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Alienware m18x underperforming

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November 30, 2011 2:14:18 AM

Hello basically I'm concerned that the laptop I bought is underperforming. I've reason to believe the CPU is causing a bottle neck that's not allowing my graphics card to perform how it should be. The game I'm primarily concerned with is Starcraft II. When purchasing my laptop I was under the impression that based on the specs I was receiving I'd be able to play without any problems on max settings.

Below are the system specs for my laptop.

System Model: M18xR1

Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2630QM CPU @ 2.00GHz (8 CPUs), ~2.0GHz
Memory: 4096MB RAM
Available OS Memory: 4078MB RAM
Graphics: Dual AMD 6990's in crossfire

I'm aware that there is some negative scaling with Crossfire and Starcraft II and that the i7 and hyperthreading is not fully utilized in the game either. I was reassured by dell tech support however that my laptop would be able to run the program fine and on max settings. I currently get 60 - 70 FPS on a mixture of medium - lower settings. On Ultra its a very choppy 30 or under FPS.

Thanks in advanced!
November 30, 2011 3:36:12 AM

andrewcarr said:
That shouldn't be bottleneck problem is that the 6990m is really an 6870 on a desktop.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gtx-580m-sli-hd-699...


I see well basically I get conflicting reports.

I know the 6990's in CFX are arguably the best mobile graphics cards compared to NVIDIAS 5XX in sli.
However my i7 processor is the entry level i7 at 2.0 ghz and 2.8 w/ turboboost.

Some sites tell me the CPU is causing the bottleneck because they know my GPU's are top of the line.

I am however aware that neither one of those should be causing problems due to the older nature of Starcraft II and the "top end" of those components.
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November 30, 2011 7:28:03 PM

Well although the GPU is the best it really isn't the best in terms of all graphics but same for you processor. There is a chance it could be the CF issues but I doubt it. Seems that that is all the system is capable of running the processor is good but could be better but I would only expect 3-5 FPS form a better processor.
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November 30, 2011 7:36:46 PM

From my research Star Craft 2 have a issue with CF or Sli model.
I think Blizzard have to fix there game fast.
You laptop is monster already.
How about disable CF on your laptop and play sc2 again.. let see how it goes...
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November 30, 2011 9:09:48 PM

why buy a laptop with 6990m crossfired gpu's with an entry level i7? id return it and get a higher clocked i7 or have them put a better one in yours.

make sure your temps are fine and that when you turn off crossfire that that doesnt solve the problem.
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December 1, 2011 3:25:46 PM

It might be a silly question, but you are playing the game while your laptop is hooked up to the adapter and you are not running just on the laptop battery?

Most laptops dont use the discrete videochip wile on battery but use the standard built in graphics to save power which results in low performace ofcourse.
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December 1, 2011 11:52:35 PM

cbrunnem said:
why buy a laptop with 6990m crossfired gpu's with an entry level i7? id return it and get a higher clocked i7 or have them put a better one in yours.

make sure your temps are fine and that when you turn off crossfire that that doesnt solve the problem.


I did it to save money. It was my thought process that with the high end gpu I'd be able to save some money by skimping on the i 7.

In your opinion how much of a difference do you think me upgrading and or oc'ing my current processor will make on my FPS ?
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December 1, 2011 11:54:27 PM

roald said:
It might be a silly question, but you are playing the game while your laptop is hooked up to the adapter and you are not running just on the laptop battery?

Most laptops dont use the discrete videochip wile on battery but use the standard built in graphics to save power which results in low performace ofcourse.


Yea I only play with the battery. This laptop is more of a desktop replacement then a full laptop. I opted to go mobile because I travel alot while gaming and wanted the luxury of an all in one.
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December 2, 2011 2:07:19 AM

madisonstreet said:
Yea I only play with the battery. This laptop is more of a desktop replacement then a full laptop. I opted to go mobile because I travel alot while gaming and wanted the luxury of an all in one.


when i drop my i7 to 2.0 my fps drop a lot and my gpu usage drops to 60% indicating a cpu bottleneck and my fps to decrease in half to 40 fps on ultra....
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December 2, 2011 2:20:29 AM

cbrunnem said:
when i drop my i7 to 2.0 my fps drop a lot and my gpu usage drops to 60% indicating a cpu bottleneck and my fps to decrease in half to 40 fps on ultra....


With turboboost my 2630 should be reaching 2.8 ghz

Can you try the settings with that?
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December 2, 2011 2:22:59 AM

The battery would explain it even a low end laptop won't perform well only on the battery. They laptop runs itself on low power so graphics are at about 50% or less (just an estimate though). Try using it for games when plugged and and report back.
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December 2, 2011 2:26:52 AM

andrewcarr said:
The battery would explain it even a low end laptop won't perform well only on the battery. They laptop runs itself on low power so graphics are at about 50% or less (just an estimate though). Try using it for games when plugged and and report back.



I never run my laptop on the battery.

What I was saying is I prefer laptops to desktops because I travel alot.

I always keep them plugged in.

I outfitted my laptop with higher end parts because I treat it like a desktop replacement.
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December 2, 2011 2:34:25 AM

Quote:
Yea I only play with the battery. This laptop is more of a desktop replacement then a full laptop. I opted to go mobile because I travel alot while gaming and wanted the luxury of an all in one.


Sorry thought you did play with battery.
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December 2, 2011 2:54:47 AM

madisonstreet said:
With turboboost my 2630 should be reaching 2.8 ghz

Can you try the settings with that?


i believe turbo boost will go up to 2.4-5 with four cores activated, only will it reach 2.8 when just one core is being used.
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December 2, 2011 4:46:06 AM

cbrunnem said:
i believe turbo boost will go up to 2.4-5 with four cores activated, only will it reach 2.8 when just one core is being used.


I see so based on this what do you think is causing the primary bottleneck?

Also the more I monitor my memory usage I get a consistant 70% physical memory being used only 30% is free.

Could this be causing the bottleneck? I have yet to purchase additional ram due to the dell ram being overpriced.

Only running with 4 gigs.
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December 2, 2011 6:46:50 AM

Well only 30% free memory could be a problem. I don't know why you have 70% usage tho. I'm running windows 7 Pro on my desktop with 8GB of ram and i have at most 1.5 GB in use when not running a game. Or did you mean while running Starcraft?

Regarding your problem it could be a CF issue but then you would only have low framerate running Starcraft and not with other games. If you have this with other games i would lean toward a heat issue. If the temperature is too high thermal protection will underclock your CPU. Have you checked what temperatures your CPU and GPU's are running at?
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December 2, 2011 11:12:38 AM

ram isnt the issue.

check your cpu usage in task manager when you alt tab out real quick
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December 2, 2011 5:18:37 PM

roald said:
Well only 30% free memory could be a problem. I don't know why you have 70% usage tho. I'm running windows 7 Pro on my desktop with 8GB of ram and i have at most 1.5 GB in use when not running a game. Or did you mean while running Starcraft?

Regarding your problem it could be a CF issue but then you would only have low framerate running Starcraft and not with other games. If you have this with other games i would lean toward a heat issue. If the temperature is too high thermal protection will underclock your CPU. Have you checked what temperatures your CPU and GPU's are running at?


Alright when not in game I get 33% physical memory usage when idling in game it shoots up to 70 - 75% physical memory usage. I've tried running with and without CF. In games like Skyrim and BF 3 I get better FPS with crossfire.

In SCII I get better FPS without CF. I also use radeon pro and have configured settings to min max FPS.

I'm pretty sure temp isnt the issue I monitor using gpu - z have never seen over 80 while running SC II.
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December 2, 2011 9:48:55 PM

I'm assuming you mean Fahrenheit. I'm Dutch so 80 Celsius would be alarming to me :) 
Looks like a CF issue with Starcraft then. Wether this is a solvable issue with a driver from AMD or patch from Blizzard i don't know. Have you consulted the alienware support crew about this matter? They should be keen on resolving issues like this since they do provide enthusiast gaming solutions.
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December 2, 2011 10:59:31 PM

roald said:
I'm assuming you mean Fahrenheit. I'm Dutch so 80 Celsius would be alarming to me :) 
Looks like a CF issue with Starcraft then. Wether this is a solvable issue with a driver from AMD or patch from Blizzard i don't know. Have you consulted the alienware support crew about this matter? They should be keen on resolving issues like this since they do provide enthusiast gaming solutions.


no he means Celsius, 80 degrees Celsius in not hot for a cpu or gpu in a laptop.

those temps are to bad OP
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December 4, 2011 4:01:38 AM

Bump! Still looking for help
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December 4, 2011 5:29:42 AM

im kinda baffled so lets collect as much data as we can. you mind running some games at different graphics settings and if its faster with cf on or not. normally when you lower graphics setting and the fps dont go up thats an indication of a cpu bottleneck fyi.

while your at it run this to lower your clock speeds. http://www.techinferno.com/downloads/
if your fps dont go down then its not your cpu.
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December 4, 2011 9:25:19 AM

cbrunnem said:
im kinda baffled so lets collect as much data as we can. you mind running some games at different graphics settings and if its faster with cf on or not. normally when you lower graphics setting and the fps dont go up thats an indication of a cpu bottleneck fyi.

while your at it run this to lower your clock speeds. http://www.techinferno.com/downloads/
if your fps dont go down then its not your cpu.


When I lower the graphics settings the FPS does go up.

I'm using my NIC card bigfoot control panel to monitor cpu usage over a 30 minute game usage is never over 20% with medium to high settings with affinity set to 6 CPU. If I raise the settings to ultra I'm still getting under 20% CPU usage.

Interesting thing to note is my physical memory is over 70% usually around 85%. I have yet to upgrade my ram past the stock 4gb's. Is this possibly bottle necking me and not my cpu?

Medium - High settings 60 - 70 FPS drop to 40 FPS during heavy load. Around 20% CPU usage. Physical memory around 70 - 75%

Ultra settings - 30 FPS drops to 5 - 10 FPS during heavy load. Around 20 % cpu usage Physical memory around 70 - 75%
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December 4, 2011 4:17:38 PM

madisonstreet said:
When I lower the graphics settings the FPS does go up.

I'm using my NIC card bigfoot control panel to monitor cpu usage over a 30 minute game usage is never over 20% with medium to high settings with affinity set to 6 CPU. If I raise the settings to ultra I'm still getting under 20% CPU usage.

Interesting thing to note is my physical memory is over 70% usually around 85%. I have yet to upgrade my ram past the stock 4gb's. Is this possibly bottle necking me and not my cpu?

Medium - High settings 60 - 70 FPS drop to 40 FPS during heavy load. Around 20% CPU usage. Physical memory around 70 - 75%

Ultra settings - 30 FPS drops to 5 - 10 FPS during heavy load. Around 20 % cpu usage Physical memory around 70 - 75%



its gpu issues. but it looks like you should be gettign around 80 fps with crossfire and 65 with just a single 6990m.
http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6990M.57308....
http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6990M-Crossf...

its not ram usage. if its not getting to 100% its not using the hard drive as additional ram just make sure its not spiking up to 100%.
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December 4, 2011 6:19:00 PM

Alright I see the FPS I should be getting with my GPU configuration. I also know that SC II is very cpu heavy. How much would you say my CPU could be potentially holding back my laptop?

Also I've disabled Intel Speedstep and seem to be getting a FPS boost. Do you know anything about that particular performance enhancer?
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December 4, 2011 8:08:05 PM

madisonstreet said:
Alright I see the FPS I should be getting with my GPU configuration. I also know that SC II is very cpu heavy. How much would you say my CPU could be potentially holding back my laptop?

Also I've disabled Intel Speedstep and seem to be getting a FPS boost. Do you know anything about that particular performance enhancer?



ok i suspect that you kinda gave misleading information. when you reported the cpu usage was that total cpu usage or was that the max usage for each core because you could have 1 core maxed out an no other core being used and you would report 12% which seems low but the cpu is still holding you back.

report back with the max usage for the most used core. you should have 3 cores that are about the same and the graphs should be rather spiky so just give an estimate.

also you never lowered your clock speeds to see if that hurt your performance. do that as that will be very indicative to a problem.

intel speedstep is turboboost.
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a b D Laptop
December 4, 2011 9:20:14 PM

// In the bios is an option to turn off hyperthreading. If you are CPU bound with an application that uses mainly one core than when you turn off hyperthreading you will get more cache for the thread and lower temps letting you boost a bit more often. I ran i7-920 that way on a desktop. If I was going to do a lot of video editing on a program that really used many cores then I might turn it back on. But on single threaded game hyperthreading just gets in the way.
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December 4, 2011 9:36:38 PM

tsnor said:
// In the bios is an option to turn off hyperthreading. If you are CPU bound with an application that uses mainly one core than when you turn off hyperthreading you will get more cache for the thread and lower temps letting you boost a bit more often. I ran i7-920 that way on a desktop. If I was going to do a lot of video editing on a program that really used many cores then I might turn it back on. But on single threaded game hyperthreading just gets in the way.


Something with my particular model of Alienware doesn't have the option to turn off hyperthreading in the bios.

I'd have to manually unlock it or find an unlocked bios.
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December 4, 2011 9:46:48 PM

cbrunnem said:
ok i suspect that you kinda gave misleading information. when you reported the cpu usage was that total cpu usage or was that the max usage for each core because you could have 1 core maxed out an no other core being used and you would report 12% which seems low but the cpu is still holding you back.

report back with the max usage for the most used core. you should have 3 cores that are about the same and the graphs should be rather spiky so just give an estimate.

also you never lowered your clock speeds to see if that hurt your performance. do that as that will be very indicative to a problem.

intel speedstep is turboboost.


Alright I just flashed another bios update its ver A05 from dell for my alienware.

I started up SC II on ultra and am now getting 30 - 35 FPS off a single 6990.

Cpu usage is topping out at 85% but sitting on average around 45 - 60%

I have affinity enabled for all 8 CPU's.

I wasn't aware that sppeed step = turboboost.

Since its disabled right now wouldnt that mean I'm underthrottling my CPU atm anyways? the 2630 has a stock ghz of 2.0 it's 2.8 only with boost.
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December 4, 2011 10:06:56 PM

madisonstreet said:
Alright I just flashed another bios update its ver A05 from dell for my alienware.

I started up SC II on ultra and am now getting 30 - 35 FPS off a single 6990.

Cpu usage is topping out at 85% but sitting on average around 45 - 60%

I have affinity enabled for all 8 CPU's.

I wasn't aware that sppeed step = turboboost.

Since its disabled right now wouldnt that mean I'm underthrottling my CPU atm anyways? the 2630 has a stock ghz of 2.0 it's 2.8 only with boost.



are the percentages for just the single cores?
what are your max temps also for your cpu and gpu. your cpu could be throttling.

and not really underthrottling cause honestly during a game your clock speed is 2.0 its not going to run at much higher then 2.0-2.2 but id turn it back on.

i think your just suffering from heat issues. buy a cooling pad an maybe take the bottom cove off the laptop if your manufacturer allows.

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December 5, 2011 2:39:01 AM

cbrunnem said:
are the percentages for just the single cores?
what are your max temps also for your cpu and gpu. your cpu could be throttling.

and not really underthrottling cause honestly during a game your clock speed is 2.0 its not going to run at much higher then 2.0-2.2 but id turn it back on.

i think your just suffering from heat issues. buy a cooling pad an maybe take the bottom cove off the laptop if your manufacturer allows.


Something like 37% for total use and double that on the individual CPU's. Thats on task manager.

When I monitor using my NIC's CPU monitor it gives me 85% or under.

I'm not sure its a heat issue I monitor my temps and never exceed 75 degrees. Usually idle on 50. The heatsink on the m18x and the fan system is pretty good. There where recently some issues with faulty temp sensors causing the fans on the m18x never to come on. But I dont have that issue and thats the only recent one with this model.
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