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While we used a rather basic mid-priced desktop as a reference point for today’s top-performing notebooks, it’s clear that the notebooks have a big lead in portability. It’s also clear that nobody is going to carry around a huge PC, separate monitor, and enormous uninterruptable power supply in their backpack.
Thus, while any gaming notebook’s battery life is certainly less-than-spectacular by mobile standards, all three portables are stellar by desktop standards. Alienware has the biggest battery but, unfortunately, the slowest-charging circuit.
Alienware could have gone further, but a hidden setting in firmware prevented it from operating at anything less than 12% charge. Windows is set to initiate power savings at 7% and hibernate at 5%, but we simply stopped our tests at 7% on the other two units.
And now for the weird part: the desktop’s single graphics card appears to consume less energy than the pair of low-wattage cards used in both notebooks. The reason we say "appears” is that there’s no way to measure exactly how much of the desktop’s additional energy is going to the platform that supports its card, and we can only guess that’s it’s more than the 18 W difference in “full GPU load” measurements.
Efficiency is a comparison of energy to work, and the M17x works nearly as well as the mid-level desktop. Eurocom’s X8100 Leopard is slightly behind, in spite of its higher-model processor and higher-numbered graphics driver.
An amazing parity of efficiency is found between AVADirect’s $3100 notebook and Eurocom’s $4100 version. Alienware leads slightly, while the desktop falls far behind.