AVADirect first contacted us in early 2008 to see if we would be interested in doing a notebook review. While normally we wouldn't want to turn down any manufacturer, the fact is they were offering to send us another Clevo M570RU notebook -- the same basic notebook as the WidowPC Sting 517D2 that we had just finished reviewing. Retreading old ground didn't seem to be very useful, so we had to figure out if there was anything new we could bring to the table.

After further consideration, we came up with several areas that we would like to investigate further. First, the WidowPC notebook shipped with Windows Vista 64-bit installed; that's definitely not a problem, but we didn't have the time to install the 32-bit version to see if there was any difference in overall performance. So our first request was that AVADirect configure a system with a 32-bit OS. Let's make things clear: considering they are shipping a system with 4 GB of memory, we definitely think a 64-bit OS is the way to go, and AVADirect does support (and recommend) such a configuration.

Then Dell sent us their XPS M1730 equipped with SLI video cards. We ran a ton of benchmarks on that system, but trying to report on everything in a single article became increasingly difficult. We felt a look at SLI scaling performance would make an interesting addition to this review. We will thus be including results from the AVADirect M570RU (a single GeForce 8800M GTX notebook) and comparing it to the Dell XPS M1730, the latter running with SLI enabled as well as disabled.

Finally, one topic that invariably seems to come up with discussions of gaming notebooks is video drivers -- and particularly long-term support from companies in the way of providing new driver updates. We spoke with NVIDIA quite a bit on the subject, and we definitely feel it's a topic that should interest anyone who owns or plans to own a gaming notebook (at least if it has an NVIDIA graphics chip). We also have a few other interesting pieces of information regarding video drivers that we hope will find useful.

While the AVADirect M570RU is literally identical to the WidowPC Sting 517D2 in terms of appearance -- with the exception of the logo on the front of the laptop -- there are some differences we want to discuss. These differences fall into two general categories: differences in configuration options, and differences between the companies. So let's return to the Clevo M570RU once more, only this time we'll see how AVADirect approaches this notebook chassis.

AVADirect System Overview
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  • docjon - Monday, March 17, 2008 - link

    So let me see if I understand this correctly, Nvidia will not be offering mobile drivers to the public but will make them available to the vendor who can validate them and then offer them to their customers on their web site? ie through Dell?
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 17, 2008 - link

    See above. There will still be official driver updates from the vendors after validation, presumably - or at least, they'll come as often as they have in the past. :)
  • docjon - Saturday, March 15, 2008 - link

    How about a link to the beta drivers? I checked the nvidia web site and can't find the 174.20 drivers you used.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 15, 2008 - link

    The 174.20 drivers were directly from NVIDIA but they are still undergoing testing and validation. The plan was to hopefully have those available (well, an updated version that addresses a few things probably) within the next month. Note that the LaptopVideo2Go 174.xx drivers are not the same, as those are based off the desktop parts and lack mobile optimizations as far as I can see.
  • ap90033 - Saturday, March 15, 2008 - link

    When they finally are on Nvidia's website, will they only work for 8800M GTX's or will they also work for 8800M GTS's? I have a P6831FX Gateway and would love some newer drivers. :)
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 15, 2008 - link

    My understanding is that the next "Mobile Driver Update" from NVIDIA will cover all GeForce M chips on Vista 32-bit/64-bit for participating vendors. So that means the Gateway FX, Toshiba X205, Dell XPS, and various Clevo notebooks should all work with the beta driver. Probably some others as well. I *hope* that they get GeForce Go support on Vista as well with the next driver, and likewise I would appreciate seeing new XP drivers for both Go and M series cards.
  • docjon - Monday, March 17, 2008 - link

    So these drivers will not be offered by nvidia to the general public but will be made available to dell to offer after they validate them?
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 17, 2008 - link

    No, the "Mobile Gaming Drivers" or whatever you want to call it are going to be available from NVIDIA. The last release came just before 8800M launched, so it only supports up through the 8700M. They also didn't cover all GPUs on all OSes - so 8400-8700M got Vista drivers and GeForce Go 7xxx got XP drivers.

    The laptop vendors do have to agree to participate - so Dell pretty much tells NVIDIA it's okay if they release a driver that will work with the XPS laptops, as an example. Note that this is not just a vendor decision; it's a model decision as well. So while Dell is okay with "beta" drivers direct from NVIDIA for their XPS (gaming) laptops, they don't want beta drivers for Inspiron or Latitude laptops.

    Normally, notebook vendors do not allow manufacturers to release "reference" updated drivers that support the mobile chipsets, which is why we see stuff like Well, this is a step back from that stance, but only for laptops where updated video drivers are a major concern. Thus, the vendors still have to give NVIDIA permission to release the drivers to the public. Make sense?
  • builtone2many - Friday, March 14, 2008 - link

    Great article. Kind of curious about the casing in the pictures. The latest version from Clevo for systems with X9000 processors has a slightly different casing, labled "Extreme Edition", with an additional molded section on the bottom to provide for better ventilation around the CPU. Wonder if AVA is shipping old case versions?
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 15, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the comments. I've had this system for about a month, and it's pre-release. It could be that the final shipping models will cool the CPU better, have a working overclock for X9000, and not be as loud at idle. I can only hope so.

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