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Alienware M18x Laptop Review (with i7-2960XM Extreme Edition)

System validation is available over here.

This system is based around the Intel Core i7 2960XM Extreme Edition processor, the most powerful mobile solution available on the market today. This is the first time we have taken a look at this particular processor, so we will compare against other processors we have reviewed in the past. We are also including some results from the desktop Core i5 2500k and Core i7 2600k at reference clock speeds.

Our Core i7 was supplied in a pre-overclocked state (bios setting ‘1 out of 3’, but more on this later in the review).

i7-2630QM results taken from this review.

i5-2410M results taken from this review.

i7-2600K results taken from this review.

i5-2500K results taken from this review.

The 2960XM was only launched a short while ago and is clocked at 2.7ghz, with a turbo boost speed up to 3.7ghz. It is a 4 physical and 4 logical design sharing 8MB of level 3 cache. Dell offer various memory configurations, allowing for the choice of 1333mhz or 1600mhz DDR3. We opted for a 8GB 1600mhz configuration (Hyundai), which is approximately the same price as 16GB of 1333mhz memory. The memory is configured to 11-11-11-28-2T timings.

This system is equipped with two 560M processors in SLI. Dell supply the machine with 269.03 drivers, which are quite outdated and nothing newer is available from their support site. Using the Nvidia website we installed the latest beta mobility driver, revision 285.27. This driver has many more bug fixes and performance enhancements when compared against the driver supplied.

The software install is free from crapware and we are pleased to see that Alienware omitted Norton and McAfee. We installed the two CPUID applications shown in the list.

Our system included the excellent Killer Wireless-N 1103 – EUR networking card. We reviewed the N1102, over here.

Windows 7 64 Bit
SiSoft Sandra
Cinebench R11.5 64 bit
Cyberlink Media Espresso
Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra V11
PCMark 7
Dirt 3
Total War: Shogun 2
From Dust
Dead Island
F1 2011
F.E.A.R. 3
Home Front
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

Technical Monitoring and Test Equipment:
Nikon D3X and 28-70mm lens with R1C1 kit.
Olympus EPL1.
Thermal Diodes.
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp.
Extech digital sound level meter & SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Mete.

All results are gained from multiple test runs to ensure any abnormalities are removed before publication. Some game description introductions are taken with courtesy from Wikipedia.

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