Alienware Aurora m9700

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Gaming Performance 2


Performance Comparisons with Quake 4

Quake 4
id Software, in conjunction with developer Raven, recently released the latest addition to the wildly popular Quake franchise, Quake 4. Quake 4 is based upon an updated and slightly modified version of the Doom 3 engine, and as such performance characteristics between the two titles are very similar.  Like Doom 3, Quake 4 is also an OpenGL game that uses extremely high-detailed textures and a ton of dynamic lighting and shadows, but unlike Doom3, Quake 4 features some outdoor environments as well. We ran this these Quake 4 benchmarks using a custom demo with the game set to its "High-Quality" mode, at resolutions of 1024x768 and 1920x1200 with and without anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering enabled and the aspect ratio set to "Widescreen".

Using the Doom3 engine, it is no surprise to see the NVIDIA-based system handle Quake4 with ease at this resolution. Compared to the 128MB GeForce Go 6600 found on the previously reviewed Alienware notebook, the Aurora m9700's 256MB GeForce Go 7900 is dominant. With no image quality enhancements, the single GPU Aurora m9700 holds an obscene 40fps advantage over the Area51 m5500. Somewhat surprisingly, enabling SLI actually decreases performance ever so slightly here and is likely due to the driver overhead of managing the two cards. This is somewhat of a null issue as the single GPU is more than up to the task of handling the game at these settings.

Keeping the resolution at 1024x768, we began experimenting with various levels of FSAA to determine the benefits SLI has on this title at these settings. As you can see in the plot above, we saw very limited benefits at this resolution with the largest performance differential being roughly 5fps. Surely, we would have to punish the system with an obscene resolution of 1920x1200 to clearly illustrate what we were dealing with.

At a resolution that would make most systems tremble, the Aurora m9700 performed admirably. Here, average framerates remained above 40fps even with 4xFSAA and 8xAF when using SLI. For those wishing to use a single GPU, the highest settings that remained above 40fps were 2xFSAA and 8xAF. In each case, the game looks absolutely stunning and is nothing short of amazing to see it run on a notebook at these speeds. However, in terms of overall performance and the benefits of adding the second GPU we are slightly disappointed. Given the information above, it seems almost criminal to complain about performance as this level of speed was unheard of only a short time ago for notebooks. Regardless, we cannot help but feel that this platform is still a bit early in development and we are confident we will see performance increase dramatically once more mature drivers are written.

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