Alienware M11x R3: Portable Powerhouseby Dustin Sklavos on July 22, 2011 1:15 AM EST
4.4 Pounds of Gaming Performance
In all of our synthetic metrics, the Alienware M11x R3's updated processor and GPU helped it put in a strong showing against even full-voltage chips from the Arrandale generation. Sandy Bridge's aggressive Turbo Boost seems to be paying big dividends towards helping the line finally get out from under being heavily CPU-limited, so let's see how that pans out once we start using it for what it was intended for: gaming.
The combination of a faster processor and faster GPU seems to pay off handsomely for the M11x R3, but the big news is definitely that the CPU limitations that tended to plague performance on the last two generations are mostly ameliorated by the i7-2617M. It's difficult to gauge how deleterious an effect downgrading to the i5-2537M would have on the M11x R3's gaming performance, but at these settings we appear to be largely GPU-limited. Pay special attention to those Mafia II results: Mafia II has a tendency to stress every part of a system in a way few games do these days, and for that reason I actually use it to max out power consumption when I do desktop testing. Nothing else really comes close.
We have added a few titles since the M11x R2 review, specifically Mafia II, Metro 2033, and StarCraft II. That means we don't have the same set of laptops in those charts, so we added a couple other laptops to flesh things out. You can get a full comparison of how the smaller M11x R3 stacks up against the Dell XPS 15 in Mobile Bench, or you can compare the M11x R3 with it's big brother, the M14x we reviewed earlier this week. Considering the difference in chassis size and CPU performance, it's pretty clear that the i7-2617M isn't holding the GT 540M back much; the M14x on the other hand still gets a healthy boost from the GT 555M. Moving to our High settings will obviously stress the hardware more, but we've included the native 768p results for the M11x as well.
At our "High" preset the M11x R3 continues to put in a strong showing, and most of these games are actually quite playable at the notebook's native 1366x768 resolution. It appears that we're again heavily GPU-limited here, which is fantastic given the low voltage processor. The 17W TDP of the i7-2617M (and the i5-2537M) is as low as Sandy Bridge goes, one watt lower than the previous generation's i7-640UM.