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 - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - linkGeneral settings: use the power saver profile, minimum CPU set to 0%, maximum set to 100%, and cooling set to passive. HDD set to go to sleep after 1 minute. WiFi is set to maximum power savings. Display is set to 100 nits (not sure where that is on the W110ER -- I think it's two or three steps down from max), and the display shouldn't turn off or dim. System critical battery life should shut down at 1% (or if you can't set that low, 3%) battery life, 0% reserve battery, and no sleep warnings. Basically, we're setting things up for best-case battery life.
Idle testing: run laptop until it's out of power (<3% battery). Audio should be muted, WIFi disabled, and that's it. I use a batch file to spit out the time every minute to a text file, and then you just subtract the start time from the finish time to get battery life. (Note that this is not truly idle, as the Batch file needs to access storage every minute.)
Internet testing: we open saved versions of four web pages every 60 seconds in Internet Explorer. Again I use a batch file to do this, that also spits out the time every minute. IE is set to empty temp files on exit. The batch file closes IE and restarts it, with the home pages set to these four: http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/mobile/interne...
Sounds like Monster does have better battery life than stock W110ER, though, given you're able to watch four hours of movies.
Drasca - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - linkI am not able to test internet at this time.
I'm able to set most of those settings to spec. Wifi adapter is disabled and wifi turned off. I've set display at 40% brightness on battery life.
It is setup for 1% battery life shutdown, sleep is disabled. Everything else set to your suggestions.
The laptop is currently running. 11 minutes have passed to reach 96%. Projected idle is around 260 minutes. Will report again once it is complete.
Drasca - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - linkI'm at the 91 minute mark and there's still 70% left.
Projected idle is approx 300 min at this point.
That is in-line previous video use.
Drasca - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - link4% at the 4 hr 25 minute (265 minute) mark.
System shutoff at 4 hrs 26 minutes as I was looking up the nvidia control panel.
Upon resume, reports 1% battery.
Drasca - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - linkOk, there's a distinct possibility I have been testing in High Performance mode this entire time. If that is the case, then there's a battery floor for 266 minutes, and Vivek's numbers make more sense.
Additionally, I am distinctly not able to guarantee 100 nits.
I cannot do further testing today. Either way, we have another benchmark.
JarredWalton - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - linkSo you measured 266 minutes at idle? Seems rather low compared to Vivek's numbers, unless some other setting is messed up. I just wish I had done the Monster 1.0 testing so I could respond with confidence in regards to the numbers.
Drasca - Monday, September 24, 2012 - linkYes, I was able to reach 266 minutes minimum.
My setup is not a perfectly clean Win 7 build. I discovered I still had lavasoft ad aware, and some other processes in the backround (using minimal CPU, not doing active scans). I also suspect I have been doing high performance mode, requiring minimum 100% CPU as opposed to 0-5% and the brightness seemed higher than 100 nits even at 40%. That last bit is a subjective look, as I do not have light measuring equipment on hand.
I have the AUO matte display, which likely has different brightness characteristics than the one you and Vivek received.
So there's multiple variables. Mine look like there's been CPU usage, as its about what I expect from watching videos.
Still, Vivek's numbers are pretty amazing.
shadowyani - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkCoasting by on the same chassis is not good. Happens across this company's entire lineup; my M18x R2 shares the same glaring design flaw (melting SLI cable hehe) as the R1, something they should have taken the time to fix. Good thing there's a workaround for people willing to pop the lid on the machine.
Speaking of price, if you're in the military you might be surprised at what you can get these machines for, but take my advice, skip out on the SLI laptops. The SLI cables aren't built last.
5150Joker - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkMy SLI cable never melted...
shadowyani - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkI'm envious of your AW experience :) My R1 and replacement R2 both had cables that fried on top of the heat-sinks. It was a big sigh of relief when I discovered how easy it was to fix. I'm a happy AW camper now though.