AVADirect’s GeForce GTX 460M SLI-based machine presented us with a great opportunity to compare the latest mobile GPUs, as well as a bit of a testing dilemma. While its Core i7-950 processor was matched by the previously-tested Core i7-940XM in lightly-threaded applications like games, its multi-threaded application performance makes it a beast in encoding and productivity tests.
Yet, we were most interested in how well its new GPU configuration would perform, so we accepted the configuration, even in light of its mismatched host processor. Shortly afterward, someone (Ed.: I'm guilty) suggested comparing it based on price-per-performance in a chart that looks like this:
The problem with the above chart is that it doesn’t account for features, such as the X8100’s larger 18.4” display and HDMI pass-through device (with added screen-grabbing capability). It doesn’t even account for smaller improvements, such as Alienware’s enhanced-resolution 1920x1200 display. And it certainly doesn’t account for the thinner design, lower heat, and longer battery life of its mobile CPU-based competitors. In fact, notebook CPUs cost more than the desktop part used to improve the X7200’s performance at the expense of cooler thickness, heat, battery life, and power supply weight.
Thus, we have two conclusions, and the first one is in regards to GPU alacrity. At less than half the cost and armed with most of the performance of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 480M, the GTX 460M becomes our preferred notebook GPU at this time. A pair of these easily smashes the performance of AMD’s fastest CrossFire-based solution. So take two now, and then call the doctor in the morning if you find yourself suddenly addicted to gaming at full detail levels on a laptop.
Second, the X7200’s use of a desktop processor sets it up as a value leader, but only if you don’t value having a notebook that’s less than 2.8” thick or less than 17 pounds heavy, with adapter. Had we been building our own GeForce GTX 460M SLI-equipped notebook, we’d have likely picked the X8100 chassis for its lower weight, lower power use, and larger screen.
But we’re not notebook builders; that’s AVADirect’s job, and the company focused on providing the most performance for the money. This is the point where AVADirect gets our kudos for topping the above chart, and we’re sure its builders are willing to assist any buyer in reaching their ultimate portability and performance goals.