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Xtreme - What Laptop (Dec '03)

SILVER AWARD

Verdict: With its mix of individual flair and powerful performance, the Xtreme is an ideal platform for gaming.

Although the Rockdirect Xtreme (£1761 inc.VAT) shares the same chassis as both the AJP D500P and the Pico Systems Oscar Plus in this review group, there’s one obvious difference: the Racing Red lacquer colour scheme. It adds to spice to the look, and proclaims its gaming intensions in no uncertain terms. It’s also a nice finish, with none of the paint chips we saw in the sprayed-on paintwork of the Voodoo PC Envy M:460 (issue 52, November 2003).

Go-Faster Stripes:

Rockdirect says its multi-layer automotive paint has four layers of crystal coat on top that is baked, wet-sanded, polished, waxed and buffed. Two other colours are available: Team Green Metallic and Piercing Blue Metallic.

Specifications are identical to the AJP D500P, with a 3.2GHz Intel Pentium 4 desktop processor and an 800MHz FSB (Front Side Bus) to connect it to the other internal system components. The chip supports Hyper-Threading although this will make little difference in non-HT applications. Memory allocation is 512MB of DDR SDRAM, out of a maximum possible 1GB. Our benchmarking tests returned a score of 141, nearly identical to the AJP D500P.

The graphics adapter is, likewise, the ATi Mobility Radeon 9600, with 128MB of its own video memory. Under test, this AGP 8x adapter scored 10497m the highest of the group and one of only two laptops to break the 10000 barrier.

Specifications:

With an 80GB Hitachi hard drive, there’s plenty of storage space for software installation. Without mobile-optimised internal components, the battery lasted only 95 minutes under test. This isn’t good by modern laptop standards but it’s a desktop replacement design, and at 4.2kg it’s not likely to be used on the road very often. While ATi has incorporated battery optimising software into its chip, the combination of this GPU and the desktop CPU are a sufficient draw on system power.

Apart from the bright colour, there are two other differences between the Rockdirect Xtreme and the AJP D500P. The first is that the Xtreme has a much brighter display. The 15-inch, 1400 x 1050-pixel TFT screen has a wide degree of brightness control and good protection behind the panel. The second difference is that Rockdirect had only fitted a DVD/CD-RW combination drive at this price, so our sample lacked the ability to burn DVDs.

One final differentiator is that Rockdirect offer a three-year collect and return warranty as standard on all its laptops.

Connectivity is well served, with a mini FireWire and four USB ports. An S/PDIF optical port adds to the standard microphone and headphone jacks, and there’s parallel, modem, Gigabit Ethernet, external monitor, S-Video, PS/2 and infrared. There are audio control buttons and a small LCD screen on the front of the chassis, but the only buttons we could get to work were the volume up and down controls.

It is hard to differentiate a laptop when it uses the same chassis that is common in the marketplace, but with the colour schemes Rockdirect offers, the Xtreme stands out. There is nothing in it between this machine and the AJP in performance terms - they both have what it takes to cope effortlessly with the latest games. It all depends upon the value you place on the screen brightness, the individuality of the look and the ability to burn DVDs.

  OVERALL: 8/10

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