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


View All Comments

  • adonn78 - Sunday, July 11, 2010 - link

    Same crappy video card. Just a slightly faster and more expensive CPU added. Its still not enough for today's games even at the low resolution of the monitor on this notebook. They need to shrink the die on the mobile video card to get a good heat and electricity level. That way it won;t sue up too much power and will be of decent speed. Reply
  • Jamezrp - Sunday, July 11, 2010 - link

    I've been running my own benchmarks on the M11x R2, and besides having a hell of a time with a number of the games, Optimus just doesn't seem to be ready thus yet. My scores are similar to the ones posted (close enough to make them seem right), but Optimus just doesn't seem to activate the GPU at the right times.

    For instance, it'll play for a Youtube video at 360p. I don't need that, I don't need to waste battery life there when my netbook can handle 720p without a GPU at all. Then, of course, it'll run at 1080p, but not show that it's running for the new 4K videos available on Youtube.

    I'm not impressed enough with the R2 to say it's worth a purchase, but if anything it's because of the software still being in beta, and games not supporting Optimus yet. Does this determination sound right?
  • jfmeister - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    The most interresting part comes at end, where you mentioned the goodies we should have had. The 2 most well awaited upgrades from v1, the LCD monitor & DX11 GPU. I was really disapointed. Would having an Radeon would have killed the battery life that much vs GT335M?

    Now the part about the 13inch model sounds tasty. It would make more sense of getting all we need in there i.e.: better LCD & GPU. Dell/Alienware, it's time to redeem yourself and jumpover the 13inch bandwagon before competition grabs the market before you. I am pretty sure they are looking around taking notes on the M11x from users & reviews to finaly create the overall "suits you best machine".

    Good point on cutting off the choices to drop down prices. On a large scale, it'll benefit the Dell & the customers.
  • buzznut - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    Hey, thanks for the great article. This addresses all my questions about my upcoming purchase. My choice is clear, I can see no reason to pay an extra $150 for optimus. Battery life is worse, and considering the CPU is faster, similar gaming performance is disappointing.

    I think I'll take my chances with the driver updates. perhaps I will invest in the return program they provide. At any rate, I'll save my 150 bucks and go with the original.
  • jaeyang9 - Sunday, July 25, 2010 - link

    i decided to splurge and got the i7, 8gb, 256gb SSD... still waiting for it to arrive... but i came across this from tutorial video from dell/alienware regarding how to *properly* use optimus for gaming or gpu intensive applications


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