Alienware X51: Any QT3ers have experience?

In a desktop PC with a discrete GPU, Haswell’s IGP won’t even turn on. Haswell’s idle power is substantially lower, because deep sleep kicks in more often (you just don’t know it when you’re staring at your screen.) So power usage over time should be lower.

On laptops, battery life will improve due to improvements in power management. TDP is only one indicator, and only when the CPU and GPU are cranking along at high load.

In that case, peak power consumption may be lower than on Ivy Bridge. But how much?

Haswell’s idle power is substantially lower

This is nice, but does not reduce the peak strain on a 330W PSU. I should have said “peak power consumption”, which is the biggest constraint in the context of the X51.

power usage over time should be lower.

Adds another financial incentive to wait.

On laptops, battery life will improve due to improvements in power management. TDP is only one indicator, and only when the CPU and GPU are cranking along at high load.

This is where I’m actually looking forward to Haswell (and Atom and AMD’s new stuff): there may be massive performance improvements in the lightweight notebook and tablet space. I didn’t want to bring that up in a thread about silent(ish) prebuilt desktop computers though.

I suspect that you may or may not have access to some NDA material, so I really appreciate the nuggets of wisdom you’re adding here.

I should have more data in a few days.

BTW, even the highest end Haswell, running with the IGP, has a TDP of 84W. So peak load won’t be a big deal. Lower end SKUs rated at 65W are also incoming.

One thing to be aware of with Alienware systems now - they are owned by Dell. If there is any customization by Dell that requires that drivers be provided through them you can be sure that they won’t provide them down the road. My m11xR1 was working great, but there hasn’t been an updated video driver from them in 3 years. They’re also more likely to have custom power/mobo’s that won’t support a lot of different upgrades down the road.

And of course, my m11xR1 is still a better system than most of the new ones I could get through work, even after a few years, so I’m a bit disappointed in this lack of support.

A refurb XPS 8500 with a 660 can be had for like $700+tax if you hunt the dell outlet. It has a 460w PSU and a little more room inside, so may be a better choice if the form factor isnt 100% your attraction. I nabbed one with an i7, 660, 16gb of ram and a 2tb drive + 32gb SSD and grabbed a separate 256gb ssd to throw in it. Very very happy, the 660 is a weird card but seems to work fine even on ultra settings in most things I’ve tried (though I am not running at super high res).

RE: m11x drivers - normal nvidia drivers worked for me when I had mine, you just had to hack’em up a bit to work with manual switching. I don’t recall how, because I have a newer m11x now, but it was not hard and there should be tutorials available somewhere ( forums maybe.)

As far as dell support, I’ve had some laptop issues and resolved them via brute force while avoiding all the annoying tier 1 nonsense. I allowed one in home repair and then insisted (loudly, via exec email carpet bomb and CC: to on cross shipped exchanges for all other issues. Other than buildtime for the replacements, it was easy and quick compared to waiting on the phone or dealing with the idiots they contract with for the next day in home repair (those guys will break more than they fix).

Dell seems to hate even minor bad press, cc:ing [email protected] and being polite but insistent works great on them. I think they want the phrase ‘dell hell’ to go away

Haswell moves the voltage regulator on-die. That’s why its listed TDP is higher than Ivy Bridge. But your power utilization at the wall socket will be lower, in part because there’s no voltage regulator on your motherboard and in part because it can enter and exit low-power idle states much more quickly.

One other coda to this is that some power supplies may not work well with Haswell. It generates so little voltage at idle, combined with its ability to enter and exit deep sleep stats quickly, can confuse some power supplies. That may result in instability or even random system shutdowns. So make sure the PSU is Haswell-capable.

Yeah that just started coming out today with some manufacturers listing haswell-compatible PSUs. That’s how we know we’re in the home stretch!

Oof, good thing I’ve been paying attention to threads like this, I’m starting to spec together pieces for a Haswell-based system and was tempted to start buying ‘safe’ pieces like the PSU ahead of time…

The yearly 10% improvements in speed have been underwhelming really. My current two machines are a core i7 930 and a core i5 2400 meaning that since Bloomfield then Sandy Bridge that things have only spend up some 20-30% add up to not really a compelling upgrade case for me in 2013 does it? It may be more worthwhile for someone with C2D amirite?

It’s roughly 10-12% per generation. I have a nehalem i7-920, so there’s westmere tick, sandy bridge tock, ivy bridge tick, and haswell tock-- probably a good 40-50% faster at the same clock speed. That is significant.

Also the newer chips easily overlock to over 4Ghz, Nehalem didn’t do that. My CPU came stock at 2.66 and I run it at 3.5. They also have turbo modes, better power gating, smaller processes, quicksync, etc.

The real question is whether CPU power actually matters in gaming, and the answer is that for most games, once you pass a fairly low threshold no it does not. It certainly doesn’t matter in desktop performance either, past a similarly low threshold, so all that remains is doing things like photoshop filters to enormous files, compiling code, encoding video, etc.

there are benefits to having a massively overspecced PC even for day to day use. Having a 4.5GHz six core sandy bridge and 16gb of memory means that I can pretty much launch apps and keep them running at will. I’ve got about 13 utilities on the system tray which I consider really handy (Dropbox, steam, origin, everything, core affinity resident etc.), and have Firefox running indefinitely. Even with firefox’s massive memory leaks it only occupies 800mb of memory after being active for a month or so - trivial when even after win7’s turboboost takes a 4gb chunk there’s about 10.5GB left unused.
With Firefox slowly inflating, and all those little utils running actively, I have zero performance issues and the PC does not crash even though it’s never shut down (on standby) for months. It’s a great user experience matched only with using the very first iPad early on in it’s lifespan.

This great user experience is obviously not worth the $1500 or so premium on an OEM PC, but it sure is nice to have!

EDIT: Large ram/CPU resources have an impact in gaming where graphical/LOD mods are concerned. While stock games ran perfectly on my old core 2 duo setup, games with taxing mods like GTA 4 or skyrim stuttered slightly - performance was still in the 60fps range as I had a gtx580 but loading all those 4096x4096 textures and high poly assets took it’s toll on the otherwise dependable E8400. Flight sims with massive mods also experienced a significant improvement. Didn’t hurt with the newer total war games either.

Assuming 20% at same clocks, your CPU is probably ~50% faster than mine, and my computer is perfectly fine doing all those things. No performance issues and it never crashes.

That sounds about right since you have a capable machine. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have a system capable of dialing it up to 11 on modded games. I can list a few that are pretty popular: skyrim, GTA 4, FSX, Freespace 2, Crysis, Total War Shogun 2. Even games with single core performance benefit from 12mb cache like the unoptimised Cities XL.

My computer would play those games just fine at 2560x1440 with a 7950 or 670.

You’re probably right. The people I know with core i7 920’s aren’t complaining. A friend who recently upgraded to a gtx670 has no issues with mods. I didn’t get a 3930k for games anyway :p

In light of the recent Nintendo news this might not be an issue much longer, but one area I have noticed dramatic improvement in newer CPUs is the ability to concurrently play and stream a game at 1080p and higher resolutions. My 3770 can reliably handle up to a 1600p stream of bioshock infinite (with gtx 670) , but a friend with a 950 can barely do 720p without random hitches (with 7950 crossfire). It is these fringe use cases where the CPU performance increases have really shown up, not normal gaming scenarios.

Streaming games is a place that absolutely utilizes a monster CPU. Still a pretty edgy case though.

The large textures in Skyrim are more likely to be addressed with video card Ram. You really need at least at 2GB card to max out the skyrim textures (and no, sli/crossfire with 2x 1GB cards doesn’t work as well - you’re still limited to the 1GB of video ram).