Alienware M17x power glitch throttles CPU to 316MHz

December 21, 2010 // 10:54 a.m.

Tags: #alienware #alienware-m17x #dell #gaming-laptop #laptop #m17x #notebook #nvidia #nvidia-geforce-280m #sli

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.

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