Moving on, the machine’s left side houses a lock-slot and Blu-ray drive, which goes rather well with the Full HD (1,920 x 1,200) 17in screen. If you want to view your high definition discs on something a little bigger, the Xtreme accommodates brilliantly with both DVI and HDMI outputs — there’s even a DVI-VGA adapter thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, though, the DVI output doesn’t seem to be dual-link, meaning owners of 30in monitors may wish to look elsewhere.
The majority of the cooling is also at the notebook’s back, together with the power socket and two USB ports, one of which doubles as eSATA. At the front there is an IR sensor — though Rock’s optional remote uses Bluetooth, this does mean any Windows Media remote ought to work — and audio is very well catered for with four 3.5mm jacks comprising headphone, microphone, line-in and S/PDIF (digital) out from the Realtek HD audio chip.
To the right are a further two USB ports, mini-FireWire and an antenna input for the optional TV tuner card. Beside these reside a 54mm ExpressCard slot and a memory card reader. Modem and Gigabit Ethernet ports can also be found here and the Rock has Draft-N for speedy wireless networking.
Starting the machine up, the first thing that becomes immediately obvious is that it can become very loud — so much so that someone in the office came over to ask what was wrong with it. After the twin small fans at the bottom spin down, normal use (including watching films) is relatively quiet, though a slight whine remains audible. But during gaming, the Xtreme 780 gets going again, becoming the noisiest notebook we’ve had through the labs in a while. This unfortunate property means noise-isolating/cancelling headphones are pretty much a must when gaming.
This is not to say the Xtreme 780’s onboard speakers are bad. They reach high volumes without distortion, produce clear high notes and create a good sense of depth. However, regardless of the above noise issue, headphones or external speakers are still preferable due to a lack of bass making everything come out somewhat tinny.