A fair few fast notebooks have landed on my desk over the past months, but this monster machine from Rock is the fastest mobile computer I’ve ever seen. The Xtreme! XTR-3.4EE is aimed at the mobile gamer that doesn’t want to compromise on quality or performance, and Rock has fulfilled this brief very well.
So, what is it that makes this notebook so blisteringly fast? The clue is in the name – XTR-3.4EE relates to the CPU which is of course a 3.4GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. This is currently the fastest CPU you can get, although it carries with it a terrifying price tag, but if you want ultimate performance you’ll have to pay the ultimate price. Of course with the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition it’s not just the clock speed that makes it fast, it’s the huge amount of cache on board. On top of the standard 512KB of Level 2 cache, the Extreme Edition sports another 2MB of Level 3 cache, making it super-fast and super-expensive.
But it’s not just the CPU that makes this notebook fast. You also get 1GB of 400MHz DDR memory to keep things ticking over as smoothly as possible, while the 60GB 7200rpm hard disk is both fast and capacious. But making this a true mobile games station is an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics chipset, complete with 128MB of memory. This is currently the fastest mobile graphics chipset around and complements the rest of the spec well.
So that’s the performance spec out of the way, but what it the notebook like as a whole? Well, in a single word I’d have to say big. Yes, this is a large and heavy machine – 329 x 290 x 44 (WxDxH) and weighing in at a quoted 3.7kg – I say quoted because I actually weighed this machine myself and it tipped the scales at 4.1kg. But to be fair, I wouldn’t expect a notebook of this spec to be anything but large and heavy. First and foremost, you’d never fit a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chip in a slimline chassis since there just wouldn’t be enough cooling for the processor to operate properly. Then you have to remember what this machine is all about – gaming, and when you’re playing games you want a decent size screen and keyboard.
Talking of screen and keyboard, Rock has done a pretty good job with both, but it’s the screen that really shines. For a while now Sony has been using special screens in some of its notebooks – originally called Onyx Black and most recently referred to as X-Black. Sony was traditionally the only notebook manufacturer to use this screen technology, but now Rock has also adopted it, calling it X-Glass technology. But whatever this screen technology is called it’s great – the image is so bright and the colours are incredibly vivid. On the down side it is slightly more reflective, but this is a very small price to pay considering how good the image looks in the right lighting conditions. That said, the reflectivity is only an issue if you have a light source directly behind you, and that would affect pretty much any screen. The screen is a 15in example and sports a resolution of 1,400 x 1,050 – this is a pretty standard resolution these days and is easy to work at on a screen this size. Put simply, the display on the Xtreme! is superb, but I would have liked to have seen a widescreen aspect ratio.