Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10. 3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware. We tested the M98NU XCaliber with 3DMark Vantage's Performance and Extreme preset options. As the Extreme preset uses a resolution of 1,920x1,200 that exceededs the native screen resolution of the M98NU XCaliber, we conducted this particular test with the notebook sending its video out to an external display.
With a very fast processor and top-of-the-line dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M mobile GPUs in SLI mode, the M98NU XCaliber's performance on the 3DMark Vantage test is, not surprisingly, very impressive. But it doesn't get top honors on the most-grueling preset the test offers, however: Using the test's Extreme preset, the Alienware M17x actually beats it by a decent margin. The M17x has the same processor and GPUs in as the M98NU XCaliber; which just goes to show that you can't always predict performance by looking at only specs (the M17x also has 1TB RAID 0 array and used a different graphics driver version).
Unfortunately, with 3DMark Vantage's Performance preset, we didn't have results from any dual-GPU notebooks to compare the M98NU XCaliber to; so the M98NU XCaliber's dominance in the chart above needs to be tempered by the lack of true comparison systems. But what we can take away from these results is that with a less-aggressive 3D workload (at least less aggressive that the Extreme preset), the M98NU XCaliber delivers excellent performance.
We also ran the above two tests with the M98NU XCaliber's SLI disabled, so that it only used one of its GPUs. With the Extreme preset, the M98NU XCaliber scored 2284 on the test; with the Performance preset, we got a score of 6478. Not that you would typically disable SLI mode, but it's always good to get a sense of what sort of performance you can expect when you run games and apps that don't take advantage of SLI.