Heat and Noise

Given the relatively similar configurations of the two M18x units we've reviewed, it should come as no surprise that thermals are remarkably close between them as well. For reference we're including the results from the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M-equipped system to compare against the pair of Radeons in this unit, though it bears mentioning that HWMonitor could only read the temperatures from one Radeon HD 6990M. The RAID 0 configuration also prevents HWMonitor from getting temperature readings from the hard drives.

Single Radeon HD 6990M (Left) and CrossFire (Right)

Single GTX 580M (Left) and SLI (Right)

So what can we gather from this information? First, it seems that the pair of GeForces run ever so slightly hotter than the Radeons, and that produces warmer peak core temperatures on the overclocked i7-2920XM. While the GeForces are really pushing the i7-2920XM to its thermal limits, the Radeons still get peak temperatures above 90C on the cores, more than anyone wants to see.

On the plus side, the i7-2920XM's overclock doesn't seem to be exacting too much in the way of heat. At stock speeds thermals are essentially comparable under load when only a single GPU is enabled. End users of the M18x may want to keep an eye on temperatures just to be on the safe side, but should still be reasonably comfortable with a solid overclock on their processor.

As for noise, the fans run too low to really be noticeable when the M18x is idling, but under load it picks up to about 43dB. This is still nowhere near as nightmarishly loud as the Clevo X7200 can get; that notebook has to cool roughly 330 watts of hardware in a chassis roughly the same size as the M18x. Overall the M18x is definitely noticeable when being stressed, but it's not overwhelmingly so.

Gaming Performance Conclusion: NVIDIA Retains Their Title, But Barely
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  • The Crying Man - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    Would it be possible to make the Radeon bars red and the Nvidia bars green in your charts? It's pretty minor, but it messes up my ease of reading knowing these companies have their colors.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    Done -- I'll send you your bill later.
  • The Crying Man - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    Thank you kindly.

    So uh... do you accept monopoly c notes?
  • therealnickdanger - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    Real Benjamins are probably worth less... ;-)
  • yelped - Monday, October 17, 2011 - link

    OK, I just have to arrange a government loan before I go bankrupt.... :)
  • GTRagnarok - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    Nvidia's pricing of the GTX 580M is ridiculous.
  • mclazer - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    Yeah, it was what kept me from pulling the trigger for a while on the m17x... i wanted the 120hz screen and they wont sell it with the 6990 (I dont care about 3d).

    Dell is selling the model with 120hz screen for 300 bucks less now though.. so I went ahead and ordered one finally after considering the m18x and m17x.

    It kinda sucks that the system that would be able to take advantage of a 120hz screen the most (m18x w/ SLI) doesnt have it as an option.
  • prophet001 - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    This is exactly what I had been wanting to see. As far as comparing the m17 to the m18, another difference is the reduction in the pixel density. I don't understand why Alienware would put this monitor in this laptop.

    Anyway, thank you again.
  • AlexRain1973 - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    The one thing that 580M stands out from the 6990 is their Overclocking capabilities, I've seen what the guys are doing in NBR M18x Forums and it's simply destroying AMD due to the fact that the Nvidia's BIOS is flashable and currently we've seen up to 35% Overclock! that's pretty crazy! It can achieve that due to the Video BIOS and the ability to be able to leverage higher voltage.

    That's where the extra 300 goes ;) (Remember this isn't a consumer type system, it's 100% enthusiasts)

    Righ now, the M18x with 2920/2960 and 580M SLI Setup with Mod BIOS makes for the fastest laptop in the planet, ahead of Clevos with Desktop CPU!
  • Meaker10 - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    Good overclocks, just a shame the card is throttling itself.

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