Should I upgrade my 2760QM to 2960XM and 580M SLI to 680M SLI?

Discussion in 'Alienware 18 and M18x' started by chewbakaats58, Dec 14, 2012.

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  1. chewbakaats58

    chewbakaats58 Notebook Evangelist

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    Ok, first I want to say I am very happy with the performance of my Alienware m18x r1 and I'm just thinking for down the road a little bit. No games that I have thrown at it (besides the poorly optimized Far Cry 3) have given trouble running at max/ultra settings. Anyways, if you had my setup, would you do the upgrade eventually...or just buy a newer system? I want to maximize the life of what I currently have.

    Secondly, would it be better to just upgrade to 680M sli for the time being..or would my 2760QM i7 bottleneck those cards? I'm just running through some options and curious of peoples opinions of if they would upgrade the r1 or simply buy a new one. Money is really not that much of an issue, but I always enjoy tinkering/hands-on computer installs...so I wouldn't mind upgrading what I have. Here are the price estimates as what I am seeing on Ebay:

    i7-2960XM - $400-$900 (I'm guessing I will also need to get another heatsink/fan combination with this higher end processor)
    680M per unit - $500-$600 (so around $1200 for both) I believe my current heatsink/fan that I have for 580M would work just fine for 680M's

    Best place to get the above items would be ebay? Or are there other 3rd party companies out there that sell these items? Any recommendations/opinions about the above questions would be great.
     
  2. J.Dre

    J.Dre Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    If you have the money and won't go into debt doing so, yes. The performance difference is huge - 580m in SLI is weaker than a single 680m. For the processor, have you considered upgrading to a 3920XM/3940XM? To my understanding, these 3rd generation processors provide more power at lower clocks, while also providing great sustainability during intense benching. A lot of members use the 2920XM/2960XM though, it must be a great CPU - you can't go wrong either way. Extreme edition processors do require a triple-pipe heat sink which can be purchased on eBay or directly from Dell. I'm not sure about the 580's cooling and whether or not you should change that, sorry.
     
  3. steviejones133

    steviejones133 Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Yeah, I'd do both upgrades too if you have the cash. 2960xm is a very solid cpu. Unfortunately, if you wanted to upgrade to an Ivy 3xxx chip of any kind, you would also nee to buy an R2 Motherboard as they aren't backwards compatible with the R1. Still, the Sandy XM's kick some butt.....you could try Dell for pricing/availability but I imagine they won't be as cheap as Ebay. Again, if money isn't a problem, you might want to buy from Dell for warranty purposes.

    If you are going with an extreme cpu, you will need a 2-pipe heatsink for the 2960xm (a 3 pipe will do nicely, too) and if you are gonna upgrade the MB and run with an Ivy XM, you will want the triple pipe full stop.

    The heatsinks of the 580m are compatible with the 680m so you can use them - they are around £20 from Dell UK so you might just wanna grab new ones anyway.

    System fans should not need changing.
     
  4. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    Actually, the Ivy Bridge processors typically run hotter than Sandy Bridge, not cooler, and they are not compatible with Sandy Bridge motherboards. Compatibility goes backwards from Ivy Bridge boards to Sandy Bridge CPUs, but not forward. So, a motherboard replacement would be required to run an Ivy Bridge CPU. Sandy Bridge XM CPUs will generally overclock higher than Ivy Bridge, but Ivy Bridge processors do seem to perform a little better at equal clock speeds or slightly lower clock speeds and require less power. They are both excellent processors and chipsets. My vote would be yes on all of the upgrades, including the M18x R2 motherboard and 3920/3940XM processor. It will still be less expensive that buying a new system.

    However, if you have the money available, I would just order a brand new M18x R2 with an XM CPU and 680M SLI instead and have two complete beasts. If you go that route, just buy a 2960XM CPU for your R1 and a 3-pipe heat sink. Your 580M SLI setup is still plenty of gaming power. The old machine you have right now will already perform as well or better than a brand new M17x R4 with a single 680M or 7970M.

    Here are some comparison links from my previous and current M18x hardware configurations...

    2760QM CPU benchmarks: 6990M CF and 580M SLI

    2920XM CPU benchmarks: 580M SLI (Compare 2920XM to 2760QM)

    Recent and Current Configuration: 7970M CF, 680M SLI and 2920XM CPU

    Current Configuration: 680M (SLI disabled) and 2920XM CPU (compare this to M17x R4 and 580M SLI benchmarks)

    I will be purchasing a 3920XM or 3940XM CPU as soon as my budget permits.
     
  5. J.Dre

    J.Dre Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Ah, I did not know that. I figured since they work at lower clocks they'd run cooler, weird. Thanks for clearing that up.

    And I do agree with going ahead and purchasing a new system if you can afford it. Future upgrades beyond the 680M and 3940XM would be a lot easier and compatible as well.
     
  6. chewbakaats58

    chewbakaats58 Notebook Evangelist

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    Thanks for all the insight guys! Definitely have some options here but looks like upgrading would definitely be a plus.

    One thing...it has not been mentioned if upgrading to a 680M sli using my same cpu would be a bottleneck. If I did these upgrades one at a time, would it best to start with processor or video cards?

    I didn't mention the 3xxx ivy processors as they are not compatible with the R1 mobo, as Fox had mentioned above.
     
  7. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    Hey Brother Chewbaka :D

    My 2760QM is a mighty little bugger and more than enough power for the average laptop owner. Given that you are asking these questions, and given that you own an M18x, you're not an average laptop owner. That's not enough CPU. Even a 2860QM is marginal for a performance nut.

    My answer is "that depends" and what I mean by that is what you plan to do. If you are going to jump on the overclocking/benching bandwagon, the 2760QM (or 2860QM) will absolutely bottleneck your system something fierce. (Look at the links I provided above and you can see there is a significant performance bottleneck, even with 580M SLI.)

    If all you are going to do is play games and ordinary computing tasks, not as much... a little bit with most games, but quite a bit with very demanding games that use all the CPU and GPU power you can muster. The 2920XM/2960XM will do a far better job of CPU intensive work. Multimedia content creation (audio and video editing) can also greatly benefit from the more powerful XM CPU.

    A couple of points on the 2920XM versus 2960XM. My 2920XM (QS) is very powerful, and I love it. It is an awesome processor, but it falls a bit short of keeping up with an overclocked 2960XM in the right overclocker's hands. (A good example of "right hands" is johnksss.) The 2960XM is also more energy efficient. I typical don't give a rat about that as far as power consumption is concerned, but I have to care about it when the power demand starts to max out the system capabilities. If you go with the 680M SLI upgrade and stick with Sandy Bridge, only buy a 2920XM CPU if you are not planning to go nuts overclocking. It seems to present a potential power usage bottleneck and starts competing with the 680M GPUs beyond 4.5GHz. (I believe I saw this happening somewhat with 7970M CF as well, but I did not identify CPU power draw as a culprit until later.) Above 4.5GHz, it draws a little too much juice while simultaneously overclocking two very power-hungry GPUs like the 680M.

    If running 4.5GHz or less very stable and without heat problems is all you want or need, you will save money going with a 2920XM. Otherwise, pay a little bit more and go with the 2960XM and you will have a little bit more overclocking headroom and a more efficient processor.
     
  8. CrysDark

    CrysDark Notebook Consultant

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    I'm interested in doing similar upgrades; but where are we finding 680M parts for 500-600. Best price I see is 900 per part.
     
  9. chewbakaats58

    chewbakaats58 Notebook Evangelist

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    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M 2GB DDR5 MXM 3 0B VGA Module | eBay

    $599 buy it now. I am mainly looking at the 2gb version..not the Clevo 4gb ones. Let me know if you go through with any of the upgrades. Looks like from what Fox was saying, best approach would be to start with the cpu..then upgrade to the 680m. I am not going to be messing with overclocking though, so might not be as big of a deal for me.
     
  10. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    If you're not going to be going for overclocking, just go with the 680M SLI upgrade. It will rock your socks off for gaming.

    However, DON'T buy that particular GPU. If you notice the image, it has no SLI socket where one should be. That might be a proprietary MSI card that will not perform properly and not allow you to run SLI. Only the Dell and Clevo versions should be considered for the upgrade. They are both known to work perfectly in the M18x R1 and M18x R2.

    680M_no_SLI_socket.JPG
    (click to enlarge image)
     
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