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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  • blyndy - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Why the F**K does Alienware, for all its awesome customisability, poke a stick in the eye with reflective displays!?

    I would own a m17x if it wasn't for the shit screen. Give me the option for an RGB display but NOT for a matte finish? They can keep it.
    Reply
  • plewis00 - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    For everyone who complains about glossy displays there is someone who prefers them. I am one of those people. And if the majority disliked glossy displays the industry as a whole wouldn't use them.

    Matte displays attract dirt and fingerprints which are then harder to clean than glossy ones, that is a fact.

    I don't know why everyone complains so much about them - true, in this instance the low contrast nature of the M11x display is bad but being glossy is a matter of taste, and given the choice, I would take the glossy display over the matte one, obviously you and others differ here, but whereas low-contrast is bad for all users, the display coating is definitely an opinion matter.
    Reply
  • LaughingTarget - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Sounds to me the problem can be resolved by, you know, not touching the screen. Reply
  • plewis00 - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Just because I don't touch my screen doesn't mean other people in the vacinity don't...

    Or if you are in a rush and grab the computer. Or if you sneeze on it. Any number of things can get dirt on the screen, but I'm sure you knew that and were just being facetious and annoying for no apparent reason...
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    First off, I don't know what matte screens you're talking about but glossy screens attract dust and fingerprints like no other.

    If you are using the glossy screen for mainly home use and have it set up so there is no reflecting light, then I would say that glossy is the way to go.

    LaughingTarget was merely pointing out the holes in your logic. For on-the-go use and for viewing the screen more easily, matte is the way to go.

    Gloss is only there to compensate for the poor screen quality beneath that most manufacturers don't want to spend extra money on. I've seen matte displays with great contrast ratios AND given that the screen isn't a mirror, makes it usable in a well lit environments.

    And as for the whole cleaning thing, they are the same. Just use the LCD cleaner with the cloth and both get just as clean.
    Reply
  • plewis00 - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Well, I agree with most of what you say, however 'LaughingTarget' was being a tool. Whatever I do, some moron will come across to my computer screen or laptop in the day and point with the fleshy part of their finger having previously been stuffing their face with something greasy and unhealthy, so 'not touching' it just doesn't happen.

    I'm sure matte displays have their place, but there are times when glossy screens have a price premium and people do pay that premium for them (not me personally). And I have a Dell 2005FPW attached to one of my computers which is (as far as I know) a S-IPS panel with a great contrast ratio and matte finish, far outpacing most of the TN panels built 3-4 years later I seem to come across.

    Personally, I still prefer and will continue to use glossy screens where possible (one of which used to be the stunning RGBLED in the SXPS16). It doesn't matter what someone says, it is down to personal preference ultimately - I'm sure someone will spin me a load of rubbish about how I don't take graphics or image work seriously because I just said that but they would be wrong (and I hope that isn't you). What is universally agreed though is that high contrast and gamut is better.

    And yes, I do own an M11x and my complaint is not with the glossy LCD layer but with the hideously poor contrast and terrible vertical viewing angle.
    Reply
  • LaughingTarget - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Understand what tool means. Whom am I being a tool for, pray tell? Some secret international conglomerate of matte monitor manufacturers?

    At the end of the day, your piss poor behavior using your expensive piece of hardware is hardly a great reason to buy a lesser monitor. If you can't pop open the screen without grubbing the monitor and hang around people with a total lack of consideration, that doesn't somehow make the glossy mess any better. You shouldn't be buying the m11 if you regularly bring the unit to places where folks smudge Cheeto dust all over it. That's what $300 Netbooks were invented for.

    As for dust, close the thing when not in use. Problem solved.
    Reply
  • plewis00 - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Look it up on Urbandictionary if you don't get it.

    Yes, you are a tool for being undeniably facetious and smug with your response without adding anything to the conversation. You may not agree with my use of glossy screens as do others but slating it or making a pointless remark like 'don't touch it' doesn't add anything, just like your last comment.

    And I wasn't talking about my M11x, I was talking about any LCD (matte or glossy), I mean at work people come to show you things and poke the screen - I work in an office where it's 90% women, they don't listen when I say 'don't touch the screen, it damages it' even if I do work in IT.

    Dust appears on screens and keyboards even if you do close them after use, it's these annoying things called static electricity and gravity but being such a smartarse you must've already known that.
    Reply
  • erple2 - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    Honestly, the initial response of LaughingTarget I thought was pretty reasonable, even funny.

    Clearly, the solution <i>is</i> not to touch it. Whether you can fully control whether people other than yourself touch the screen is a side issue, but you can at least prevent your own fingerprints on the laptop.

    Regardless, glossy vs. matte is, I suppose, as much about personal taste. I personally think that glossy is exceptionally annoying (and inferior from a practicality standpoint), but that's my opinion. I also think my opinion is based on facts. Whether those facts are important to you is a different story.

    BTW, touching a screen is not a male/female thing. I work in an office where it's about 80% men, and they still touch screens, even after being told not to.
    Reply
  • blyndy - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    The slight mirror layer over the whole display contents is what is unacceptable for me and others. They're obviously acceptable to some and that's fine, but for people who prioritise 'usable' over 'sleek' our options are negligible, hence the frustration.

    "Matte displays attract dirt and fingerprints which are then harder to clean than glossy ones, that is a fact."

    *turns off desktop lcd (matte)* ...I see a few smudges, but I have to shift my head from side to side to see them, and they're invisible when the screen is on, completely unobtrusive either way. I don't go poking the screen too much anyway, with that said it's simple to clean if ever I happen to rub my hands all over it. With a glossy screen though you HAVE to clean it if you don't want it to look dirty.

    Anyway my main gripe is that for all of Alienware customisation options they don't include a matte screen, on machines that are supposed to be uncompromising and for hardcore users.

    Especially when all they have to do is remove the clear plastic cover.
    Reply

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