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  • Guspaz - Saturday, September 01, 2007 - link

    Anybody considering buying a gaming notebook should refuse to purchase one until nVidia gets their act together and starts releasing notebook drivers with regularity.

    I myself am a notebook gamer, with a modest Dell Inspiron 9400, Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz, and aGeForce Go 7900gs. I run Vista.

    Well, nVidia currently DOES NOT OFFER Vista notebook drivers at all. Not a one, nada. Your only options are to either use Dell's driver, which is an ancient beta missing support for most features of the GPU, or a hacked desktop driver (which still is missing many features under Vista, and lacks PowerMizer support).

    Under XP, the situation isn't much better. nVidia's latest notebook drivers for XP are 84.63, released over a year ago on July 5, 2006.

    Your notebook manufacturer MIGHT provide newer drivers, if you're LUCKY. For Dell's part, their XP drivers are still ancient and stuck in the 90 series, and they only ever released ONE driver for Vista, probably thinking "Well, they have drivers now, that's good enough."

    In order to play BioShock on a notebook, you have NO other option but to hack the desktop drivers.

    This is NOT an acceptable situation. As notebook gamers, we should REQUIRE nVidia to SUPPORT THEIR PRODUCT and release regular updates for their cards. The fact that their desktop drivers work so well on notebooks with a simple INF tweak should show you how EASY it would be for them to release official notebook drivers. They give us this bullshit story about how driver updates need to come from the notebook manufacturers due to differences between notebooks. This is bullshit. I don't get my desktop graphics drivers from Abit because they happen to have made the motherboard.

    So what do I plan to do? I have no choice. I'll keep using hacked desktop drivers for lack of ANY other option.
  • monitorjbl - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link


    an Ono-Sendai Cyberspace VII that we can all use to jack into the matrix. Just watch out for the ICE....

    Yay, a William Gibson reference!
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link

    Bonus points if you actually played the old Neuromancer game by Interplay. Cue Devo...


  • strafejumper - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    i never understood the concept of all these laptops such as this alienware

    the idea of a laptop to me is it is portable
    however if the battery only last 60 mins it is not really that portable
    for $5000 i would want to be able to for example watch a dvd
    however this cannot even do that seemingly simple task!

    battery life to me is so much more useful than the extra cpu and gpu cycles
    when watching a dvd, browsing the internet, playing cards, backgammon, chess or other simple games, listening to music, typing documents, emailing, messengering etc. etc. the extra horsepower of the cpu and gpu are not even being used.

    battery life > some extra frames in the latest game (which is better on a desktop probably anyway with bigger screen, full keyboard + mouse, desk, speakers, etc.)
  • Inkjammer - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link

    I am one of the people who have bought, buy and will buy workstations like these. People like me don't buy them as a "laptop" but as a "portable desktop replacement" (DTR).

    Some of the justifications:
    Lugging an entire system to LAN parties can be frustrating, especially since I have a 24" monitor, large keyboard. I'm also using a Coolermaster 830 CM Stacker case, which weighs a ton, and breaking it down, setting it up can take far, far too long.

    I also tend to take my DTR notebooks systems with me to work, where I can game during nightshifts. I'm also stationed overseas, so being able to easily transport a FULL system, even if contains in a laptop, is invaluable. I also do high end art and 3D animation, and need the additional power for job and hobby.

    The tradeoff for portability and battery life on a notebook is fairly steep, but there's not much in the way of compromise.

    And yes, I have a second laptop for my "on the go" needs.
  • yyrkoon - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    Some people do not have room for a desktop(or a desk), and use nothing but laptops. Others may travel, staying in hotels nightly, having a plug available, but do not want to tote around a desktop with them. Other people like truckers may be able to use an AC inverter for power, but have limited room in their sleepers for a computer.

    Having said that, I have been a trucker, and kept a full sized desktop in my sleeper, and I have also worked over the road, staying in a hotel nightly, and used a desktop during this time as well. Not everyone is like me however, and some of these people may preffer something smaller, and easier to carry around, or maybe just smaller to maximize their given 'alotted space' where ever they may be. I wouldnt buy one though . . .
  • wolfman3k5 - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link

    Well, how about there east bound, you got your ears on? I totally know what you mean, how ever I never had time for gaming. Battery life was always more important to me. I'm also an ex trucker, God, it's a lonely job. Anyway, just wanted to say hi:) Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, August 27, 2007 - link

    Myself, for 2 years(and around 200k miles) I would typically drive 8HRs/day, 2-3 months at a time. Plenty of down time, and plenty of time to game, even in the early to mid 90's ;) Of course back then, there was nothing like this availible, and I was probably one of the first drivers to have a full blown desktop in their cab(IMB compatable 386SX-25 with 4 MB of ram YEEE HAAW!) lol . . . Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, August 27, 2007 - link

    IBM compatable . . . Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 27, 2007 - link

    IBM compatible you mean? :) Reply
  • MissPriss - Monday, August 27, 2007 - link

    Who are *you* to correct misspellings?! Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 27, 2007 - link

    I'm Jarred Walton, and I think Yyrkoon knows I'm only kidding around. (I hope?) Who are you? :) Reply
  • PeteRoy - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    I hate these graphs that you have to look at the legend and remember the colors to be able to compare the systems.

    Bring back the old bars that are easy to understand with the system name on the left of the bar without it going up and down in the chart.

  • Frumious1 - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    I think the charts are fine! If anyone finds the graphs in this review to be too difficult to understand, I'm not sure what they're doing reading Anandtech in teh first place. The technical jargon is a lot more confusing than a graph that shows the Alienware laptop consistently at the top, but most of us manage to deal with that. Reply
  • customcoms - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    99% of your graphs, including all of the ones in this article, are very easy to read and make the most sense for the data conveyed. And if anyone has tried making graphs on a computer before, you can understand the often annoying, time-consuming process it takes, and appreciate the work Jarred and the other anandtech editors go through so we can spend 10 seconds looking over a graph that probably took 10 minutes to make.

    The only graphs I have a problem with are the cooling graphs in the heatsink reviews, and the problem with those is there is too much data for the graph!
  • sc3252 - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link

    Graphs are some of the easiest things to make in articles, writing should be the long part. At most they take 3 minutes or less in any decent office program. As far as their readability, I didn't have any problems, but I did just skim the article. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, August 26, 2007 - link

    Mwahahahahaaa! 3 minutes for the graphs!? Wow, you need to try doing one of these things. That, or I seriously need to get a clue on how to do Excel graphs faster. Let me give you a rundown of how it goes.

    1) Take spreadsheet from last article and insert a new row (or two) for every benchmark with the name of the new tested system. Then input the new results. This usually takes 15 minutes and is the easiest part.

    2) All the stuff done with the AnandTech graphing engine is relatively straightforward: export the Excel to CSV, then import that into the graphing engine. Go through and size all the graphs as necessary and change line coloring. 15-30 minutes depending on the article, usually.

    3) The graphs in Excel. Wow, where to begin? First, since I'm now using Excel 2007, there are some MAJOR graph bugs. If you just right-click a chart and try to change the source data, the charts go nuts. I have no idea what MS did, other than adding some nice line antialiasing, but the Excel 2007 chart UI is garbage as far as I'm concerned. So, I start (on a second PC) in Excel 2003. *IF* all of the benches are the exact same as a previous article, it's pretty simple: you change the source data for each chart to include the new laptop. Modify the line for that laptop so that it's thicker, and make sure all the line colors and thickness settings are correct (i.e. so that the same laptop is always the same color). This usually takes at least 30 minutes.

    In this article, there were several sources for the benchmarks. The gaming stuff was mostly from the Dell M1710 article, while some of the other benchmarks came from elsewhere (i.e. the PC Club article). (Sometimes, adding another system can make the legend too big, so then you're stuck with resizing and such.)

    4) Once the charts are done in Excel 2003, I save and open in 2007 (to get the nicer looking lines). Then I take screen captures, paste into Photoshop, and crop off the excess white space and other junk. (This involves a lot of select/copy/past stuff, plus a couple macros to help with the cropping.) I spent at least a couple hours getting all of the gaming charts updated and making sure they look right. I wish Excel communicated better with Photoshop, but I find that when I just copy the chart and paste into PS, things usually get resized a bit in random ways. Since I want all the charts to be the same size, that just doesn't work for me.

    As an aside, the LCD results alone typically take a couple hours to get ready, adding the data, resizing, tweaking, etc. (Not to mention running the benchmarks for all of this stuff multiple times, but I'm sure everyone realizes how much time that can take).

    Bottom line, I find that getting *all* the graphs ready (plus often rerunning a few tests at the last minute because the results don't look right initially) is an all-day affair. Then there's the images... that's easily another day or two, taking, retaking, and then Photoshopping the pictures. (Let's just say that the laptop pictures aren't taken against a pure white background with no texture, so there's a lot of cleanup involved.) This article was intended to be done by Wednesday, but over the course of the week it ended up getting finished Friday morning.

    Running the tests is still the longest part of any review, however, especially if there's any back-and-forth between the manufacturer, or some issues come up that need to be addressed. (For example, I tried to review an Alienware notebook last year and eventually had to give up because of some testing issues I kept encountering on that model.) If someone could give me all the data I needed - and I trusted the source - and all I had to do was write the text, I think I could get the text done in two days at most. Basically, I count on three weeks of testing and benchmarking (I don't even want to think how often I install Windows in any given week....) followed by a solid week's worth of writing. If I cut out certain tests, I could probably reduce the testing significantly, but then I wouldn't be as sure of the results.

    If any of you really think this stuff seems easy and would like to give it a shot - realizing that proper benchmarking and the ability to get repeatable results is very high on the list of priorities - drop me a line. Gary has talked with a lot of people about doing motherboard reviews, but by the time they realize everything involved, many decide it's not worth the effort. No guarantees or anything, but if you know hardware and can write coherently, there's a good chance we can use you. Convincing us that you're worth hiring: that's the hard part. :)
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    I tried to make sure all the colors were consistent in the scaling graphs. I just can't imagine that stretching the gaming results into nine pages with 36 graphs would really help that much, especially in this type of article. The scaling graphs are so clear that I'm not sure what the difficulty is. Alienware is the bar at the top, XPS M1710 is next, ABS Z5 is below that, and the ASUS A8Js and G2P occupy the bottom area. These charts actually require quite a bit more effort to create than a simple bar chart, but the data density is higher, conveying information in a much more concise fashion. For example, it allows everyone to quickly see whether we're CPU limited or not.

    I'm curious, how many other readers out there really dislike these types of charts? If no one thinks they're useful, I could save myself quite a bit of effort. Or is this just a case of a vocal minority, and most of you agree with me that the scaling charts are better? Let me know.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, August 28, 2007 - link

    I like these charts better. Lots of bar charts would take forever to compare across charts and pages.

    Not shown in this review, but occasionally your results have a bar chart for one resolution and then the line graphs for all resolutions. The Bar chart seems redundant when the numbers are listed in the line chart and you have the line.
  • kmmatney - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    The charts look fine here. However similar charts used in the CPU heatsink articles have gotten out of hand... Reply
  • Frumious1 - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    Oop - was apparently posting at the same time as you. Count me for keeping the graphs as is! Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    It still uses the 945 chipset and not the newwer 965?
    I would think being on the cutting edge it would benifit fromt he new Mem. controller and other upgrades the 965 had?
  • toon26 - Saturday, September 08, 2007 - link

    I have buy this portable with 4 giga of mémory but the bios reconize just 2559Mb of méméory.
    Commercial service of alienware For the small history my son comes to acquire this portable with option 4 giga of memory (it makes studies to become data-processing engineer) and appear that the BIOS of this portable recognizes only 2555Mo of memory.

    The engineering department of Alienware is informed of a problem on this BIOS. The sales department of Alienware wants to offer a mouse well to my son for the damage undergoes (the option to pass from 2 to 4 giga has to cost 280 to him€, for a portable with 3400€)

    Most comic of the history it is that the site of Alienware always proposes this option of the 4 gigas who is completely unusable so much than a new BIOS will not come to correct this problem.

    All the tests which I could read on this portable in the newspaper industry or on Internet were made only with 2 giga of memory, and thus nobody could locate this BUG, not even the Alienware company which is praised to make pass more than 200 tests to your portable before sending it to you

  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 08, 2007 - link

    Which is why I have the following in the review:


    Memory options consist of the standard 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of memory. All three options populate both SO-DIMM slots, and we would strongly encourage all buyers to upgrade to a minimum 2GB of memory. At the same time, upgrading to 4GB of RAM is currently incredibly expensive ($1000) and would also require the use of a 64-bit operating system (see below), so we wouldn't recommend that upgrade. In other words, take Alienware's - and our - recommendation and go with the 2GB memory configuration. Whichever RAM size you select, you will get DDR2-667 memory.

    The OS options further cement the deal: no 64-bit, don't bother with the hugely expensive memory upgrade! And of course, for 64-bit you'd need new GPU drivers, which are MIA.
  • yacoub - Monday, September 03, 2007 - link

    Nope, most major laptop manufacturers (Dell/Alienware being prime examples) seem to have a fetish for extremely over-priced laptops with outdated chipsets. Here, pay $5,000 and we'll give you 945 and DX9. WOW WHAT A DEAL! ;P Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    It's a case of time to market. SLI notebooks were initially demoed at CES 2006. The first ones didn't show up until quite a bit later, and they were Go 7900 GTX cards. NVIDIA released the faster Go 7950 GTX, but I don't believe laptops supporting the faster cards became available until early 2007. Alienware probably doesn't have to resources to update their laptop line every time a new chipset comes out. Besides, they'd still have to deal with NVIDIA's driver updates (or lack thereof), and Santa Rosa wouldn't make that big of a difference in most titles - especially not in the GPU limited games. Reply

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