Application Performance: Arrandale ULV beats OCed CULV

While the gaming performance was generally a wash, application performance shows some clear improvements. Granted, we have the more expensive model with an i7-640UM instead of the i5-520UM, so besides a 133MHz higher base clock it also comes with Turbo Boost that up to 333MHz faster. Subjectively, the M11x R2 feels plenty fast, though the use of a conventional hard drive makes it less snappy than it otherwise could be. In fact, the R2 takes longer to boot than most other laptops, clearly hindered by the various Alienware applications that control the lighting and other features. Once in Windows, though, things settle down and the laptop runs well, launching applications and games noticeably faster than CULV laptops. We ran through our standard application benchmarks just to confirm our impression.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

Futuremark PCMark05

Internet Performance

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

Both PCMark results improve by 15%, but they're at the lower end of the improvement scale. Peacekeeper shows the benefit of Turbo Boost, with 51% faster scores on the R2. Likewise, Cinebench is 56% faster on the 1CPU test, and Hyper-Threading plus Turbo Boost improve the multi-core rendering score by 68%. Rounding things out, x264 encoding also benefits from HTT and Turbo modes, with 39% and 45% faster encoding in pass one and two respectively. If you opt for the standard i5-520UM model, we expect scores will drop at least 10%, and perhaps as much as 20%, so keep that in mind.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

Futuremark 3DMark05

Futuremark 3DMark03

A quick look at 3DMark results confirms our gaming scores. 05, 06, and Vantage all have the R2 leading by a small amount—11%, 7%, and 2% respectively. Meanwhile, again we have a situation where an older application with higher frame rates runs slower on the R2. 3DMark03 is 17% faster on the original M11x, and while we don't "play" 3DMark it suggests that the process of transferring frames over the PCI-E bus to the IGP frame buffer is likely limiting performance. If you recall, Optimus doesn't have any direct connections to the displays, letting all of those go through the IGP. It's what allows the instantaneous switch between IGP and dGPU with no screen flicker. The catch is that all the frames go over the PCI-E bus. That's not a problem when you run at reasonable settings and get frame rates of under 60FPS, as you're only looking at around 250MB/s of data on a bus capable of handling 8000MB/s. However, theoretical performance and practical performance are different matters, and with the game tests on 3DMark03 running at anywhere from 110 to 350 FPS congestion seems likely.

We looked at the detailed results for 3DMark03, and sure enough it's the Game 1 test that shows the biggest drop. On the original it ran at 348FPS while it gets just 179FPS on the R2. The other results are closer; Game 2 runs at 136 vs. 128, Game 3 at 112 vs. 110, and Game 4 at 135 vs. 108—with the R1 beating the R2 in all four tests. This also appears to confirm that the lower scores in our Empire: Total War and STALKER: Call of Pripyat games (at minimum detail where frame rates are high) are not a driver issue so much as a PCI-E congestion issue. Again, this isn't a problem when you're playing games at reasonable frame rates (you don't really need more than 60FPS on typical LCDs), but we found it interesting nonetheless.

Gaming Comparison at Recommended Settings Overclocked Performance: Win Some, Lose Some


View All Comments

  • beginner99 - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    There is also a 13.3 timelineX with the 5650 radeon. no optical drive tough. I don't need one anyway for what?
    I think it's also the same weight as the alienware but bigger screen. imho much better bang for the buck.
  • Roland00 - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    Do you have the model for that timelineX? I can't seem to find it on acer's website (that doesn't mean it doesn't exist though). Personally I rather have a 13 inch and I have seen the AS3820T-5246 in person and I am impressed with what I seen so far (the joys of selling computers). Reply
  • bakareshi - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    ppft... optical drive. Still holding on? I don't hold it against Alienware for being at the front of the paradigm change. Optical drives no longer add value, they just consume real estate and sway customers to buy who haven't realized DVDs are no longer a necessity. Reply
  • Akv - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    The concept of "gaming laptop" still sounds like an oxymoron to me.

    I game with a large tower with large fans, and a large 27" screen.

    I would be more interested in a review about new laptops that don't heat and don't make noise.
  • Shmutt - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    I understand that the review is done on the best possible config for the M11x R2 and thus has the core-i7 CPU.

    However, on Dell's website, it is stated that the option with the core-i7 does not have an integrated gfx. I have confirmed this in a live-chat with a Dell sales rep. I'm guessing that Optimus will do nothing in this case?

    So it was the main reason why I went with the core-i5 option. Supposedly, it will have a better batt life as discrete GPU will be powered down if not needed. I hope Anandtech can get its hands on a core-i3/i5 specced M11x R2 and see if this claim is correct.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    Whoever you spoke with is clueless. LOL. The i7-640UM (and the i7-620M) are both dual-core Arrandale chips with Intel HD Graphics; they're just clocked higher than the i5 variants. So Optimus is fully functional. It's only the quad-core i7 chips that don't have integrated graphics. Reply
  • Shmutt - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    Oh ok! Damn! Thanks for clarifying that. Reply
  • fire_storm - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link


    I am planning to buy an m17x in a week or so, is there any upgrades worthwhile in the near future?
    should I hold on this until its out if any?

  • beelzebub253 - Sunday, July 11, 2010 - link

    Can anyone confirm what the max resolution the m11x R2 will output to external display (using DisplayPort). The website doesn't seem to specify. In particular, can it display 2560x1600 such as on the Dell 3008WFP?

    Jarred? Anyone?
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - link

    The Displayport will be able to hit the 30" resolution. HDMI not. Reply

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