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Opinions on Alienware Laptops

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September 25, 2006 11:03:51 PM

Alright, I'm gonna go into mechanical engineering next year. So I'm planning ahead. I can get a Dell M90 (which is a workstation laptop) for like over 3 grand, or I can get a gaming grade laptop from Alienware for maybe 2.5 grand. And this will be for like...probably moderate rendering and stuff. Plus moderate gaming. But the better the GPU, the faster the rendering.

My question is, Alienware laptops, are there any known problems with them? Alienware in general? (And yeah, I know their tech support sucks. But it's still probably better than the main Dell tech support). And compared Alienware to Dell.

Note: I know I should build my own :lol:  . But since I need it to work immediately when I get it, I'm buying. And Falcon-NW is too expensive for me. I'm based in Canada.
September 25, 2006 11:59:39 PM

A couple things:

1) It's not worth it to build your own laptop, as it's very time-consuming, and you'll probably spend more money than if you had just bought a Dell.

2) The rendering that you'll be doing... Is it Direct3D or OpenGL? If it's the latter, you'll probably want to go for the Dell, as you'll be able to get one of ATI or nV's workstation cards (ATI FireGL and nVidia Quadro). However, workstation cards, whose drivers are optimized for OpenGL, don't perform very well in games.

3) I've read some very negative stories about Alienware's customer support, especially when dealing with dead computers. So I'd take that into account when you're going to drop a lotta $$$ on a laptop. From what I've heard, Dell's support had been going down recently, but it's still better than Alienware's.

My cousin has a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop. His CD drive got screwed up by a firmware update (from Dell, ironically), and Dell replaced it free of charge. He was on the phone for 1 1/2 hours, but the problem got resolved. Also, he calls teh small business support, which is supposed to be better than the regular support.

4) For the record, Dell bought Alienware earlier this year.

EDIT: Would you care to post the specs of the two machines you're looking at, for comparison purposes? Thanks

-Ducky
September 26, 2006 12:17:42 AM

I know about Dellienware :)  . But I think they're operating seperately. But anyways. And it's OpenGL rendering, as it's probably AutoCAD.

M90:
- T2500 (don't know why they haven't upgraded to Merom yet, they might later)
- 2 gigs of DDR2-667
- Nvidia FX 1500m
- 100 gig 7200 HDD
- 17 inch screen
-Win XP Pro
-Price: 2900 CND before tax and shipping

Alienware M5750:
- T7200
- 2 gigs of DDR2-667
- ATI Radeon Mobility X1800
- 100 gig 7200 rpm HDD
- 17 inch screen
- Win XP Pro
-Price: 2600 CND before tax and shipping

(Note, for the Alienware, I can probably bump down the price by moving down the hard drive and to XP Home, as the M90 doesn't have those options)
Related resources
September 26, 2006 12:31:35 AM

Quote:
I know about Dellienware :)  . But I think they're operating seperately. But anyways. And it's OpenGL rendering, as it's probably AutoCAD.

M90:
- T2500 (don't know why they haven't upgraded to Merom yet, they might later)
- 2 gigs of DDR2-667
- Nvidia FX 1500m
- 100 gig 7200 HDD
- 17 inch screen
-Win XP Pro
-Price: 2900 CND before tax and shipping

Alienware M5750:
- T7200
- 2 gigs of DDR2-667
- ATI Radeon Mobility X1800
- 100 gig 7200 rpm HDD
- 17 inch screen
- Win XP Pro
-Price: 2600 CND before tax and shipping

(Note, for the Alienware, I can probably bump down the price by moving down the hard drive and to XP Home, as the M90 doesn't have those options)


Judging by those specs, the Dell is better than the Alienware for rendering, whereas the Alienware will beat it in gaming.

EDIT: I think that most universities will only allow computers running XP Pro to connect to their networks. A security thing, I beleive, as Pro has more advanced networking features.
September 26, 2006 12:33:06 AM

Yeah. I usually game on my Xbox 360 (*dodges random insults*), so gaming isn't the most important. I guess it's a question of if I want to spend over 3 grand on a laptop. Assuming Dell upgrades to Merom, with no increase in price, would it last for 4 years?
September 26, 2006 12:38:03 AM

I'd go for the Alienware.
September 26, 2006 12:46:12 AM

Quote:
Yeah. I usually game on my Xbox 360 (*dodges random insults*), so gaming isn't the most important. I guess it's a question of if I want to spend over 3 grand on a laptop. Assuming Dell upgrades to Merom, with no increase in price, would it last for 4 years?


It IS possible to get Merom on the M90; look here:
http://www1.ca.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/...

For $2887, you get:
- T5600
- 2GB DDR2-667
- 100GB 7200 RPM HDD
- Fancy-schmancy DVD burner (save $70 and change it to a DVD/CD-RW combo drive)
- Quardo FX 1500M
- XP Pro

This looks nice, and it should last you a good 4 years.
September 26, 2006 12:48:24 AM

Quote:
I'd go for the Alienware.


Did you read any of my posts? Did you even look at the specs of the two machines? The Dell will kick the Alienware's ass in rendering, as it has a Quadro GPU, as opposed to a regular Radeon. The Alienware will win in gaming, but he has a 360, so that's not a priority.
September 26, 2006 12:49:06 AM

Nice, and I save 13 bucks *grins*. Still over 3 grand for a computer. You get what you pay for I guess, but is it worth it? And will it last all 4 years of undergrad? Because I don't want to upgrade or buy another laptop until end of those 4 years.
September 26, 2006 12:50:40 AM

http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/ntbkx64sli.asp?v=d

there. you can get a nice ass notebook with dual 7900gtx for $3000. if because it is to expensive because its us dollers then go with a lower model. but dual 7900gtx will dominate games. And your applications, regardless if its openGL.
September 26, 2006 12:53:53 AM

I'm not sure even Geforces in SLI will match a single Quadro card. Because Quadros are OpenGL optimized, and Geforces are not. Plus the AutoCAD website specifically says that Geforces and Radeons aren't really recommended. Also, it's a Turion processor, which, from my knowledge, is a "tad" bit slower than a Merom. And 3 grand USD is too damn much. I'm already questioning 3 grand CND.

Is Dell the only ones who offer decent workstation laptops?
September 26, 2006 12:56:44 AM

Quote:
http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/ntbkx64sli.asp?v=d

there. you can get a nice ass notebook with dual 7900gtx for $3000. if because it is to expensive because its us dollers then go with a lower model. but dual 7900gtx will dominate games. And your applications, regardless if its openGL.


The only area in which the CyberPower beats the Dell is in gaming. The Dell will eat the CyberPower in OpenGL, CPU-intensive apps (Turion doesn't compare to Merom), and especially in multitasking (Merom=dual-core, Turion=single-core; you do the math).

Plus, the Dell has a faster hard drive and twice the RAM.
September 26, 2006 12:57:13 AM

Quote:
Is Dell the only ones who offer decent workstation laptops?


HP might also have some nice stuff; I'll check their site.
September 26, 2006 12:59:42 AM

Quote:
http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/ntbkx64sli.asp?v=d

there. you can get a nice ass notebook with dual 7900gtx for $3000. if because it is to expensive because its us dollers then go with a lower model. but dual 7900gtx will dominate games. And your applications, regardless if its openGL.


The only area in which the CyberPower beats the Dell is in gaming. The Dell will eat the CyberPower in OpenGL, CPU-intensive apps (Turion doesn't compare to Merom), and especially in multitasking (Merom=dual-core, Turion=single-core; you do the math).

Plus, the Dell has a faster hard drive and twice the RAM.

then make substitutions. it doesnt matter, dual 7900 gtx will destroy anything.
September 26, 2006 1:01:41 AM

Maybe in a gaming environment (and even then maybe *coughX1900XTXcough*) but in an OpenGL environment, Quadros and FireGLs rule the battlefield.
September 26, 2006 1:08:46 AM

Quote:
http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/ntbkx64sli.asp?v=d

there. you can get a nice ass notebook with dual 7900gtx for $3000. if because it is to expensive because its us dollers then go with a lower model. but dual 7900gtx will dominate games. And your applications, regardless if its openGL.


The only area in which the CyberPower beats the Dell is in gaming. The Dell will eat the CyberPower in OpenGL, CPU-intensive apps (Turion doesn't compare to Merom), and especially in multitasking (Merom=dual-core, Turion=single-core; you do the math).

Plus, the Dell has a faster hard drive and twice the RAM.

then make substitutions. it doesnt matter, dual 7900 gtx will destroy anything.

In gaming, but not in OpenGL applications. Dual 7900s will provide some great gaming, but they will be eaten by a single Quadro in AutoCAD. The Quadro cards have special drivers that are specifically optimized for OpenGL workstation apps.

@Worminator: I looked on HP's website (Canada), but I wasn't able to customize any of the PCs. Look at the bottom of this page, at the "mobile workstations":
http://www.hp.ca/products/static/notebooks/

The nw8440 looks nice, but not as good as the Dell.
September 26, 2006 1:12:27 AM

Price being put aside, maybe I"m just worried about Dell's infamous tech support and the assembly line's knack to put unwanted software (or spyware) onto computers. Would this affect even the business workstations?
September 26, 2006 1:26:20 AM

I'm not even going to read this thread, I am going to say

I think Alienware laptops are way overpriced.

I would actually buy a macbook pro and install windows on it before I bought an Alienware. Actually I think Mac is about to update there macbook lineup if you have 2.5-3 k you can build a kickass fucking mac, then put windows on it.

Take a look at this, A real gaming grade laptop, I think Voodoo makes the best laptops in the world, I would take one over an alienware or a F N W.

http://www.voodoopc.com/system/quotekitchen.aspx?produc...

Add 2 gigs of DDR2 120 GIG 7200 rpm HD and A t7600 plus all the standard stuff etc. including the 7600 and whatnot and it comes to about 3 k including the north american shipping Xp pro and a year of overnight shipped service.

These laptops are unparralled the most beautiful computers I have ever seen, the paintjobs are orgasmic. They use only the highest quality components and never cut corners. I don't think you could do better, you can get an ultralight here that will have the juice to do what you want to. Please do yourself a favor and take a look at these. I want one more than anything in the world that is also a laptop. lol.
September 26, 2006 1:28:03 AM

Quote:
I'd go for the Alienware.


Did you read any of my posts? Did you even look at the specs of the two machines? The Dell will kick the Alienware's ass in rendering, as it has a Quadro GPU, as opposed to a regular Radeon. The Alienware will win in gaming, but he has a 360, so that's not a priority.Do you know why Quadro and FireGL cards cost so much? It's not for this godly performance you're imagining in OpenGL rendering, but for the standards the hardware has to undergo, such as color correctness etc.
September 26, 2006 1:28:14 AM

Note: I do not want a gaming laptop. I want a laptop that can render AutoCAD, will last me 4 years, and will not turn me into a hobo with it's price. Which rules out Falcon-NW and Voodoo. And Mac's don't have the hardware needed.
September 26, 2006 1:29:45 AM

Correct colors is also nice :lol: 

But yeah, workstation cards ARE optimized for OpenGL, and will function better.
September 26, 2006 1:29:59 AM

Quote:
The Quadro cards have special drivers that are specifically optimized for OpenGL workstation apps.


Frankly this is BS. In my experience, Quadro cards are rather expensive and slow. What they offer to businesses is certification and compatibility for the extra $500-1000. On Desktop PCs you can download the Quadro drives, modify the INF file and use them with your GeForce 6/7xxx series cards.

Dual 7900gtx would kick ass... check out notebook video card reviews:

http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=3056&g...

My X1400 runs Maya 7/8 fine, but X1600/X1800 or 7900 would be the minimum I'd choose these days.
September 26, 2006 1:33:52 AM

Quote:
But yeah, workstation cards ARE optimized for OpenGL, and will function better.


Function better yes... I wholeheartedly recommend them for businesses (use them at work), but for home/school use - NO.

Frankly, you could be quite happy with a HP nx9420 (I wanted to buy this for my 3D work - though the M90 was calling my name). Laptops are pretty sh*tty for 3D work anyhow.
September 26, 2006 1:37:01 AM

So...the Alienware would still provide good performance? While being cheaper? (Hahah, Alienware being cheaper) And too bad the m5750 doesn't come in any other colors.
September 26, 2006 1:39:15 AM

lol, that's what happens when you don't even read the thread, but seriously that computer at base price which includes shipping, and includes the canadian prices will beat most other machines of the same price. They aren't economical machines, but they do pack serious hardware and they are decently priced compared to other "gaming grade computers" except the desktops, specially the 24 k gold plated one. The toms hardare computer can't compete with the 24 K 24 K gold voodoo machine lol.
September 26, 2006 1:40:51 AM

If I bought that, not only would I be broke, but somebody's gonna break into my residence and steal it *grins*.
September 26, 2006 1:41:06 AM

Go for the Alienware, and if you can get a Go 7900GTX, if the rendering is that important.
September 26, 2006 1:44:56 AM

lol, I remember this summer when All these kids I know were buying laptops for school and two of them had like 3k budgets and bought top of the line macbooks when they could have bought equally priced voodoo's that would have owned them soo hard lol. And been ten times as sexy, one you are gonna spend enough the voodoo pc's start to actually make sense. But yeha, I don't really think gold plated computers are a good investment lol.
September 26, 2006 1:47:10 AM

Heheh. Alienware's Merom based laptops only go up to the X1800. The highest they seem to have is the 7900 GS, and that uses a Turion processor...
September 26, 2006 1:51:02 AM

I just bought a laptop from www.buyxg.com and I love it and it is way better than my friends Dell XPS that he just bought and another friends Alienware that he also bought about 2 months ago. I dont know how well it will be for you, but I would check out the ratings on www.resellerratings.com to see what you think about alienware after that.

http://www.buyxg.com/cat_ntbk.asp

P.S. They also offer 5% off if that is important, but I got a Core 2 Duo Mobile in mine, which I believe is Merom if im not mistaken!

Best,

3Ball
September 26, 2006 1:51:46 AM

Quote:
On Desktop PCs you can download the Quadro drives, modify the INF file and use them with your GeForce 6/7xxx series cards.


Not quite, in addition to different drivers the Quadro series of cards have a different BIOS than the GeForce 6/7 series. You have to reflash your 6/7 series and then only sometimes the card can operate properly under the different bios.
September 26, 2006 2:10:03 AM

Those look ok, though they're based in the US, and therefore shipping will be horrendous. I'm not sure if "Free Shipping" applies to Canada too. Even so, I'm not buying for another few months anyways.
September 26, 2006 2:21:27 AM

Based on reseller ratings,

http://www.powernotebooks.com/

seems to be the way to go. Maybe the price isn't as good, but in terms of giving you a hassle / warranty, they look promising.
September 26, 2006 3:12:48 AM

Quote:
I'd go for the Alienware.


Did you read any of my posts? Did you even look at the specs of the two machines? The Dell will kick the Alienware's ass in rendering, as it has a Quadro GPU, as opposed to a regular Radeon. The Alienware will win in gaming, but he has a 360, so that's not a priority.Do you know why Quadro and FireGL cards cost so much? It's not for this godly performance you're imagining in OpenGL rendering, but for the standards the hardware has to undergo, such as color correctness etc.

Quote:
In order for product positioning to have the desired effect, they use an "independent" label (FireGL instead of Radeon) and modify the card's BIOS and a bit of microcode in the chip. This means that users cannot run FireGL drivers on a Radeon card, and vice versa. The drivers themselves have built-in "artificial brakes", meaning that a gaming card can never achieve decent values in the OpenGL arena - that's reserved for workstation cards. As an aside, both ATi and Nvidia use the same process to position their individual products.


Quote:
So what justifies the enormous price difference? The majority of the costs result from customer support and driver development. No OpenGL workstation user is allowed to be left alone with his problems, where it's the complete opposite for the gamer. Additionally, it takes a long time before OpenGL drivers can be certified as "stable", so the manufacturers pass these increased costs on to the customer.


Those quotes are both from THIS ARTICLE.

I'd stay away from the Alienware cause of the customer support horror stories. Go with the Dell.
September 26, 2006 3:47:05 AM

Quote:
lol, that's what happens when you don't even read the thread, but seriously that computer at base price which includes shipping, and includes the canadian prices will beat most other machines of the same price. They aren't economical machines, but they do pack serious hardware and they are decently priced compared to other "gaming grade computers" except the desktops, specially the 24 k gold plated one. The toms hardare computer can't compete with the 24 K 24 K gold voodoo machine lol.


w00t! Voodoo makes some really sweet looking PCs.
September 26, 2006 4:17:11 AM

meh,

The thing I've liked about voodoo is there heavy duty desktop replacements because they use full size desktop parts using there own bitchin solutions. They make there own modular psu's and all kinds of cool stuff. I also love the superight less than 1 inch thick tiny computers with ULTRA high res lcd's and more power than you could have possibly expected in something so tiny. Every single computer has an actual videocard except the 12 incher.
September 26, 2006 4:24:31 AM

Now that I know your in Canada and realise you have quite the budget I would say go with Killer Notebooks! They have $50 shipping to canada and I have spoken with the owner several times asking questions about laptops and he is quick to respond and uses quality parts. You can build a great system for $2500 - $3000 including shipping, that I believe would serve all of your needs!

Core2Duo Mobile T7200 2.0ghz
2gb DDR2 667mhz Memory
160gb Hard Drive
nVidia 7900GTX 512mb Vid Card
HiDef Azalia SoundBlaster Pro Sound Card
Wireless A/B/G 108mbs Card
DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive
= $3,018 (With shipping to canada included)

www.killernotebooks.com

Best,

3Ball
September 26, 2006 10:57:57 AM

Quote:
Now that I know your in Canada and realise you have quite the budget I would say go with Killer Notebooks! They have $50 shipping to canada and I have spoken with the owner several times asking questions about laptops and he is quick to respond and uses quality parts. You can build a great system for $2500 - $3000 including shipping, that I believe would serve all of your needs!

Core2Duo Mobile T7200 2.0ghz
2gb DDR2 667mhz Memory
160gb Hard Drive
nVidia 7900GTX 512mb Vid Card
HiDef Azalia SoundBlaster Pro Sound Card
Wireless A/B/G 108mbs Card
DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive
= $3,018 (With shipping to canada included)

www.killernotebooks.com

Best,

3Ball


How many times must it be said that a single (or even two) 7900GTX will get eaten by the Quadro FX 1500M in OpenGL rendering.

The OP should just get the Dell.
September 26, 2006 12:12:55 PM

if you truly want a professional grade mobile workstation, get yourself a thinkpad, such as the t60p, for something around $2,769.00:

Intel Core Duo processor T2700 (2.33GHz, 2MB L2, 667MHz FSB)
Display type: 14.1 inch SXGA+ (1400x1050)
1GBMB PC2-5300 (up to 4Gb)
256MB ATI Mobility FireGL V5200
8x Max Dual Layer DVD Recordable
(and everything else thinkpad has to offer)

or the Z61p, alos with a FireGL, but with a 15.4" (1920x1200) widescreen.
At least, you won't look like the average geek with too much money to spend, and chances are, you will be taken seriously.

Man, do i wish i could buy one of these..
September 26, 2006 12:46:52 PM

Dell laptops are garbage and Alienware laptops are overpriced. That's my opinion. Buy something else. Take a look at Lenovo.
September 26, 2006 12:47:43 PM

Dell laptops are garbage and Alienware laptops are overpriced. That's my opinion. Buy something else. Take a look at Lenovo.
September 26, 2006 1:22:33 PM

I understand it will get beatin, but a 7900GTX will be better for rendering than the workstation gfx will be for gaming so his overall use of the machine will be better, if he doesnt want to run anything besideds pac man on that comp then the workstation gfx will be fine, but if he wants to actually play something, which I think he said he will be doing then get the 7900GTX unless this is absolutly pure workstation and NOTHING ELSE AT ALL!

Best,

3Ball
September 26, 2006 7:59:19 PM

Berzmus Had a great Idea, A thinkpad sounds perfedct for you. They are durable, utilitarian, powerfull, have good support, and excellent battery life.
September 26, 2006 9:11:35 PM

Quote:
Dell laptops are garbage and Alienware laptops are overpriced. That's my opinion. Buy something else. Take a look at Lenovo.


In what ways are Dell laptops garbage? My dad's been using one for 2 1/2 years, with no problems at all.

@Berzmus: That Thinkpad looks nice, but the price is probably in US dollars. If you convert that to CA dollars, it might top $3000. Also, what part of Belgium are you in? I'm from Brussels, but I moved to the States in 1994, and I haven't been back since 1996.

@3Ball: When you're an engineering student, rendering is a bit more important than games, especially when you've got a 360 on the side.
September 26, 2006 9:34:26 PM

Im assuming that this kid is a freshman going into engineering next year when he enters college. Well I am a 3rd Year engineering major at Texas Tech University and we are just now getting into using programs that require heavy rendering and many people in there have laptops with very light video cards like geforce 7200's, which seem to do fine. Afterall we are students doing this 2 to 3 days out of the week and not every single day for a living. my new X1600 is one of the better ones in most of my class'. In fact many of my class' we use computers that are in the room, which are dell's with nvidia 5200's in them. So that is why I recommend the one with the 7900GTX because when he is not doing school and he does want to play games, like maybe when he goes home for a break or over a weekend, he will be thinking to himself man I am sure glad I listen'd to that 3Ball character...or maybe you should just wait until you actually start getting into some class' that you will need a comp to do all this stuff on the go, hmm....like maybe when you are in your 4th or 5th year?!?

Best,

3Ball
September 26, 2006 10:01:38 PM

Hey, Werneburg. If you want a laptop then don't do it for gaming. It's not worth it as a $3000 gaming laptop can't beat a $1000 desktop in gaming. If you need laptop then get one that's good for your work/school applications and then build a separate desktop for gaming. If you like the mobility part of it then build a micro-ATX gaming pc.
September 26, 2006 10:24:51 PM

Good point chuck!

Best,

3Ball
September 27, 2006 12:38:29 AM

Hey 3ball,

You're in engineering right? So like...first 4 years, I won't need anything that powerful? Like, good processor, 2 gigs of ram, and a decent video card? Because though I have a decent budget, I really don't want to spend more than I need to. I want a laptop that will last undergrad in Mechanical Engineering. And how much do you use classroom computers instead of your own when rendering?
September 27, 2006 12:56:28 AM

Quote:
I'd go for the Alienware.


Did you read any of my posts? Did you even look at the specs of the two machines? The Dell will kick the Alienware's ass in rendering, as it has a Quadro GPU, as opposed to a regular Radeon. The Alienware will win in gaming, but he has a 360, so that's not a priority.Do you know why Quadro and FireGL cards cost so much? It's not for this godly performance you're imagining in OpenGL rendering, but for the standards the hardware has to undergo, such as color correctness etc.

Quote:
In order for product positioning to have the desired effect, they use an "independent" label (FireGL instead of Radeon) and modify the card's BIOS and a bit of microcode in the chip. This means that users cannot run FireGL drivers on a Radeon card, and vice versa. The drivers themselves have built-in "artificial brakes", meaning that a gaming card can never achieve decent values in the OpenGL arena - that's reserved for workstation cards. As an aside, both ATi and Nvidia use the same process to position their individual products.


Quote:
So what justifies the enormous price difference? The majority of the costs result from customer support and driver development. No OpenGL workstation user is allowed to be left alone with his problems, where it's the complete opposite for the gamer. Additionally, it takes a long time before OpenGL drivers can be certified as "stable", so the manufacturers pass these increased costs on to the customer.


Those quotes are both from THIS ARTICLE.

I'd stay away from the Alienware cause of the customer support horror stories. Go with the Dell.And none of that has to do with rendering perfomance!
Quote:
Now that I know your in Canada and realise you have quite the budget I would say go with Killer Notebooks! They have $50 shipping to canada and I have spoken with the owner several times asking questions about laptops and he is quick to respond and uses quality parts. You can build a great system for $2500 - $3000 including shipping, that I believe would serve all of your needs!

Core2Duo Mobile T7200 2.0ghz
2gb DDR2 667mhz Memory
160gb Hard Drive
nVidia 7900GTX 512mb Vid Card
HiDef Azalia SoundBlaster Pro Sound Card
Wireless A/B/G 108mbs Card
DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive
= $3,018 (With shipping to canada included)

www.killernotebooks.com

Best,

3Ball


How many times must it be said that a single (or even two) 7900GTX will get eaten by the Quadro FX 1500M in OpenGL rendering.

The OP should just get the Dell.Eaten in what aspect? Color correctness and stability is about all; you'll need a Quadro 4500 to keep up with the 7900GTX's performance.
!