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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  • The0ne - Friday, September 21, 2012 - link

    Holding on to my M17xR2 until a "good" change comes along. I can't give up my screen resolution as I use mine for both work and home. I need the extra space. The second issue is that all the new versions are rehashes to me, as what you've said. I wouldn't mind a complete overhaul of the platform as it is beginning to get stale, outdated and as someone had mentioned before litter with defects from previous if they haven't address them (whether yours have them or not).

    The R2 still runs great and I can get better performance even I do a video and cpu upgrade in the future. With this is the mix, I'm not looking forward to buying another anytime soon. Changing the screen back is a win/buy for me, instantly. They just have to do it :)
    Reply
  • will54 - Friday, September 21, 2012 - link

    Are you talking about the 16:10 resolution? Also did the R2 have SLI or was that just the R1? Reply
  • rsgeiger - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    The Alienware m17xR2 has a 16:10 aspect ratio RGB LED screen, and has 2 mxm slots for SLI and Crossfire. The Bios is also rather flexible as it allows up to 16gb of ram and gpu upgrades. I know people who have gotten m7970s to work in crossfire on the R2. It is the modder's laptop. :)

    It does not support Optimus or Enduro.
    Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - link

    Dam, if only I had known that... Reply
  • will54 - Friday, September 21, 2012 - link

    Just wondering if Alienware 680M's have a mod for the Vbios like the MSI and Clevo 4GB models that are letting guys get over 8,000 3D11 scores? If not does the chip overclock well with the standard voltage? Reply
  • shatteredx - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - link

    It's significant to note that Alienware is the only company offering a laptop with a 17" 120hz display to go along with the 680m.

    ASUS offers a 120hz version of their G75 but no 680m, which is very disappointing, as I am a big fan of their laptops.
    Reply
  • johnxfire - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Out of curiosity, why did you guys not opt to add in the latest 15" Clevos for comparison? Those can sport the HD 7970M, GTX 680M, and a flurry of other cards...

    .. As most Clevos do!
    Reply
  • 'nar - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    As an M17xR4 owner I had to point out an issue to potential buyers. I purchased the WD My Passport 2TB external USB 3.0 drive for this and it has a problem where it will constantly disconnect. Sometimes, it can transfer large files, but as it changes to a second or third file it disconnects.

    I have troubleshot this in a forum with others since July. There has been an Alienware tech there that was not much help, and I called in on my own, but got nowhere. They do not support third party hardware, even though it is "universal." They will not tell us the results of their testing, or give us a work-around.

    The problem is not just the big drive I have, but nearly all of the WD line. My guess is that the WD SES driver conflicts with the Intel chipset eXtensible driver, but I get no traction from WD either. The drive works fine in other computers, and it works fine when connected to the M17xR4 in the USB 2.0/esata port.

    What irritates me most is the complete unwillingness to do anything. Support is one of the reasons I justified the price of purchase. I found a work-around: just use a USB 3.0 hub, powered or not. I got a small 2-port hub, and while it is a another adapter I need to carry, it is not too bulky. Why could WD or Alienware not suggest that? I think they do not want to admit any kind of responsibility.

    While most of this has been negative, I do otherwise love this laptop. I chose it over the Clevo units to to design and sound/thermal characteristics. I do love the keyboard, although only an Alienware has me wanting more. I wish the colors would smoothly transition constantly rather than from one to another and then pop back. It is certainly bigger than the standard 17" size that most bags support, but it never fails to impress people when I pull it out.
    Reply
  • Imp@sse - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    A laptop which uses previous gen graphic card 675 (580) for more than $3000... thats what is in the alienware india site..
    It seems as if they dont want to sell any laptops in India...charging RS 1,70,000 and dont even have the option of the 680m card...
    They are dumping r2, r3 etc which the US customers dont buy on the Indian consumers and that too for more
    Reply
  • PitaChip - Friday, January 11, 2013 - link

    I'm really gonna sound like an idiot here, because reading your posts, I understood about 1 out of 10 words/numbers you put there so I'll try my best. I'm a young gamer and I've been saving up for my own laptop for a while now and I really love the looks of alienware... I'm looking for high performance and speed. I'm not a huge whiner about screen quality... But i would love the extra convenience of having something like that... Would this laptop be a good recommendation? I just need a pointer because I really want something quality :) Reply

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