Computer Buyer (July
The Rock Extreme is a great laptop for gaming enthusiasts.
For everyone else, it’s just too expensive and
Until recently, you’d have been lucky to find
a notebook that had enough power to play any modern
game. Fast-paced 3D action games, with their flashy
visual effects, were out of the question. All of that
has changed: the Rock Extreme packs the kind of punch
only the beefiest of desktop PC’s can compete
The Xtreme is a machine for gamers who don’t
have the space to set up a desktop system. It is emphatically
not, however, a system for gamers on the move. It weighs
4.09kg - more, by the time you’ve taken
into account a sturdy bag and a power supply. That’s
heavy enough to make you think you’re carrying
an actual Rock. Battery life is also pretty poor, with
the Rock lasting just 49 minutes in our intensive battery
test. We’d normally say you could expect longer
than this in life, because in normal usage there are
periods during which a laptop isn’t doing much.
3D games, though, will thrash the hell out of your
system - so you-re unlikely to see any increase.
This isn’t a problem, as long as you consider
this system is a space-saving substitute for a desktop
PC, and not a portable.
The Xtreme’s 3.4GHz Pentium 4 processor, Mobile
Radeon 9600 Pro graphics and 512MB of 400MHz DDR RAM
are the kind of parts you’d expect to see in
a good desktop gaming PC. They’re far more powerful
than you would usually get in a laptop. A quick glance
at the Rock’s benchmark scores confirms just
how powerful it is. The 2D benchmark score isn’t
just respectable. It’s excellent. You’ll
have no problem performing even demanding 2D tasks
such as photo or even video editing. And with a 3Dmark
2001 score of 10,318, it’s also the fastest laptop
Crucially for gamers, the Rock’s 9600 pro graphics
support DirectX 9, the latest version of Microsoft’s
games graphics instructions. To see how it fared with
a game that required DirectX 9 effects perfectly rendered.
Water shimmered and light refracted off metal services
with eye-popping realism. We were impressed. For a
notebook this is cracking good going.
We also like the Rock’s built-in speakers. Notebook
speakers are never as good as their free-standing cousins,
sounding a bit tinny by comparison. The Rock produced
a clear, crisp sound. Bass, if not resonant, was at
least not embarrassingly puny. The screen is a luxurious
15 inches across its diagonal - again, top-notch
for a laptop. It native resolution is 1400x1050, the
perfect resolution for this size of screen, giving
you lots of space on your Windows desktop without making
the icons so small you end up squinting. The keyboard
has almost a standard desktop layout, so you won’t
end up hitting the wrong keys by accident. The keys
have a commendably comfortable action, striking home
with a distinct clicking sensation. The trackpad is
sensitive enough, moving the cursor in the right direction
at the right speed, without being too sensitive. You’d
still be advised to get yourself a decent mouse, though,
if your serious about gaming. Even the best trackpad
won’t let you react quickly enough.
All of the things for which you’d want a laptop
this powerful - games, music or video editing
for instance - require bags of storage space.
Fortunately, the Xtreme comes with a whopping 80GB
hard disk. That’s enough to install loads of
games and still have bags of room left for your MP3
collection. There’s also a healthy 512MB of RAM.
This is important, because demanding software such
as games needs lots of memory so that it can load all
the routines and sub-programs it needs. Without it,
your games would run like a jerky slide show.
As if all this weren’t enough reason to hug
this beautiful beast to your chest and swear never
to be parted, the Rock also contains a multi-format
DVD writer, a fast 802.11g wireless network adapter,
and both USB2 and Firewire connectors for plugging
in external devices such as printers, scanners and
digital cameras. If you feel like hooking the Xtreme
up to one of your mates’ PCs for some multiplayer
gaming, there’s a fast Ethernet connection for
you to use. Even the most demanding network games won’t
be able to choke up a 1000Mbit/s connection.
So, if it’s so great, why hasn’t it scored
more than five out of six? In short, it’s the
price. If you’re a gamer with a couple of grand
to spare, but no desk space, you’ll love this
PC. If you need a system you can take out and about
with you, you’ll be cursing it within a week.
And if you’re not obsessed with games, this is
hell of a lot of money to pay for a Laptop.
2D Speed rating: 1340
3Dmark 2001: 10318
Return to reviews index >>