The Alienware M17x Giveth
Mobile graphics cards are really a different beast than the desktop variants. Despite have similar names and model numbers, the specifications vary greatly as the GTX 580M isn't equivalent to the GTX 580 and the HD 6990M isn't even a dual-GPU product. Also, getting the capability to do a direct head-to-head is almost always a tougher task thanks to the notebook market's penchant for single-vendor SKUs.
Over the past week or two, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of Alienware M17x notebooks, one sporting the new AMD Radeon HD 6990M discrete graphics solution and the other with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M.
AMD Radeon HD 6990M on the left; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M on the right
Also unlike the desktop market - the time from announcement of a new mobile GPU product to when you can actually BUY a system including it tends to be pretty long. Take the two GPUs we are looking at today for example: the HD 6990M launched in July and we are only just now finally seeing machines ship in volume; the GTX 580M in June.
Well, problems be damned, we had the pair in our hands for a few short days and I decided to put them through the ringer in our GPU testing suite and added Battlefield 3 in for good measure as well. The goal was to determine which GPU was actually the "world's fastest" as both companies claimed to be.
Introduction, Design and Display Quality
I’m a multi-monitor addict.
My addiction started many years ago. I had a rather lame customer service job, and as part of my job I needed to manage spreadsheets with customer interactions while also filling in data on a separate, large window. To accomplish this, two monitors were required. I was amazed at the efficiency of the setup, and I bought a second monitor for home use within a few months. Now, I can’t imagine using my desktop with a single display.
Laptops, however, are a different story. Multiple displays can actually be even more useful for road warriors because of the limited resolution of many laptops, yet there are issues with using multiple monitors on the road. Carrying around even a relatively small desktop monitor is out of the question, leaving few options.
Enter the Lenovo LT1421. This unique mobile monitor has a 14” panel and, according to Lenovo, it’s portable enough to be carried about with minimal hassle. Has the company managed to create a unique, must-have product for mobile productivity, or is multi-monitor use with a laptop still a concept that’s better on paper than in reality?
Down to Business
While I'm mostly a PC guy, I favor iPhones. My friends always jab at me because I'm a fairly die-hard techie, and they expect me to be sporting the latest overclocked super-smartphone with eleventy-thousand gigs and a built-in dishwasher. While my phone used to be included in the list of things I tinker with endlessly, I eventually came to the point where I just wanted my smallest mobile device to 'Just Work' for those tasks I needed it to. I just didn't have the time to tinker endlessly with the thing that handled more and more of my work-related duties, yet as a techie, I still enjoyed the ability to cram a bunch of functionality into my pocket. That led me to the iPhone, which I've used since 2008.
Like many iPhone users, I've upgraded through the various iterations over the years. The original, 3G, 3GS, 4, and most recently the 4S. I've also witnessed nearly every iteration of Apple's iOS (including many of the betas). Throughout all of these, I feel Apple did their best to prevent new versions from breaking application functionality, and while they did their best to keep bugs under control, every so often a few would creep in - typically with cross-compatibility of new features that could only be tested in a limited capacity before being released into the wild.
Apple's iPhone 4S introduced some added features to their line-up - enough to get me to bite the bullet earlier than I typically do. I was a bit of an iOS 5 veteran by then, as I'd been using it to test applications for a developer friend of mine. While some of the iOS 5 betas were a bit unruly in the battery life category, those problems appeared to be sorted out by the last and final beta prior to release. With my reservations against the new OS put to rest, the only thing holding me back was the possibility of the new dual core CPU drawing more power than the iPhone 4. The iFixit teardown (which revealed a higher capacity battery - presumably to counter power draw of the additional CPU), coupled with the improved camera and witnessing the endless toying around with Siri finally got me to bite the bullet.
I picked up a 4S from my local Apple Store, restored from the backup of my 4, and off I went. I enjoyed the phone for a few days, but quickly realized there was some sort of issue with battery life. The most glaring indicator was one night where I forgot to plug the 4S in before bed. The next morning I was surprised to find that nearly 40% of the charge was lost while I slept - almost enough to completely shut down the phone (and failing to wake me with the alarm I'd gleefully set via Siri the night before).
Introduction, Specs, Design and Ergonomics
Samsung's Galaxy S II smartphone debuted in the U.S. with Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile in September and we finally got our hands on a review sample. The Samsung smartphone runs on Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system and includes an 8 MP camera with LED flash and 1080p video, front facing 2 MP camera, and Samsung’s custom TouchWiz user interface.
T-Mobile and Sprint’s version sports a 4.52-inch display, but AT&T’s version has a 4.3-inch screen that matches the original international version of the Galaxy S II. We are reviewing T-Mobile's Galaxy S II with 16GB of internal memory (there are two options for 16 and 32 GB). The Sprint and AT&T versions are outfitted with a dual-core 1.2 GHz Orion processor, but the T-Mobile version we are reviewing today sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 25, 2011 - 10:17 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, webOS, touchpad, tablet, slate, hp
The HP Touchpad was tablet that ran HP's WebOS mobile operating system. It was also a tablet with an extremely short lifespan, one that was ended long before its time according to the sentiments of many enthusiasts. The tablet's demise was a casualty of the company's former CEO Léo Apotheker getting rid of HP's PC division, and it started going for fire sale prices only a few weeks after its initial release.
There may yet be hope for the tablet, however. According to Fox News, an HP employee has told them that a team within the company is playing around with the (not so) dead HP Touchpad tablets by replacing the WebOS operating system with Windows 8 Developer Preview.
It seems as though the idea of a Windows powered slate may be something that HP is willing to try out. Although slates nor convertible tablets have never really caught on (at least in the US) due to Windows not being the most touch friendly interface, with the rise in popularity of tablets and Microsoft beginning to put a bit more care into a touch friendly UI, HP may be weighing the odds of a Windows 8 powered slate computer. If; however, HP goes ahead with the previous plans to ditch the PC division, the idea of a HP Touchpad reincarnation may be moot anyway.
If the souce turns out to be true; however, there may be hope for a new HP Touchpad in the future sans WebOS. Do you think HP will go ahead with the plan to follow in the footsteps of IBM, or will it give its PC division and(/or) touchpad tablet line a second chance?
Subject: Mobile | October 25, 2011 - 12:32 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Zenbook UX311, Zenbook UX21, acer, ultrabook, asus, Aspire S Series
Those of you who are strangers to the PC Perspective Podcast, or who do not remember the CULV may be disappointed by the retail release of the Ultrabook form factor from Intel. Those of you who have watched us describe the woes of the manufacturers who needed to design and retail the Ultrabook for under $1000 probably already know the ending of this tale. There are Acer models available at $900 and though they lack an ethernet port they certainly carry a citrus aura. ASUS seems to have put together a slightly better version with a fair choice of ports available, though with more dongles required than necessary (>0), but still too many sacrifices have been made for an aluminium clad ultra-thin form factor. Both companies produce better notebooks at a much lower price if you are willing to squeeze in a few extra milimetres.
"You know a product is a dog when it is available widely in stores long before reviewers get sent some. Ultrabooks are no exception, the only thing they have is hype and consumer ignorance."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
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- ASUS Zenbook (UX21) @ AnandTech
- Dell Inspiron 14z Laptop Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Dell XPS 14z Laptop Review @ HardwareHeaven
- HP Pavilion dv7-6195us Review @ TechReviewSource
- Dell XPS 14z @ AnandTech
- Cooler Master Notepal X-Slim Notebook Cooler Review @ Neoseeker
- Hanjung Grip100-S and Grip110-U2 Notebook Cooling Pads Review @ FrostytechE
- Amazon Kindle (4th Gen) @ AnandTech
- HTC Sensation Android Smartphone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus takes aim at the Iphone 4S @ The Inquirer
- Android USB Tethering Shared Internet Access @ Benchmark Reviews
- Sony Reader Wi-Fi (PRS-T1) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Iphone 4S vs Galaxy S II head to head @ The Inquirer
Subject: Mobile | October 18, 2011 - 02:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: alienware, Alienware M18x, 18.4, crossfire, hd 6990m
Why shouldn't you stick a pair of HD 6990M's in an 18.4" laptop, as long as you don't mind lugging around a 12lb laptop from power outlet to power outlet. Seeing as just a few years ago 12lbs was not an uncommon weight for a laptop that does represent a great design on Alienware's part. The comparison that AnandTech was most interested in was between NVIDIA's GTX 580M and AMD's 6990M to see who can hold onto the dual GPU mobile performance crown. Who shall triumph? Read on to see.
"In our first run with the Alienware M18x, we sat down and took a look at the notebook itself along with NVIDIA's current top shelf mobile graphics part, the GeForce GTX 580M. We came away from the experience with mixed impressions of the M18x itself, a notebook that is by all means incredibly powerful but also seems to lose a lot of the balance that made the M17x R3 so desirable. On the other hand, the GeForce GTX 580M wound up being the fastest mobile GPU we'd yet tested, made only more formidable through the SLI configuration the M18x enables."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Alienware M14x Gaming Notebook Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Sony VAIO Z Series Review @ TechReviewSource
- ASUS Slider Android Tablet (SL101) Review @ HardwareHeaven
- TechSpot's Smartphone Buying Guide: Q4 2011 Update
- id America Gasket iPhone 4 Case Review @ ThinkComputers
- iPhone 4S: A Siri-ously slick, speedy smartphone @ Ars Technica
- Apple iPhone 4S (Sprint) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Apple iPhone 4S Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Apple iPhone 4S Siri Demo @ Tech-Reviews
- Gaming on the iPhone 4S @ Tech-Reviews
- How not to wipe your Iphone when upgrading to IOS 5 @ The Inquirer
Introduction and Design
Sound. It seems to be one of the new battlefields on which notebook computers are fighting, which is odd, because audio quality has until recently been so rarely a central focus of notebook manufacturers. Today, the artillery is clearly placed. HP arrived first with Beats Audio, but others have responded, such as MSI with its Dynaudio branded laptops and now ASUS with this Bang & Olufsen tagged N55, which comes with an external subwoofer by default.
Yep, that’s right. It’s not a large subwoofer (that’s the point - it’s small enough to potentially be transported in same bag as the laptop), but clearly ASUS is taking sound seriously with this laptop. Yet there’s so much more to a laptop that its sound, and that’s particularly true with a system such as this. Everywhere you look, the N55’s specification scream performance. A Core i7 quad-core mobile processor is the heart of the machine, and snuggles up with an Nvidia GT 555M graphics processor. What else is there to be had? Have a look.
Subject: Mobile | October 13, 2011 - 12:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: XO-1.75, OLPC
The One Laptop Per Child program has been in the works for a while now but we have not really heard much from them lately until now. The idea to provide an inexpensive low powered laptop to children in developing countries is very altruistic but perhaps not very realistic. However the project continues and Phoronix had a look at what might just be the final 7.5" prototype. The hardware reflects the price limit of $200, with an Armanda 610 SoC that has a 800MHz ARMv7 Marvell Sheva processor with an onboard 3D engine for light gaming and which is purported to be able to handle 1080p video, there is also 512MB of RAM and the long term storage is handled be a 4GB NAND flash chip.
"Last month at XDC2011 Chicago, I managed to get my hands on what should be the production hardware model of the XO-1.75 laptop that is expected to be released in the coming months by the OLPC project. The low-cost OLPC laptop targeted for students is now ARM-based and consumes very little power."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Samsung Series 9 Ultra Portable Notebook @ SPCR
- ASUS G74SX: Noteworthy Updates to ASUS' G7 Series @ AnandTech
- ASUS Republic of Gamers G74Sx 3D Gaming Laptop Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Dell Latitude E6320 Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP EliteBook 8460p Notebook @ Techgage
- Samsung Chromebook... A Guide @ HardwareHeaven
- Lenovo IdeaPad Y570 15.6-inch Laptop Review @ ThinkComputers
- Mobile GPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Video walkthrough of Symbian Belle @ t-break
- Storage Options miScroll Tablet Review @ eTeknix
- Amazon Kindle 4 @ The Inquirer
- Amazon Kindle (2011) Review @ TechReviewSource
- SGP Liner Color Series Case for iPhone 4/4S Review @ Tech-Reviews
- Apple iPhone 4s – What You Should Know @ ThinkComputers
- Motorola Droid Bionic @ AnandTech
- iPhone 4S: How Does It Stack Up? @ Techspot
- ASUS Eee Pad Slider @ AnandTech
- HTC ChaCha Review @ t-break
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 w/ Verizon 4G LTE Tablet Review @ Legit Reviews
- Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray @ The Inquirer
- Speck Burton Fitted Case for iPhone 4/4S Review @ Tech-Reviews
- HP TouchSmart 520xt Review @ TechReviewSource
Subject: Mobile | October 4, 2011 - 03:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: razer, razer blade, alienware, alienware M17X
While you probably have the same reaction to the question of which $2800 + tax laptop is the best one to chose as hardCOREware, the fact remains some people will buy them. At that price range, a lot of the price is for show and not for value. Having a laptop resembling a UFO or Italian racing car might make it look fast but has no effect on the actual performance of the laptop. With so much focus on the exterior and the reasonable assumption by the manufacturer that anyone willing to pay that price tag has little knowledge of what components make the fastest gaming machine the question stands; if someone has their mind made up to spend this money, which laptop should you recommend. Read on to see how the internals of Alienware and Razer's gaming laptops compare.
"I was recently asked on Twitter what I thought of the Razer Blade, a 17" gaming laptop which will become available later this year for a staggering $2800. My first thought was "LOL" but then I realized that some people really would spend $2800 on a laptop.
The question is, if you were to spend that on a proper gaming laptop and not a hyperbole-inducing showcase piece to get blogs to drool all over your brand, how much better will the specs look?"
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7 laptop @ The Inquirer
- Asus U36SD-A1 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Alienware's M18x, Part 1: NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580M in SLI @ AnandTech
- Amazon Kindle Fire: A $199 Kindle Tablet @ AnandTech
- MSI WindPad 110W Tablet + Windows 8 @ Techspot
- Hornettek Rotating iPad 2 Case Review @ ThinkComputers
- Choosing a new smartphone: Blackberry or the others? @ t-break
- Innergie mCube Slim 95 @ XSReviews
- Third Look: LG Optimus 3D – Tri-Dual Technology @ t-break
- iPhone 4 App Review - Megastunt Mayhem @ t-break
- Motorola Atrix Cell Phone Review @ Hardware Secrets
- A look at Windows Phone Mango update @ t-break