Alienware m11x

MannishBoy wrote:

Anandtech has a review of the new model here.

Good review. It looks like the new upgrades are not really worth the extra cost. I fear this upgrade is just to service the marketing bullet points.

MonoCheli wrote:

Well I pulled the trigger on the m11x r2 with the i7 in it and it came in a couple days ago. I must say the build quality on this laptop is very nice. It is a rather solid weight but when you open it up it is all battery, it has a huge battery inside that is over 1/4 of the body. It hums along with everything I have tried so far BFBC2 at high worked fine (it is only 1366x768 but ya know). my one complaint is Nvidia's Optimus crap I wish they had stuck with the switch of the r1. It doesn't work quite right and doesn't recognize the some of my games properly (mostly steam games) like PvZ,Defense Grid, and MTG aren't starting up right. It looks like there is an new beta driver from dell that I am going to try this weekend and maybe that will work better then the factory drivers. It is a shame they just took the switch away.

Skip the beta driver for now. Just go into the Nvidia control panel and tell it what .exe needs the 335m. I had to do this with a few games, and there's been no problems since then.

I did have issues with BFBC2 and the beta driver. I kept getting kicked by punkbuster for having multiple direct3d loaded. I had to go back to the older driver.

Skip the beta driver for now. Just go into the Nvidia control panel and tell it what .exe needs the 335m. I had to do this with a few games, and there's been no problems since then.

I did have issues with BFBC2 and the beta driver. I kept getting kicked by punkbuster for having multiple direct3d loaded. I had to go back to the older driver.[/quote]

Thanks for the advice. I'll try that first. But I have a feeling I may be like the kid who's dad tells him not to take his toy apart because it won't go back together... Some people need to tinker

I liked what I was getting performance-wise with the driver, but I got kicked 3 times within 15 minutes in BC2. That prompted a quick uninstall and revert to the older version.

Let us know if you get around that, as I'd be happy to go with the newer driver again.

Hemidal wrote:

I liked what I was getting performance-wise with the driver, but I got kicked 3 times within 15 minutes in BC2. That prompted a quick uninstall and revert to the older version.

Let us know if you get around that, as I'd be happy to go with the newer driver again.

Well I tried it because I could not get PvZ, Defense Grid, Peggle, MTG, and a few other less popular games to work. Now all of them work, but like you said BFBC2 kicks me for punkbuster dual directx or something like that. That being said playing BFBC2 vs the other ones that I like to play on the couch... I decided to stick with the new beta drivers for now. Hopefully they will fix this soon. BFBC2 is the only game I am having trouble with right now.

I have found flaw in the m11x that I hope they fix in the future...the headphone and microphone quality is pretty bad. I hooked up a small usb sound card that came with my Beyerdynimic headset and it is far superior to the onboard audio. The microphone quality, in particular, is phenomenally better with the usb card. It really annoys me that little details like this, which are extremely important to the quality of your game experience, slip through the design and build process. I don't need powerful in/out jacks, just decent ones that are quiet and block out interference from the Mobo. Anyway...it is a pimple on an otherwise well made machine.

P.S.

When will they start building onboard dolby processors so I can just plug my headphones in and getting Dolby Headphone straight from the jack? I have seen some gaming laptops with it built in, but they are few and far between. The SRS tech just doesn't cut it.

That is, sadly, pretty normal in laptops. It's even common on desktops. I was experimenting with the headphone out on my Realtek onboard audio, which never bothered me with speakers, and the headphone out is quite hissy and noisy. You can hear the computer working. Very distracting.

Yay! Thanks to the wifey's new job, we have enough income that I can get a new laptop finally. I've sprung for the i5 version.

Malor wrote:

That is, sadly, pretty normal in laptops. It's even common on desktops. I was experimenting with the headphone out on my Realtek onboard audio, which never bothered me with speakers, and the headphone out is quite hissy and noisy. You can hear the computer working. Very distracting.

Agreed. My latest Gigabyte motherboard has horrible shielding problems for the front audio hookups, so bad I can't stand to use that as a headphone jack. The previous board that I used with this system before it dyed was relatively clean and usable. All the other parts are identical, so it's just a bad board design I assume.

Most people don't shop motherboards for audio quality, so you'll often get crap.

I want to get my wife the 15" version, but Alienware is clearing inventory of their older cards, apparently. Wonder if you can call them and get newer parts?

Received my R2 yesterday and love it. I've been setting up my Steam games, etc.

One problem so far...DoW2 only wants to allow me to set the graphics to "low" settings and no matter what I change or try to increase the settings they still revert to "low".

Google tells me some other folks have had this issue as well, but I've seen no solutions yet. Was just wondering of any of you other M11x users were experiencing the same thing?

I had issues with several of my steam games with the factory drivers on my r2. I installed the beta drivers off of the dell website and have had no problems with the ones exception of BF:BC2 where if I try to play online punkbuster kicks me out for having two video cards... I was ok with the trade off and have kept the beta drivers for now. If you have other thoughts about the drivers etc the forums over at Notebookreview.com http://forum.notebookreview.com/alienware-m11x/ have some good resources for drivers, etc.

Tanglebones wrote:

Yay! Thanks to the wifey's new job, we have enough income that I can get a new laptop finally. I've sprung for the i5 version.

How is the i5 version? I've been spending 3.5 to 4 hours on the bus per day commuting to work, and I might keep an eye out to get one of these if Dell has a sale or something. I'm definitely not in a hurry.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Yay! Thanks to the wifey's new job, we have enough income that I can get a new laptop finally. I've sprung for the i5 version.

How is the i5 version? I've been spending 3.5 to 4 hours on the bus per day commuting to work, and I might keep an eye out to get one of these if Dell has a sale or something. I'm definitely not in a hurry.

Running Mass Effect 2 at full resolution beautifully (1366x768) with no real heat issues. Coming from a Macbook Pro, this thing is like an icecube. I haven't done anything too CPU intensive, but I'm sure it'll hold up just fine.

Edit: My only beef is with the screen - it's got lousy viewing angles and way too much glare. Still, it's damn near ideal.

Tanglebones wrote:
tuffalobuffalo wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Yay! Thanks to the wifey's new job, we have enough income that I can get a new laptop finally. I've sprung for the i5 version.

How is the i5 version? I've been spending 3.5 to 4 hours on the bus per day commuting to work, and I might keep an eye out to get one of these if Dell has a sale or something. I'm definitely not in a hurry.

Running Mass Effect 2 at full resolution beautifully (1366x768) with no real heat issues. Coming from a Macbook Pro, this thing is like an icecube. I haven't done anything too CPU intensive, but I'm sure it'll hold up just fine.

Edit: My only beef is with the screen - it's got lousy viewing angles and way too much glare. Still, it's damn near ideal.

Good to know. Thanks for the info. I'll be keeping my eye out for an extra good deal. I think the i5 would be enough for me as I can enjoy the graphics turned up on my desktop.

I've got the i5 as well and I've got no complaints. I was using a HP 8510p that had a Radeon HD2500, so this thing is like a arctic breeze temperature-wise. I use the Logitech N315 more for the sliding mouse pad and not because of heat.

I've had no gaming issues besides a few quirks with the Nvidia Optimus drivers, and that generally just required me to add the .exe to the list.

Oh.. one gaming quirk; when I ran Dosbox, it wasn't working at first; I had to edit the config to set the video to OpenGL.

With the I7 it has gotten hot when I game (ME2, Borderlands, etc). I purchased these http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LT2OAS/ref=oss_product to lift it off of the desk a bit and they have been great. I would recommend them for any hot laptops.

I also got this case and have been enjoying it. It is the perfect size and has enough room for a set of headphones, a mouse and a pad. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001F7FMUA/ref=oss_product

That being said I also have realized this laptop is great at the games where the resolution doesn't matter very much like any game that scales to the resolution but stinks in the games that don't. Playing ME2 is great but LoL is rough because a smaller screen reduces how much you can see.

MannishBoy wrote:

I wonder how much difference the i5 is to the i7. Since there's really not much performance difference between the first version with the SU7300 and the i7's from the reviews I've received, I wonder if the i7 makes much of difference over the i5.

That was my thought exactly. The i5 might be a little easier on the battery too.

I wonder how much difference the i5 is to the i7. Since there's really not much performance difference between the first version with the SU7300 and the i7's from the reviews I've read, I wonder if the i7 makes much of difference over the i5.

Are i5s generally cooler than i7s? I'm willing to deal with heat if it comes with performance, but I think my wife would prefer a cooler laptop.

I'm asking generally, not specific to these notebooks.

You have to look at the TDP (Thermal Design Power) on a given chip. It looks like quadcore i5s are at 95, and the duals are at 65W. The i7s range from 95 to 130.

This is all desktop parts, to a quick search, but it should give you the idea.

Malor wrote:

You have to look at the TDP (Thermal Design Power) on a given chip. It looks like quadcore i5s are at 95, and the duals are at 65W. The i7s range from 95 to 130.

This is all desktop parts, to a quick search, but it should give you the idea.

I'm not nearly techie enough to get that.

So, are the i7s hotter?

TDP is a literal description of the maximum heat the chip should shed during normal operation. I can't answer your question, because it depends on which specific, exact chips you're considering. You have to look up the TDP for the CPU in the laptop you're looking at, if the manufacturer doesn't tell you TDP directly. (they rarely do).

The overall range is from 65W to 130W -- in other words, a fully loaded i7 will shed about twice as much heat as a dual-core i5. They meet in the middle; some i5s are 95w, and so are some i7s.

From a completely different angle: putting i7 in a laptop is kind of silly, most of the time. Unless you specifically know you need one, buy an i5, and then just figure out if you want dual core at 65W or quadcore at 95.

I think the gist of what Malor is saying is that the i7's use more power, thus more heat is generated.

Edit: I know that is true when the CPU is running at load, however, I am curious about how well Intel's speedstep technology works. What I would be interested in seeing is the same notebook with the mobile i7 chip at idle versus the i5 chip at idle and see how battery life went. I don't know if Speedstep will lower the clock frequencies as low as the i5 at idle... probably not quite. Regardless, if you do anything on either version, the i7 will end up drawing more power.

Edit 2: According to notebook review, the TDP on both those chips is 18 Watts. So... maybe the power consumption under idle or at low use is going to be about the same for the two.

Edit 3: It's Notebookcheck.com that has a list of benchmarks and info on mobile processors, not notebookreview.com

Hemidal wrote:

I use the Logitech N315 more for the sliding mouse pad and not because of heat.

I use the same lapdesk. I got it for the mouse pad as well, but I also liked that it was small and light. It is the perfect size for the m11.

I do have a problem with the texture of the mouse pad, though. It is too smooth. I much prefer the surfaces that give you resistance as you move the mouse. I am much more precise that way. I am thinking of gluing a thin piece of microfiber cloth or something to add some resistance.

Malor wrote:

TDP is a literal description of the maximum heat the chip should shed during normal operation. I can't answer your question, because it depends on which specific, exact chips you're considering. You have to look up the TDP for the CPU in the laptop you're looking at, if the manufacturer doesn't tell you TDP directly. (they rarely do).

The overall range is from 65W to 130W -- in other words, a fully loaded i7 will shed about twice as much heat as a dual-core i5. They meet in the middle; some i5s are 95w, and so are some i7s.

From a completely different angle: putting i7 in a laptop is kind of silly, most of the time. Unless you specifically know you need one, buy an i5, and then just figure out if you want dual core at 65W or quadcore at 95.

I think you may be a little off on this one. The m11x has a i7 640UM 1.2ghz (2.26ghz turbo boost) This is a dual core part that is made for laptops (the i5 too). That being said I have seen it clock it's self even lower (665mhz) when I was doing low power things. With my i7 when doing simple things the fan will often turn off and it can be very cool. That being said when cranking out the full 3d the fan can crank up and pump out some heat the hdd under the palm rest can also get rather warm. From the reviews I have read if you want cool and long battery life go with a m11x r1 they run cooler and more efficiently on the battery, they are also a few bucks cheaper. That being said I have greatly enjoyed the i7. [i]I think it is a nice compromise of power and efficiency for me.

Malor wrote:

From a completely different angle: putting i7 in a laptop is kind of silly, most of the time. Unless you specifically know you need one, buy an i5, and then just figure out if you want dual core at 65W or quadcore at 95.

We're talking about gaming laptops here, right?

Fedaykin98 wrote:
Malor wrote:

From a completely different angle: putting i7 in a laptop is kind of silly, most of the time. Unless you specifically know you need one, buy an i5, and then just figure out if you want dual core at 65W or quadcore at 95.

We're talking about gaming laptops here, right?

Yes, but above a certain point your return on your money becomes very minimal when you are spending the money on the CPU.

For gaming purposes you probably won't see an improvement, or it will be marginal at best, with the i7 over the i5.

We're talking about gaming laptops here, right?

Right. Socket 1366 offers primarily bandwidth, and that's where the i7 design really works well. It's very good at crunching huge amounts of data, but you have to be able to shovel that data in and out of the processors.

Laptops typically have no way to do so, because they're almost all Socket 1156. That has lower bandwidth (dual-channel RAM instead of triple), and can't fully support as many cores as 1366. Despite the bandwidth constraint, Intel still makes i7 available on that socket, which is mostly a marketing move, not an engineering one. i7 on 1156 is sort of stupid, because the whole point of that architecture is insane bandwidth, and that bandwidth isn't available on 1156.

So, you end up butchering the i7's biggest strength, while losing i5's biggest strength, its much higher internal overclock. Both chips do an internal overclock when you're running single- or dual-threaded code, but because of i7's extra transistors, it emits more heat, and thus can't overclock itself as far. You'll probably get WORSE gaming performance, in other words, with a 7 than with a 5.

That said, you probably wouldn't even notice, because that's not likely to be your bottleneck. Even more than on desktops, laptop gaming is constrained by the GPU, so you really need to focus on that first, and THEN the CPU. Laptops aren't that durable, so a strong GPU with a dual-core i5 (or even i3) is likely to be just fine until the unit physically wears out.

Quadcore i5 might give you some flexibility -- there are a few games that take advantage of tri-core and higher. But the GPU is what matters most. Start from there and work back to CPU.

Remember that you're always trading off performance versus heat and battery life. Full speed desktop GPUs typically emit about 200W of heat (300W for the high-end stuff), and the entire laptop's heat and power budget is usually going to be 75 to 90W. If you try to duplicate desktop performance, you're going to end up with a huge, loud, and hot laptop with very short battery life.

You basically have to decide how much performance you want to trade away, spec your GPU appropriately, and then get enough CPU to keep it fed.