Gaming Performance 2
Before we begin comparing the XPS M1710 to the field of other notebooks, it is important to fully understand and grasp the impact using a dual-core processor has upon overall performance. With these results in mind, we can truly develop an apples-to-apples comparison between the systems and identify why consumers should or should not demand a dual-core CPU option for their next notebook purchase.
When little to no image quality enhancements are enabled, we quickly see the profound benefit using a dual-core CPU provides within multithreaded games that can fully take advantage of them. In the most extreme case where no FSAA or Anisotropic Filtering is enabled, the performance differential between a single and dual core CPU is a staggering 22.8fps! To put this in perspective, there are countless notebooks on the market that couldn't even run Quake4 at this resolution and obtain an average framerate of 23fps. As image quality enhancements begin to be added and their settings increased, the impact of the second core gradually becomes minimized because another component - the GPU - becomes the bottleneck.
Running at a resolution of 1024x768 with no image quality enhancements, the Dell XPS M1710 absolutely pummels the competition. Here, the XPS system's powerful GeForce Go 7900 GTX is able to command a more than 30fps advantage in framerate over the slightly less capable GeForce Go 7900 GS found on the Alienware Aurora m9700. Lesser GPU's such as the GeForce Go 6600 aren't even in the same league as the Dell system with Intel IGP-equipped providing almost embarrassing performance in comparison.
Raising the game's resolution to a stunning 1920x1200, we begin to truly see the raw performance of the Dell XPS M1710. With no anti-aliasing but 8x Anisotropic Filtering enabled, the single GPU equipped XPS system enjoys a 23fps advantage over the SLI-enabled Aurora m9700. When the Alienware system is using a single GPU, the Dell notebook's advantage jumps to upwards of 28fps. Once 2x FSAA is added to the mix, the Dell system's advantage does decrease, though it still maintains an impressive 12.6fps advantage over the SLI notebook.
Once 4x FSAA and 8X Anisotropic Filtering are enabled, the gap between the XPS M1710 and the SLI-equipped Aurora m9700 begins to fade. Regardless, the Dell notebook still retains the performance crown despite having only a single GPU compared to the two GPU's found on the Alienware Aurora m9700. Here, it is amazing to see that despite these obscene settings and resolution, the game is relatively fluid with an average framerate of 40fps or more. As soon as we begin using 8x FSAA with 8x Anisotropic Filtering however, the performance falls off a veritable cliff with average framerates hovering around an unacceptable 13.2fps. To put things into perspective, even the SLI-equipped Alienware system is only able to offer a measly 14.9fps. Regardless, the game certainly looks more than acceptable running at 1920x1200 with 4xAA/8xAF while offering an excellent framerate, so this is hardly a negative for a notebook or even a high-end desktop system.