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Sibling Rivalry: Dell vs. Alienware

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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October 15, 2007 11:43:53 AM

Dell and Alienware are supposed to target different markets, but what happens when the parent company's gaming notebook takes on its similarly priced sibling? Dell's XPS M1730 vs. Alienware's Area-51 m9750.

http://www.tomsguide.com/us/2007/10/15/fair_play/index.html
October 15, 2007 5:41:05 PM

It's nice to finally see a comparison between the 7950 and 8700, although the results of the game benchmarks were somewhat surprising.

I would be tempted to argue in favor of a 7950 equipped system with XP, but with Crysis designed to run on DX10 and Vista, it seems I must STILL WAIT until nVidia can come out with a beefier mobile GPU.

I do like the Dell, the backlit keyboard is a great feature, however, the safest bet may be to wait for the montevina quad-core systems coming out H2 2008. By then, a few more DX10 titles should be out, and maybe nVidia will up their mobile GPU as well.
October 16, 2007 11:52:12 PM

I would first like to thank you for a well written article but it would have been nice to see benchmarks under the same OS however I understand that such information would have required a significant amount of time to compile.

I noticed earlier in your article that you stated....

"Dell offers an upgrade to 4GB for an offensive $375 additional charge, while savvy buyers can purchase top-brand 2x2GB DDR2-667 SO-DIMM kits for around $200."

I have a Dell XPS M1730 arriving any day now and I would be most interested in upgrading the ram myself, as you say but I can't seem to find 2X2GB modules for anywhere near the price you have listed previously. I would appreciate it greatly if anyone had any personal recommendations on which brand of notebook memory to buy and where from ( I live in Australia ).

I have never owned a notebook before the XPS as I have always built my own desktops but due to travel I have deemed it necessesary to purchase one, any advice would be appreciated.
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a b D Laptop
October 17, 2007 12:58:13 AM

That price they gave was in USD. I'm not up to date with exchange rates, but your prices may be higher than what we have here. Do you have a few good tech websites in AUS that you could post? I'd be willing to scavenge to try and find you a good deal, but I don't know of any aussie computer component sites.
October 17, 2007 7:34:44 AM

http://www.umart.com.au/newindex2.phtml?bid=5

Is a site that I have often used in the past and have found to have rather good prices. Even factoring in the exchange rates though it still seems rather expensive compared to the previously quoted price in the article.

I guess I better do some snooping around myself!

Do you think that the M1730 will be compatable with any old ram? I checked the Dell site earlier and couldn't find anything resembling a compatability list.
a b D Laptop
October 17, 2007 3:23:25 PM

That site doesn't really have much in the way of RAM for laptops. They had no options for 4gb kits and the best you could do was buy two separate sticks of 2gbs for 200 each which is what Dell wants anyway.

The XPS should work with any RAM as long as it is the 200 PIN and DDR2. You will start to see performance hits once you go below a certain frequency though. I wouldn't recommend going lower than 533.
October 19, 2007 8:27:21 PM

This is a terrible review.

The Alienware beats Dell in almost all Doom3 benchmark and in all FEAR ones and the conclusion says Dell is better for games !??! Dell do better on Oblivion except it even fails to run the native resolution...

a b D Laptop
October 19, 2007 11:43:26 PM

Maybe I'm missing what you are seeing, but to me they never say that the Dell is better at games. The conclusion leads you to believe that it's a better value, which it is since it beats the Alienware in everything but games. They also make the arguement that Dell will allow the user to upgrade the 8700GT's when newer stuff (8800m) comes out. That alone would make the Dell more appealing to a user, knowing that they can upgrade their system if it becomes outdated 2 weeks later.

If you base everything off of gaming performance, the Alienware is the clear winner. The 8700's just can't compete with the 7950's especially when eye-candy is turned on. The Alienware's smaller price tag would make it the more appealing option to those looking for raw gaming performance.
October 21, 2007 8:04:46 PM

Might as well do HP vs. VoodooPC too.
a b D Laptop
October 21, 2007 8:33:50 PM

talknerdytome said:
Might as well do HP vs. VoodooPC too.


That wouldn't work as well. HP doesn't have much that could compare to Voodoo, especially in the desktop department. You might be able to compare a lower end Voodoo with a midrange HP, but I dunno.
October 22, 2007 12:35:21 AM

Plus the ratio of kickassness between Voodoo and HP is much higher than Alienware to Dell. The paintjobs are much cooler than a cheap plastic case :D 
October 22, 2007 6:45:55 AM

Not really a fair comparison between the two laptops..

1) XP vs Vista, everyone knows XP is faster for gaming
2) The 7950 laptop drivers in the Alienware are battle proven, the new 8700m laptop drivers in the Dell are new and still need to work out all the kinks

I wouldn't be surprised to see a big performance increase 4-6 months from now when Nvidia gets around to improving the 8700m drivers
October 22, 2007 6:49:49 AM

lostandwandering said:
That wouldn't work as well. HP doesn't have much that could compare to Voodoo, especially in the desktop department. You might be able to compare a lower end Voodoo with a midrange HP, but I dunno.



HP has that new blackbird desktop (or something like that), all the critics are giving it great reviews... Given it does have some Voodoo DNA parts in it...
a b D Laptop
October 22, 2007 3:13:20 PM

That is true. I even made a post about that system in the HP section and yet I forgot about it. Way to go me!

Voodoo is known to make some of the fastest and cleanest prebuilt systems on the market. It would be interesting to see if any of that has rubbed off on the blackbird (besides the price). I think the Voodoo would win just because it is water cooled and could probably be clocked to hell and back.
October 23, 2007 10:03:22 PM

I also prefer the 7950 with XP to the 8700 with Vista. The 7950 scored 5300 in 3D Mark06 while the 8700 scored 4600. But having said that, the drivers do make a difference, and also the bus width. The 7950 has double the data path. So, even with better drivers, the 8700 won't outperform the 7950. Now it will be a different story when the 8800M is released...I think it will have a 256bit bus and should easily outperform the 7950GTX and give everyone a reason to switch up to Vista and DX10. Hopefully by then SP1 will be released for Vista.

For those who prefer Dell and like the 7950 with XP, I think you can still get it with the M1710. =)
November 2, 2007 4:54:12 PM

Xzareth said:
http://www.umart.com.au/newindex2.phtml?bid=5

Is a site that I have often used in the past and have found to have rather good prices. Even factoring in the exchange rates though it still seems rather expensive compared to the previously quoted price in the article.

I guess I better do some snooping around myself!

Do you think that the M1730 will be compatable with any old ram? I checked the Dell site earlier and couldn't find anything resembling a compatability list.


Are you planning on running the 64-bit version of XP or Vista? the 32-bit versions dont take advantage or recognize anything over 3GB.
November 7, 2007 2:39:19 AM

I would point you this article;
http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTMzNCwxLCxoZW50aHVzaWFzdA==
In this review they prove out that for some reason vista is simply not good for gaming. In the article they put the same configurations but using a dx9 and dx10 video cards running under vista then xp and the xp version always beats out the vista version.

Also the M1730 is offered in XP instead of vista but you have to acces thier costum config by going to;
http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsnb_m1730?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~tab=bundlestab
This allows you to choose the Better XP version and then beef it up.

I would absolutely love to see those benchmarks on a M1730 XP version. My bet is based on the above article you would see huge performance gains.
November 11, 2007 1:58:39 PM

This was ok, but not very conclusive. Considering the nature of the two notebooks, and the fact its also a 8700 vs 7950 comparison, i would have liked to have seen a greater range of games benchmarked other than FEAR and Oblivion...

How about Bioshock? Crysis Demo?...

We have a review of DX10 compatible hardware, with no DX10 tests.

What other people said about the drivers is true also, but i dont consider AA/AF the be-all and end-all of a GPU. I mean did we need benchmarks to show that 256bit is better than 128bit? We knew that the thing would lose out in AA/AF at higher resolutions. Does the GPU compensate in other areas though.... we know (from synthetic tests) that it has 3x the shader performance. That could make a difference in certain games, especially upcoming.

I dunno its just some stuff to think about and its stuff i would have liked to have seen investigated.
November 11, 2007 2:03:01 PM

Just to add to that....

If TH could have gotten some comments from NVIDIA on the 8700 that would have been great too, such as the mythical "Dual-Rank" Memory Bus that we know nothing about. Whats it for and do? Why does it not seem to be producing any performance improvement (if that was its purpose) and so forth.

(Sorry it wouldnt let me edit)
February 22, 2008 3:30:17 AM

I wonder if they had the XPS M1730 running in SLI for the tests? :wahoo: 

When I first got mine I ran 3DMark06 and got a score of 4861 which I though was OK at the time as my desktop machine only got around 5600 running an FX60 cpu and a 7900GTX. BUT upon further checking it turns out that the laptop is shipped without being set to SLI. Once I figured that out I set it to SLI and I repeated the test and got 8308 with my XPS M1730. Yes I am running Vista Home Premium with 2gigs of Ram and the X7900 Core Duo Extreme CPU.

Almost forgot to add that I am NOT overclocking the unit either.....
a b D Laptop
February 22, 2008 3:39:44 AM

Couldn't tell you anymore since the link isn't working for me anymore. Pretty sure the numbers they had were correct for an SLI 8700 system. If I remember the system correctly, they didn't have the CPU you have, which is where you are getting some extra points from. Basically, the 7950GTX killed the 8700's and now the 8800 are out and have finally taken the crown for the mobile 8 series.
February 22, 2008 10:52:30 PM

Most interesting! The link does not work for me either. I wonder if they pulled it when they discovered that they had forgotten to set the SLI on as that gives a totally different picture...

My Dell XPS M1730 has dual 8700s not the 8800s. But IF there is a big improvement and Dell offers the upgrade then I will look at upgrading to the 8800s.

I was especially interested in their comment about the RAM upgrade as a $200 upgrade now is OK but a $400 was not at the time of purchase.

a b D Laptop
February 23, 2008 3:27:48 AM

Wizard17 said:
My Dell XPS M1730 has dual 8700s not the 8800s. But IF there is a big improvement and Dell offers the upgrade then I will look at upgrading to the 8800s.


A single 8800mGTX scores about what both of your 8700's did. They are pretty freakin awesome for laptop cards.
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