We're starting to get a bit more of a feel for how Haswell performs on the CPU side. The Intel Core i7-4800MQ powering the Alienware 17 is undoubtedly one of the fastest mobile quad core CPUs, but the more testing I see with it, the more I get a distinct sense that we need to start digging deeper into how it handles turbo. Performance is complicated further when we start hitting the GeForce GTX 780M as well; NVIDIA has implemented boost clocks on their mobile part, but the boost range seems to be a lot more variable than it is on the desktop, probably owing to the more specific thermal headroom.

PCMark 7 (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark 11

You can see we've got four different Haswell and 780M systems on hand, and the 3DMark scores are bouncing all over the place. I'd been expecting and hoping that the Alienware 17 would have the cleanest and most consistent implementation of this hardware pairing, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Instead we're all over the map. The 3DMark11 score is remarkably low compared to the other 780M systems, but it remains to be seen whether or not that performance deficit will resurface in practical game testing.

Cinebench R11.5 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

x264 HD 5.x

x264 HD 5.x

Cinebench is able to give us consistent results due, I think, to its more sustained load. Cinebench has historically been very consistent in the first place, so everything falls in where it ought to. But the x264 encoding benchmark is completely different.

We're essentially dealing with a lot of performance variables now. At first blush, Haswell seems to be more granular with its performance scaling than Ivy was. Mobile Kepler with boost is also very granular, but my experience with Kepler on the desktop is that its boost clocks are governed entirely by thermals. On the desktop, thermally-controlled turbo/boost speeds on hardware are easy to control for, but when you're talking about notebooks, you're at the mercy of the cooling systems implemented by the manufacturer, including the fan profiles.

In and Around the Alienware 17 Gaming Performance


View All Comments

  • mp5cartman - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    Damn, so much hate. To all haters, why don't you try an Alienware laptop I bet you will be satisfied. They are very relaiable, offers customizing even the best of the best components for laptops, ie. GTX 780m or i7-4930MX. And with the design argument, its stupid. Turn the lights of if you don't like it. If you dont like the chassis look then and look to a different brand and stop hating. jesus... Reply
  • Globemaster - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    I've owned 1x Alienware, 1x Dell XPS, 3x Sager (Clevo) and 1x MSI. The MSI GT70 Dragon Edition 2 is my favorite of the lot by far. Yes, I have to use it with the fan on high to not hit thermal limits, but I've always had to do that since 1999 with all the others as well (Fn 1). It's psychotically fast and an incredible upgrade from my Sager with a 485M GTX and 120GB SSD boot. The 3x SSDs are amazing and the 780m rocks with a driver upgrade. My scores are way better than Anandtech because I test with the fan on. Simple as that.
    Also, Alienware customer service was terrible, they said the battery latch was not covered under my extended warranty so I had to tape my 1 year old $3k laptop to keep the battery in.
  • Draconian - Thursday, September 12, 2013 - link

    I never thought they were going to switch to Matte screens. So glad they did though. Reply
  • woofblitzer - Thursday, September 19, 2013 - link

    My Maingear Nomad 14 with i7-4800, 780m, 2 x 256GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD in RAID0 and 16GB Corsair Dominator beats all of these benchmarks. I paid $2600. When I turn on the VirtuMVP software, I destroy some of these Alienware FPS. Test a real machine. This is just a name. Reply
  • conflictserum - Friday, September 20, 2013 - link

    TL;DR Buy a Sager/Clevo and save money. Reply

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