Gaming Performance

NVIDIA is quick to tout the performance jump from the GeForce GTX 580M/675M to the 680M in marketing materials, and it looks like they may be quite right to do so. On paper the GTX 680M's GK104 GPU has actually gone relatively unscathed in the transition from the desktop to the notebook, though the sacrifice in memory clocks is a painful one and enterprising users may even consider trying to trade off on core clocks for memory and see where that gets them.

That said, it stands to reason the M17x R4 is going to be the most powerful gaming notebook we've yet tested (at least until the M18x R2 review with two GTX 680Ms in SLI goes live). We'll start things off light with our Mainstream testing suite.

Batman: Arkham City - Mainstream

Battlefield 3 - Mainstream

Civilization V - Mainstream

DiRT 3 - Mainstream

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Mainstream

Portal 2 - Mainstream

If you're not impressed and anxious to see how far the GTX 680M can go with higher settings, you should be. When the bottleneck is shifted to the GPU, performance over last generation's top end can be as much as 50% higher. That's a staggering leap. The 485M was a substantial leap over the horribly cut down and disappointing 480M, but this is an even larger one.

Batman: Arkham City - Enthusiast

Battlefield 3 - Enthusiast

Civilization V - Enthusiast

DiRT 3 - Enthusiast

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Enthusiast

Portal 2 - Enthusiast

It continues. At any point where the GPU is the bottleneck, the GTX 680M runs screaming away from the 580M/675M. You'll pay handsomely for the jump in performance, but the 680M is capable of running nearly three times faster than the GT 650M (knowing that the M17x R4's entry level GPU is just a slightly faster version of that chip); die hard desktop enthusiasts are used to paying $550 for top end graphics hardware, and in that light the GTX 680M doesn't look like such a raw deal. We'll have to wait and see how it compares to the HD 7970M before we can determine whether or not it's worth the extra $300 over that chip, though there's also the Optimus vs. Enduro debate along with driver considerations (which will hopefully all be ironed out in the next month or two).

Application and Futuremark Performance Display and Build Quality
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  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 21, 2012 - link

    I can't imagine many non-enthusiasts buying Alienware laptops. Maybe that's just me, though? Reply
  • JKflipflop98 - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    Actually, only non-enthusiasts buy anything from alienware. Those of us who know what we're doing can get the same hardware for less somewhere else. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    Desktops? Yes. Notebooks and laptops? Only if you're willing to go with one of the Clevo or MSI offerings, which both have a large number of issues. Alienware's designs definitely aren't perfect, but I can guarantee you that the M17x R4 is better than the Clevo P170EM in so many ways that it's not even close. The only thing going for Clevo is pricing, but to save $300 on a $2500 notebook you have to get an inferior keyboard, touchpad, firmware (power management), and chassis. Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - link

    Not true - some of us simply can't lug desktop & screen across the world, and are at the mercy of what laptop makers offer.

    My M18X R2 is head and shoulders above my last three Clevo's, in terms of construction, performance, and audio [oh, but the glossy screen!].

    Without it, I'd never game, as I couldn't be carrying around both Xbox / controllers / PSU / games, and a laptop.

    In addition, our in-house software is very heavy on CPU / memory, crashes frequently (necessitating reboots), and i7 Extreme, twin SSDs in RAID0, & 16GB of memory make a nice combination for getting things done, which is a BIG part of the draw for me on a purchase such as this.

    If you know where I can get this performance, in a mobile package, for less, please enlighten me. Do try to remember it must get pass the lady at the 'check in desk', and a desktop & monitor won't cut it.

    As for the name, suits me fine, but as a biker, I'm used to number/letter-names.

    Have a nice day.
    Reply
  • cheechms - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    Wrong. I am in the industry and have built all my laptops up to this point. Yes, Alienware is expensive, heavy, and usually needs a cooling pad. I bought m17x r4 because of the form factor and packaging. All of the other gaming laptops are boring! Samsung's series 7 gamer is a boring piece of Charcoal color. Asus isn't any better. It's like buying a car. Am I gonna buy a Jeep Liberty or a Dodge Nitro when given the choice. I go for looks and packaging. Alienware's aesthetic is slick and sexy. In essence I'd say Alienware's marketing works just fine. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, September 21, 2012 - link

    I think it's fine too.

    M17x is the generic name, and as redchar mentions, the M even stands for mobile.

    Really the 'x' is the only part of the name that doesn't seem to mean anything. Personally I think this is one of the absolute best computer names on earth since it actually means something and isn't 308ch792y8-du219 like most computer models are lol
    Reply
  • bennyg - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    Clevo should fire their marketing department... why is there no P170 based system on your benchmark comparison... Only two others with 580Ms as comparison and the one in the MSI barebones chassis (with the 675M) throttles like a b**ch.

    Wheres the other models with 680M or 7970M. Clevo's competing products offer better price/performance and the cooling is up to scratch (I have P150HM/2760QM/GTX580M)

    Similar hardware for a good discount, they have their issues (keyboard...) but it is just a glaring omission for this review not to consider ACTUAL competing products from the same class, either Clevo's for not supplying them (my suspicion) or AT for not putting them on. Even last gen would be worthy comparison, but for the only Clevo on this table to be an 11 inch with a mid range GPU is nuts...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    All in good time. I've got two P170EM models (HD 7970M and GTX 680M) and will post the 7970M review shortly. The delays for that review all stem from Enduro, incidentally. Reply
  • PubFiction - Friday, September 21, 2012 - link

    The alienware just costs way too much money. I wanted one but I could not justify the huge price increase. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, September 21, 2012 - link

    Prince increase? These are if anything cheaper than ever. They actually make the Asus G75 look overpriced, I think. Reply

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