The high-end notebook graphics war is on for 2011. Nvidia was first to fire a shot a few weeks ago, unveiling the GeForce GTX 580M.
AMD has since counterpunched with the AMD Radeon HD 6990M, its new, most high-end laptop graphics card, which the company now claims, as Nvidia did weeks ago, is the "fastest notebook GPU." This time, the edge indeed seems to belong to AMD. The company boasts a 25 percent improvement over the next-fastest notebook GPU. According to slides from AMD showing head-to-head performance benchmarks versus the GeForce GTX 580M, that statement seems to hold true.
We'll need to discover the truth for ourselves once we're able to see two equivalent laptops side by side, but thanks to Alienware, it looks like that task will be relatively easy. The Alienware M18x will offer configurations with either the Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M or AMD Radeon HD 6990M, in single and dual-GPU versions.
In addition to the Alienware M18x, AMD announced that Clevo and Eurocom will be first out of the gate to include AMD Radeon HD 6990M configurations, in the X7200/P170HM/P150HM Clevo lines specifically.
While AMD's most high-end GPU for notebooks might be extremely impressive--and support Eyefinity multiple monitors, GPU-accelerated apps, and DirectX 11--certain elements might disappoint. AMD's HD3D Technology is a different solution from the popular Nvidia 3D Vision for 3D gaming and entertainment. Also, AMD's processor doesn't support the same sort of automatic graphics switching as the Nvidia Optimus technology, which is built into the GeForce GTX 580M. Will this affect battery life? We don't know, but AMD's presentation was notably lacking in any battery life numbers, unlike Nvidia's a few weeks ago.
All right, gamers: which would you want?