Ultraportable Gaming Revisited

The original M11x was able to run all of our test games at anywhere from medium/mainstream (Crysis: Warhead and Dirt 2) to High and in some cases Very High details at the native 1366x768 resolution while maintaining at least 30FPS. What does the update bring in terms of gaming? Well, not a whole lot actually. A few games are faster, and some are slower as well (likely because of driver changes, though perhaps Optimus is a bottleneck at higher frame rates). In general, though, the overclocked SU7300 in the original M11x was very close to maxing out the GT 335M GPU, particularly at Medium/High detail settings. Let's start with our minimum settings performance comparison, though, and then we'll get into performance at higher quality settings on the next page.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Crysis: Warhead

DiRT 2

Empire: Total War

Far Cry 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mass Effect 2

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

Most of the games show performance improvements, though a few increases may come more from the drivers than the CPU upgrade. Likewise, we suspect the newer drivers may also be the reason some games drop slightly at low detail settings. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 shows the largest increase, going up a substantial 76%. DiRT 2 improves 20%, Batman by 8%, Far Cry 2 goes up 9%... and the rest of the gaming results actually decreased. The original M11x was 7% faster in Crysis: Warhead, 21% faster in Empire: Total War, 6% faster in Mass Effect 2, and 25% faster in STALKER: Call of Pripyat.

The other oddity is that while the i7-640UM should be quite a bit faster than the overclocked SU7300, there are five out of nine titles where the ASUS N61Jv beats the M11x R2—in other words, a faster CPU with a slower GPU comes out on top. Alienware specs state that the memory in the M11x runs at DDR3-800, which may be where some of the performance deficit is coming from, or again a difference in drivers may be coming into play.

It would be great if we could pinpoint whether the drops (and increases) are coming from the new 258.47 driver or something else, but since we don't have the original M11x or the N61Jv anymore we are left guessing. Part of the problem with the above charts is that all of these results are at minimum detail settings, which is obviously not the intended use of the M11x. Let's look at the M11x R2 with higher quality settings, and then we'll return to the question of whether the original is really faster at many games.

Alienware M11x R2: Optimus and Arrandale Join the Party Gaming at Various Detail Settings
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  • Stokestack - Sunday, July 11, 2010 - link

    "For everyone who complains about glossy displays there is someone who prefers them. I am one of those people. And if the majority disliked glossy displays the industry as a whole wouldn't use them."

    Not true, apparently:
    http://arstechnica.com/hardware/news/2006/10/8022....

    Glossy screens were shoved down buyers' throats by third-tier vendors at Best Buy with lies about "deeper blacks and richer colors." Sadly, so-called "leaders" like Apple followed the precedent set by plastic, fake-chromed Toshiba laptops with their tails between their legs. Most consumers, not being capable of critical thinking on these matters, accepted that. But the fact is that glossy screens suck in EVERY lighting condition. It doesn't matter if you're in a pitch-black room, because the light from the screen will illuminate YOU and create a reflection anyway.

    Your "deep blacks" aren't black at all with the sheen of a reflected image overlaying them, and that's a fact. Rich colors? Which ones, the ones contained in the scene behind you?

    And I hope we're not to take that strawman about matte screens being hard to keep clean seriously.
    Reply
  • plewis00 - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    I don't try and force my opinion on others I just tell you what I feel and how I see things. I find matte screens harder to keep clean, you may not, and frankly as you were a total asshat anyway I don't care - for all I know you can't afford an LCD and are still using a CRT. At least -some- people who came back and countered my opinion did it politely and with a modicum of decency about it stating their opinion.

    I have had good matte screens, I have had bad glossy screens.

    And you posted ONE link to a loaded survey anyway (from Lenovo/IBM users - who have been using matte screens as long as I can remember) where the article even states the reason why we are moving to glossy screens - where's the stuff about Best Buy come from? A demo glossy unit in a store sounds like the one place I would definitely rather NOT have a glossy display (bright lights and fingerprints and smudges everywhere).

    Unlike you, I'm not going to demand or ask that everyone bows down to my opinion, it was, for what it's worth an opinion. I like my M11x and if I had the choice of both displays I'd have to see both to make a decision but I don't have any complaints about the glossy finish.

    Take me seriously or not - am I bothered? No. Am I more bothered about how a self-opinionated jerk gets through life without getting the crap kicked out of him? Somewhat, but probably not as much as you'd hope...
    Reply
  • mrjminer - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    I'm with you. This glossy phase that all manufacturers have entered is extremely annoying. I don't want a laptop that I have to position based on whether or not I have a light on, and I don't want a screen that's reflecting everything around me.

    I think the reason manufacturer's switched to this is because it looks better in the store. For practical purposes, though, glossy is inferior to matte.

    And to the guy below that says "matte displays attract dirt and fingerprints," that claim is outright false:
    1. Fingerprints barely show up on matte screens and they're almost always unnoticeable when the screen is on.
    2. Matte screens attract less fingerprints than glossy? Please, let me know who manufactures the screens on the laptops you've used because I'd like to invest in their non-existent company.
    3. Attract dirt / dust more than glossy screens? No. You merely spend more time cleaning off your glossy screen because you have to do so any time you accidentally give it the slightest touch.
    4. Take more time to clean than glossy screens? Um... I guess if you're comparing a larger matte screen size to a smaller glossy screen size.

    All of these things taken into account, matte screens need to be cleaned less and are not limited in position by the light/furniture setup.

    The only practical use I see for glossy screens are for touchscreens / tablets because it avoids the push-down effect (whatever it's called) and would largely negate the possibility of damaging the screen by pressing too hard.
    Reply
  • plewis00 - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    If you get dirt on a matte screen and try to clean it, it smears more, whereas on a glossy it tends to come off easier - that was my point, nothing more. All my computers use glossy screens for better or worse (Dell M1530, 1750, M11x and Sony UX1XN) and I don't take issue or offence with them.

    The only LCD using a matte display is my TV and I do have a harder time cleaning that off - and you're right, I barely see dirt on it when it's on but knowing it's there, I find annoying.

    Glossy screens don't avoid that pushdown effect (do you mean the ripple) - the only way to fix that is the glass plate on top of capacitive displays i.e. iPhones.
    Reply
  • blyndy - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    I'll add that I have vertical blinds behind me. I found a borrowed Macbook to be frustrating to use as the daylight leaked through the closed blinds and left glaring vertical reflections for me to have to look through. Reply
  • mrjminer - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    Oops... slight correction, #2 is supposed to read "Matte screens attract more fingerprints than glossy?" I accidentally put less :O Reply
  • phreax9802 - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    I have an R2. Can you give details on how you achieve such long battery life? Just curious, because the maximum idle time that I get is around 4 hours. If possible maybe you can do a general guide for optimizing battery life for laptops. Thanks for the good job! :) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    Use Power Saver profile first, set brightness for 60% second, disable AlienFX (on battery -- use the Go Dark option), and make sure to disable any extra crap processes (especially the rogue Dell WLAN tray icon). Doing just those items got me to nearly the listed results. Going in and halting all the additional processes/services got me the rest of the way, but that was only an extra ~20 minutes idle. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    Oh, and turn off Firewall, Windows Defender, and any Update services.

    FYI, the problem service with the wireless is called "DW WLAN Tray Service", as well as the WLTRAY.exe process.
    Reply
  • koscica - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    I am going abroad in a couple of weeks and I would like to buy M11x before I leave. Therefore my only available choices are original m11x at best buy or the fast track i5 version from alienware. Is the i5 worth 150$ extra? Reply

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