Application and Futuremark Performance

I find myself often saying "at this point, Ivy Bridge is pretty much a known quantity," but that really does remain true. What we want to pay attention to with the M17x R4 is the performance difference between the i7-3610QM and the i7-3720QM, since the 3610QM is the baseline CPU for the M17x R4 while the 3720QM is a $150 upgrade.

Unfortunately, our testing of the M17x R4 was not without hiccups. Total War: Shogun 2 crashes during benchmarking, a problem that's been reproduced in NVIDIA's labs. The current BIOS update coupled with most recent drivers are supposed to ameliorate that problem, but that hasn't been the case. When that problem is resolved we'll endeavor to update Bench with those benchmark results.

PCMark 7 - PCMarks

PCMark 7 - Lightweight

PCMark 7 - Productivity

PCMark 7 - Creativity

PCMark 7 - Entertainment

PCMark 7 - Computation

PCMark 7 - Storage

The essential problem in PCMark 7 is that the M17x R4 is relying on SSD caching instead of an actual SSD as our M17x R3 system does. That puts it well behind some of the competing systems we've tested, except for the CZ-17, which doesn't even have the benefit of SSD caching.

Cinebench R11.5 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

x264 HD Benchmark - First Pass

x264 HD Benchmark - Second Pass

You could reasonably argue that in most cases, the M17x R4's substantial heft compared to the slight Clevo W110ER allows for a more powerful cooling system, in turn allowing the i7-3720QM at the heart of the M17x R4 to run faster longer. The jump from the i7-3610QM and i7-3615QM to the i7-3720QM is incremental at best, though, and doesn't really justify the extra $150. Note that the only differences between the i7-3610QM and i7-3615QM are the socket type and a slight bump in top IGP turbo speed on the 3615QM; these chips are otherwise specced identically.

Futuremark 3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

And here's where things start getting real. If you weren't excited to see how the GTX 680M performs in games you should be now, because this is one of the largest jumps in performance we've seen from a top-end mobile GPU in quite some time. Note that the GT 650M is essentially a GTX 660M at slightly lower clocks; with that knowledge in mind, the Samsung Series 7 serves as a suitable proxy for an entry level M17x R4.

Introducing the Alienware M17x R4 Gaming Performance
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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 :)
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Notmyusualid - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - link

    Dam, if only I had known that...
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 'nar - Monday, October 1, 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.
  • Imp@sse - Thursday, October 4, 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
  • 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 :)

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