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A laptop newbie looking for answers to upgrading CPU

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June 4, 2014 5:15:52 AM

Hello everyone! I'm proud to ask my question on this forum as I often refer to it for many of my PC needs.

I currently have an Alienware M17x (unknown model in reference to r1-r4) and am sporting a 780GTXM 4 Gig video card and a i7-4700MQ @ 2.4 GHz.

I've noticed a few games like watchdogs most notably recommend a processor that is at least 3.0 and even though most games run fine there is still some noticable skipping even with vsync on. Would upgrading to a better processor help me in any way with FPS and general performance?

Financially I only have two options as the other upgrades listed to me are well within 1,000 dollars and Id rather save up for my new desktop but as for this laptop upgrade my options are either.

A.Intel Core i7-4800MQ Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.70GHz) for $368.75

or

B.Intel Core i7 4910MQ
2.9 GHzQuad core $574.72

The price difference is pretty huge would there be any major reason to go for the higher end processor besides future proofing? Do you think my current CPU is bottlenecking? Sorry for all the questions!

Thank you so much in advance!

More about : laptop newbie answers upgrading cpu

June 4, 2014 5:34:19 AM

You really don't need to upgrade. Quite frankly, you won't need to upgrade for a while with a 4700 and 4 gigs of video RAM. Dunno why you're experiencing skipping on such a lovely machine, but that might be because of poor optimization (a wild guess). I don't think you can upgrade a laptop processor, are you sure you will actually be able to put the CPU in the machine? Laptops are notoriously finnicky.
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June 4, 2014 6:18:33 AM

I got the list of up-gradable CPU's directly from alienware technical support. They tried to sell them themselves but I decided to shop around so i'm 98% sure I can take out my CPU and replace it with one of these. What do you mean poor optimization? (sorry i'm a noob) Most games run great but some things do skip and the processor is a bit dated at 2.4 GHz compared to whats out these days. This computer is about a year old (give or take a few months). It would make sense to me that since they provided me a list of options of potential upgrades (two of which I posted above) that I could indeed upgrade my CPU.
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June 4, 2014 5:41:20 PM

KomiiTail said:
i'm 98% sure I can take out my CPU and replace it with one of these.

Make sure you know what you're doing. I've got no experience with your laptop, but in my experience you have to disassemble the whole laptop to replace it. The other reason to send it to Alienware is that if they mess up it's all on them. Also, I think you can get an upgrade now that I've done my research. Cool.
KomiiTail said:
What do you mean poor optimization? (sorry i'm a noob) Most games run great but some things do skip and the processor is a bit dated at 2.4 GHz compared to whats out these days

Poor optimization = when the developers don't code the game to be efficient for people's hardware
"Things do skip"- how so? Like, lag, or screen tearing, or what? Could be just a framerate thing.
"Dated at 2.4 gHz"- Well, I'm on a 2.3 gHz and a GT650M and I run anything I please at any settings I please. It's not the majestic 4gHz you hear about, but if you clocked a laptop CPU like that it'd set your rig on fire lol
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June 4, 2014 5:44:02 PM

In answer to your actual question, get the cheaper one if you get any one. I doubt it's your CPU, an i7 is highly unlikely to be the choke point regardless of clock speed. Personally, I'd get a desktop because they're much easier to maintain and offer better performance. Hope I help.
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June 4, 2014 7:04:45 PM

Thank you so much Silibant for your hasty response. I was planning on getting a desktop this month but had to cancel the order due to financial and personal reasons. I figured if I could get a little more bang for my buck with upgrading my CPU processor I could REALLY save and buy a beastly 1,500 to 2,000 dollar rig! Awesome case and all! :)  My last question is that would the processor actually help my FPS because my video card is pretty beastly for a laptop solution. However, in some games like heroes of the storm i'll get drastic frame rate reductions when all hell breaks loose (graphics wise), or say the witcher 2 on high settings i'll have some stutter every now and then. Is this normal or am I asking to much from my alienware laptop? To sum it up : will the cpu upgrade show me stronger FPS because I dont think the video card is at fault :) 
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June 4, 2014 7:07:52 PM

I didn't read every post, just the first two and the last one, but Silibant is completely right here.

If you notice skipping, which is possible, it is because in order to max the game out you need a desktop and no amount of power you put in a laptop will help.You already have about the most powerful laptop for gaming that money can buy. Don't expect it to perform the same as the desktop with the same quality parts, but its still really powerful and good.

Best not to upgrade.
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June 4, 2014 10:05:35 PM

I'm not as familiar with laptop cpu models as desktops, but if I remember right 4700mq (also the one i have), is right up at the top before you get the monstrous laptop cpus. Keep in mind that the laptop was designed with its current cpu in mind, and, particularly with that big gpu in there the cooling might now be able to keep it cool enough even if the computer itself can handle it. For that reason alone it probably isnt worth it

After looking at the specs, it looks like that cpu can turbo up to about 3.4 ghz, which is above that 3 ghz mark you were talking about. If it isnt reaching this then you might need to change your power settings or, more likely, invest in a cheap laptop cooling pad to keep it cool enough to get that high.

As said before, the laptop parts arent as powerful as the desktop parts, so when you really push the hardware it might stutter. But few laptops have the power to just steamroll through this (and if they did they would probably fry pretty quickly). If you really want no stuttering as desktop would be much better.

I'll add another vote to the Best not to upgrade pile
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June 5, 2014 7:56:47 AM

Thank you all for your responses. I will save my money for a good desktop and use this for mobile gaming or when i'm travelling :) 
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June 5, 2014 8:07:48 AM

KomiiTail said:
Thank you all for your responses. I will save my money for a good desktop and use this for mobile gaming or when i'm travelling :) 


That would definitely be the best option. When you are ready to build a desktop, we can easily come up with something for you. :D 
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June 5, 2014 4:02:08 PM

KomiiTail said:
Thank you so much Silibant for your hasty response. I was planning on getting a desktop this month but had to cancel the order due to financial and personal reasons. I figured if I could get a little more bang for my buck with upgrading my CPU processor I could REALLY save and buy a beastly 1,500 to 2,000 dollar rig! Awesome case and all! :)  My last question is that would the processor actually help my FPS because my video card is pretty beastly for a laptop solution. However, in some games like heroes of the storm i'll get drastic frame rate reductions when all hell breaks loose (graphics wise), or say the witcher 2 on high settings i'll have some stutter every now and then. Is this normal or am I asking to much from my alienware laptop? To sum it up : will the cpu upgrade show me stronger FPS because I dont think the video card is at fault :) 

My best guess would be you're just demanding a bit too much from your lappie; Witcher 2 is an insanely demanding game and when things heat up graphics-wise almost any machine will get a bit bogged down. CPU upgrades generally don't show a huge FPS increase unless you're REALLY upgrading (eg: a Pentium Dual-Core to an i7 six-core). Most games rely far more heavily on your GPU than CPU. My best guess would be that since it's a laptop, it has some deep-rooted power saving settings for your GPU that reduce performance so your laptop doesn't burn up your desk and lap. Glad I was able to help.
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June 5, 2014 5:11:24 PM

Well I will say that CPU upgrades can help a fair bit in the mobile space. I jumped from an i5-3210m to an i7-3632QM, and I think I got like 4-5FPS higher on average even though I only have an Nvidia GT 620m but that was cause I was playing a lot of strategy games which are very CPU intense. That was a petty good jump, however the heat is really important.

Since in this case you would be jumping from a jumping up in TDP and big time in power consumption your heat levels would shut up, which in a laptop you would have a lot of throttling as a result. I avoided throttling only cause my GPU is a really low power low heat chip, and the CPU was also a lower power chip, but you would most likely not be able to take advantage of the upgrade because of heat.

So building a fast desktop is best, probably wait for a Broadwell chip since those should be out I think in Q1 2015.
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