Mobile Gaming Showdown

The 4GB of Kingston DDR3 coupled with the second-fastest quad-core in Intel's mobile lineup should ensure an extremely capable showing in our regular benchmarks. What we're really going to be interested in is seeing who winds up with the fastest mobile graphics part, barring the value-adds from vendors. Here's a refresh of the configurations of our review units:

AVADirect Clevo W860CU Testbed
Processor Intel Core i7 820QM
(4x1.73GHz, 45nm, 8MB L3, Turbo to 3GHz, 45W)
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1333 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5
(800 Stream Processors, 750MHz/4GHz Core/RAM clocks)

(128 CUDA Cores, 576MHz/1.5GHz/2GHz Core/Shader/RAM clocks)
Display 15.6" LED Glossy 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
Hard Drive(s) Corsair 128GB Nova Series SSD
Optical Drive Blu-ray and DVD+/-RW Drive
Battery 3-Cell, 12V, 42Wh battery
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Pricing $2477.12 (Radeon HD 5870)
$2555.60 (GTX 285M) as configured from AVADirect

These are gaming notebooks, so let's cut straight to the meat and run some gaming tests. For gaming-level hardware, we're going to need settings that really push these GPUs. Mercifully, the W860CU comes with a beautiful 1080p screen that allows us to see just how far these solutions can go. At the top of the line, the GeForce GTX 285M and Mobility Radeon HD 5870 should both produce fluid gameplay at the W860CU's native resolution. We'll also run 1600x900 results to see how dropping down to HD+ affects performance.

We used the built-in benchmarks for every game except Mass Effect 2, which we measured using FRAPS by playing through a section of the game. For games that support DirectX 11, we also ran benchmarks using it on the Mobility 5870 to see if there was a performance benefit or hit.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Crysis: Warhead

DiRT 2

Empire: Total War

Far Cry 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mass Effect 2

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

In every case except for DiRT 2, the Mobility Radeon HD 5870 meets or beats the performance of the GeForce GTX 285M, and in DiRT 2 the 5870 remains perfectly playable even when DirectX 11 is enabled.

Though we average the scores of the four benchmarks in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., it does bear mentioning that while the GTX 285M produced higher numbers in the first three, the 5870 consistently hit 30fps in the Sunshafts benchmark, a feat the 285M could not pull off.

Unfortunately, the news isn't as good as we'd like. Crysis: Warhead still remains the outlier; at “Gamer” settings and 1080p, neither GPU can make it over the 30fps hurdle. A difference between notebook and desktop hardware is expected, but Cypress-based desktop cards can handle Crysis: Warhead at Enthusiast settings at 1080p with performance to spare. These notebook chips are still sitting on the low-end of the last generation's top of the line.

Likewise, one can't help but be underwhelmed by the performance of the Mobility Radeon HD 5870. The performance of NVIDIA's mobile graphics parts has been a sitting target for a long time now, and while the victory is still technically decisive, it's really not the supreme triumph it ought to have been. G92 has been around for a long time now, with NVIDIA resting on its laurels. Anyone hoping AMD's new chip would shock NVIDIA out of its complacency has to be disappointed by these results. Needless to say, GTX 480M shouldn't have too much trouble reclaiming the mobile crown (albeit with higher power requirements that might make it difficult to fit into a 15.6" chassis).

AVADirect Clevo W860CU Overview Speedy Application Performance as Well
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  • SlyNine - Thursday, June 3, 2010 - link

    I've been waiting for this, Could you throw in a 5730 for another video card.

    Also I think the I7 620 would out perform both the 720 and 820 in games.
  • crackedwiseman - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    "Thanks, we'll take the 820QM for $570 less. The i7-820QM comes with all the trimmings: 8MB of L3 cache, Hyper-Threading, and a 2.5 GT/s QuickPath"
    i think you mean DMI
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Fixed, thanks.
  • cacca - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Frankly is disheartening to see a good opportunity to compare 2 notebooks identical except for the GPU being wasted like in this review. I am not looking at the results but on the complete mess of the tables and the methodology.

    If you want compare them first you do a round at directx 11, after you do a directx 10 and if you really want you do the directx 9. Is complete nonsense to use all the 3 different Directx in the same table.

    It really seem cherry picking of results, for me is exactly t he same who is the best, what i want to know is the difference in power. Comparing the notebook to other in the same table adds even more confusion.

    I hope that the next time there is a similar opportunity you will think the methodology before.
  • Ninjahedge - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    At present it's the second fastest in Intel's mobile lineup, behind only the obscenely expensive Core i7-920XM that adds a staggering $800 to the base cost of the W860CU. Thanks, we'll take the 820QM for $570 less.

    Um.... If the 920 adds $800 to the base, how is NOT using it only saving $570?

    Also, the $2500 you listed in the beginning, is that the LIST price? The price you say you got it for (1500-something?) is quite a bit less and hard to believe even with the known disparity between MSRP and Online Discount Prices......
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    The base price of ~$1500 at AVADirect includes 2x1GB DDR3, HD 5870, a Seagate 500GB 5400RPM drive (I think that's right), and an i7-720QM. So the $800 extra for the 920XM is only $570 more than the 820QM. The upgrades to the memory and SSD add a lot to the price as well, giving the test configurations a cost of $2500.
  • Ninjahedge - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Sorry, just read the section again.

    It is hard to use a price for "reference" when you have nothing to go on. Could you list the added components to be able to index the test model to the "base" system?
  • Kaboose - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    With the Asus G73jh-X1 at about $1600 on newegg almost $1000 less then your two champs I feel it does extremely well in most categories and anyone thinking of buying a notebook with a budget but still looking for high end performance i would think that it would be a no brainer. No offense to your clevo w860cu but really for price vs. performance i think the Asus wins.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Which is why the ASUS got a Gold award and these just got a "nice laptop" declaration at the end. If you were to put an i7-820QM and SSD in the G73Jh, it would affect the price (about $450 more give or take). But the ASUS certainly has the better overall design, provided you don't mind the 17.3" chassis.
  • mod_to_odd - Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - link

    When it comes to quality gaming laptops, I dont think any body comes even close to Alienware and Sager. They have amazing customization options which no other brand offers.

    I had almost bought the Asus G73jh but after reading thousands of horrifying issues on the net regarding the customer support and faulty components even after RMA, i dint want to take any chances. In fact, one of my own friend who recently bought the G73jh is in a state of depression as he is dealing with new issues since the very day his notebook arrived.
    The most ridiculous of all is that when you are all excited to unbox the G73, u realize there is no windows7 dvd, you actually got to make backup discs of the Operating System. Asus does not provide you with a windows7 dvd along with such an expensive notebook, instead they fill up your laptop with loads of bloatware. Way to go ASUS...
    Asus needs to really improve big time on quality and customer satisfaction.

    It rather makes sense to buy a gaming notebook from a reputed company even if the price is a bit on the higher side. But then again, to each his own.

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