought the graphics amplifier just in case. Turns out to be a good decision as Dell (who now owns Alienware) discontinued the graphics amplifier in 2021. But I still had one new-in-box from 2018 💪

4000-series RTX in the AGA

Not really knowing what works and what doesn’t with the graphics amplifier in 2023, I just went ahead an ordered whatever RTX video card seemed like the best bang for the buck. I dropped $600 on an 4070 by ASUS. But when it arrived, I found the fans on the card were so huge that once installed into the graphics amplifier, the lid wouldn’t close 😩

So it was clearly time for me to do the research that I should have done earlier (besides determining what is the best bang/buck).

3000-series RTX

I found a few articles on reddit that indicated the 3000 series is the easiest road to plug-and-play with the AGA. The drivers work, the cards fit with the lid closed, and the power requirements don’t require an upgrade of the AGA’s power supply unit.

I ordered a used EVGA card from Amazon thinking I could save some $$$. At $300, the 3060 Ti was half the cost of the 4070. It fit nicely inside the graphics amplifier, but wouldn’t actually work – Windows always reported the dreaded “Error code 43.” Running several scripts didn’t alleviate the “Error code 43” problem, but led me towards some other troubleshooting tips. I used GPU-Z, which detected the video card but listed 0MB of VRAM 😥

I had ordered from Amazon on purpose because of their return policy, so back it went. This pursuit was getting old, but I soldiered on. Next I ordered a brand new 3060 Ti manufactured by ASUS. I didn’t have hard evidence that it would fit, just a hunch.

It fits with the lid closed, and it shows up in GPU-Z as expected, and it works just fine with the Alienware Alpha. 3rd time’s the charm!

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