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Rock Xtreme 620 - 15.4in Gaming Notebook - Rock Xtreme 620
Below the keyboard, the Xtreme 620's touchpad is so slightly indented as to look like it's flush with the rest of the chassis. It's a plain matte affair, thankfully spurning the garish giant 'X' of the X780; the only marking being a subtle pattern of slightly raised miniature white squares demarking the scroll zone.
Pad and buttons form a single surface separated only by a thin chrome strip. These buttons aren't the best as they're a bit on the stiff side, but neither are they unpleasant to use. Nestled between them is a biometric fingerprint scanner, which can be used as an alternative (or additional) method of securing your precious notebook's data to the traditional password.
Connectivity is a bit unusual in that there are only two USB ports accessible from the front, though there are a further two at the back. On the X620's left the Blu-ray ROM and DVD-Rewriter sits all by itself, while the front houses headphone and microphone jacks as well as a mini-FireWire port. This is also where you'll find the indicator lights, which are visible with the notebook's lid closed.
On the right, the aforementioned USB ports, a memory card reader and 54mm ExpressCard slot are joined by the modem and Ethernet ports. Finally, at the back reside the ventilation slot, lock slot, power input and twin digital video connections in the form of one DVI and one HDMI output. Unfortunately, as with the X720 the DVI port is not of the dual-link variety, meaning owners of 30in monitors are left out in the cold. Rock does include a DVI-VGA adapter should you have an analogue-only display, though.
Whereas almost any notebook available today is more than capable of the everyday tasks demanded of it, a gaming notebook needs some serious grunt under the hood. Rock's Xtreme 620 makes a good start for itself with a speedy Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 processor running at 2.80GHz. This 45nm CPU has a 6MB cache and a 1,066MHz bus speed, which matches that of the 4GB of DDR3 memory provided. This memory is optimally used by a 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium.
Easily the most important component of any gaming machine, though, is its graphics card, since this has far more influence on how games will run than the processor. While not the most powerful card around, an nVidia GeForce 9800M GT with 512MB of video memory strikes a good balance between performance and value.
Unlike the 9600 series (often sold in gaming laptops as a supposedly capable card), the 9800 can actually run demanding games without resorting to lower resolutions. At the 15.4in screen's native 1,680 x 1,050 resolution the X620 managed a perfectly adequate 49.7fps in Call of Duty 4 with details set to maximum and two samples of anti-aliasing.
As usual Crysis was more of a challenge, with High Quality settings under DX10 bringing the average down to an unplayable 17.66fps at native resolution. However, changing this to 1,280 x 800 delivered a mostly smooth experience with an average of 30.7fps and no noticeable loss of quality due to the screen's good scaling.