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GeForce GTX 460M SLI: Mobile Gaming Value From AVADirect?

Test Systems Configuration And Driver Issues

A drop from the previous six-core to four-core processor meant we couldn’t use the performance data from our last X7200-based review, and were instead forced to try to find the fastest previously-tested four-core models in today’s comparison. That’s unfortunate, since its Core i7-950 desktop processor has a higher non-Turbo Boost clock than the Core i7-940XM mobile processor used in Eurocom’s X8100. Of course, any performance gained by using a desktop processor will turn into energy lost in our efficiency comparison.

Test System Configuration
AVADirect X7200 CPUIntel Core i7-950 (Bloomfield), LGA 1366, 3.06-3.33 GHz, 8MB Shared L3 Cache
AVADirect X7200 RAM3 x Kingston KVR1333D3S9/2G (3 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 at DDR3-1066 CAS 7-7-7-20, 6 GB Total
AVADirect X7200 Graphics2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M 1.5 GB 675 MHz GPU Core, GDDR5-2500 Mobile Driver Version 259.51, Patched 260.99
AVADirect X7200 Hard DriveCrucial C300 CTFDDAC256MAG SSD 256 GB, SATA 6Gb/s
Alienware M17x CPUIntel Core i7-920XM (Clarksfield) PGA988, 2.00-3.20 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache
Alienware M17x RAM2 x Kingston KHX1333C7S3K2/4G (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 CAS 9-9-9-24, 4 GB Total
Alienware M17x Graphics2 x AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5870 1 GB, CrossFire 700 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4000 Mobile Driver Version 8.692.2-100203a1-095371C-Dell
Alienware M17x Hard DriveCorsair CSSD-V128GB2-BRKT SSD 128 GB, SATA 3Gb/s
Eurocom X8100 CPUIntel Core i7-940XM (Clarksfield) PGA988, 2.13-3.33 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache
Eurocom X8100 RAM2 x Kingston KHX1333C7S3K2/4G (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 CAS 7-7-7-20 4 GB Total
Eurocom X8100 GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 480M 2 GB 425 MHz GPU Core, GDDR5-2400 Mobile Driver Version 257.07
Eurocom X8100 Hard DriveCorsair CSSD-V128GB2-BRKT SSD 128 GB, SATA 3Gb/s
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 64-bit

Two GeForce GTX 460M modules cost less than a single GTX 480M, so that’s the most logical Nvidia GPU match-up. Alienware’s super-performing M17x takes up arms for AMD’s Radeon series, its dual Mobility Radeon HD 5870 modules in CrossFire mode.

Also notice that the X7200 was tested twice, using the as-delivered 259.51 graphics drivers and specially-patched 260.99 “Verde” versions. The 259.51 driver often crashed when the cards dropped out of 3D mode at the end of a game test, and we found that the 260.99 drivers fixed it. The only problem for notebook buyers is, the public 260.99 drivers would not install without a little prep work.

Because Nvidia has not yet validated Clevo’s cards, the public driver INFs don’t list the card’s ID. We found three methods to enable “Verde” driver installations on AVADirect’s Clevo notebook.

The easiest method is to patch the public driver’s NVAM.INF file, finding the lines that refer to the GTX 460M device ID “0DD1” and replacing the ID of one card with that of another. We found six instances of this code, representing three cards on two different driver models. Replacing both instances of the first card listed (20401043) with the ID of our card (72001558) allowed the drivers to install without a hitch, including the Nvidia HDMI audio drivers. Because the installer removes all HD audio codec drivers before updating Nvidia’s audio drivers, the Realtek driver must also be reinstalled.

Nvidia used a different method in its own 260.99 preview driver for Asus’ G73Jw notebook, adding the lines %NVIDIA_DEV.0DD1.02% = Section017, PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0DD1&SUBSYS_71001558 and %NVIDIA_DEV.0DD1.02% = Section018, PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0DD1&SUBSYS_71001558 to the appropriate places in NVCV.INF. We tried changing Asus’ customized driver to match our card (72001558), and the graphics drivers installed without updating the Nvidia audio drivers.

Users who know a little bit more about INF structure can do to the public driver what Nvidia did to the Asus driver, adding %NVIDIA_DEV.0DD1.02% = Section017, PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0DD1&SUBSYS_72001558 and %NVIDIA_DEV.0DD1.02% = Section018, PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0DD1&SUBSYS_72001558 to the appropriate places in NVCV.INF. The results are identical to using the modified Asus driver, and we tested all three methods to make sure they worked.

In all three cases, the 260.99 driver fixed the stability problem previously found in the 259.51 driver. Nvidia tells us to expect an official update in early December that will make manual driver hacks unnecessary for its unified software package.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS) Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 4x AA
DiRT 2Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version Test Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion:9.0.2.25 x64 Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min Default format AAC
HandBrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4, convert first .vob file from The Last Samurai (1 GB) to .mp4, High Profile
TMPGEnc 4.0 XPressVersion: 4.7.3.292 Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX Codec 6.9.1Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multi-threading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
Xvid 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 9.0Version: 9.0.663, Virus base: 270.14.1/2407, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
7-ZipVersion 4.65: Format=Zip, Compression=Ultra, Method=Deflate, Dictionary Size=32 KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8 Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • bak0n
    $3,142 is not a value.
    Reply
  • jrocks84
    "three-gigapixel Webcam"

    Now that'd be an awesome webcam. If only it was true... :(
    Reply
  • dEAne
    thanks tom for this article.
    Reply
  • silversurfernhs
    last gaming laptop i'll ever own was the HDX20 8800m series... google it - thats why. It lasted me a few generations - and the wifey uses it now, still games well(for the games she plays anyway).

    All these "gaming" laptops are on 17" screens... i'd just as well plug it into an external monitor - which defeats the purpose a bit - might as well have a small fragbox for the price...

    I wish some company would rejuvinate the spirit of HP's HDX Dragon line...
    Reply
  • blibba
    So, why can#t we have a fully enabled GF106 for desktops? Ffs Nvidia...
    Reply
  • nebun
    it's so funny that the mid range sli setup destroys the top of the like ati crossfire setup, lol. nvidia for life..
    Reply
  • Maziar
    Thanks for the article;however,I hoped you compare it with 2 GTX 480Ms as well
    BTW,you can find this laptop(with the same config as the review) much cheaper from other sites such as XoticPC.(Starts from $2100)
    http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np7280-custom-laptop-built-the-clevo-x7200-p-2881.html
    Reply
  • jomofro39
    True value will hit when the cpus with the integrated graphics come out, hopefully. That is their purpose, right? I hardly find 3,100 or 2,100 dollars a value. Gaming on the go is a privilege, not a need. Value on a privilege needs to be steeper than this.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    MaziarThanks for the article;however,I hoped you compare it with 2 GTX 480Ms as wellYes, well, the X8100 didn't support two of them due to power issues (most HUGE notebooks won't) and the other X7200 (the one with the 980X installed) had already been sent back.
    Reply
  • theholylancer
    soo umm i7 950 DESKTOP vs i7 920 XM MOBILE?

    did someone forgot to mention that the AMD cards were paired with mobile procs, while 460Ms got the destkop stuff?

    It did not made any sense when I saw that crysis high AMD gets slaughtered, and then V High is evenish. Then I looked back and saw that AMD gets a mobile CPU that could have been the bottleneck given the gfx power...



    Reply