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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PubFiction - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkI used a new clevo keyboard and it was horrible compared to the alienware. I cannot imagine how bad it was before.
JarredWalton - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkIt looks better in images... Dustin hasn't actually used it in person I don't think, and I can attest that the new keyboards actually feel worse than the old ones (and continue to have wonky layout issues). They fixed the number keypad but screwed up the Windows key, took out the context key, and put two backslash keys on the keyboard. I understand Clevo targets an international community, but they should just have a few separate hardware layouts for different regions rather than reusing the same layout and relabeling keys.
jbordon - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkThis might not be the place, but since it's a review of a gaming laptop, I'm wondering what's up with Razer Blade r2 review?
Need more looks versus power debates!
QChronoD - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkEither I'm confused or there is an error in those graphs. The Samsung Series 7 and the Clevo W110ER both have 62Wh (according to the charts) and the Samsung beats it in all the tests. Yet when you normalized min/Wh the Clevo appears to be more efficient.
drfish - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkThe numbers for the Clevo battery life are wrong anyway - no one is getting that much use out of their systems on battery. They should be looked at again or not included in future benchmarks.
JarredWalton - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkThe Samsung has a 77Wh battery; I've updated the charts for Dustin. As for the W110ER, I'm still not sure how Vivek got those numbers, so you'll have to ask him. Unfortunately, he no longer has the Eurocom Monster 1.0 -- I wonder if Eurocom actually managed to fix the battery life somehow and other Clevo W110ER units are still getting crappy power optimizations? I tested a W110ER from another company and got half the battery life; they ended up asking for the unit back to "look into the problem" and never sent another, so I assume there's a core issue that Clevo isn't fixing.
drfish - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkThanks for always replying to my posts about the W110ER's battery life. :)
I have no idea how many of them have been sold but I have to consider it "popular" for a niche device so if anyone at Anandtech wanted to look into it deeper I think there would be an audience eager to read their results. Maybe even see how a BIOS mod changes things (http://biosmods.wordpress.com/w110er/).
JarredWalton - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkSadly, as you can imagine no one is really interested in sending us an "older" laptop like the W110ER, especially if all we're going to do is double-check the battery life (and probably end up disappointed). For the record, my test results from a system we ended up sending back before completing the review show the following with a 3610QM CPU:
Idle: 217 minutes
Internet: 209 minutes
H.264: 187 minutes
That last item tells you just how bad the battery life is (was?) optimized on that particular unit, as H.264 battery life is typically 2/3 of the Internet battery life, which in turn is about 80% of the Idle battery life. Based off of the "estimates", assuming the H.264 result is a good starting point, the W110ER should be getting 280 minutes Internet and 350 minutes Idle, and of course the H.264 result is already low to begin with.
Vivek's numbers on the Monster 1.0 actually seem perfectly legit (407, 338, 218 means Internet is 55% better than H.264 and Idle is 20% better than Internet). So the question is, how did Eurocom get such good results when no other W110ER seems to? Clevo is often pretty lousy at power management, and the P170EM and P150EM are right in that same categorization. They should be paying Eurocom for whatever fix is present in the Monster.
drfish - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkI would gladly pay Eurocom for that "fix" *sigh*
Thanks for the additional details!
Drasca - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - linkI've got a Eurocom Monster 1.0 My battery life is in between Jarred's and Vivek's.
Last I checked, I can watch two 2 hr movies on VLC before it gets "low".
I'll can run a few battery life tests, but I do not have the exact anandtech suite or standardization. I'd appreciate any suggestions on what should be setup.
Display: AUO Matte Screen
GPU: Nvidia 650m 2 Gb
RAM: 8 Gb
Storage: Intel 520 256 Gb
Wifi card: Intel 3000