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M14x R2 Day One Review

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M14X R2 REVIEW!

1. Overview

System - I7-3610qm, Nvidia 650mGT 2gb, 6gb ram, 1366x768, 128GB SSD Intel Sata 320, Wifi (standard)

The system arrived as ordered, no issues, no dead pixels, and is a mirror image of the older M14xR1.

My first order of business was to remove the default 500gb hitachi HDD, and replace it with my brand new intel 320 SSD. Squirt

a fresh load of Win7, Drivers, updates and we are off to the races. In essence, the exterior offers no updates from the R1. It

has the same "batman" finish as the older model and feels so comfortable and familiar that its hard to think of this as a different

machine. The system seems to run much cooler than the R1 and I am going to assume this is due to Ivy Bridge plus the implimentation

of the 650mGT. CPU temps rarely hit over 80c and GPU temps usually stay in the low 60s. Note. Max GPU voltage is now 1.0370

2. Improvements

1. CPU - The Ivy bridge I7-3610 is very powerful for a notebook cpu. It easily hits 3.1ghz on all 8 threads during gameplay. Boot times with the SSD are 20 seconds.

2. GPU - Im still running this through its paces, but I am very impressed right now. The performance increases are not necessarily astounding but 5-10 fps increase on

most games is a plus and the fact that it runs much more efficiently (even on battery) just provides a much improved portable gaming solution. The coolest feature is the

"Turbo" ala Judas Priest. It kicks on automagically and does it while gaming. I have monitored and logged BF3, Diablo 3 and benchmarks and it raises the clocks from (745/1400) to (835/1671). 15 percent increase. Contrary to what we were told, overclocking DOES WORK and the Turbo feature is then added on top of the overclock.

3. Performance on Battery. The GPU clocks regardless of battery profile (max performance or balanced) are set at 405/810.

4. Improved Sata 3 and Raid support.

5. Sound Software Soundblaster Recond 3dI is in my opinion better than the Realtek default software on the R1 as it has better surround support which is a REQUIREMENT

on FPS games.

3. Performance (m14xr1 vs m14xr2)

Fine print details... R1 I7-2630qm, 555mGT 1.5, 64GB SSD, 1366x768, 4gb Ram, Win7 sp1, Display Driver 295.73, Bios A01.

R2 I7-3610qm, 650mGT 2.0, 120gb SSD, 1366x768, 6gb Ram, Win7 sp1, Display Driver 301.34, Bios A02.

Scores:

3dmark11

R1 (@800/1080) = 1901 NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7-2630QM Processor,Alienware M14xR1 score: P1901 3DMarks

R2 (@stock plus turbo) =2390 NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7-3610QM Processor,Alienware M14xR2 score: P2390 3DMarks

R2 (@oc100/100 plus turbo) = 2586 NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7-3610QM Processor,Alienware M14xR2 score: P2586 3DMarks

R1 (Battery custom profile) = 810 (this was the best score I could achieve while being able to still play for about an hour on battery. Clocks at 350/500.

R2 (Battery) = 1214 NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7-3610QM Processor,Alienware M14xR2 score: P1214 3DMarks (only 200 points from the stock R1 score of the 555mGT)!!!

Game Benchmark:

Metro 2033 (Settings 1366x768, Dx11, High, AAA, Tess off, 4xAF, Physx Off, Tessellation Enabled, DOF disabled)

Each system was run on Frontlines 3 times to get average.

R1 (Stock) Min 10.52 Max 58.90 Average Framerate 29.00

R1 (OC 800/1080) Min 11.18 Max 90.17 Average Framerate 35.67

R2 (Stock plus turbo) Min 12.63 Max 150.88 Average Framerate 42.67

R2 (OC 100/100 plus turbo) Min 11.59 Max 187.86 Average Framerate 46.33

Game Benchmark: Battlefield 3

Recorded with Fraps logging, both systems were tested on the same 52 man server, Team Death Match, Full.. So MAX Chaos-Explosions-Smoke-Particles-Cheez

Battlefield 3 settings VANILLA HIGH (no adjustments) 1366x768 default resolution. Config file was used to remove triple buffering and render ahead. This removes most of the (pre processing) and gives you a better idea of performance. Logging was disabled quickly during any (and many) deaths as to add NO FLUFF!

R1 (OC 800/1080) Many sessions were recorded. This is just a small sample.

Frames: 1048 - Time: 26692ms - Avg: 39.263 - Min: 27 - Max: 49

2012-05-22 14:42:22 - bf3

Frames: 973 - Time: 24742ms - Avg: 39.326 - Min: 30 - Max: 46

2012-05-22 14:43:13 - bf3

Frames: 17 - Time: 437ms - Avg: 38.902 - Min: 38 - Max: 38

2012-05-22 14:43:18 - bf3

Frames: 879 - Time: 21185ms - Avg: 41.492 - Min: 37 - Max: 47

2012-05-22 14:43:56 - bf3

R2 (Stock plus Turbo)

2012-05-22 16:06:18 - bf3

Frames: 732 - Time: 16162ms - Avg: 45.291 - Min: 40 - Max: 55

2012-05-22 16:06:39 - bf3

Frames: 938 - Time: 20359ms - Avg: 46.073 - Min: 41 - Max: 55

2012-05-22 16:07:14 - bf3

Frames: 1061 - Time: 24243ms - Avg: 43.765 - Min: 36 - Max: 48

2012-05-22 16:07:47 - bf3

Frames: 727 - Time: 15927ms - Avg: 45.646 - Min: 37 - Max: 53

R2 (OC 100/100 plus Turbo)

2012-05-22 16:19:49 - bf3

Frames: 57 - Time: 1029ms - Avg: 55.394 - Min: 55 - Max: 56

2012-05-22 16:20:05 - bf3

Frames: 927 - Time: 18939ms - Avg: 48.947 - Min: 41 - Max: 69

2012-05-22 16:21:00 - bf3

Frames: 388 - Time: 7894ms - Avg: 49.151 - Min: 47 - Max: 52

2012-05-22 16:21:30 - bf3

Frames: 463 - Time: 9501ms - Avg: 48.732 - Min: 44 - Max: 55

Battlefield 3: Gaming on Battery

Played for 40 minutes, BF3 Medium Settings. CPU settings 70 percent. FPS was from 30-45 and smooth. After 40 minutes of continous TDM play, battery showed 56 percent

with 59 minutes left of power. Its really impressive how much power this notebook has on battery.

Game Benchmark: Diablo 3

Its really not worth posting figures as either system pegs this game at 100 FPS. I did notice something strange that the R1 seems to handle the High shadows better

than the R2. I believe this is probably driver related and should not be an issue in the future.

4. Closing:

I believe the R in the R2 is for Refinements not Revision. Its the refinements that really make this M14xR2 the superior of the two models. Better Sound, GPU and true Sata 3 support are worth the 500 bucks this is probably going to cost after selling the R1. I think you will be able to game on battery but when using the nvidia card Im going to bet you can only play for an hour or so before the warnings start to pop. i haven't had time to test the HD4000 so thats the next item of business this week.

Please let me know if I can answer any of your questions. I will only have the R1 for another week or so before its sold on Ebay so I am happy to answer the questions that I can. I HAVEN'T TORN THE NEW MACHINE APART YET AND PROBABLY WONT FOR THE FIRST MONTH... I want to let it settle in first before I repaste with IC Diamond. GPU temps at the moment after 40 minutes of BF3 are 60c with turbo and 61-62c with 100 mhz overclock plus turbo.

Thanks!

update 3dmark11 2679 score overclocked 135/200

NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7-3610QM Processor,Alienware M14xR2 score: P2679 3DMarks

Edited by Stevenxowens792
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Dang, Thats some hefty performance, R2 is almost as strong on battery as R1 was plugged in (stock). Dang, man cant wait to get a job and nab this.

Thanks for the quick overview, it looks pretty solid, Bet you could max out BF3 with that badboy :P

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Well.. spread the word to the parrot heads and the other sites... The review is up.. and for the record.. overclocking works on top of the auto turbo on the GPU. How can you tell you ask? Simple... Run 3dmark11 on stock plus auto turbo. Record the initial FPS and in scene 1 it counts the seconds as well as the frame rate during the bench. So, with a partner you count out the FPS every 5 seconds during the bench. Do this again while overclocking. Notice the figures go up. If the GPU was restricting or even THROTTLING your GPU the numbers will decrease from the stock run. The auto turbo engages all the time during games or benchmarks. It never turns off unless the GPU is not being utilized like during loading times or switching maps. Also notice on true rendering benchmarks like metro2033 that the numbers go up as you increase the overclock (not down) as would indicate throttling.

And That my friends... is how we do it.

Edited by Stevenxowens792
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Rocking Review Bro! Can't wait to get mine in a few days. So MSI really works for overclocking? I guess OC is disabled on the clevo's according to NBR.

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Again, yes the M14xR2 allows for overclocking. How can I prove it, simple... Bench with 3dmark11 or in game benchmarks, watch the clocks with GPUz and notice that stock the auto turbo kicks in and never stops until utilization of the GPU is complete. Then overclock with MSI, run the same benchmarks or in game, watch the clock speeds on GPU-z and notice the scores go up. Feel free to use any benchmark that's recent and uses REAL time processing and NOT estimates based on clock speeds.

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Great review Steven... As usual always great stuff coming our way from you Steven. That's a kick butt system. Seems very efficient on battery and finally a worthy portable system from Alienware that's similar to M15x (SVL7 breathed epic life into his with upgrades)

The turbo gpu feature seems great.

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You said the GPU usually stays in the low 60s? Is that Idle or under load? Just wondering because My R1 hardly stays under that when idle.

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Ninja, Ill take some more readings but usually during load its around 62-63c but it needs to settle in and then see what the temps really are. you know how it goes.

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Congrats on the new system Steven, seems the improvements definitely make it worth getting. 5-6 fps may not mean much overall but in an online game like BF3, it can make all the difference between getting shot or a kill. Thanks for the comparison.

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Brian, with overclock plus turbo its probably more like 6-10 depending on settings and network latency but so far I really like the R2. Some kids are complaining about the Turbo feature but I really like it so far. No throttling at all with 100/100 overclock. I haven't pushed it higher yet because I really just dont see the need at this point. I was thinking of loading ARMA2 this weekend since its been such a long time to see how it goes... I can't wait for ARMA 3. Since it says the 560GTX will play it I think the 650 should be fine.

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Great job Steven that is some great new performance for that new system :) Keep up the great work Steven!

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i love my m14x-r2 too , well my m18x is filled with dust now...lol

cleaned mine out too after maybe 3months there is a fair amount of build up not blocked but definately dusty :)

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Tbh it's very subjective whether $500 extra is worth for this refinement. For example, that is the price range of new 7970M cards that provide much better performance gain on systems with dedicated GPUs. My opinion is that upgrading each generation still gives pretty poor value for your money, but it depends a lot on a specific game one plays.

That said, I am very aware that the difference between 45FPS and 30FPS in a game like BF3 is massive, but one could probably tune the game a bit by lowering it's graphic settings and reach ~60 FPS, which is for me the good number for very smooth play. I would say then the question is whether the $500 is worth the upgrade in graphics you get between R1 and R2 at that 60FPS frame rate (or whatever number you like to make it good for you). In some games, the difference will most likely be even greater: these scores show about 50% FPS increase in Metro (this is obviously HUGE).

On the other hand, if you're playin just Diablo3 it would have been a wasted money for the upgrade -- in that case it would make more sense (if the goal is to improve gaming) to invest in a better (external) screen, keyboard, mouse or good quality headphones.

P.S. It's a great that the GPU runs pretty cool.

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Unreal - I think your assessment is sound. As I stated in chat, If I were smart, I would have got the m17r4 plus the 7970. But I just couldn't justify spending the money. 10 more fps in most games is ok. The quiet, the overclocking, the sound system (which I like this software MUCH better than the last) is worth it to me. For me, I already have the headphones, backpack, mouse, etc... all Alienware. Since I game on the couch most of the time an external screen is not practical but might be worth it someday. (ive looked at them). The hd4000 is much more powerful than the 3000. Its like a 10-15fps gain in Diablo 3 on low settings. from 30fps to 45 almost. So if you can stand diablo on low you could play for hours on battery. My personal opinion, I really like the smaller systems... They call to me, even with my aging eyes. Cheers..! StevenX

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Yeah, I understand. The on-board sound even on M17x-R2 is very poor and I liked it much better on M11x (even R1). But I use external speakers or headphones 99% of the time anyway. If you already don't have M17x/M15x then it is quite a big investment. I am just saying in comparison for people who do have older M17x and M14x-R1 that the upgrades can be much more beneficial if one waits 2+ generations (given that the upgrades are still compatibile obviously).

I don't like the fact that Dell isn't offering premium screens on Alienwares. I remember e.g. playing SWTOR on an RGB LED screen -- it was night and day difference from my friend's standard TN. The colors might look unnatural, but the saturated colors on cartoonish games look very pretty nevertheless. My point (or opinion) is that such screen would give us a much better upgrade in terms of the image quality than a better graphics card.

Yep, I know about HD4000. Have you seen initial reviews of AMD's Trinity? It looks a bit more powerful and good for some gaming.

For me even for Diablo 3, I don't find myself very often in a situation where I don't have an AC plug and wanting to play an online game. Plus, I am really in need of my mouse. :) So I always gamed on a desk -- I need my space. For other single player games it might be neat. I travel about 2 times per year, so it's not that big of a deal. (I usually just watch movies on trips.) I like smaller systems too, they are nicer to carry around and use in a caffeteria or something but I find most decent laptops still way too heavy, even M11x. In fact, I wouldn't mind M17x size, if only it was a bit lighter.

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In fact, I wouldn't mind M17x size, if only it was a bit lighter.

+1 million internets.

Even the M18X size is no bother, it's the weight (especially including the brick) that kills me.

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I load my M18x in my backpack and it's Xbox sized psu and just a select few peripherals. By that point it's gone beyond even 30+ pounds. I wouldn't say that's a killer but not in a back pack manuevering it around can be cumbersome as I'm more worried that it's such a heavy metal beast that if it were to accidentally drop can somebody say cut your toe off? Lol :P

Cool thing though is I see average of 45fps on Diablo 3 on Intel HD3000 up or down upon screen fill... at 720p, AA on, no low fx option, vsync off, Detail High, Shadows Off. But to be fair that is with my own brand of aftermarket ram. I have feeling those fps aren't fully the norm from what others have said about the now legacy Intel HD3000.

Unreal your spot on tht average gamer not looking for maxing crysis etc can get by easily on the new HD4000 graphics for a fair amount of games as long as full HD resolutions aren't used. As the resolution increases performance on Intel HD IGP exponentially drops.

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I'd like to higlight a thing Unreal wrote: the LCD panels that Dell ships with the AWs are quite horrible.

I had to change mine a couple of weeks ago so I ordered a genuine part... Well, the original was a 1600x900 one that apart of not being amazing about colors etc. decided to slowly melt its backlights. I decided to switch back for a 1366x768 mainly for working purposes (it fits better for me) and surprise! It's awful!!! The colors are something of gray-shaded in comparison of many other panels I have seen, even in cheaper models (I personally like the asus ones). And that's a shame.

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