Power Draw

We measured power draw at the outlet as well to see just how much electricity the X7200 is using. As you would expect from the battery life figures, it's right there with midrange desktops for idle power: around 105W. With a full load running, we measured normal peak power draw of up to 350W, which is higher than the rated output of the power brick. However, we need to account for efficiency, so if the power brick is 80% efficient we could "safely" draw up to 375W from the wall. But who cares about safety, right?


Click to enlarge

We fired up Furmark to see what would happen, and the results were a bit scary. Upon initialization, Furmark caused the X7200 to use around 325W with the GPUs starting at just 41/50C; but then power draw, temperatures, and noise levels kept going up...and up...and up!. The X7200 finally reached a maximum power draw of 410W before some sort of protection kicked in and the power brick shut down—and rendering performance drops from 40FPS to around 5FPS in Furmark. Unplugging the power brick from the wall and then plugging it back in restored normal performance, but then the cycle would repeat. Note that for this to occur, we had to use the Windows "High Performance" profile as well as setting the Clevo power utility (called "Power Conservation Mode" and accessible via a system tray icon) to "Performance" or "Balanced", the latter being the key. If we set the Clevo utility (in the system tray) to "Energy Star", power draw never exceeded 350W, though it does appear to limit system performance if power draw gets too high. Some have called Furmark a "power virus", and we would agree that the load it places on GPUs is unrealistic compared to anything else we've encountered. Running games, we spiked at a maximum power draw of "just" 310W, which is far more reasonable.

Update, 10/16/2010: One of the readers commented that another site was reporting issues with power draw exceeding specs and causing the power brick to shut down when running games, specifically Mafia 2. I spent most of yesterday playing Mafia 2 on the X7200 with no issues, at maximum detail with and without PhysX enabled (four hours on each setup). Power draw at the wall reached a maximum sustained value of 335W, with a few instances where it briefly hit 340W. That should still be under the maximum 300W rating, assuming 80% efficiency, but anything more (i.e. a minor overclock of the CPU) would push the system over the edge.

Temperatures

As you might expect, all this power produces a fair amount of heat and noise. Actually, we should clarify that and say that the temperatures aren't all that bad, all things considered, but noise levels can be extremely annoying. At idle, temperatures on the top of the notebook ranged from 23C (just above ambient) to as much as 34C. The left side and top side of the system tend to be a bit warmer than the right/bottom sides. Underneath, temperatures were similar with a range of 23-33C. After loading up 3DMark06 and letting it loop for an hour, temperatures were higher but not quite as extreme as we've seen in other notebooks. The keyboard and palm rest temperatures climbed to a maximum of 39C, with the back of the notebook (above the exhaust ports) showing temps of up to 42C. Underneath, temperatures were actually slightly lower; the left side ranged from 29 to 35C, the middle from 29 to 37C, and the right from 24 to 37C—with the highest temperatures always near the rear of the unit.

As for the power brick, we registered a maximum external temperature on the casing of 52C, with most of the surface in the 46-49C range. That was again using Furmark, and you can knock those figures down about 10C for regular use. Given the 300W rating, many probably expected it to get hotter, but the sheer size of the brick keeps it cooler than many other power adapters. I know in the past I've had DTR power bricks get a lot hotter, including an old Alienware M5790 that would actually drain the battery while under a heavy load that went so far as to have a fan in the power brick. But that was back in the days of 60-70% efficiency PSUs, and we'd guess this power brick is closer to 80 Plus territory (or at least, we hope it is). It's still a massive power brick to lug around, but at the same time a 3-pound brick and 12-pound notebook is lighter and far easier to transport than even a mini ITX system plus keyboard and monitor.

Here's a look at the system temperatures—after running Furmark for 30 minutes with the "Energy Star" mode activated. GPU temperatures top out at a toasty 102C for the primary GPU and only 77C for the secondary, while CPU temperatures max out at 69-74C. Note that we also ran Cinebench to stress the CPU, as Furmark doesn't hit the CPU that much. The HDD topped out at 41C, which is perfectly acceptable. When we skip Furmark and use games and other applications, the maximum GPU temperature on GPU1 drops to 92C, again illustrating how much more demanding Furmark is compared to normal games.

Noise

While the external temperatures were actually quite impressive, given the amount of power stuffed into the chassis, they come at the cost of noise levels. The idle noise level isn't too bad, registering just above the 30dB limit of our SPL meter at 33dB (from a distance of 12" above and in front of the notebook). Start to do anything remotely taxing and you'll hear the fans begin to spin up; normal usage will usually generate 33-38dB, but high CPU loads can bump the noise up as high as 47dB. Yes, that's very loud and annoying and can easily be heard from another room in the house. If you play a modern game, noise will also register in the 40-47dB range, with fan speeds ramping up and then slowing down on a regular basis. Under Furmark, we measured our worst-case scenario with the primary GPU fan speed at 100% and 50dB, while the secondary GPU fan would continually oscillate between a lower speed (around 13 seconds) and maximum speed (5 seconds). Noise would likewise go between 50dB and 53dB.

Again by way of comparison, the X7200 is substantially louder than any of my desktops, the worst of which puts out a steady 45dB (at 12"). A well-built gaming desktop (i.e. my own new system, shown in the gaming benchmarks a couple pages back) will idle at around 30dB and get up to 40dB at full load. In other words, plan on wearing headphones if you play games and don't want to hear the X7200's fan noise.

Introducing the Clevo X7200 UPS LCD Redux
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  • Candide08 - Saturday, October 09, 2010 - link

    Some companies, like mine, are no longer buying workstations. We are issued "desktop replacement" laptops, like HP 88740W with dual i7 quad cores and 8GB of memory. Throw in Virtual-Box and run one or two other VM's and its workable as a full function portable desktop with 1920 x 1200 screen resolution and a 5.9 Win 7 rating.

    The 8740W is not quite a spec'd-out as this, but its in the same league.
    Yes, its heavy. Yes, the power brick is huge. Yes, I bought a rolling laptop case.
    Reply
  • crackedwiseman - Thursday, October 07, 2010 - link

    Honestly, why not go for a desktop GPU with those sort of thermals? You could quadfire a mobile Juniper GPU, or use a vanilla, normally binned 5870 and still come in with the same power draw. Reply
  • Meaker10 - Sunday, October 10, 2010 - link

    Because:

    A: It's easier to cool two separate sources of heat.
    B: Moduals are of the smaller size are made already with mobile GPUs.
    C: Quadfire would take up more space and would suck for efficiency.
    D: Desktop drivers do not have some of the mobility options.
    E: Mobile 480M crossfire is faster than a single desktop 5870.
    Reply
  • rsgeiger - Thursday, October 07, 2010 - link

    I forgot if you guys ever got a review unit from Alienware, or are going to in the near future, but a comparison of the dual GPU notebooks out there would be fun to see.

    Otherwise great review! I really read closely this time the Powerdraw, heat, and noise comparisons. This always the most important buying decision I have when buying DTRs.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 07, 2010 - link

    We looked at the previous generation M980NU with QX9300 and SLI GTX 280M, which is pretty similar to the older M17x. Now M17x is doing up to i7-940XM, with either HD 5870 CF or GTX 285M SLI. (5870 CF is going to be faster than 285M SLI by around 20-25% I think, but no PhysX or CUDA.) Anyway we updated our gaming benchmarks and don't typically have the opportunity to rerun new tests on previous reviews, which is why we focused on comparisons to desktops.

    You can always get a rough estimate by comparing 3DMarks, but it's pretty safe to say the M17x needs a new revision before it's going to come anywhere near the performance of the X7200. Pricing for a maxed out M17x is currently $3900 without the RAID 0 C300 SSDs, so $5000 total with 5870 CF and 8GB RAM. But you have to look at what you're missing: 480M SLI is quite a big jump from 5870 CF, and the i7-980X is, as I mention in the text, about 50% faster than even the i7-940XM. Alienware does have a much nicer LCD panel, though: 1920x1200 with RGB LED backlighting.
    Reply
  • Rasterman - Thursday, October 07, 2010 - link

    CPU wise the 980x is 136% faster than the 940xm.
    http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html
    Reply
  • 5150Joker - Thursday, October 07, 2010 - link

    It's not "much faster" than an M17x with 5870m Crossfire + 940xm. If you look at NBR, you'd see that the 480M SLi barely outpaces the 5870s by a mere 500-800 3dmark vantage points. That's basically nothing. When both are overclocked, the X7200 again does not surpass the M17x, they are about even.

    The biggest advantage the X7200 has is the desktop processor but there's a program called ThrottleStop that allows end users to manipulate TDP/TDC + multiplier settings for the 940xm in the M17x. I've gotten the 940xm as high as 3.8 GHz on all 4 cores (8 threads) so again, the X7200's desktop processor advantage is diminished even if it is 6 cores.

    You have to keep in mind the X7200 is severely limited by it's 300W PSU as you discovered so there's no real room for overclocking. One of the first users to purchase the X7200 on NBR discovered that his 480m SLI + 980x setup was shutting off during the Mafia 2 benchmark and he was running the system at stock!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 07, 2010 - link

    I'm out of town now so I can't test other scenarios, but I ran every benchmark several times and the only thing to ever overload the power brick was Furmark. All the other tests I saw topped out at power draws of around 310W, but it's possible some combination could get that higher. I'd like to know exactly what others have seen overload the PSU, though. Note that I did get beta drivers from NVIDIA for testing (260.80 I think -- the WHQL drivers should release "soon" according to NVIDIA), and that might be why I didn't experience other overloads.

    As for performance comparisons, you can't cite 3DMark Vantage as a meaningful item. I include it as a quick point of reference, but it's not a game and it doesn't really behave like most games. Simply getting GPU PhysX to work should boost the score I posted by 1000 or more, but it's ultimately the games that matter.

    For gaming, the X7200 with 480M SLI beats the tar out of everything else in the notebook world. If you had a similar X7200 with HD 5870 CF, the difference would be smaller (thanks to having a fast CPU), but with a large cross section of games it's pretty clear 480M is faster. It's also more power hungry by a large amount, though, so I can understand going the 5870 CF route. It's too bad that the only way to do get 5870 CF is the M17x or Clevo X8100, since that also gives up the desktop CPU and you get areas where you're CPU limited.
    Reply
  • Meaker10 - Sunday, October 10, 2010 - link

    PhysX scores are not valid results for comparisons.

    The original intention of the test was for 3rd party physX cards at showing the potential in the future, even then the scores were not valid.

    Nvidia twisted this and while it has not been removed, PhysX scores will not appear in comparison searches unless you specifically choose them to. They will never appear in the hall of fame.

    Futuremark recommends that reviewers keep PhysX off when using 3dmark to review graphics cards.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Thursday, October 07, 2010 - link

    Ouch... :) I'd be surprised if mine is over 25lb, though it's hardly a power machine. I'd love to have a play with a 50lb desktop... see if the power/weight ratio is favourable. ;) Reply

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