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Alienware M17x R4 Review (i7 3610QM/ AMD HD7970M)

The install is clean, although Dell continue to insist on installing a trial version of McAfee SecurityCenter, a program that we don’t particularly like.

The system scores very highly, 7.2 points overall. Unfortunately this tool just uses the lowest common denominator for the final score, rather than an ‘average’.

The Alienware M17X R4 system we are testing uses the latest Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7 3610QM processor, which is a quad core design with hyperthreading (4+4). It has 6MB of level 3 cache and it built on the 22nm manufacturing process. There are more expensive options available such as the i7-3720QM and i7-3820QM. The memory is configured to 1,600mhz with 11-11-11-28 timings.

The Core i7 3610QM is clocked at 2.3ghz, with a turbo option to 3.3ghz. More information on the processor is available here.

We tested the turbo frequency when all cores were loaded 100%. The clock speed sat solid at 3.1ghz as shown in the image above.

We couldn’t unfortunately get a GPUZ readout of the AMD HD7970M as the software would crash. We tried GPU Cap Viewer as well, but sadly the same thing happened. We know that the HD7970M is fully Direct X11 compliant, with 1280 pixel shaders. The core clock runs at 850mhz and the memory at 1200mhz connected via a 256 bit memory interface. On paper it is a very powerful mobile graphics solution.

Catalyst Control Center is the hub for adjusting the switchable graphics settings between Intel HD4000 and AMD HD7970M. It all works very well and we didn’t run into any switching issues during the last week of testing.

We would recommend a larger solid state drive for boot as when the machine is first powered on, there is only around 21GB free. Its not a huge issue as applications can be installed to the storage drive, but I would personally opt for a slightly more expensive 128GB model as the boot/OS drive.

Comparison Systems (for specific synthetic test compares):
Asus G74SX-91013Z (featuring Core i7 2360QM)
Dell XPS 14z (featuring Core i7 2640M).
AlienWare M18X (featuring Core i7 2960XM Extreme Edition).
MSI CX640 (featuring Core i5 2410M).
Intel Core i7 2600k desktop processor.
Intel Core i5 2500k desktop processor.

3DMark Vantage
3DMark 11
PCMark 7
Cinebench 11.5 64 bit
FRAPS Professional
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 11
Cyberlink MediaEspresso
HQV Benchmark V2.
Alien V Predator.
Dirt Showdown.
Total War : Shogun 2.

Technical Monitoring and Test Equipment:
Asus BluRay Drive
Lacie 730 Monitor (Image Quality testing)
Thermal Diodes
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp
Extech digital sound level meter & SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter
Kill A Watt Meter
Nikon D3X with R1C1 Kit (4 flashes), Nikon 24-70MM lens.

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  • Davis

    Well I never thought I would say it, but £1,700 is actually pretty good value for that machine. must be their best priced laptop in a long time. I might end up going for a 128GB SSD though as 64GB is borderline.

  • Brian

    Thats a nice looking system. good pictures of the keyboard, is that the Star Trek font they use? lol.

  • Slash

    What a spec, my dream laptop. The ivy bridge mobile processors look good, but not really such a huge advancement for Intel.

    Shame they didnt use an AMD processor, but I suppose it wouldnt be popular.

  • WarrenUK

    Dell confuse me, some of their pricing upgrades are decent, like the HD7970 but the memory options can be excessive. the fact that this is easy to open makes me want to spec the memory as LOW as possible, then get some from amazon, like the corsair veageance (16gb for £100 on amazon for 1600mhz! 2x8gb!).

    Can this computer take 8GB memory sticks?

  • Hi Warren, yes it can take 8gb memory sticks. go for it !

  • Seth

    I dont mind dell machines. (its basically dell) – but I think id opt for a precision with Quadro for work. The only concern i have is dell batteries, ive had three other machines now and all the batteries fail after a year.

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  • WarrenUK

    I ordered one, now to deal with my wife 🙁

  • Alen

    You are mad buying one of these ! you could build one for much less ! alienware are a ripoff.

  • WarrenUK

    Dont talk nonsense, this isn’t a desktop system. you can’t make a laptop. half the parts aren’t widely available for a start.

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  • Andrew I

    Yes there are cheaper options like the vortex 3 from pcspecialist but they look cheap compared to Alienware. This is also cheaper than an apple too and has better spec. I’m sold on it