Alienware M17x R4 Notebook Review: Ivy Bridge and the GeForce GTX 680Mby Dustin Sklavos on September 21, 2012 12:01 AM EST
Application and Futuremark Performance
I find myself often saying "at this point, Ivy Bridge is pretty much a known quantity," but that really does remain true. What we want to pay attention to with the M17x R4 is the performance difference between the i7-3610QM and the i7-3720QM, since the 3610QM is the baseline CPU for the M17x R4 while the 3720QM is a $150 upgrade.
Unfortunately, our testing of the M17x R4 was not without hiccups. Total War: Shogun 2 crashes during benchmarking, a problem that's been reproduced in NVIDIA's labs. The current BIOS update coupled with most recent drivers are supposed to ameliorate that problem, but that hasn't been the case. When that problem is resolved we'll endeavor to update Bench with those benchmark results.
The essential problem in PCMark 7 is that the M17x R4 is relying on SSD caching instead of an actual SSD as our M17x R3 system does. That puts it well behind some of the competing systems we've tested, except for the CZ-17, which doesn't even have the benefit of SSD caching.
You could reasonably argue that in most cases, the M17x R4's substantial heft compared to the slight Clevo W110ER allows for a more powerful cooling system, in turn allowing the i7-3720QM at the heart of the M17x R4 to run faster longer. The jump from the i7-3610QM and i7-3615QM to the i7-3720QM is incremental at best, though, and doesn't really justify the extra $150. Note that the only differences between the i7-3610QM and i7-3615QM are the socket type and a slight bump in top IGP turbo speed on the 3615QM; these chips are otherwise specced identically.
And here's where things start getting real. If you weren't excited to see how the GTX 680M performs in games you should be now, because this is one of the largest jumps in performance we've seen from a top-end mobile GPU in quite some time. Note that the GT 650M is essentially a GTX 660M at slightly lower clocks; with that knowledge in mind, the Samsung Series 7 serves as a suitable proxy for an entry level M17x R4.
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JarredWalton - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkI can't imagine many non-enthusiasts buying Alienware laptops. Maybe that's just me, though?
JKflipflop98 - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - linkActually, only non-enthusiasts buy anything from alienware. Those of us who know what we're doing can get the same hardware for less somewhere else.
JarredWalton - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - linkDesktops? Yes. Notebooks and laptops? Only if you're willing to go with one of the Clevo or MSI offerings, which both have a large number of issues. Alienware's designs definitely aren't perfect, but I can guarantee you that the M17x R4 is better than the Clevo P170EM in so many ways that it's not even close. The only thing going for Clevo is pricing, but to save $300 on a $2500 notebook you have to get an inferior keyboard, touchpad, firmware (power management), and chassis.
Notmyusualid - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - linkNot true - some of us simply can't lug desktop & screen across the world, and are at the mercy of what laptop makers offer.
My M18X R2 is head and shoulders above my last three Clevo's, in terms of construction, performance, and audio [oh, but the glossy screen!].
Without it, I'd never game, as I couldn't be carrying around both Xbox / controllers / PSU / games, and a laptop.
In addition, our in-house software is very heavy on CPU / memory, crashes frequently (necessitating reboots), and i7 Extreme, twin SSDs in RAID0, & 16GB of memory make a nice combination for getting things done, which is a BIG part of the draw for me on a purchase such as this.
If you know where I can get this performance, in a mobile package, for less, please enlighten me. Do try to remember it must get pass the lady at the 'check in desk', and a desktop & monitor won't cut it.
As for the name, suits me fine, but as a biker, I'm used to number/letter-names.
Have a nice day.
cheechms - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - linkWrong. I am in the industry and have built all my laptops up to this point. Yes, Alienware is expensive, heavy, and usually needs a cooling pad. I bought m17x r4 because of the form factor and packaging. All of the other gaming laptops are boring! Samsung's series 7 gamer is a boring piece of Charcoal color. Asus isn't any better. It's like buying a car. Am I gonna buy a Jeep Liberty or a Dodge Nitro when given the choice. I go for looks and packaging. Alienware's aesthetic is slick and sexy. In essence I'd say Alienware's marketing works just fine.
Wolfpup - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkI think it's fine too.
M17x is the generic name, and as redchar mentions, the M even stands for mobile.
Really the 'x' is the only part of the name that doesn't seem to mean anything. Personally I think this is one of the absolute best computer names on earth since it actually means something and isn't 308ch792y8-du219 like most computer models are lol
bennyg - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - linkClevo should fire their marketing department... why is there no P170 based system on your benchmark comparison... Only two others with 580Ms as comparison and the one in the MSI barebones chassis (with the 675M) throttles like a b**ch.
Wheres the other models with 680M or 7970M. Clevo's competing products offer better price/performance and the cooling is up to scratch (I have P150HM/2760QM/GTX580M)
Similar hardware for a good discount, they have their issues (keyboard...) but it is just a glaring omission for this review not to consider ACTUAL competing products from the same class, either Clevo's for not supplying them (my suspicion) or AT for not putting them on. Even last gen would be worthy comparison, but for the only Clevo on this table to be an 11 inch with a mid range GPU is nuts...
JarredWalton - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - linkAll in good time. I've got two P170EM models (HD 7970M and GTX 680M) and will post the 7970M review shortly. The delays for that review all stem from Enduro, incidentally.
PubFiction - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkThe alienware just costs way too much money. I wanted one but I could not justify the huge price increase.
Wolfpup - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkPrince increase? These are if anything cheaper than ever. They actually make the Asus G75 look overpriced, I think.