Question Upgrading an Alienware M18x R2, GTX 980M SINGLE? SLI? Or GTX 1060?

Nov 6, 2018
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EDITED 06-16-2019: Alright, so... it appears I have not gotten a single response to my question. For that reason, I am editing my question to give this another try. If no one responds again after a while, then I'll take that as "You're on your own.".

So, my current situation is this: I own an Alienware M18x R2 that is used VERY lightly up until recently when I started to use it more often. It is equipped with dual Radeon HD 7970M graphics cards in CrossFire. A recently problem I've encountered is that the newest drivers from AMD, while they work with my graphics cards, the drivers have an incompatibility issue with the laptop's display (after the driver update to the latest, the laptop reboots normally up until the OS boots up to the login screen, where the laptop display goes completely black, though you can connect an external monitor via HDMI to see the login screen). I've only found one version of the AMD driver, and that is the Adrenalin 17.2.2, that works with the laptop's own display.

And because of this problem, I have decided to look into upgrading the graphics cards to something else higher tier. I've looked into the Radeon HD 8970Ms, but if the current Radeon drivers are incompatible with the laptop display, I'd just switch over to the green team instead.

Thus, my question is this: Is it worth upgrading the laptop to dual GTX 980M for SLI? A single GTX 980M for non-SLI? Or upgrade to a GTX 1060M instead? Which option seems to make the most sense?

Advice and input will greatly be appreciated!
 
Last edited:
Aug 16, 2018
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Heyo!

First of all, sorry that no one stepped forward about this.

Second of all, I've looked into the particulars of what you are asking, and here is what I have found out so far. I'll give this to you in a Pros/Cons-like reply.

PROS:

  • Its Nvidia!
  • Its still a very powerful card, and could even be more powerful if two are running in SLI.
  • Having 8GB of GDDR5 RAM gives it a moderate level of future proofing against more and more resource heavy games.
  • Doesn't have the "Black Screen Display" problem that AMD cards have.

CONS:

  • Even though it is using the aging Maxwell architecture, it is somehow STILL far more expensive than other cards, even more expensive than the RTX 2080 desktop card (if you buy em from places like Eurocom, which have kits and services available to upgrade your graphics cards).
  • The GTX 1060M uses the newer Pascal architecture, and is noticeably cheaper than the GTX 980M, and does have faster specs, but 2 GB less of RAM (6GB).
The GTX 980M has slower clock and RAM speeds, but more memory with a wider memory bandwidth. The GTX 1060M has faster clock and ram speeds, but less memory with a narrower memory bandwidth. If you get your GTX 980M card(s) from places like Eurocom, you will have to pay a premium ($900+!! for each card!!). However, you can find them cheaper on ebay, but you won't have what ever warranty protections Eurocom offers. The GTX 1060m is a bit cheaper, but installing it on an M18x R2 is risky, even though Eurocom says it is capable of supporting that card.

Really, this is an even split. Honestly, I'd brave it out and go with a GTX 1060m as a first option. Second option would be a SINGLE GTX 980M as a second option. If you have the scratch, splurge on dual 980Ms in SLI as a third option. Having a 1060m would give you greater future proofing versus the GTX 980M; the reason for this is because Nvidia had begun discontinuing support and updates for the Kepler-based cards. While the 980M is a Maxwell based card, I believe that the Maxwell based cards COULD be next on the chopping block. The 1060's lower ram and narrower ram bandwidth is pretty negligible in terms of performance; its increased core and ram clock does more than makes up for those.

Hope this helps! :)
 

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