Computer Active (April '04)
Power and style are beautifully married
in this desktop replacement
There are many reasons why you might be persuaded
to go for a notebook PC rather than a desktop version.
We normally associate notebooks with business types
who need a machine that they can use at the office,
at home and on the move. However, notebooks are equally
useful for those who don’t have a lot of space
or don’t want a hulking great desktop PC cluttering
up their homes.
As long as you pop it in a drawer when you’ve
finished with it, you might be less concerned with
your notebook’s portability and more interested
in its speed and performance. Weight and size aren’t
much of an issue when it comes to playing games, watching
DVD’s and doing everything else that’s
demanded of a family computer.
If that sounds like you, then you should consider
Rock’s Xtreme alongside better-known notebook
manufacturers, such as Sony and Dell. It’s not
cheap, with a price tag just over the £1,500
mark, but it compares pretty favourably when put alongside
similarly specified portables from competing brands.
The Xtreme is a shining example of what is commonly
referred to as a ‘desktop replacement’ PC.
That’s to say you’ll find much of the same
sort of power under the hood that you’d get in
a modern desktop PC, except in a (just about) portable
form. A 3GHz Pentium 4 processor and 512Mb of memory
are the Xtreme’s main vital statistics. But there
are many other high-flying specifications, notably
a large 60Gbb gard disk and a Sony multi-format DVD/CD
The 15in TFT screen is easy to work with, too - even
at the relatively high native resolution of 1400 x
1050 pixels. Graphics used to be the Achilles heel
for most portable PCs, but the 128Mb ATI Radeon Mobility
9600 Pro inside the Rock Xtreme is no wimp. Inn order
to highlight this point, Rock has released a limited
edition of the Xtreme to tie in, somewhat incongruously,
with the new Bad Boys II game. Having such powerful
graphics means the Xtreme will easily cope with the
latest 3D games at respectable resolutions.
The Xtreme proved itself well in our performance tests
but it certainly pushes the notion of portability to
its limits. If you’re intending to go globetrotting
with it then consider hiring a caddy to lug it around
for you as it weighs in at 4kg (including the battery).
You probably won’t ever want to wander too far
from a power point, either. Because it’s built
around a standard Pentium 4 processor (rather than
one of Intel’s specifically portable variations),
it isn’t particularly economical with its energy
consumption and needs plenty of juice to keep running.
It is, however, possible to buy a second battery pack
(at added cost) and store it in the slot normally occupied
by the floppy disk drive to keep on trucking just that
little bit longer.
Overall, the Rock Xtreme is a pretty impressive brute - as
is evidenced by its design as well as its performance.
The sleek, black-gloss finish and curved edges make
it look a little smaller than it really is.
If you want a notebook PC that you can slip in your
briefcase and take everywhere with you, this isn’t
it. As a foldaway replacement for your space-hogging
desktop machine, however, the Xtreme has the muscle
and the features as well as the looks.
||Fast and powerful
Loads of in/output sockets
Comes with Ability Office and anti-virus pre-installed
||Heavy for a notebook
||4/5 - Smart looking but heavy
||4/5 - Very fast and powerful
||4/5 - Pleanty to play with
|VALUE FOR MONEY:
||3/5 - Expensive but competitive in notebook
||4/5 - A beefy notebook that'll give most desktops
a run for their money
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