Computer Arts (December '03)
Looking for a versatile, powerful and portable
desktop solution for all your digital design ad video
needs? Then look no further - here’s a
laptop that’s as hard as its name.
While its rival may boast bigger or better individual
features - be it nicer cases, faster 3D cards
or built-in TV tuners - The Rock DTS, wrapped
up in its pleasing silver livery, still manages to
outstrip them all. Here, at last, is a laptop that
truly earns the moniker ‘desktop replacement’.
First off, there’s the impressive processor,
a 3.06GHz Pentium 4, which uses Hyperthreading technology
with supported apps to significantly improve performance.
Hyperthreading enables the CPU to act as two ‘virtual’ processors,
each of which can then act independently. This technology
proves invaluable when running multiple apps, enabling
you to, say, render video or a 3D model in the background
while simultaneously working on another app.
The hard drive, too, proves to be a winner. The fastest
on test, its speed was onlt bettered by its counterpart
on the otherwise lacklustre P20. The DTS also provided
the fastest 3D benchmark performance, while the raw
CPU tests rated it top of all the Pentium-based laptops.
Of course, if you plan to use laptop for any 3D work,
decent 3D accelerator is a must. Here, too, the DTS
has the advantage, using the Mobility Radeon 9000 accelerator,
a powerful high-end card that significantly outperforms
the P20’s already nippy NVIDIA processor. And
by carrying its own dedicated graphics memory, it avoids
consuming RAM vital for running your apps, unlike lower-end
Sadly, the gorgeous 17-inch screen, running at a WXGA+
resolution of 1440 x 900, had a predictable impact
on battery life - in this case, we squeezed out
just one hour 24 minutes with no power management.
Turn all power management features on and the screen
brightness down, though, and you can extend that figure
significantly. Mind you, this is only fine for working
on non-creative projects. If you’re designing,
editing video or 3D modelling, you’ll want full
brightness to maintain good colour fidelity.
In terms of RAM capacity, 512MB from the off seems
rather mean - 1GB would’ve been better.
Still, the generous 80GB hard drive more than makes
up for it; if you’re doing video editing, you’re
going to have plenty of room to spare.
A complete creative and entertainment solution, the
Rock DTS also comes with a built -in Webcam,
DVD/CD writer and great sound - it’s the
only laptop in our Group Test that boasts its own five-speaker
system, complete with sub-woofer! For us, though, the
icing on the cake has to be Rock’s three-year
collect-and-return warranty. Considering the fact that
new screens can cost around £500, this service
adds several hundred pounds to the value of the laptop
and makes it considerably good value for money.
It’s amazing that you can get a laptop this attractive,
this powerful and this big for under £2000. You
literally can throw your desktop PC in the bin and
do everything on the DTS.
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