Gaming Comparison at Recommended Settings

Our goal here was to find a balance of image quality and performance for each title. In general, we turned up the details until the M11x could no longer break 30FPS, using the predefined quality settings in each game. You saw the results of this investigation on the previous page, so now let's compare the new and old M11x at reasonable detail settings. Rather than a chart we've decided to stick with a table format for this section, showing the percent improvement of the M11x R2 over the original in the various titles (or the drop in performance in a few titles).

M11x R1 vs. R2 Gaming
Game Title M11x R1 M11x R2 Percentage
Batman: Arkham Asylum (Very High) 59 63 107%
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Medium) 21.6 31.6 146%
Crysis: Warhead (Mainstream) 31.9 32.5 102%
DiRT 2 (Medium) 31.2 34.8 112%
Empire: Total War (High) 34.5 32.4 94%
Far Cry 2 (High DX10) 29.4 30 102%
Left 4 Dead 2 (Very High) 44.2 43.2 98%
Mass Effect 2 (Max) 39.9 37.2 93%
STALKER: Call of Pripyat (Med. + Full Dyn.) 57.3 57.5 100%

If the differences on the previous page were underwhelming, things are if anything worse at these "reasonable" settings. Only Bad Company 2 shows a noticeable increase, and again this is very likely as much to do with drivers as with the CPU upgrade. DiRT 2 shows a borderline noticeable improvement of 12%, and everything else is under 10% and not likely to be noticed without running benchmarks. If you were hoping the upgraded CPU would be a boon, clearly that is not the case—at least not in games. We'll see where the i7-640UM really helps once we get to the application benchmarks

Also, we should make note that the original M11x results are using the overclock to a 166MHz FSB (1.60GHz CPU), which definitely helps it keep up. The M11x R2 also features overclocking, and we'll look at that in a moment, but Intel's Turbo Boost actually tends to do a better job of maximizing performance in most cases. Ultimately, then, the M11x R2 isn't much better as a gaming platform if we look at just the raw numbers.

We do need to make note of the advantage of Optimus again, however, as it provides a couple benefits. Automatic switching between the IGP and dGPU is nice, and being able to switch without blocking because of running applications is good as well. However, the real benefit to Optimus is that NVIDIA is committed to providing driver updates through their Verde driver program. Alienware did provide at least one driver update from the original 189 series driver to a 197 series driver, but NVIDIA has moved to a 256 series driver. While the changes to date generally don't affect the M11x, at some point we will have new games that need a new driver to run properly. Will Alienware still be providing driver support for the M11x R1? We can't say, but if you have an Optimus system it won't matter as you can get the regular driver updates from NVIDIA. In that sense, the M11x R2 is definitely a win for gaming, even if it's not substantially faster.

Gaming at Various Detail Settings Application Performance: Arrandale ULV beats OCed CULV
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  • dumpsterj - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    ive got one on order and i cant wait for it. im glad the battlefield benchmarks saw such an improvement , as thats one reason i decided to replace my old asus f3sv w/ its 8600gs. It cant play bf 2 for crap. thanks for the awesome review. i know what to expect but im still happy im getting it. when i get it ill update in the comments. Reply
  • Mark McGann - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Does anyone know if the SSD option for this laptop supports TRIM?

    I've never been able to find any definitive information on this, which leads me to believe it doesn't.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Pretty sure the 256GB SSD is a Samsung model, and if it's one of the newer ones it supports TRIM. But honestly, I would NOT pay the outrageous $600 upgrade price to get it pre-installed. You can buy a 256GB for $525 online if you really want to:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    Better still, if you really want an SSD and are willing to pay for it, get an SSD that's worth having, like the RealSSD C300 from Crucial or a SandForce SSD. $600 for the Samsung drive from Dell, or $600 for a 240GB SandForce 1200 SSD, or even $640 for the 256GB C300. I think the choice is clear:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Of all the review, what piqued my interest the most is the mention of a new U30Jc with a better GPU... Where did you hear that rumor? Any details on it? Honestly the M11x R2 is a nice laptop but I just don't really like the aesthetics and the screen size. A U30Jc with a GT335M or above would be the ideal laptop. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Not a rumor... it's what we *want* to see. Will ASUS make that? I hope so, but right now it looks like the U series is still getting saddled with G310M. :-\ Reply
  • MaxGeek - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    I'm a M11x R2 owner and one thing I ran into is that the NVidia GPU throttling is sometimes broken. The GPU is suppose to be 450MHZ, but often it will only throttle up to 405MHZ from 135MHZ even when plugged in and gaming. This can cost you a fair amount of performance. This is an app out there called PowerMizer Manager that can fix this.

    Also as far as overclocking I've found it to be pretty significant. Once the system gets decently hot from gaming Intel Turbo boost won't kick in, so overclocking ensures you get consistent performance. Combined with GPU overclock, overclocking the CPU adds additional performance over a GPU overclock at stock CPU speeds. I found that Resident Evil 5 is also CPU limited and GPU overclocking didn't improve performance until the CPU was also overclocked.
    Reply
  • MaxGeek - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Sorry for the Engrish, I can't edit my post... Reply
  • Roland00 - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    I am glad for smaller gaming computers, but I rather have one of these. Add 3/4 lb of weight and 1 inch bigger; and in return you get faster, cheaper, and with an optical drive. All for 3/4 of a lb

    ASUS K42JV-X1
    I5-450m 2.4 GHZ, Nvidia GT335m, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HD, DVD Burner, 1366x768, 4400mAH, 14 Inch, 4.8 lbs, $949
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    AS4820TG-3195 (Acer Timeline X)
    I5-450m 2.4 GHZ, ATI HD5650, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HD, DVD Burner, 1366x768, 6000mAH, 14 Inch, 4.9 lbs, $899
    http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results....
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    We should be getting the N82Jv in the near future (as soon as it shows up in the US). It's basically the same as the K42Jv you just listed, except with an 84Wh battery. That's the only downfall with the current K42: 48Wh battery means 3-4 hours battery life. Reply
  • erple2 - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    Interesting... Are you all also getting any of the hp Envy's (including the "new" 5830 Envy 15)? Reply

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