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Which specs for a new Alienware M17x?

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July 28, 2012 11:04:45 AM

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a look at this post and COMMENT!! YOUR COMMENTS ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!!

Hey Guys! This is my first post on TomsHardware, and I'm hoping you guys will be able to help me out...

I'm in the market for a new laptop, and I have my eyes set on a new Alienware M17x! I've decided that it'll fit my needs since I do some light gaming (BF3, hoping to try out Witcher and GTA), and for my high school work. I'll be taking university science and engineering courses, so I believe I'll be doing a lot of papers and some light data computation and computer simulations.

I AM a little confused about which specs to get though. I am of course on a budget, and I'm hoping that I won't exceed $2,000.

Please take a look at the listed specs and COMMENT! Tell me if I need to splurge a little more on a certain component or if I shouldn't bother buying another....

Right now I have...

Alienware M17x (Space Black)

PROCESSOR - Intel i7 3610QM (6MB cache, up to 3.3 GHz w/ Turbo Boost) I have been told that spending $350 more on the top-of-the-line 3820QM doesn't justify the marginal speed boost - comment if you think otherwise


MEMORY - 6GB DDR3 at 1600 MHz (2DIMMS) Again, I'm on a tight budget, so I think I'll be upgrading to 8GB later. That is possible right? I mean, will I be able to take out the existing 6GB and will there be enough space to put 8GBs in later?

HARD DRIVE - 750 GB 7,200 RPM + 32 GB mSATA caching SSD This is the grey area here... I'm not sure whether to get the current caching option (which is slightly cheaper) or get two 750GB mechanical hard disks in a RAID 0 array. Again, I do school work (Papers, Presentations) and some gaming (BF3, Crysis 2, other open world games.) Which would be faster? Which would be safer (am I more likely to lose data in one than the other?)

GPU - I am completely lost here!!! Everywhere on the internet says that the difference between the baseline GTX660M and the top-of-the-line GTX680M is INSANE! I want to consult everyone here though, because the price difference is enormous ($550.) I would like this computer to have room to expand, and to be able to handle anything I throw at it - I don't really feel comfortable performing surgery on the CPU or GPU, so I need to buy the final component here. I'd prefer getting an NVIDIA card, cuz I havent heard much about AMD

LCD PANEL - 17.3 inch WideFHD 1920x1080 60hz WLED I don't know if I should splurge on the 3D bundle - I don't have a 3D TV, 3D movies, or 3D games, though I will inevitably acquire them with time... This is a component I can't change by myself, so SHOULD I get it? Will it make a big difference? Is 3D gaming all that?

WIRELESS CARD - Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 with Bluetooth 4.0 I have no knowledge in wireless cards. I have a so so wireless connection at home (paying for 15 - 20 mbps; get around 11 to 13 on an average day... would the "Killer" card make a difference?)

INTERNAL OPTICAL DRIVE - Slot Loading Dual Layer Blu-Ray reader No questions here :D 

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a look at this post and COMMENT!! YOUR COMMENTS ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!!

More about : specs alienware m17x

July 28, 2012 11:23:12 AM

1. the price is not justified
2. The 6GB indicate the laptop has at least 2 sodimm slot so yes you can put 8GB in there.
3. 750GB HDD and DIY SSD on 2nd bay
4. If you go with Clevo, the price difference is $400 between GTX 660m and GTX 680m. Although slower than GTX 680m, the 7970m is a good alternative.
5. IMO, 3D is overrated.
6. No, the bottleneck is the WAN.
7. I bought a bluray drive for fun and sat there gathering dust.

You are better of build a desktop for games in your room and a cheap laptop for use on campus. If you really need gaming on the run, at the very least, choose a brand that is not over priced, like Clevo, ASUS or MSI gaming laptop.
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July 28, 2012 1:34:23 PM

Pyree said:
1. the price is not justified
2. The 6GB indicate the laptop has at least 2 sodimm slot so yes you can put 8GB in there.
3. 750GB HDD and DIY SSD on 2nd bay
4. If you go with Clevo, the price difference is $400 between GTX 660m and GTX 680m. Although slower than GTX 680m, the 7970m is a good alternative.
5. IMO, 3D is overrated.
6. No, the bottleneck is the WAN.
7. I bought a bluray drive for fun and sat there gathering dust.

You are better of build a desktop for games in your room and a cheap laptop for use on campus. If you really need gaming on the run, at the very least, choose a brand that is not over priced, like Clevo, ASUS or MSI gaming laptop.


Yeah, I was considering the Asus ROG line too. I've gotta admit though, I REALLY like the build quality and aesthetics of the Alienware. I also would rather have the glossy screen on the Alienware than the matte screen on the Asus. And I gotta admit, those lights get me every time :lol: 

But could you possibly tell me what the BEST of the Asus laptops are? Thanks so much for your help!

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July 28, 2012 1:41:53 PM

G75
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July 28, 2012 2:49:15 PM

Pyree said:
G75


After doing a bit of research, I have found that the $300 cheaper 7970M is more than comparable to the 680M. However, I found that the NVIDIA chips are much more "noob friendly" than it's AMD counterparts, and that to get the AMD chips to the state of your liking, it requires you to download a lot of drivers and other things. In other words, it requires a bit of tweaking. Is this true? IMO, that sounds a bit tedious, but I'm willing to do a little work if I can get really good power for $300 less ;)  .

If so, do you know WHAT exactly I have to download and how to do it? Thanks SO much for all your help!
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July 28, 2012 3:02:58 PM

BambooChief said:
After doing a bit of research, I have found that the $300 cheaper 7970M is more than comparable to the 680M. However, I found that the NVIDIA chips are much more "noob friendly" than it's AMD counterparts, and that to get the AMD chips to the state of your liking, it requires you to download a lot of drivers and other things. In other words, it requires a bit of tweaking. Is this true? IMO, that sounds a bit tedious, but I'm willing to do a little work if I can get really good power for $300 less ;)  .

If so, do you know WHAT exactly I have to download and how to do it? Thanks SO much for all your help!


that is a load of BS. there should be no additional work to get the AMD counterpart working. windows should install everything for you anyway.
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July 28, 2012 3:09:56 PM

cbrunnem said:
that is a load of BS. there should be no additional work to get the AMD counterpart working. windows should install everything for you anyway.


+1.

There is absolutely no difference in the usage of Nvidia and AMD. I have laptops with both and they are exactly the same in regards to usability.

And I have actually had fewer bugs in games with the AMD chipset, to be honest.
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July 28, 2012 3:21:24 PM

po1nted said:
+1.

There is absolutely no difference in the usage of Nvidia and AMD. I have laptops with both and they are exactly the same in regards to usability.

And I have actually had fewer bugs in games with the AMD chipset, to be honest.


HBU po1nted? What system are you running? What games do you run on the AMD chipset, and how hot does it run?
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Best solution

July 28, 2012 3:48:18 PM

I am going to touch on 3 of your original questions and 3 of the suggestions put forth.

on the hdd/ssd front, while raid 0 hdds will get you close to 2x read and write(sequential?) it wont help
with iops like the ssd and if one drive fails you lose all your data. in my mind it is a waste when as another
user said just go with the 750 and buy your own ssd to cache to save money and speed up your most
used programs.

I don't know too much about the gtx680m other than the specs on wikipedia ( see nvidia page, the see also
section at bottom and click the link that has charts comparing all nvidia card including mobile.) it seems that
the overall specs for the gtx680m are the same as the desktop gtx670 except the mobile part has both a
significantly lower core clock and memory clocks. The suggested hd7970m has the same specs as the
desktop 7870 ghz edition except that the core clock is ever so slightly below that of the desktop hd7850.
Given various reviews on the net the desktop hd7850 should be more than enough for 1080p gaming and
the fact that the mobile card in question has almost exactly the same core clock and all of the cumpute units
of a 7870 GE can only help.

3d is expensive and requires tons of rendering power to make sure your games can run at 120hz+.
by the time it becomes mainstream your system will likely be old hat and you will want to upgrade anyway.

actually touching on another earlier suggestion... you could get a complete desktop (base unit, monitor,
os, keyboard/mouse, and headset) for less than 1500 that would scream for your "light?" gaming like bf3
and witcher and get a old a8 based laptop to take with you for on the go work and true semi lite gaming
for less than 500 dollars extra. been browsing on the egg lately and saw some spiffy deals on laptops and
lower prices on gpus that make from a 7850 to 7950 amd a steal with a core i5. hope this helps
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July 28, 2012 4:03:40 PM

jtenorj said:
I am going to touch on 3 of your original questions and 3 of the suggestions put forth.

on the hdd/ssd front, while raid 0 hdds will get you close to 2x read and write(sequential?) it wont help
with iops like the ssd and if one drive fails you lose all your data. in my mind it is a waste when as another
user said just go with the 750 and buy your own ssd to cache to save money and speed up your most
used programs.

I don't know too much about the gtx680m other than the specs on wikipedia ( see nvidia page, the see also
section at bottom and click the link that has charts comparing all nvidia card including mobile.) it seems that
the overall specs for the gtx680m are the same as the desktop gtx670 except the mobile part has both a
significantly lower core clock and memory clocks. The suggested hd7970m has the same specs as the
desktop 7870 ghz edition except that the core clock is ever so slightly below that of the desktop hd7850.
Given various reviews on the net the desktop hd7850 should be more than enough for 1080p gaming and
the fact that the mobile card in question has almost exactly the same core clock and all of the cumpute units
of a 7870 GE can only help.

3d is expensive and requires tons of rendering power to make sure your games can run at 120hz+.
by the time it becomes mainstream your system will likely be old hat and you will want to upgrade anyway.

actually touching on another earlier suggestion... you could get a complete desktop (base unit, monitor,
os, keyboard/mouse, and headset) for less than 1500 that would scream for your "light?" gaming like bf3
and witcher and get a old a8 based laptop to take with you for on the go work and true semi lite gaming
for less than 500 dollars extra. been browsing on the egg lately and saw some spiffy deals on laptops and
lower prices on gpus that make from a 7850 to 7950 amd a steal with a core i5. hope this helps


This was an awesome answer! Thanks! I never really thought about building my own rig. If I did, what specs do you recommend to get from "the egg" ;) 
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July 28, 2012 4:04:38 PM

BambooChief said:
This was an awesome answer! Thanks! I never really thought about building my own rig. If I did, what specs do you recommend to get from "the egg" ;) 


you are going to have to help us out with that. do you still want a laptop? if so how good of one? for the desktop, do you need a monitor keyboard mouse or OS?
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July 28, 2012 4:19:30 PM

cbrunnem said:
you are going to have to help us out with that. do you still want a laptop? if so how good of one? for the desktop, do you need a monitor keyboard mouse or OS?


Well, until now i was DEAD set on an Alienware laptop. Even now, the portability is really attractive to me. I know it's not going to fit in my pocket or anything, but if I ever go somewhere, like in the car or train, I will need something to entertain me on said trips. Sometimes I like to work in a different part of my house, and I know I cant pick up a desktop and bring it somewhere else. The Alienware I believe fits ALL my needs - the cool lights, the incredible power (compared to other laptops, not desktops,) and the BEAUTIFUL screen.

The desktop however is another option. I'm a little hesitant about this because I have a shitty VAIO laptop, and I think if I use the desktop as my main computer, it's gonna hurt when I have to switch to my laptop. Another thing that is a big concern for me is how I'm gonna keep em synced. For example, If I do all my work on my desktop, how am I going to continue working on the move on my laptop? Do I have to keep syncing them manually?

And if I do decide to build my own desktop rig, what components do you recommend? Could you post a Newegg link to the right processor? A good quality monitor? I already know what keyboard and mouse to get (Razer) and what RAM to get (8GB or 16GB of Corsair.) Is there a good case you have in mind?

Thanks SO MUCH for sticking with me through this!!!!
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July 29, 2012 12:50:07 AM

Keep your assignments and uni work on laptop.

Games on desktop.

External HDD and NAS for video etc to share between the two.

You are spending like $2000 on the laptop right?

I recommend you to split the money into $700-800 for laptop and $1200-1300 for desktop.
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July 29, 2012 5:40:51 AM

Pyree said:
Keep your assignments and uni work on laptop.

Games on desktop.

External HDD and NAS for video etc to share between the two.

You are spending like $2000 on the laptop right?

I recommend you to split the money into $700-800 for laptop and $1200-1300 for desktop.


Ok! I've decided I will put together my OWN rig! Thanks for all the help!

However, do you happen to know what the best GPU for my desktop is? I'm not looking for a budget card or anything, just the best ones for my needs. Secondly, I was going to go or a $300 i7 Ivy-Bridge, but I've seen posts about people building high powered gaming rigs with i5's in them. So should i save $100 with an i5, or should i stay with an i7?

Thanks to everyone for all the help, and for saving me some $$$ :sol: 
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July 29, 2012 6:13:21 AM

GTX 690 is the performance king now. Single card with internal SLI. However, it would be overkill for single 1080p screen not to mention the $1200-1300 budget won't be enough. However, you can afford the GTX 680.

If you only game and do general stuff like web browsing, watching video, music, word processing, etc... on desktop, the i5 will do the job just fine. The HT on i7 are good if you need transcoding, heavy threaded application, etc...

Use this template:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/353572-31-build-upgra...

Also start a new thread for your laptop selection in the laptop section. I will be over there also.
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July 29, 2012 12:21:57 PM

Pyree said:
GTX 690 is the performance king now. Single card with internal SLI. However, it would be overkill for single 1080p screen not to mention the $1200-1300 budget won't be enough. However, you can afford the GTX 680.

If you only game and do general stuff like web browsing, watching video, music, word processing, etc... on desktop, the i5 will do the job just fine. The HT on i7 are good if you need transcoding, heavy threaded application, etc...

Use this template:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/353572-31-build-upgra...

Also start a new thread for your laptop selection in the laptop section. I will be over there also.


Alright. I've been on Newegg and put all the parts I believe I should get into a cart to see what it will total too. I already downgraded from the i7 to the i5-3570K. Is that a good processor for my needs? From the quick research I did it seems to be the go-to i5 for gamers. The total WITH the 690 is approximately 1,600 which is pretty good. Of course, $500 less with a 680 is better ;) 

I also did some benchmark research for the GPU, and the 690 seems to kick the 680's ass. The monitor I will get will probably be 1920x1200, and the 680 performs pretty well there (consistently 60 to 80 fps.) The only difference seems to be when you upgrade the resolution to something like 5760x1080. Then the 690 REALLY shines.

Do you also think that a monitor with 1920x1200 is good enough. I hope it is cause if it isn't the 680 won't be able to render games well enough on a higher resolution. Can you post a link to a good monitor that isn't like, $600?

Thanks SO MUCH for all your help, and thanks for quickly getting back to me with all your responses!!!
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July 29, 2012 4:53:11 PM

BambooChief said:
Alright. I've been on Newegg and put all the parts I believe I should get into a cart to see what it will total too. I already downgraded from the i7 to the i5-3570K. Is that a good processor for my needs? From the quick research I did it seems to be the go-to i5 for gamers. The total WITH the 690 is approximately 1,600 which is pretty good. Of course, $500 less with a 680 is better ;) 

I also did some benchmark research for the GPU, and the 690 seems to kick the 680's ass. The monitor I will get will probably be 1920x1200, and the 680 performs pretty well there (consistently 60 to 80 fps.) The only difference seems to be when you upgrade the resolution to something like 5760x1080. Then the 690 REALLY shines.

Do you also think that a monitor with 1920x1200 is good enough. I hope it is cause if it isn't the 680 won't be able to render games well enough on a higher resolution. Can you post a link to a good monitor that isn't like, $600?

Thanks SO MUCH for all your help, and thanks for quickly getting back to me with all your responses!!!


you have some more research to do...
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July 29, 2012 5:45:15 PM

here are some reccommendations for pc parts (approx. prices in US dollars)

cpu: intel core i5 2500k for 220 (anandtech says you can get it to 4.4 on the stock cooler) you can go 4.8
with a decent cooler CM hyper 212+ for 20.

go i5 3570k @230 if you NEED pcie 3.0 and want to buy a cooler(not that it will help much with the temps due
crappy paste under the heatspeader unlike the great fluxless solder in previous CPUs) otherwise with the
2500k it's pcie 2.0 bandwidth from cpu thru mobo to reccommended GPUs. Virtually a non issue(so far).

mobo: ASrock z77 extreme4 full atx from tom's roundup, for 115(inexpensive, good for oc, crossfire and sli flexability with 1x16x pcie single card or 2x8pcie dual card)

ram: 2x4GB kit ddr3 1333 low profile or faster from corsair, geil, gskill, kingston, crucial, any major aprox 40
(low profile so if you decide you want aftermarket cooler it and ram less likely to literally bump heads)

gpu: ok so 1080p but what settings do you want to play at? even game mode in some titles(bf3 mulitplayer
with a higher framerate than would be acceptable in singleplayer for competition sake). also ties into your monitor purchase. pretty standard now are 23-24 in TN panels with 6 bit per color channel precision that dither to approximate 24 bit color of ips panels. not the best if you are doing graphic design type stuff but
fine for games, movies, web, homework. faster response for games and if you are the only one using it looking straight on then viewing angle no big deal either. check reviews. led backlit may provide better contrasts and will weigh less and use less power than older LCDs too. 130and up read user reviews to pick.

wow went off topic but guess i covered the display. back to the graphics card

xfx radeon hd 7850 2GB for 220 AR(after rebate). can perform like 6970 or gtx570 stock.

more oomph? go 7870 GHZ ED. msi twin frozr or a HIS model for 260 AR. performs like gtx580 almost 7950.

for future? HIS 7950 320 AR. all oc great and last 2 can oc up to or over next tier (7950 to 7970/gtx 670).

not personally a fan of eyefinity/3d surround(bezels) but next up is 7970 and gtx670. they were about the
same perf. till a recent amd driver boosted 7970 so more worth premium. gtx670 400, HIS 7970 410 AR.
both oc to next approx 500 dollar tier gtx680 or 7970 GHZ ED. 7900 cards kinda long where 7800 cards and
gtx670 shorter allowing smaller, more portable case options. personally I would probably go with a 23-24 in
1080p(bluray) and a 7870GE or 7950 to save some money.

OS: windows 7 home premium 64 bit OEM 100

bluray reader LG 50 oem or lite on 68 retail(both also read/burn dvds/cds, but oem lacks software/cables).

or burn/play it all lite on 65 oem or asus 70 retail AR plus 5 shipping

sleep...church.. back now

this is a partial list, will come with the rest of suggested build soon.

also gtx690 is like two gtx 680s on one card. but you wont see great sli multi gpu scaling on all games. I
reccommend gpu reviews since fall on techreport. they go into how framerate alone is not enough to deter-
mine smoothness in games. looking at the amount of time it takes to render individual frames can show
where one frame takes quite a while to render while the next frame is dont in a short time. average frame-
rate may look smooth when averaged to the second, but can be quite noticable as visual stutter, especially
on a multi gpu setup. granted the latest higher end nvidia geforce gtx 600 series cards seem to have less
of a problem with this, but it can vary by game, vendor, even driver version. it also is more apparent or not
and more or less of a problem to different people for whatever reason.

Another good site for reviews is hardocp. instead of using canned benches where every card is set the same,
they look a the highest playable settings a card can reach based on subjective playthroughs. not as scientific
as techreport but a good indicator of relative performance in games between gpus in the same price rang.e

they show that when 7970 showed up before Christmas that it was likely the first card able to allow you to
run games at 5760x1080 with high setting on a single gpu. overkill for 2560x1600. 7950 can overclock to
7970 levels for less. if you want 1920x1200 i saw a dell ips(24bit) panel for about 280 on the egg the other
day but dont know if it is glossy or matte finish. 23 or 24 in so decent dot per inch. not too big or too small.

I hope this is helpful to you.
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August 26, 2012 6:39:01 AM

Best answer selected by BambooChief.
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