Alienware M11x: World’s Smallest Gaming Laptop

The Alienware M11x first hit headlines in January at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. Even without testing the unit, we could see that there was some real potential in the component selections. ASUS already showed us with their UL series that overclocked CULV processors can easily cope with most modern games, provided they have a GPU that is up to the task. The UL series uses GeForce G210M graphics cards, and while they’re substantially faster than any current IGP solution, they still struggle with running many games at anything more than low/minimum detail settings. A faster GPU is necessary for higher quality settings, but where exactly does the bottleneck shift from the GPU back to the CPU when we’re dealing with overclocked CULV? The M11x looks to answer that question by going with a rather potent GeForce GT335M.
Alienware M11x Specifications
ProcessorCore 2 Duo SU7300 (45nm, 2x1.30GHz, 3MB, 800FSB, 10W)
Pentium SU4100 (45nm, 2x1.30GHz, 2MB, 800FSB, 10W)
Overclockable to 1.73GHz
ChipsetIntel GS45 + ICH9M
Memory2x1GB to 2x4GB DDR3-10662x2GB DDR3-1066 Tested
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GT 335M
Intel GMA 4500MHD
Switchable Graphics
Display11.6" LED Backlit WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s)160GB 5400RPM
250GB 7200RPM
320GB 7200RPM
500GB 7200RPM
Optical DriveN/A
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet (Atheros AR8132 / L1c)
Dell DW1520 802.11n WiFi
Bluetooth (Optional)
Mobile Broadband (Optional)
AudioHD Audio (2 speakers with mic and 2x headphone jacks)
Battery8-cell 63Wh
Front SideN/A
Left SideMini 1394a FireWire
Flash Memory Card Reader
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x USB 2.0 (powered)
Kensington Lock
Right Side2x Headphone jack
Microphone jack
2 x USB 2.0
Back SideAC Power Connection
Cooling exhaust
Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Dimensions11.25" x 9.19" x 1.29" (WxDxH)
Weight4.39 lbs (with 8-cell battery)
ExtrasAlienFX Zoned Lighting
86-Key LED Backlit Keyboard
3-in-1 Flash reader
Warranty1-year standard warranty
Remote diagnostics
3-year and 4-year extended warranties available
Advanced and Premium In-Home Service available
PricingStarting at $799
Test System: $1099 ($1198 with TactX Mouse)
Like the G210M, the GT335M supports DirectX 10.1 functionality and is built on a 40nm process technology. That’s where the similarities end. The GT335M bumps the SP count from the 16 in the G210M all the way up to 72 SPs, providing much more computational power; similarly, the memory interface is 128-bit instead of 64-bit. The actual core and shader clocks on the G210M are slightly higher: 625 core and 1500 shader versus 450 core and 1066 shader on the GT335M; memory speed on the other hand is bumped from 1600MHz to 2133MHz. The result is that the GT335M has 166% more memory bandwidth and 224% more computational power… all with the same overclocked CULV SU7300 (or SU4100) processor as the ASUS UL series.
Of course, the GT335M isn’t the only game in town when it comes to faster mobile GPUs. We recently reviewed the ASUS N61Jv with an i5-430M CPU and GT325M GPU, so that will be an interesting matchup from the performance standpoint. GT325M cuts the SP count down to 48, with a slightly lower shader clock as well, but it has the same memory bandwidth. With 63% more computational performance, the GT335M should be noticeably faster than the GT325M, but GPU memory bandwidth is often the bigger bottleneck on 128-bit GPUs and the N61Jv CPU is substantially faster than an overclocked SU7300 CULV. In games that are CPU limited on the M11x, we’ll see the N61Jv come out ahead (or at least close the gap), whereas GPU limited games should still prefer the M11x. Of course, there’s no getting around the size advantage of the M11x: it weighs less and has a chassis that’s much more portable. Really, there’s no competition for the M11x unless you’re willing to move to a 13.3” chassis. In that case ASUS has the UL30Jc, but that has a G310M GPU (a 2% higher shader clock than the G210M) so it’s still a big step back in terms of gaming potential.

The base model M11x comes with 2GB DDR3, a 160GB 5400RPM hard drive, and a Pentium SU4100 processor. Our test unit bumps the CPU up to the Core 2 Duo SU7300 for $100 extra; considering the only difference is 3MB L2 cache (versus 2MB on the SU4100) and support for VT-x (hardware virtualization), most users will be better off saving the $100 for other upgrades. The 500GB 7200RPM Seagate 7200.4 hard drive, on the other hand, is a very welcome addition. It should offer improved performance relative to 5400RPM drives while still providing a lot of storage capacity. The $150 to upgrade the hard drive is a bit steep, though, considering you can purchase the same drive for $85. Finally, Alienware shipped us a system with 4GB DDR3 (another $50), which brings the total price of our system to $1200. Obviously this isn't a cheap laptop, but if you take the base system and just add 4GB RAM (and clone the HDD to your own HDD/SSD when you get it) you can get everything you need for under $1000.
The short summary of the M11x is simple: it’s the smallest laptop ever made that can still manage to play games. Really. There’s nothing else even close when you get down to sub-14” laptops, and it can outgame many 15.6" and larger notebooks. Not only can it run every current game on the market, but we managed to get 30+ FPS at medium or higher detail settings in every game we tested! That’s the good news. The bad news is that a great design is once again saddled with a mediocre LCD, and Alienware omitted at least one feature that they really need: NVIDIA’s Optimus Technology. We don’t mind manually switching between IGP and discrete GPUs that much (though it was odd to see Dell’s Data Safe Online Backup utility trigger a block a few times—the toaster.exe process); far more important is that Optimus laptops will get better driver support in the future. We already encountered several games that complained about our drivers (for example, Batman and Left 4 Dead 2) and we suspect things will only get worse. NVIDIA has yet to deliver a Verde driver with Optimus support, but that should come in the next release. If you want new drivers for switchable graphics laptops like the ASUS ULx0Vt series and the M11x… well, don’t hold your breath.
Finally, we should mention that while the M11x technically has an 11.6” chassis, a few aspects of the chassis need mention. First, the M11x is about 1” deeper than other 11.6” CULV laptops we’ve looked at, and at 4.4 lbs. it definitely weighs more. Obviously, Alienware had to pack more cooling capacity into the M11x to keep the GPU and CPU from overheating, but they’re dangerously close to the size of a 13.3” chassis. Look at the LCD bezel and you’ll find a large border, particularly on the top and bottom. The M11x uses an 11.6” 1366x768 LCD, but with a few small tweaks we’re confident they could have put a 13.3” 1440x900 WXGA+ LCD into the chassis. The huge bezel area almost makes us think that they put a smaller LCD in the chassis just so they could lay claim to having an 11.6” gaming laptop. Personally, I would have preferred a 16:10 aspect ratio with a 13.3” LCD—besides, even if this were a 13.3” laptop, it would still be over twice as fast as the nearest competitor in graphics power!
Minor blemishes aside, there’s still no getting around the fact that this is a very capable gaming laptop with a very small footprint. The total performance on tap should be about equal to that of the Gateway P-6831 FX that we praised a couple years ago. The overclocked CULV processor is faster and uses far less power, and the same goes for the GT325M (though the old 8800M did have a memory bus that was twice as wide). Add in switchable graphics and you have a laptop that weighs roughly half as much and lasts two to four times as long on battery power. Join us as we take a closer look at what makes the M11x tick and run it through our benchmark suite.


AMD'S Turbo Core

AMD Divulges Phenom II X6 Secrets, Turbo Core Enabled

Last month Intel introduced its first desktop 6-core CPU, the 32nm Gulftown Core i7 980X. Running at 3.33GHz we loved the fact that it’s quite possibly the first Extreme Edition part that is able to justify its price. For $999 you get six cores and better performance all in the same power envelope as the current high end quad-core i7s.
The 980X is a great chip, but spending $999 on a single component in your PC is a tough sell for most folks. Luckily, AMD is coming out with its own 6-core processors codenamed Thuban. Below is what we know so far about AMD's Thuban lineup (note, the information in the table was not provided by AMD):
AMD 2010 Roadmap
CPUClock SpeedMax Turbo (<= 3 cores)L3 CacheTDPRelease
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T3.2GHz3.6GHz6MB125WQ2
AMD Phenom II X6 1075T3.0GHz3.5GHz6MB125WQ3
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T2.8GHz3.3GHz6MB125W/95WQ2
AMD Phenom II X6 1035T2.6GHz3.1GHz6MB95WQ2
AMD Phenom II X4 960T3.0GHz3.4GHz6MB95WQ2
Officially branded the Phenom II X6, AMD won’t be launching these processors until some time in the future. But today AMD is disclosing some basic details about the parts. We’re also mixing in our knowledge of internal AMD roadmaps to paint a clear picture of AMD’s 6-core strategy.
The more cores at the same TDP feature that Intel delivers with the 980X, AMD is also promising with Phenom II X6. The difference is that these are still 45nm parts. While we’ll have to test them to be sure, AMD currently indicates that the entire Phenom II X6 lineup will be rated at 95W or 125W TDPs. It’s all manufacturing tricks that make it possible (good job GlobalFoundries). In theory you should be able to buy a Phenom II X6 and have it operate in the same power envelope as a Phenom II X4 965.
With the Thuban cores AMD is introducing its version of Intel’s Turbo Boost technology called Turbo Core. AMD has yet to implement power gating on its processors, so Turbo Core works a little differently than Intel’s Turbo.
Turbo Core kicks in when 3 or more cores (on a 6-core part) are idle. When this happens, the frequency of those three cores is reduced to 800MHz, the voltage to the entire chip is increased, and the remaining three cores are turboed up by as much as 500MHz. It doesn’t get any more granular than this. If you have 3 or more cores idle, then the remaining turbo up. In any other situation the CPU runs at its normal clocks.
The CPU handles all monitoring and does the clock/voltage management itself. The switch to turbo up cores apparently happens fast enough to deal with Windows moving threads around from core to core.
Turbo core is triggered by a deterministic system that is based on load demand and current operating conditions (not temperature).
Cool’n’Quiet is active throughout the turbo process. What actually happens is that when CnQ looks to see if a set of cores should be downclocked, it also has the ability to increase the frequency of other cores.
This isn’t nearly as elegant of a solution as Intel’s turbo. The idle cores are never actually shut off, and voltage to all cores is increased to reach the higher clock speed. However if it works as advertised with no drawbacks (e.g. underclocking 3 cores when you actually still need them) then it’s definitely better than nothing for the Phenom II lineup. AMD will also have quad-core CPUs with turbo core support based on the new Thuban cores.
The great news? All Socket-AM3 and AM2+ motherboards will work with these new Phenom II X6 CPUs with nothing more than a BIOS update. The boards do have to support the TDPs the chips are rated for of course.
Pricing and performance are both unknowns at this point. We’ll keep you posted!

Monitors for latest Generation

1. SOYO GoVideo Dual-Screen LCD Monitor :

Dual LCD Monitor Images
Impressive. The latest offering from Soyo Group Inc. is a unique dual screen LCD monitor which allows users to simultaneously view multiple applications. Previously, in order to have a dual screen system, we have to buy two monitors. But not anymore! Available in 17-inch and 19-inch models, the GoVideo Dual LCD Monitor is compatible with both MS Windows and Apple Mac computers. It also capable of managing several sources of information without time-consuming switching between application windows.
Regarding specs, GoVideo Dual LCD Monitor features a native resolution of 2560 x 1024, a brightness of 300cd/m2, a response time of 8ms, 16.7M diplay colors, integrated GoVideo stereo speakers, and a DVI input which allows users to watch broadcast TV stations on the monitor. On-Screen picture controls is included as well.
No words on pricing and availability yet.
Side View Images

2.  AOC’s Latest LCD Monitors: 2230Fh, 2230Fm and V22 :

AOC, the display maker, is getting up in the gaming market with a new line of gamer certified displays.  Today, they announced 3 monitors – the 2230Fh, 2230Fm and V22 – that all sport a 22-inch display, a 2ms response time and variable contrast ratios.  The V22 is the flagship of the 3 boasting an LED backlight and a 100,000:1 dyanmic contrast ratio, while the 2230Fm includes a 4-in-1 media card reader and multi-media player sans computer.
Full release below
AOC’s New Displays Take Gaming to Another Level
The AOC Gamer Certified Series of displays offers the fastest response times and everything gamers need to get the most out of their gaming experience
Fremont, CA, 2008 – AOC has launched their Gamer Certified series of displays designed to offer the latest in graphic technologies geared toward today’s high definition, fast moving games.
AOC’s Gamer Certified displays allow gamers to view HD games the way designers intended. All AOC Gamer Certified displays offer high contrast ratios and industry leading 2ms response times with DCR (dynamic contrast ratio) control, HDMI inputs and gaming modes for adjusting them to meet gamer needs on any HD game, whether it be on a console or PC.

For Gamers who need the latest:
AOC’s 2230Fh leads the way with a 22″ display, 20,000:1 contrast ratio and 2ms response time wrapped in a sleek designer bezel. AOC’s 2230Fh is the gaming monitor of choice by the Underground Gaming Series Tournament and received rave reviews for its performance, design and price point.

For Gamers who want more:
AOC’s award winning 2230Fm HD3 Display offers the same gaming experience as the 2230Fh, but adds a 4-in-1 memory card reader and built-in multi-media player for playing movies with NO PC REQUIRED. It has created a new category as a multi-functional display useful for business applications, gaming, movies, or showing off digital photos directly on an HD display.

The Next Step for extreme Gamers:
AOC is breaking into the WLED market with their V22 which will launch early in 2009. This ultra-thin display offers HDMI inputs, 100,000:1 contrast ratio and industry leading 2ms response time. This display is for gamers who demand the best in graphics and performance, but also prefer a display that offers the latest in thin display technology at an affordable price.
“AOC’s Gamer Certified series of displays are all designed to offer the fastest response times for eliminating ghostly images and high contrast ratios truly show the detail of today’s HD games,” said Robert Velez, Marketing Manager for AOC. “With our experience as one of the world’s largest display manufacturers AOC is able to take proven technologies and offer them for an affordable price. We believe that gamers should be able to play on displays that allow them to get the full experience when playing HD games as the game designers intended; crisp, clear and blur-free,” added Velez.

Product Specification Highlights (for all AOC Gamer Certified HD Displays):
  • Contrast ratio – 12,000:1 through 100,000:1
  • HDMI inputs
  • 2ms ultra-fast response time
  • Dynamic contrast ratio control
  • 22″ dispalys.

3. ASUS introduces new LCD Monitors :

ASUS a leading manufacturer of computer peripherals and components is all set with their latest range of LCD monitors. As such looking at the features there is nothing special in the monitors and they all comes with basic features. They have launched three different models called PG191, PW191 with 19 inch widescreen display, PW221 with 22 inch widescreen display. The only good feature is its 2 ms fast response time which is reasonable quick in recent market.
All the LCD monitors are available in Japan market right now and has price tag ranging from 55,000 Yen (€340) to 91,000 Yen (€560) depending on size and features.

4. LG 1900 R Monitor That Looks Like Spaceship :

LG 1900 R Monitor
LG has surpised all of us with the latest LG’s 1900 R LCD monitor 2 with unique and ultrasharp black and red design. You might notice a big red hole and start wondering that is that for.

According to LG’s home page, “When you turn on the light, red light comes on clockwise direction to make you feel the smoothness of the light.” It seems like the logic that we have in our mind is quite different because red light supposed to hurt our eyes. Well, the truth remains to be seen till we have tested the LCD screen.
However, one real fact is the the LG 1900 R Monitor has pretty good specifications. The 1900 R sports a 2000:1 contrast ratio and a 4ms response time.

5.Super-wide 43-inch NEC display is 4 LCD Monitors in 1  

Ever imagine what is the look of 4 LCD monitors blended seamlessly into 1 whole new monitor? Well here is the snapshot of the latest NEC display dubbes as NEC CRV43 super-wide 43-inch LCD Monitor:

For God sake, this stuff is extremely cool. It’s very good for designer who require lots of workspace for their application such as Flash Animator, Vector designer or perhaps movie editor. NEC CRV43 LCD Monitor has an unique adaptation of DLP technology, 12-bit color depth, 10,000:1 contrast ratio, God-fast response rate 0.02 milliseconds, 2880×900 resolution and HDMI connection.
For all those amazing specs, the price you have to pay also brilliant. It’s $8,000 a pop and it should be able to blow your mind completely. 

6. Dell UltraSharp 2009W 20" Monitor Released :

dell_2009wfp1.jpgIt seems the LCD department at Dell is really working hard. Though Dell is not traditionally known for monitors, recently the firm has cranked some marvelous displays which can certainly give any typical monitor maker a run for its money. The latest to join Dell monitor line up is a sexy 20-inch widescreen display, delivering 102% color gamut, 2000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and 5 ms response time.

According to the company, 2009W's 20-inch WSXGA 1680 x 1050 HD panel offers up to 13%1 more screen area & 36%3 more pixel content than the Dell 19-inch widescreen monitor. With simple height, swivel, tilt and pivot adjustments, the UltraSharp 2009W delivers custom comfort in most any setting. And the four conveniently located USB 2.0 ports offer flexible, hassle-free multi-media connection.
The UltraSharp 2009W is now available for $289. Sounds attractive, no?

 7.NEC offers MultiSync EA190M LCD monitor :  

NEC    is an old hat when it comes to monitors and displays, where their latest release would be the NEC MultiSync EA190M LCD monitor. This 19″ standard-aspect ratio desktop display will target the mundane and ordinary – basically anyone who is looking for a regular LCD monitor that is reliable enough to run for years without compromising on performance and features. In addition, NEC has thrown in a range of eco-conscious features to further improve energy efficiency, sipping 50% less energy and containing 50% less mercury compared to standard LCD monitors. All it takes to kick in ECO Mode is touch a single button, where the carbon footprint meter enables one to track carbon savings easily while adjusting their power settings accordingly.

The MultiSync EA190M offers brightness at 250 cd/m², a 900:1 contrast ratio and full-motion video with Rapid Response of 5ms. With a native resolution of 1280 x 1024, this monitor allows enhanced screen performance and provides bright, crisp images. Additionally, its 4-way ergonomic stand offers height adjustment, tilt, swivel and pivot capabilities, allowing users to customize their viewing experience and work comfortably.
Interested? It will ship from this month onwards, retailing for approximately $259 in all markets. Each purchase will come with a standard three-year parts and labor warranty, including the backlight.

8.Viewsonic VX1940w :

Today, 19-inch LCD monitors offer the best value-for-money in terms of the screen size, supported resolution and of course, the price. But, as always, there's room for improvement and that's exactly what Viewsonic claims to have done.

The latest offering from Viewsonic's LCD monitor stable, the VX1940w, promises better graphics, more pixels, and faster response times. Let's see how good it really is. Bundle Viewsonic VX1940w LCD Monitor 1 Power Cord 1 DVI-D Cable 1 D-Sub (VGA) Cable Driver CD Instructions Manual

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