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Rock Xtreme Ti - Gaming Notebook
The Rock Xtreme Ti is huge, there's no getting away from this fact (397 x 298 x 49.5mm 5.5kg). No matter how you look at it, this is not a notebook in the general sense of the word, and definitely not a machine that you'd want to carry around with you all day. Unless you're training for “World's Strongest Man 2005”, the Xtreme Ti can't really be described as a mobile computing solution. However, as with every animal, the Rock Xtreme Ti should be judged in its natural habitat, and when viewed in the correct environment it is most definitely a mobile platform, and a very powerful one at that.
You see the Xtreme Ti is more of a mobile gaming workstation than a notebook computer - this machine is all about playing the latest games, wherever you may be. Now let me qualify that statement slightly, because you're not going to be able to sit on the train with the Xtreme Ti on your lap while you play Half-Life 2. No, this is one notebook that will spend the majority of its life plugged into the mains - that's not to say that it doesn't have a battery inside it, but don't expect it to last too long, especially when playing games.
The specifications of the Xtreme Ti make its intentions clear. There's a 3.6GHz Pentium 4 CPU backed up by 1GB of DDR2 memory. But of course it's the graphics chipset that's really important with a gaming notebook and Rock has squeezed in ATI's latest big hitter, the Mobility Radeon X800, complete with 256MB of GDDR3 graphics memory. The MR X800 is a 12 pixel pipeline part and ATI Tool reported a core clock speed of 398MHz and a memory speed of 350MHz (700MHz effective). So, Rock has really pushed the boat out when it comes to the CPU, memory and graphics chipset, but the good news doesn't stop there. There' s 120GB of storage inside the Xtreme Ti, but not in the form of a single massive hard disk - no, that wouldn't be special enough. Instead, Rock has installed two 7200rpm 60GB drives and configured them in a RAID 0 array, so the I/O performance should be as blistering as everything else.
So, having established that the Xtreme Ti is all about gaming, let's jump straight in and cover that angle first. Without a doubt, this is the best mobile gaming PC I have ever come across. There's something pretty special about firing up a notebook and playing Counter Strike: Source at a resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 with a silky smooth frame rate. Most average desktop PCs will struggle to pull off a feat like that, let alone a machine that you can transport between locations. Put simply, playing games on the Xtreme Ti is a real pleasure, and the fact that it's powerful enough to play the latest games at the screen's native resolution is a real achievement. Turning on anti-aliasing brings with it a corresponding performance hit, but I still found Half-Life 2 playable at the native resolution with 4x FSAA enabled. Doom 3 proved to be a little more demanding, which isn't surprising due to its OpenGL engine - pushing the resolution up to 1,600 x 1,200 produced a frame rate that wasn't smooth enough to play comfortably at.
Looking at the benchmark numbers it's clear that this is the fastest gaming notebook ever to make its way into the TrustedReviews lab. Running Far Cry at 1,024 x 768 with no image quality features turned on produced a score of 100fps - something that I never thought I'd see on a notebook computer. Amazingly, when I looked at some very early Mobility Radeon X800 hardware back in November, it turned in a Far Cry score of only 40fps at the same settings, so things have definitely improved on that front.
It doesn't come as a huge surprise that Half-Life 2 runs well on the MR X800, but a frame rate of close to the magic 60fps at 1,600 x 1,200 is quite amazing for a notebook. As already mentioned, my subjective play testing of Half-Life 2 and Counter Strike: Source showed that the benchmark results carried over well into real world game play.