Alienware M18x R2 Gaming Laptop: Dual GPUs Attack

PCMark & 3DMark Tests

To kick things off, we fired up Futuremark's system performance benchmark, PCMark Vantage. This synthetic benchmark suite simulates a range of real-world scenarios and workloads, stressing various system subsets in the process. Everything you'd want to do with your PC -- watching HD movies, music compression, image editing, gaming, and so forth -- is represented here. Most of the tests are multi-threaded, making this a good indicator of all-around performance.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance

It hardly seems fair to toss the M18x R2 into the ring with other gaming laptops we've reviewed, but as lopsided as the results may be, it underscores how far over the top Alienware built this thing. It also highlights the advance of technology. The updated R2 model in our possession nearly tripled the PCMark Vantage score compared to an older model Alienware M18x built around Sandy Bridge and wielding a pair of Radeon GPUs.  Part of that strength comes from the system's pair of Samsung SSDs, which push IO throughput in this particularly disk-sensitive benchmark.

Equally obscene in the laptop space is the PCMark 7 score our M18x system returned. We've seen higher scores before, but only from enthusiast-grade desktop rigs, never from a laptop. Notice the balanced performance in the categorical breakdown PCMark 7 provides, which indicates the M18x R2 is equally suited for any task you throw at it, be it gaming or productivity chores.

Futuremark 3DMark 11
Simulated Gaming Performance

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark11, is specifically bound to Windows 7-based systems because it uses the advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 11. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Performance preset option.

Wielding a pair of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M GPUs in SLI, the M18x cut through 3DMark 11 like one of Dexter's blades through slicing through a helpless body. The GTX 680M is the fastest GPU on the planet, and the M18x benefits from having two them push pixels around like a schoolyard bully. The system also benefits from a quad-core Ivy Bridge processor and dual SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration, but by and large, 3DMark 11 is highly influenced by the graphics subsystem.

When we re-ran 3DMark 11 with the Extreme Preset, the M18x again performed like a high-end gaming desktop, which is entirely appropriate considering the hardware. What this tells us is that the M18x has the legs to keep up with demanding titles for a long while to come. That's encouraging when you're dropping over four large on a system.

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