Alienware 13 R2 Gaming Laptop And Graphics AMP Review

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Alienware 13 R2 Performance: PCMark, 3DMark, Cinebench

Evaluating the Alienware 13 R2 is really a tale of two GPUs. As configured, there's the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, a mobile part that's built into the laptop, and the PNY GeForce GTX 980 XLR8, a discrete desktop graphics card plugged into the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. We include benchmark results for both configurations.

Futuremark PCMark 7
Simulated Application Performance

Futuremark’s PCMark 7 is a well-known benchmark tool that runs the system through ordinary tasks, including word processing and multimedia playback and editing. Graphics and processor power figure prominently in this benchmark, but graphics power doesn’t play as big a role here as it does in another Futuremark benchmark, 3DMark (which is designed for testing the system’s gaming capabilities). This test also weights heavily on the storage subsystem of a given device.

Alienware 13 R2 PCMark 7

The Alienware 13 R2 started off a little sluggish by posting a pair of scores that trended towards the bottom of the pack. Not without reason, even though the latest Alienware system swings a Skylake processor, it's a dual-core CPU with a 2.5GHz base clock-speed. In a benchmark that's heavily focused on productivity, as PCMark 7, it's no surprise that systems with older generation processors with more cores and higher clock-speeds fare better here.

Maxon Cinebench R11.5
Simulated Application Performance

Based on Maxon Cinema 4D software, this test uses a 3D scene and polygon and texture manipulation to assess GPU and CPU performance. We usually opt for the Main Processor Performance (CPU) test, which builds a still scene containing about 2,000 objects, for total polygon count above 300,000. We run the test twice: once with only one processor core enabled, the next time with all CPU cores blazing. Cinebench displays its results in points.

Alienware 13 R2 Cinebench

Cinebench didn't provide much relief for the Alienware 13 R2 and its dual-core CPU. The system did manage to post respectable OpenGL scores, both with the mobile GeForce GTX 960M and desktop GeForce GTX 980, they just weren't strong enough to eclipse other gaming systems we've tested.

Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme
3D Game Performance

Futuremark designed 3DMark Fire Strike for desktop PCs, but today’s heavy-duty gaming laptops have the chops to take on the high-resolution texture, tessellation and other components of the test. Sky Diver is Futuremark’s dedicated laptop benchmark. This is a good test for entry- and mid-range gaming laptops.

Alienware 13 R2 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme

Once we start focusing squarely on graphics performance, the benchmark charts start to look a little different, as is the case here. When tapping the GTX 960M, the Alienware 13 R2 skips ahead of laptops based on NVIDIA's previous generation GTX 860M. And when connecting the laptop to the AMP with a GeForce GTX 980 graphics card inside, the spunky 13-inch laptop takes second place, losing out only to its larger sibling, the Alienware 15.

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