Overall then, we have a notebook that will handle any application or task you care to throw at it with consummate ease and play most games with plenty of visual detail. You can’t expect much mobility from a desktop replacement or gaming notebook, but the Rock nonetheless manages a respectable two hours in the Reader test, with wireless turned off and screen brightness set to 40 per cent — beating Alienware’s M17 by a full 30 minutes.
In terms of value for money, it’s a tough call. Rock is generally not too far off the mark, with prices similar to the likes of Novatech’s gaming laptops for comparable configurations and a three year European collect and return warranty.
However, Dell’s ever-fickle pricing makes an XPS gaming laptop a far better bargain right now. For only £50 more than the above X780 configuration, the XPS M1730 provides you with a similarly Full HD 17in display, 4GB memory capacity (albeit DDR2 instead of DDR3 RAM) and Blu-ray drive, but also includes a remote, twin 200GB 7,200rpm drives in RAID 0 and most importantly, twin GeForce 8800GTXs in SLI. When you consider that the 9800 series is only an incremental update to the 8800 line and an 8800GTX is already faster than a 9800GTS in most titles, you can imagine what a difference two of them will make. As I’ve said many times, when it comes to gaming the GPU is ”much” more important than the CPU.
Aside from the very odd (and hopefully one-off) screen issue, the only major complaint with the Xtreme 780 is that it is a very noisy beast. It generally offers good build quality and lots of features, moderately attractive if unremarkable looks, and a decent amount of customisation. But, quite apart from the annoying acoustic issue, in terms of value for money there are better alternatives out there right now.
Addendum: Since Rock sent us the sample reviewed here, it has changed its available configurations. Unfortunately the fastest Core 2 Duo which is now available in an Xtreme 780 with 9800GTS video card is a 2.2GHz T5900 with 2MB cache, rather than the 2.80GHz T9600 with 6MB cache in our sample machine. Obviously this would have a significant impact on the benchmark results, though our assessment has been altered to take this into account. New options include a 2.0GHz Q9000 quad-core processor and, at the top of the range, a 2.53GHz QX9300 quad-core.