- Review Price: £999.00
So far most of the notebooks that have passed through TrustedReviews have exhibited mediocre graphics performance, but the Multivision Solus 1030 is about to change all that. This is the first notebook that I have encountered featuring the new ATi Radeon 9600 Mobility graphics chipset, also known as the M10. The card in the Solus 1030 features 64MB of graphics memory.
The Solus 1030 is a rather unusual laptop since it uses a mobile Athlon XP 2500+ CPU. The combination of the CPU and graphics chipset makes this a very acceptable mobile gaming platform. A decent 512MB helping of PC2100 DDR memory and a 60GB hard drive make the gaming potential even more mouth watering.
Continuing on to the remaining features you’ll find onboard FireWire, 10/100Mbit Ethernet, 56k V.90 modem, two USB 2.0 ports, D-SUB, S-Video out, a PS/2 port, IrDA and a parallel port. There is also a single PC Card slot for future upgrades such as wireless networking. One of the most appealing features of the Solus 1030 is the integrated DVD writer which is capable of handling DVD-R/RW and DVD-RAM media. It also doubles as a CD-R/RW drive.
The display is a 15in unit with a native resolution of 1,400 x 1,050, which in my opinion is a little high and I would have preferred a 1,024 x 768 display in this instance. The reason for this is that when you play games on the Solus 1030 you’re probably going to run a resolution of 1,024 x 768 as there is little support in games for 1,400 x 1,050, and even if there was it would be slow going.
The Solus 1030 also features integrated stereo speakers which are of standard laptop quality, so don’t expect to be listening to music through them. There is also an integrated microphone at the top of the display. Headphone and microphone sockets on the front of the laptop allow you to use a headset or external speakers. The only problem here is the placement of the connectors which may be a bit obstructive.
The keyboard is slightly better than average and I was pleased that Multivision has managed to fit full size Enter and Backspace keys. This avoids frustrating missed key strokes that plague keyboards with reduced size keys. The only complaint about the keyboard is the Fn (function) key placement that has been given the space where you normally would find the Ctrl key. Above the keyboard are three programmable shortcut buttons as well as the power button. On the front of the laptop you’ll find a set of play control buttons for playing CDs and MP3s while the laptop is switched off. A small LCD display shows the current track information.
The touchpad is reasonable to use, but the buttons are coated in metallic paint which makes them quite slippery resulting in a poor tactile experience.
There are however a couple of snags with the Solus 1030, and I find the first one quite annoying. The problem is that the left hand side of the laptop where the main exhaust vent is gets very hot in use, especially when you play games or perform processor intensive tasks. The second one is a rather minor issue, but the location of the power connector in the middle of the left hand side of the notebook can get a bit annoying as the cable tends to get in the way.
Multivision doesn’t supply much in the way of software with the Solus 1030 as you only get a copy of PowerDVD and Easy CD Creator 5. But looking at the asking price of £998.75 I have to admit that I wouldn’t have expected any software included with this much hardware.
The Solus 1030 is more than capable of running everyday office tasks and scored an acceptable 186 in Sysmark 2002. It managed a less impressive score of 145 in Mobilemark 2002, but it was two minutes shy of three hours in the battery test which is commendable for a mobile Athlon XP based notebook.
So what about games performance? Well, the Solus 1030 scored 9012 in 3DMark 2001 while it managed 2685 in 3DMark03, hardly impressive compared to a desktop system, but still very good for a laptop. To see how well the Solus 1030 performed in DirectX 9 games, I decided to run Aquamark 3. The result wasn’t amazing with a score of 21283 at 1,024 x 768. This means that if you try to play Aquanox on the Solus 1030 you’ll end up with an average frame rate of around 21fps. As Microsoft had kindly supplied me with a copy of Halo, I figured I would give it a go. Playing at 1,024 x 768 it was fine for the initial 10-15 minutes, but as more and more enemies started to appear in the game the frame rate quickly dropped below playable levels. It is a shame as I did expect the Radeon 9600 Mobility to be able to play Halo at reasonable frame rates.
To summarize it all, the Solus 1030 is a very affordable laptop with high-end features albeit with a few flaws. Personally I am not too fond of the chassis, but I have seen worse. If you are on a limited budget and need a fast laptop with a wide range of features, then the Solus 1030 is definitely worth a look.
The Solus 1030 could have been a great laptop with a better chassis, but as it stands it’s a good mobile solution with loads of features at a great price.
Score in detail
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