I just bought a new Alienware laptop. Benchmarks (like 3DMark 11) were great and consistent with reviews for the machine.
But I had to reinstall the OS (Win 7 Pro x64), and, in doing so, I experienced a noticeable slowdown in the benchmarks. Now, I did the song and dance of drivers, etc. - using the drivers included from Dell on the enclosed DVD, using the drivers from the Dell website themselves, using drivers from the 3rd party manufacturers. Nothing helped- benchmarks were consistently a slower by the same amount than when I got it clean from the factory.
After trying and trying and trying, I found that one program from Alienware - the control center - did seem to make a difference when I installed it. It didn't get me the full amount back, but it did move the needle.
Control center basically includes several programs in it. The main one that's relevant here is the one that manages power profiles. I quickly realized it's just a wrapper around Windows's own power management options.
Anyway, I dug and dug and dug deeper and deeper into power management. Oddly, on balanced mode, I'd get a score of say 6200. But then, on high performance mode, the score would drop to 6100 (this was consistent, after many trials back and forth). So I painstakingly went through every power option to find what the culprit was. Turns out it was Minimum Processor State. Changing that one variable in balanced mode changed the benchmark.
To test this out, I then switched to high performance mode and literally changed every variable to the same value as in balanced, including Min Proc State. And yet, still stuck at 6100.
This was when it dawned on me that the visual GUI wrapper for power management was not exposing all the settings, despite me clicking on every "Advanced" button on there.
Enter powercfg.exe. This was the tool that finally exposed for me all the settings (using -qh). So now I have a bunch of processor power management variables I have to play with that are different between balanced and high performance.
But before I get into that, I thought I would post on here and see if someone really knows power management, knows why high performance would under perform balanced mode, and, hopefully, how I can get back to the original, original performance I used to get before reformatting.
Basically, given the whole mix of variables (drivers, OS updates, background processes, Nvidia control panel, etc.), power management seems far and away the most likely culprit, and I'm dying to hear from those who really know how to manage it, and for whom this might ring familiar.