Reviews / Xtreme CTX Pro - Mobile Computer-
» Mobile Computer says 4/5
With its powerful Core 2 Duo, the CTX PRO gives desktop PCs cause for concern
From the outside, the Xtreme CTX PRO look’s like rock’s other Xtreme CTX laptops, with the same 17” widescreen case and protruding media control buttons for Windowsless CD playback. Inside, though, it has something special: an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, the successor to the excellent Core Duo.
Core 2 Duo chips appear in desktop PCs as well as laptops, but despite sharing many features, the processors are different. The desktop chips (codenamed Conroe) are very energy efficient, but the laptop chips (codenamed Merom) go even further; Intel claims they improve a laptop’s performance by 20% over that of an equivalent Core Duo laptop (‘Yonah’, if you’ve caught the codename bug), while providing the same battery life. Merom chips also fit in the same processor socket as Yonah, so many laptop manufacturers are simply upgrading their Core Duo laptops and re-labelling them Core 2 Duo.
In our tests, 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5500 processors perform similarly to the 1.83GHz Core Duo T2400. But while the lower speed Core 2 Duo processors match up with the existing range of Core Duo processors performance-wise, things get much more exciting at the high-end, as with the T7600 2.33GHz chips used in the Xtreme CTX Pro. Given the Core 2 Duo technological improvements, we expected the Xtreme to be fast, but we were still surprised. Thanks in part to the 1Gb of memory, not only is the Xtreme faster than most laptops with a same-speed Core Duo T2700 chip. It’s faster than most desktop PCs too.
A fast processor needs equally good components round it, and rock hasn’t skimped. The nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GTX graphics chip is the most powerful you can currently get in laptop. The 17” widescreen display is equally impressive and you can upgrade from the native resolution of 1680 x 1050 on our review model to 1920 x 1200 for an extra £58. The glossy display gave a sharp, vibrant image and our only complaint is that it offers very little control over the brightness. Dimming the screen is a simple way of prolonging battery life, but the Xtreme’s could only be adjusted from ‘bright’ to ‘less bright’.
The Xtreme’s big screen means there’s also room for a big keyboard. Rock has opted for a comfortable model with a separate numeric keypad. It also has shortcut keys for various functions, but while you can switch WI-FI on and off with a fingertip, you can’t do the same for the built-in Bluetooth.
At 4.3kg, the Xtreme isn’t a laptop for taking to the office and back, and you might be gasping for breath after carrying it into the garden. The fact that it isn’t intended for portable use is reinforced by the meagre battery life: unless you can get all your work done in just over 90 minutes when away from the mains, you’d better look elsewhere. If you need a powerful, compact laptop that can cope with anything a desktop PC can (and more), they don’t come any faster than this. Yes, it’s expensive, more keenly priced laptops will no doubt appear as Core 2 Duo chips become more widely available, but as it costs no more than rock’s otherwise-identical Core 2 Duo model, the Xtreme is a tempting propostition.
Incredibly quick; excellent keyboard.