Hi guys, I would first like to appologize if this is in the incorrect I originally tried posting in the dedicated Alienware section [ http://en.community.dell.com/owners-club/alienware/default.aspx ] but was fed a lot of errors! Anyways - I'm wondering if their are any default programs included in Windows 7 64 bit / Alienware M17x [Nvidia 260M SLI configuration] included out of the box? I'm not entirely computer versed with all the different software on the market - but I consider myself a 'hardcore' gamer, and having just spent a little under 3,000 dollars on a new laptop I would like to monitor the heat and usage of the GPU and CPU specifically. I've recently been playing Civilization 5 and it seems to be heating my computer up a bit more-so then usual and was looking for a better and more precise way of monitoring it.
I had posted on the Civilization 5 tech support forums first but they told me to download all drivers(not sure how to do all that, Alienware support usually does it when I call) and that was it. They also said there is an issue with Nvidia and something about the SLI not being included in the driver or something - something else I don't quite understand. Any help would be greatly appreciated, sorry again if this is in the incorrect section and thanks in advance!
You didn't actually say what kind of software you want. From reading your post, though, it seems like you're interested in temperature monitoring and possibly fan control. No such software is included in Win7. You have to obtain a 3rd party program. I use SpeedFan (which is freeware), but there are others.
CPU, GPU and memory all get much hotter when they're used intensively. 3D graphics makes the GPU get much hotter than 2D graphics, since so much more of the GPU's circuitry is used.
I'm sorry if I didn't specify - I was looking for Tempeture monitoring[shows on screen/ingames the current temp the gpu/cpu is at] mainly; I've heard of speedfan and some ATI one and a few others on Google. I wanted to make sure there wasn't a built in monitor included with Windows or Alienware software before I downloaded a third party aplication. I'm very aware of the increasing heat of components as more stress is placed on them - which is my main reason for requesting a manual monitoring tool(don't really care about fan controls or the like) - just needs to be able to work with the Nvidia 260M SLI cards I have.
What I meant by 'it's heating up more then usual' is they are heating up a lot more then all of my other games. I've got 50 or so titles from all generes, publishes, etc installed and most seem to run the fans and stay around the same heat. While Civ5 and FFXIV seem to be running quite a bit higher(noticeable heat for sure) then my other programs, so I wanted to see by how much.
I'm also looking for a way to see if my SLI is working correctly - I have SLI/PhysX enabled in the Nvidia control panel, but reading support forums for some games(Civilization 5 and Final Fantasy XIV especially) I've heard that SLI isn't being run properly or at all(because of drivers or something) and is putting all the stress on one card.
Thanks for the quick response!
If you think your equipment is running too hot, then fan control is important because it lets you increase the airflow.
I think the best way to find out if SLI actually is working is to measure the performance with both at an appropriately high screen resolution, and then to disable (or remove) one of the cards and measure the performance again. By "measure the performance" I mean do three things:
1. run one or more of the standard graphics throughput tests
2. run the tests built into your favorite games
3. play your favorite game at a familiar intense scene and "feel" how responsive it is.
If you aren't seeing any problems, don't worry about the ones that other people are seeing. There are just too many differences among systems, both hardware and software, any of which could be the cause.
Nvidia is always improving its drivers, so check their site regularly and make sure the most recent certified driver from their Web site is installed on your system. You might try their most recent beta if you're feeling up to it, but betas sometimes introduce more problems than they fix.
(I wouldn't trust any beta driver downloaded from any other site.)
I hope these suggestions help a little.
"Nvidia is always improving its drivers, so check their site regularly and make sure the most recent certified driver from their Web site is installed on your system."
Should I use the drivers on Nvidia's site or from Alienwares(which redirects to dell.support.com)? I have an Alienware laptop so I always assumed that since the hardware contained is fairly common(since you can't have just anything isntalled in a laptop) that the drivers from here would be better supported for my system then the ones on Nvidia's website.
Also is their a resource(article, guide, etc) as to what would be the easiest way to check all of my hardware drivers if they are up to date or do I have to manually go through each piece of hardware and compare the date/names of the drivers to the websites?
Whether or not you need to use only the drivers provided on the Alienware site, well, "it depends".
It used to be that laptop graphics chips always needed additional proprietary chipsets in order to integrate with each vendor's different laptop hardware designs. That meant that only that vendor's graphics drivers would work. That's often not the case with modern laptops. For example, I found that the Nvidia driver for the 3100M that's in my Dell Latitude works fine, and is quite a bit newer than the driver provided on Dell's site. As best I can tell, for Latitude laptops Dell simply packages Nvidia's installer inside their own installer. Whether or not that's the case for the Alienware product line, I dunno.
(I used Nvidia's newer driver in an attempt to fix some display glitches. Screen updates would pause for about a second or so several times a day, and several times a week the pause was long enough that Win7 would force a restart of the video driver. The graphics driver update made no difference. I finally did a full reinstall of Win7 with only the drivers I actually needed, and the problem went away.)
Sorry, I don't think Dell has an automated driver update notification service, although I'd like to learn otherwise. You'll have to visit the Website to see what's available. Sometimes updates include desirable new features, but its usually better not to do updates unless you need to. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Once again, thanks for the well thought out reply. My main issue with the driver is the one provided by Dell/Alienware is obnoixiously outdated compared to what is out on Nvidias website right now. The one Alienware remotely installed on my system last wee:
Driver Name: nvd3dumx.dll,nvwgf2umx.dll,nvwgf2umx.dll,nvd3dum,nvwgf2um,nvwgf2um
Driver File Version: 8.15.0011.8664 (English)
Driver Version: 126.96.36.19964
DDI Version: 10
Driver Model: WDDM 1.1
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Driver Date/Size: 8/6/2009 17:16:00, 9492480 bytes
While the driver(after searching Nvidia's website - shows that it is a laptop only driver) is
Windows Vista, Windows 7
Which as you can tell by the date is really, really outdated. Which I think may be the root of a lot of my issues with current(recently released) games. I'm running in SLI and I think the outdated driver is causing a lot of issues with games since the latest drivers include SLI profiles in every update. 😞
Before I installed that version of the Nvidia driver on my Latitude, I did notice in its release notes that it included bug fixes and performance enhancements for quite a few games. (It works fine on my Latitude, for what that's worth -- which is not much, since the Latitude has quite different graphics hardware.)
What's the worst that could happen if the direct-from-Nvidia driver doesn't work? No video output. (Well, intermittent flaky operation would be worse in some ways, I suppose.)
In principle, you should still be able to boot into "Safe" mode, which uses Microsoft's generic VGA driver at low resolution, and then reinstall a working driver. (That's what I had to do while making sure that all traces of old drivers were removed from my laptop before installing the most recent one. And at one point I was getting video only from the laptop's external analog VGA port while nothing was showing on the laptop's own screen.)
Being the pessimistic conservative that I am, it probably would be appropriate to hear from someone who has the same model of computer that you have and who already is using direct-from-Nvidia drivers. Sorry: that's not me: I only have a vanilla Latitude.