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Gaming notebooks have always had a slightly awkward reputation, with plenty of people ready to cast a critical eye over the very concept. Why, people would ask, would you want to use a notebook for gaming when you could make a more powerful PC at a fraction of the price? It's a reasonable argument in many respects, but the fact that so many manufacturers continue to produce expensive gaming laptops shows there must be a demand for them. Clearly, you either get them or you don't.
Of late this argument would've garnered more credence due to the lack of a genuine mobile gaming solution, with the 8700M GT a lacklustre and imperfect beast. Thankfully, mobile graphics technology has moved on because today we're looking at a Rock machine powered by the latest mobile graphics solution, nVidia's recently released GeForce 8800M.
As noted earlier in the week there are two cards in the 8800M range, the GTS and GTX - with the latter being the faster of the two. Excitingly, both are based on the 65nm G92 chip, which is the same process behind the superb GeForce 8800 GT that received an Editor's Choice Award at the beginning of the month. Given that it was such a revelation, this new range of mobile cards has a lot to live up to. Our sample has come with the faster 8800M GTX, but before we come to discuss this we must take a closer look at the Rock machine that houses it.
The eagle eyed among you will probably recognise it as the same chassis as the X770-T7700 we reviewed in September, which received a creditable eight out of ten. This new-ish system uses the same Intel GM965 chipset, while all the essential features such as the 17in, 1,920 x 1,200 display remain intact. Also present is an HD DVD drive, which come as standard on all notebooks in this range.
In addition to all the usual features, this new model comes equipped with a 2.4GHz T7800 Intel Core 2 Duo processor, which sports an 800MHz front-side bus and 4MB L2 Cache. This is supported by 2GB 667MHz DRR2 RAM, with the option of upgrading to up to 4GB of RAM as well as memory with an 800MHz frequency.
This model also comes with a 200GB SATA hard disk, which may sound a bit stingy until you realise that it's a faster 7,200rpm variety rather than the 5,400rpm disks found in most standard desktop notebooks. You can also select a 250GB drive but this is a 5,400rpm drive and with focus squarely on gaming performance, the faster drive is the way to go.