I'll admit we're getting a pretty solid workout with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M. There are reasons, though. First, the 780M's performance has been very inconsistent since it launched. While some notebooks just needed driver updates (like the Alienware 18), most needed a BIOS update and driver update after the fact. And there's no getting around the fact that the 780M seems to be just plain underperforming. Is part of that due to Haswell? Certainly; for gamers, Haswell as an upgrade over Ivy Bridge is disappointing to say the least. But I suspect there's BIOS and/or driver tweaking still yet to be done to bring the 780M in line with where it really ought to be.

The other reason is that AMD just plain didn't show up to this party. There's a Radeon HD 8970M on the market, but AMD's Enduro is still a bit of a mess, and the 8970M itself is just a rebrand of the 7970M, a chip which already has a hard time competing with the 680M. If I were a betting man I'd expect actual competition to the 780M to materialize sometime in October or November. Hopefully the 780M's issues will have been completely ironed out by then.

Of course, with all that said, the 780M still works pretty well, and NVIDIA's SLI technology is incredibly sound and sturdy. The Alienware 18 boasts dedicated cooling for each GPU and the CPU, and the Intel Core i7-4900MQ should give the two 780Ms plenty of breathing room.

PCMark 7 (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark 11

The Futuremarks are as kind to the Alienware 18 as they ought to be. What I want to point out is the PCMark 7 score. The MSI GT70 Dragon we tested is using three SSDs in RAID 0 while the Alienware 18 has to "make do" with a single 512GB (though you can certainly put multiple SSDs into it and stripe them), yet their PCMark 7 scores (a benchmark notoriously SSD friendly) are almost identical. While modern SSDs are hitting bandwidth limitations on SATA, I feel like you'd be hard pressed to really notice a difference with higher throughput in any practical applications.

Cinebench R11.5 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

x264 HD 5.x

x264 HD 5.x

I'd be interested in figuring out why Haswell is underperforming in the Alienware notebooks, though. In our synthetics, the Alienware 17 and now the 18 just aren't stacking up where they ought to be, especially our x264 testing. Performance isn't alarmingly poor, but they're definitely having trouble keeping up with Clevo's Haswell implementations.

In and Around the Alienware 18 Gaming Performance
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  • GeneVostok - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    I wish you'd have reviewed the 14 instead upgraded to 1900x1080 matte IPS and the 765GTX. But you've already done two of them :).
  • ananduser - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    So what? They've reviewed 3 macbook airs one after another. There's nothing stopping them reviewing their 3rd Alienware, the 14"-er.

    Sorry for the troll.
  • stacey94 - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Because the Air is a trendsetting product will have much wider appeal than any Alienware? What's wrong with that?

    There's nothing new about this Alienware model...it's just a spec bump. The new MBAs bring some insane battery life numbers, while sporting a better chipset than most competitors.

    I'm expecting a very detailed review of the Zenbook UX301 from Anandtech as well. It's the bellwether for HiDPI ultrabooks.
  • ananduser - Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - link

    Silly fanboy: "The new MBAs bring some insane battery life numbers, while sporting a better chipset than most competitors."

    Reading Anand's own review, the MBA barely has a chipset that is equally performing to their own last gen version. Where did you get the better chipset from ? It's more frugal but it's not faster.
    Oh and btw, Anand didn't review any other ultrabook so you cannot make your comparison, not yet.
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    Ugh, that's depressing if the Air actually has wider appeal. I hope that's not the case.

    These Alienware systems actually just seem like good mid and high end systems, back before the race to the bottom of everyone offering low end CPUs with no GPU.
  • gandergray - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    I second the motion for a review of the Alienware 14. (As always, thank you producing quality content.)
  • blanarahul - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Name one person who has bought this Portable Desktop.
  • scook9 - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    A lot of people will. Just because you do not see a need does not mean others wont. I bought the original M18X on day one and never looked back. Was a great system for 15 months when a GPU died and Dell refunded the entire thing for me since they would not have a replacement part for a month - extremely high quality customer service. I did not have to fight, bicker, waste time, or anything with them - they just said "yep, we are not getting more for a month so will give you a 100% refund", keep in mind that was on a 15 month old no longer cutting edge system that was heavily used. The Next Business Day On-site warranty on the Alienware notebooks continues to wow me and keep me an Alienware customer (I have my 4th one now).
  • SniperWulf - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Me. Except I went with a Sager for this buy. I bought last years NP9370. GTX 680M with an i7-3630QM, 16GB RAM and all the trimmings. Cost came in at around $1800. Some months later I bought the second 680M for another $600. At $2400 its hard to beat, especially when compared to the Razer Blade (awesome engineering, total waste for the $ if your after performance). Couple that with the fact that I can throw it in a bag and head over to a friends and get damn close to the performance out of this that I do out of my desktop and its a win/win.
  • stacey94 - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    12 bounds? I think you're going to have some back pain issues later in life.

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