Alienware M11x R2 Gaming Performance and Conclusion

July 12, 2010 by Jerry Jackson Reads (325,466)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 9
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 8
    • Usability
    • 9
    • Design
    • 10
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Features
    • 9
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 10
    • Total Score:
    • 9.14
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Gaming Performance
While synthetic benchmarks like PCMark and 3DMark help provide a rough idea of how one laptop performs compared to another, playing actual games is the only way to know how a notebook performs with specific games. Another key thing to consider is how the notebook performs when it’s plugged in and how it performs on battery power. Most gaming notebooks “throttle back” the graphics card (GPU) and sometimes even the CPU when you unplug the power cord. This is great for battery life but horrible for gaming performance. The M11x R2, like the original M11x, continues to provide maximum CPU and GPU performance even when it’s unplugged. To that end, the in-game performance benchmarks listed below are an accurate indication of what you’ll experience with the M11x regardless of whether you’re playing with the laptop plugged in or unplugged.

The M11x R2 uses the same Nvidia GeForce GT 335M card but now includes Optimus technology so the user doesn’t have to manually switch between discrete and integrated graphics. The 1GB of dedicated GDDR3 memory helps keep frame rates running at consistent levels in most games and you won’t have to turn down detail settings all the time to get playable frame rates with modern games.

We decided to test three games with the new M11x R2 and compare the results against the original M11x to see if the real-world performance changed. To give you some idea what we’re looking at, we typically want the frame rates during game play to stay above 30 frames per second (FPS) in order to provide fluid play and replicate cinema-like motion.

 

Left 4 Dead 2 is a modern first-person shooter, and the M11x with overclocked SU4100 processor managed to be perfectly playable even when all those zombies rush on the screen at once. That said, the new M11x R2 with Core i7 processor did an even better job keeping the frame rates up during attacks by zombie hordes. In this case, the computational strength of the new CPU kept the frame rates up when dozens of zombies rushed to attack.

M11x with SU4100 processor (overclocked):

M11x R2 with Core i7 processor:

Mass Effect 2 is an enjoyable sci-fi action game that combines elements of a role-playing game and a shooter. The original M11x handled this space adventure with only a few dips in frame rates. Once again, the M11x R2 proved that it could do the same with less of a drop in the frame rate during game play.

M11x with SU4100 processor (overclocked):

M11x R2 with Core i7 processor:

As nice as these results are, the old M11x did pretty good with these games as well. What about a game that the M11x with the SU4100 processor couldn’t handle? The CPU-intense game, Shattered Horizon, is an online first-person shooter set in outer space where everyone is weightless and you’re bouncing around asteroids shooting one another from every direction possible. This game requires a significant amount of math from the CPU to calculate acceleration, drift, angle of trajectory, etc. … not only for your character but for every character you’re playing against.

This is where the limitation of the old CULV processor inside the M11x really became obvious. Would the Core i7 processor in the M11x R2 do any better? Take a look.

M11x with SU4100 processor (overclocked):

M11x R2 with Core i7 processor:

As you can see, the new M11x R2 with Core i7 radically improved in-game performance for Shattered Horizon. This same game was essentially a waste of time on the original M11x, but the new CPU makes this game perfectly playable.

The new M11x R2 with Core i7 is a terrific mobile gaming system in every way that matters. Where the old M11x suffered from weaknesses, the new M11x “pwns” the competition. Granted, the overall gaming performance of the M11x R2 doesn’t crush the original M11x in less CPU-intense games, but that’s because both notebooks use the same graphics. The thing that really makes us happy about the M11x R2 is you just don’t have to worry about those CPU-intense games or sudden dips in your frame rates anymore. You can just install your games and have fun without too much concern over the hardware requirements.

 

Conclusion

The Alienware M11x R2 is every bit as amazing as the original M11x released earlier this year. Although there are other notebooks in the 13-inch and 14-inch sizes that provide excellent gaming performance, the Alienware M11x is still the only game in town if you want solid performance in an 11-inch laptop. The durable design, compact size, capable performance, and very affordable price make the M11x R2 the best choice for road warriors who also like to have fun.

Granted, the new Core i7 configuration doesn’t offer that much more performance than the old M11x with overclocked Intel Pentium Dual Core SU4100, but the better processor and Nvidia Optimus provide two more reasons to buy the Alienware M11x R2 if you didn’t already buy the original M11x. We still think Alienware needs to offer a matte screen option and a removable battery might be more attractive to some buyers.

That said, the Alienware M11x is still your only choice if you’re looking for an ultraportable gaming notebook.

Pros:

  • Ultraportable gaming notebook
  • Fantastic design and durability
  • Better CPU options and Nvidia Optimus

Cons:

  • No matte screen option
  • Integrated battery
  • Not much better than the original M11x



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