bit-tech.net

Alienware M17x power glitch throttles CPU to 316MHz

Alienware M17x power glitch throttles CPU to 316MHz

The Alienware M17x laptop can be configured with two GeForce 280M GPUs, but struggles to cope, it seems.

Owners of some Alienware M17x gaming laptops are complaining about unplayable frame rates due to CPU throttling. Apparently, the CPU power is stifled on GeForce 280M SLI machines, when the two GPUs draw more than a certain amount of power.

The claims, which are being investigated by Alienware owner Dell, affect those who purchased an Alienware M17x with the Core 2 Extreme QX9300 CPU and dual Nvidia GeForce 280M SLI options, expecting the best portable gaming experience at the time.

Sadly, that's not what they appear to have received. Disgruntled owners have taken to the Notebook Review Forums to gather information about the flaw, which has not yet been officially confirmed by Dell, complaining about poor in-game performance.

The majority of users are finding that the flaw only affects certain games, with Dragon Age: Origins, Just Cause 2, and Mass Effect 2 named among the culprits. The games apparently cause the two GPUs to draw more than the expected amount of power, making the CPU clock speeds drop. Forum user Elkay noted that the clock speed on all four of his cores dropped to just 316MHz, which is 12.5 per cent of the CPU's 2.53GHz stock speed.

The flaw occurs when the laptop's power draw, measured at the plug, reaches more than 225W. This has led many sufferers to worry that the only solution in sight involves changing the hardware, with Dell either providing beefier power supplies or more energy-efficient GPUs.

The first complaints about the issue surfaced a few months ago, but Dell is reportedly still investigating the issue and the forum thread is now well over a hundred pages long. As such, it looks as though owners of Alienware M17x GeForce 280M SLI rigs will have a while to wait before a permanent solution to the flaw is found.

Are you disappointed with Dell's silence on the M17x throttling issue, or just amazed that the flaw made it through product testing? What do you think is Dell's best bet for sorting the problem to the satisfaction of its customers? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

25 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
liratheal 21st December 2010, 11:11 Quote
Impressed that the flaw made it through QC/QA processes.

Clearly they don't graphically stress the machines as standard.

As for sorting the problem in a satisfactory way.. Not gonna happen. Some owners, somewhere, are going to remain pissy.
memeroot 21st December 2010, 11:59 Quote
dell are pants for this sort of stuff

- though having said that my XPS is now charging again 'yay'
yanglu 21st December 2010, 12:14 Quote
Quote:
This has led many sufferers to worry that the only solution in sight involves changing the hardware, with Dell either providing beefier power supplies or more energy-efficient GPUs.

Surely downclocking the GPU's slightly would solve the problem. Just drop the 280Ms by about 50Mhz each or something. It's not ideal but with that much graphics power, I doubt you'd notice any difference in most games.
Cerberus90 21st December 2010, 12:35 Quote
Alienware have gone downhill since Dell bought them.

The ones at uni have been nothing but trouble.

The fan control software seems to have a mind of its own, and some machines are just stuck at 100%, which makes them literally sound like a jet, its louder than the big AC unit in the room.
Random BSODs plague them too.
B1GBUD 21st December 2010, 12:50 Quote
Gaming laptops..... an oxymoron if ever there was one
eddtox 21st December 2010, 14:34 Quote
Ouch! How much do these things cost, again?
TheUn4seen 21st December 2010, 15:03 Quote
Well, they kinda deserved it for thinking that any laptop can be suitable for gaming. I saw many people having problems with Alienware lately, which can be frustrating given their price - altough I bought an m11x and i love it so far, but I obviously don't play games on it. I bought it because it's heavy, bulky and I love the sharp-angled style, personally I'm sick and tired of the ubiquitous curvy, Apple "look at me, I'm gay" style most manufacturers try to copy.
borandi 21st December 2010, 15:18 Quote
Gaming Laptop is an oxymoron - You don't expect anything to last with a QX and 280M SLI.
B1GBUD 21st December 2010, 15:36 Quote
I expect the GPU and CPU shares the same heatpipe+fan..... when the GPU gets hot, the heat is transfered back to the CPU resulting in the CPU getting throttled.... design fail
tron 21st December 2010, 15:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUn4seen
Well, they kinda deserved it for thinking that any laptop can be suitable for gaming. I saw many people having problems with Alienware lately, which can be frustrating given their price - altough I bought an m11x and i love it so far, but I obviously don't play games on it. I bought it because it's heavy, bulky and I love the sharp-angled style, personally I'm sick and tired of the ubiquitous curvy, Apple "look at me, I'm gay" style most manufacturers try to copy.

Yeah, the Alienware laptop range make other laptops look like crap. I love their stylish matte look and aggresive angles and futuristic design compared to the common weak 'soft' look.
wuyanxu 21st December 2010, 16:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Gaming laptops..... an oxymoron if ever there was one
i'll just quote this again for total agreement.

who would want to carry around a brick that can hardly play any game now, and the same brick that can't play any games 6 month down the line?
lamboman 21st December 2010, 16:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
i'll just quote this again for total agreement.

who would want to carry around a brick that can hardly play any game now, and the same brick that can't play any games 6 month down the line?

3rded here. The only line of "gaming laptops" that every really appealed to me were the old Dell XPS M1710s from 2006, and a couple of their models before that. A gaming laptop that was actually that, a laptop. Sure, it wasn't 100% portable, but you could occasionally move it, certainly nothing like the portly machines we are seeing today.

And even those, I wouldn't go near.
schmidtbag 21st December 2010, 17:26 Quote
and once again dell proves to be a crappy company
bobwya 21st December 2010, 17:31 Quote
Ahhh diddy poos... How sad :-)
Hustler 21st December 2010, 17:49 Quote
Lol...natural justice.

A stupid fault finds it way to people who are stupid enough to buy an Alienware/Dell.....

Karma sucks.
thehippoz 21st December 2010, 18:38 Quote
that ps that comes for the m17x puts out 11.8 amps @ 19.5v.. maybe if they can find something bigger online- would fix the problem.. how did that get by testing

this one might do it

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0045XGHWI/ref=asc_df_B0045XGHWI1361839?tag=thefind0021657-20&creative=395261&creativeASIN=B0045XGHWI&linkCode=asn
dec 21st December 2010, 21:16 Quote
I like the look of the "gaming" laptops as well. Thanks Dell for continuing to prove to me that the only thing worth buying from you are monitors.

Anyone else think, "so it cant run crysis" from the title of this article?
Autti 21st December 2010, 22:22 Quote
225W, how hot does the laptop get?
MSHunter 22nd December 2010, 00:31 Quote
the closest thing to a gaming laptop is a mini PC with a laptop TFT strapped to the side of the case.
ssj12 22nd December 2010, 01:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Autti
225W, how hot does the laptop get?

my old alienware, P4 + Radeon 9700M, ran about 70 degrees.
Tulatin 22nd December 2010, 02:45 Quote
The M17x isn't exactly the kind of unit that you use on your lap, so heat is actually pretty unimportant - that said, the cooling arrays are well designed - the processor has a fairly beefy one all to itself, and the graphics cards get their own as well.

That said, 240w for a laptop is pretty absurd, and they are about 15 pounds.
Toploaded 22nd December 2010, 08:24 Quote
I am really in the market for a gaming laptop. I know they are not ideal, but here's the thing: I already have a good gaming rig that I won't need to upgrade for a few years (thanks to the console holding progression of games back) and I work nights... which gives me a lot of dead time that I would love to be gaming. I can take a laptop in with me and leave it there as long as I put it away each night. Also again due to the console / direct X 9 situation, the lappy would be able to play new releases long enough to be worth the purchase. I always assumed an M17 was a safe bet, but I'm gonna hold off now until this issue is addressed I guess.
xaser04 22nd December 2010, 09:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Gaming laptops..... an oxymoron if ever there was one
i'll just quote this again for total agreement.

who would want to carry around a brick that can hardly play any game now, and the same brick that can't play any games 6 month down the line?

Bugger, My M11x didn't get that message.....

Oh well I must tell it to stop playing ME2, L4D 1&2, JC2, Arcania, Fallout3 (New Vegas), Metro 2033, Crysis & BFBC2.

All the while it uses a massive 25-30w of power.... (65Whr battery lasts 2.5 hours whilst gaming).
Ahadihunter1 28th January 2011, 01:25 Quote
...lol...expected from a trashy computer company, whatever Dell touches - it becomes pure rubbish after,
I was never intrested in their trashy specs... what with all that "AlienFX" LED lights...
_G_ 28th February 2011, 09:11 Quote
I have an M17x with the Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T9800 @ 2.93GHz and the 280 GTs in SLI.

The same issue appears in Dragon Age, etc. on my M17X.
What I found is that as long as have Taskmgr.exe open when I run the game, I then immediately select the process that appears for Dragon Age and limit it to only one CPU....all stuttering issues immediately disappear. It seems more likely to me that the code is not optimised for multi-core CPUS... either way, you can also do it after the game is open, but, I found that the intro movie also stuttered if I didn't get to it straight away... seems to work for other games as well. Not ideal, but, might help some other people out.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums