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Pegasus Ti

PC Plus (July '04)


Reviewing Rock’s Pegasus TI is not about the laptop looks - and with its slim, black and silver chassis it looks classier than many portables. It’s not about how big the hard disk is, or how many texels the graphics processor can fling. Nor are we focused on expandability and connectivity. The TI stands out this month because it’s the first machine to incorporate Intel’s new Dothan-core Pentium M.

While the original Banias-core chip has 1MB of L2 cache and topped out at 1.7GHz, Dothan doubles this amount, and increases the clockspeed to 1.8GHz and beyond. Because the new stained silicon has been fabbed using the 90m process, Intel had been able to reduce the transistor size, and thereby increase the number of transistors (from 77 million to 140 million) for greater performance. Under Intel’s new numbering system, this 1.8Ghz chip will be dubbed the 745.

As ever, the proof is in the testing. In tests with MobileMark 2002, the Pegasus TI posted an excellent score of 199, while the internal battery ran for 162 minutes. Dothan certainly makes good on its promises for enhanced performance - few laptops we’ve tested have managed too post scores near the 200 mark. One thing to note is that, as the processor draws more power to deliver this performance increase, the battery life suffers. Here it’s fallen to just under three hours, which is slightly disappointing, especially as we’ve come to expect three to four hours from Banias-core Centrino laptops.

Loaded with an ATi Radeon Mobility 9600 IGP, the 3Dmark2001SE score generated during testing hits a good average of 8,514, while a workout with 3Dmark2003 rated the system with 2,202. Again, we’ve seen better from machines with more powerful processors, although Rock plans to switch the 9600 for the new 9700 in its final production model. The benchmark scores will jump accordingly.

The rest of the TI’s spec includes a 60GB hard disk drive, 512MB of main memory and a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive. The latter component comes as something of a surprise - but again, this is a pre-production model, and Rock has detailed a more up-to-date Sony DVD/RW unit as its replacement. The black and silver chassis gives it a solid, yet surprisingly slim feel. This is despite the presence of the 15.4 in widescreen LCD, which is capable of a native resolution 1,280x800 pixels.

The Dothan-core processor may grab all the headlines here, but the rest of the machine still needs to make the grade. Take a tour around the rest of the chassis and you’ll find a trio of USB 2.0 connections, plus single PCMCIA and FireWire connections. There’s also a 3-in-1 card reader here, while wireless embraces 802.11b and 802.11g, thanks to a 54Mbps wireless module.

For now, the first Dothan chips offer nothing to get truly excited about. Like ATi’s 9700 IGP, the 1.8GHz Pentium-M featured here is evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary, step forward. Considering the increased power required by the chip, we’re unlikely to see a big impact on laptop performance and functionality until Dothan processors are incorporated alongside Intel’s Alviso chipset in the ‘Centrino ‘ or Sonoma platform.

Nevertheless, the arrival of this 1.8GHz Pentium-M does mark an important technology shift. With a good balance between performance and battery life it’s an ideal all-rounder. But wait a while for the price to fall.

VALUE 7/10

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All Pegasus Ti reviews

Pegasus Ti - PC Advisor (Nov '04)
Pegasus Ti - What Laptop Magazine (Sep '04)
Pegasus Ti - Laptop Magazine (Sep '04)
Pegasus Ti - Computer Shopper (Aug '04)
Pegasus Ti - PC Plus Magazine (Jul '04)

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