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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  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    It's going to come down to whether you value Optimus and regular driver updates from NVIDIA. I suspect the i5-520UM will be slightly faster in applications but that's about it. I do, so I'd go for the Fast Track R2; Linux people will want the original though. Another thought: grab the original and buy your own SSD for about the same price as the Fast Track... would be nice. :-) Reply
  • SlyNine - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    I wish you guys would test for throttling on the CPU and GPU under load. After the whole XPS16 Studio deal. When plugged in it was slower then on battery, it could clock down as low as 300mhz while trying to play a game. Turning almost every game in to a studdering mess. Then it turns out this is COMMON practice for Dell. Other systems have done this as well.

    Throttlestop by unclewebb is the easiest way to check for it.
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    Intel is really dropping the ball here with arrandale ULV. There is no compelling reason to not choose a SU7300, up until Intel stops making SU7300s. Reply
  • Roland00 - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    all evidence points towards the fact that Intel wasn't quite ready for 32nm due to the canceling of the notebook version of nehalem 45nm (Auburndale) and the mainstream dual core nehalem 45nm (Havendale). Now when Intel announced they were canceling Auburndale and Havendale they were doing so for is 32nm replacement Arrandale (mobile) and Clarksdale (desktop) were comming around nicely and they didn't need a 45nm version.

    The evidence points to the contrary, there is too much leakage on 32nm thus you can actually get better battery life with the 45nm chips. Then again Intel is doing 32nm so much better than TMSC is doing their 40nm bulk (not really comparable, but TMSC really messed up with this one) and there 32nm chips are still awesome just not as great as they looked on paper.
    Reply
  • cjl - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    Not at all. Intel's 32nm is definitely lower leakage and power than their 45nm. The problem is that the Nehalem architecture is more power hungry than Core. This more than offsets the advantages from changing processes to 32nm.

    If you need proof that 32nm is more power efficient than 45nm, just look at the i7-980x vs the i7-975. Same clock speed and 50% more cores, and it doesn't use any more power.
    Reply
  • HexiumVII - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    I had the R2 for about a month. It was pretty nice and turned heads with the dancing lights. Overall its quite nice for the road warrior. The trackpad was surprisingly good after playing with the M17. A few things made me return it. First battery life I could only eek out about 5 hours at most, with internet browsing in todays world, you can get a little over 4. Its quite heavy for it's size, a lb or so less would be awesome, any lighter and it would be hard to balance. It really has room for a bigger screen. Viewing angles, contrast, are all very acceptable compared to most other models under $2k out there. The Geforce 335 is a bit dated and slow, need something a little faster. Needs USB3.0/eSata/gigabit to get things on this bugger faster. I had an Intel G2 in there and it felt a tad bit faster, battery life didnt improve much. Its hard to do that many things on an 11inch screen.

    Probably going to get a new Acer TimelineX or Sony Z. Or a new Tablet if something exciting comes out in the next two months.
    Reply
  • bakareshi - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    "The Geforce 335 is a bit dated and slow"

    The GT 335m that your R2 sported was by no means dated or slow for this category of notebook. In fact, the GT335m debuted in the m11xr1 that began shipping in the second quarter of this year. As for GPU speed, there is nothing faster offered under a 13" form factor. The 13" Vaio Z is the closest competitor, which still sports a slower GPU for about a thaousand dollars more.
    Reply
  • fire400 - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    This laptop is a piece of junk. Reply
  • plewis00 - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    Sounds like jealousy from not being able to afford this 'piece of junk', strange because maybe 80-90% of the people who use or see this machine either want it or buy it... Reply
  • erple2 - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    You'll need to provide sources to back up that 80-90%.

    :)

    However, it's just as much hyperbole as fire400 put forth, so that's ok..
    Reply

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