Alienware M18x Gaming Notebook: Tale of Two GPUs

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PCMark 7 and PCMark Vantage

Test Methodology and Setup Notes:  We'd like to touch upon how we tested each of our Alienware M18x configurations that we delivered for review.  In all benchmark test conditions, with the exception of our battery tests, systems were plugged into their AC Adapter with power plans left at default as set from the factory.  All power sleep and standby modes were disabled, as were screensavers and Windows update.  The machines were setup with all benchmark tools and software and then the hard drives were defragmented.  Systems were rebooted before each test run as well. 

** Please note NVIDIA Verde graphics driver version 280.26 (WHQL) and AMD Catalyst 11.8 (WHQL) drivers were used for testing.  These were the latest graphics drivers publicly available for this notebook at the time of testing.

Futuremark's PCMark 7 is the latest version of the PCMark suite, recently released this spring. It has updated application performance measurements targeted for a Windows 7 environment. Here's what Futuremark says is incorporated in the base PCMark suite and the Entertainment suite, the two modules we have benchmark scores for you here.

Futuremark PCMark 7
General Application and Multimedia Performance
The PCMark test is a collection of workloads that measure system performance during typical desktop usage. This is the most important test since it returns the official PCMark score for the system
Storage
  • Windows Defender
  • Importing pictures
  • Gaming

Video Playback and transcoding
Graphics

  • DirectX 9

Image manipulation
Web browsing and decrypting

The Entertainment test is a collection of workloads that measure system performance in entertainment scenarios using mostly application workloads. Individual tests include recording, viewing, streaming and transcoding TV shows and movies, importing, organizing and browsing new music and several gaming related workloads. If the target system is not capable of running DirectX 10 workloads then those tests are skipped. At the end of the benchmark run the system is given an Entertainment test score.


M18x with Dual Radeon HD 6990M CrossFire


M18x with Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M SLI

Both of these test were performed with the notebooks set to either CrossFire or SLI mode in their respective graphics control panels.  The base PCMark 7 scores are a bit on the underwhelming side, likely due to the standard notebook hard drive employed in our builds.  The Entertainment scores are solid however and as you can see, the two solutions are neck-and-neck with AMD's CrossFire setup taking the lead by a small margin.

 

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated General Desktop Performance
Next up, we ran our test systems through Futuremark’s previous generation total-system performance evaluation tool, PCMark Vantage. PCMark Vantage runs through a host of different usage scenarios to simulate different types of workloads including High Definition TV and movie playback and manipulation, gaming, image editing and manipulation, music compression, communications, and productivity.  Since we have a large database of scores for this test, we felt it would be good to give you additional reference points to compare to.



Here PCMark Vantage shows the M18x cleanly ahead of many of the comparison gaming notebook testbeds, including the ever-fabulous Asus G74SX series, which notably was configured with a more midrange graphics chip.  Beyond that, we see the two M18x configurations tested once again going head-to-head in the numbers, with a slight advantage again to AMD, though only marginally so.
 

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